Summary: With a massive 3-slot cooler, dual cooling fans, and four display outputs, Palit's Revolution 700 Deluxe is like no other Radeon 4870 X2 card on the market today. But is it worth the price premium over the standard 4870 X2? Join us as we take a closer look at this card in this review!
As you can imagine, keeping two RV770 GPUs cool is a pretty daunting task, particularly under an extended 3D load. While the stock ATI cooler does its best to keep heat at bay, like the cooler ATI used on the Radeon 4870 reference design, the 4870 X2's stock cooler sacrifices a little bit of extra heat in order for the card to run as quietly as possible. As a result, the stock cooling found on ATI's 4870 X2 reference design can have a hard time dealing with heat, resulting in load temps of nearly 90 degrees Celsius. To add insult to injury, the stock 4870 X2 idles in the 60 degree Celsius range – that's as high as some GPUs get at load!
Now so far we haven't run into any stability issues as a result of this, nor have we seen artifacts or other visual anomalies over the course of our testing since the 4870
X2's arrival last August, but these kind of temps can be unsettling to some users who are used to less exotic cards that don't hit these high temps. Others may simply be uncomfortable running such a hot device inside their PC for an extended period of time (say the next 3 or 4 years). Next to dust, heat is after all a leading source of many component failures.
But what if one of ATI's board partners were to come up with a Radeon 4870 X2 card with enhanced cooling? For most of 2008 ATI had the 4870 X2 on lockdown, forcing all board partners to use the ATI reference design and cooling, but finally ATI has relented, with the first 4870 X2 cards to utilize a non-reference cooler shipping in mid-November.
With their Gainward Golden Sample roots, the engineers at Gainward/Palit were determined to concoct something special, and with the Revolution 700 Deluxe, that's exactly what they've done. The card is the world's first to utilize a three-slot cooling unit. Yes, you read that right, the Palit Revolution 700 Deluxe features a 3-slot cooler.
Why 3-slots? Palit says they needed a 3-slot solution in order to properly cool both RV770 chips without having to rely on a noisy cooler. While Palit's cooler does have dual fans, they run at very low RPMs -- usually less than 3000 RPMs at load -- thus they don't generate a lot of noise when pressed, even during extensive 3D gaming sessions.
Let's take a look closer look at Palit's Revolution 700 Deluxe.
Fundamentally the cooling solution that Palit and Gainward have come up with is rather simple, but brutal in its effectiveness. Each RV770 graphics core has its own distinct heatsink/fan unit with copper heatpipes. More specifically, Palit equips each cooler with dual copper heatpipes (four heatpipes total). As you can see in the pictures, the heatsinks Palit employs to cool the heatpipes are actually dual-slot, and aren't as massive as you'd initially imagine. The third slot is devoted entirely for the dual fans, which reside one level above the GPU heatsinks.
But the heatpipes aren't the only part that uses copper. Resting directly above the RV770 GPUs is a copper plate which pulls heat off them. The heat is then transferred from this plate to the heatpipes, which are then cooled by the dual-slot aluminum heatsinks.
Flanking the copper plates is a larger black aluminum plate which is directly responsible for cooling the board's memory modules as well as the PWM circuitry. Here an aluminum heatsink is also used to assist in heat dissipation.
Here you can also see the card's power connectors. Rather than stick with ATI's design, which places the power connectors perpendicular to the edge of the PCB, Palit rotates them 90 degrees. This is a great move on Palit's part, as it actually makes it easier to plug in the power connectors.
Moving to the other side of the card we can see where Palit and Gainward have elected to add a VGA output to the card. Why they decided to do this we don't exactly know. Perhaps they wanted to show the world they could produce a card with every potential display output option any user would want or possibly need? Also present on the backplate of the Revolution 700 Deluxe is one DVI, one DisplayPort, and one HDMI (keep in mind that due to the limitations of ATI's CrossFire technology, you can't run all four displays simultaneously unless you disable CrossFire).
On the third level of the card's cooler reside the dual 80mm fans that are tasked with supplying the Revolution cooler with fresh air. Thanks to their size, the fans are able to cool the GPUs pretty effectively without generating a lot of noise, although one downside to Palit's cooling design is that the fans don't exhaust hot air from the GPUs outside the system case like the standard ATI cooler. Instead the air is dispersed mainly out the front and back of the card; so essentially some but not all of the air from the GPU is pushed outside your case.
For additional board cooling, Palit mounts a second aluminum plate on the underside of the card. This plate acts like a heatsink, drawing heat off the bottom of the PCB and thus helping to keep the card cooler. It also helps to cool the memory located on the bottom of the card.
Since it doesn't have any form of active cooling, this plate can get quite hot to the touch, especially after long gaming sessions. We should add that ATI's reference design also has a similar cooler on the bottom of the 4870 X2.
Here's where Palit and Gainward's cards begin to differ. Whereas Gainward overclocks the graphics core (790MHz) and memory (950MHz) on their Rampage700 Golden Sample Goes Like Hell, the graphics core on the Palit Revolution 700 Deluxe isn't OC'ed at all, running at the stock 4870 X2 GPU speed of 750MHz. Only the Revolution's memory is overclocked, running at the same 950MHz clock speed as Gainward's Rampage700 GS GLH.
The Revolution 700 Deluxe ships with one of the smallest bundles of hardware accessories we've seen. Included inside the box is one 8-pin-to-6-pin PCIe adapter (helpful for those of you who don't have 8-pin PCIe 2.0 compliant power supplies), and one HDMI-to-DVI adapter. That's it. Palit doesn't include a CrossFire bridge cable with the Revolution 700 Deluxe card, nor do they include an additional power adapter.
We can excuse the lack of a 6-pin power adapter, but we do feel that the card does need some type of CrossFire cable. Back when CrossFire was first announced ATI told us that all their board partners were required to include a CrossFire cable in order to obtain CrossFire certification, but it seems that the company has gotten rather lax in enforcing this rule, as we've also noticed a number of MSI Radeon cards that also shipped recently without a CrossFire bridge cable.
Intel Core i7-965 Extreme Edition
EVGA X58 SLI
3GB Qimonda DDR3-1066
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 216 Shaders
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 295
Palit Revolution 700 Deluxe
ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2 2GB
ATI Radeon HD 4870 1GB
Catalyst 8.561.3-081217a-73402 (Updated Catalyst 8.12)
300GB Western Digital Caviar SE
Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit w/Service Pack 1
Call of Duty 4
Fallout 3 – DirectX 9
Call of Duty 4 – DirectX 9
Crysis – DirectX 10
STALKER: CS – DirectX 10
Far Cry 2 – DirectX 10
BioShock – DirectX 9
Performance: Thanks to its dual RV770 GPUs and 2GB of GDDR5 memory, Palit's Revolution 700 Deluxe is a tremendous performer. Short of NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 295, the 4870 X2 is the fastest graphics card available at the moment. For added performance Palit has elected to OC the board's memory by 50MHz, making it the fastest Radeon 4870 X2 card we've tested.
Size: While we were highly impressed by the performance of the Revolution 700 Deluxe's cooler, with the card swallowing up three slots it's by no means small. This could be an issue for many CrossFire-capable motherboards which place the PCI Express Graphics (PEG) slots next to each other. This is the case for many X58 motherboards for instance, which place the primary and secondary PEG slots adjacent to one another, the third PEG slot is placed further away and limited to x4 operation.