For testing power consumption, we took our test system and plugged it into a Seasonic Power Angel. For idle numbers, we allowed the system to idle on the desktop for 15 minutes and took the reading. For load numbers, we measured the peak wattage used by the system while running 3DMark Vantage.
Comparing the single cards we see that the Diamond 4870 1GB does use just a bit more power both at idle and under load than the Nvidia GTX 260 core 216. With performance very similar in most every instance this was expected.
From our testing we can see that the Diamond 4870 1GB came to play! With Nvidia releasing their “Big Bang” drivers we saw a substantial increase in performance. ATI has answered back and we the customers are the ones who benefit the most from the increases in performance and competition. One thing to keep in mind is that this is a small set of games and, outside of our test suite, performance will slightly favor either the Nvidia card or the ATI card. Calling one or the other a clear winner based on performance is impossible, so it really comes down to things like pricing, drivers, and heat/noise.
In the driver department I have had no problems with ATI’s 8.12’s. The inclusion of the AVIVO video converter for FREE is a welcome sight. I like that I don’t need to install third party applications or a second utility aside from the driver to do basic temperature monitoring, basic overclocking, and tweaking the fan speed. The downside to ATI’s drivers is relying on them to come out with an update for the latest games so that you can get the most benefit from CrossFire as we saw in Need For Speed: Underground. With Nvidia drivers you can set up your own profiles for a game and can tweak how you want SLI to work, and which way will provide the best performance.
Heat and noise are under control on the Diamond ATI 4870 1GB. While the idle temps are slightly warm at 65C, the fan is barely running and thus creating no or little noise. Under load the fan will spin up a bit to keep the card cool but can get a bit noisy. Most will not notice this since when the card is under load it’s most likely that you’re playing a game, and the sound will drown out the fan noise.
Pricing for the Diamond 4870 1GB is quite good. It seems the cards are selling well and the only e-tailor we can find with it in stock at the moment through Price Grabber is Amazon, where it is priced at $309. Newegg does carry the card and prices it at $274.99. All of the other 4870 1GB listed at Newegg do have a mail-in rebate bringing the price down; it may be because the Diamond card is out of stock that the MIR is not showing up. Pricing for the GTX 260 core 216 puts it at $247.99, so there is an advantage on the price for the Nvidia card. If you are planning to utilize your GPU to speed up video encoding the price difference could be made up from just the inclusion of the ATI AVIVO video converter as you’ll need to purchase additional software to make use of the Nvidia GPU. Either way you cut it, you’re getting one very good gaming card for not a lot out of pocket.
Legit Bottom Line: The Diamond HD 4870 1GB can take today’s latest games and blitz right through them, providing buttery smooth gaming enjoyment. At a price under $300, high end gaming never looked so good and cost so little.