Gigabyte Radeon HD 7870 2GB OC Review (Page 3 of 13)

Page 3 - A Closer Look, Test System

The GV-R787OC-2GD Radeon HD 7870 1GB OC features the company's WindForce 3X cooler, but revised with what they call the Triangle Cool Technology. As its name suggests, this graphics card has a large heatsink with three 80 mm PWM cooling fans; used to dissipate the heat away from the graphics processor core as well as its memory chips by direct contact. This process is accelerated by two copper heatpipes leading away from the center block to the large array of fins on both sides for an effective equivalent of four units. Gigabyte's Triangle Cool features fins with a special shaped structure and optimized angles to reduce air turbulence noise (Such a phenomenon is usually caused by straight perpendicular fins), which is essential to designing a silent cooling solution in addition to using quiet fans. The fans itself are also angled to optimize airflow. Meanwhile, as shown in our photo above, the cooler covers the entire length of the non-reference blue printed circuit board measured at 11 inches (About 28 cm). The black heatsink carries a glossy finish for its plastic cover with the company's logo on every fan. The Gigabyte Radeon HD 7870 2GB OC is manufactured at Gigabyte's facilities in Taiwan.

Turning the graphics card around, Gigabyte's signature blue PCB can be seen more clearly. From an aesthetics point of view, I have never really liked Gigabyte's older blue motherboards in my windowed case, but as far as graphics cards are concerned that has never really been a problem for me. All connectors come with a blue cap out of the box for extra protection. Like all modern midrange to high performance video cards, the Gigabyte Radeon HD 7870 2GB OC occupies two slots, and the rear connector panel takes advantage of this configuration. One DVI-I port is situated on the very left, followed by an HDMI and two Mini-DisplayPort connectors. Yep, you will only get one DVI-I port. This will pose a problem for those who has a dual monitor configuration, and can only do so via DVI. I think an HDMI to DVI adapter will be a very appropriate accessory out of the box. A small vent is implemented into the second slot area for direct heat exhaust outside the chassis. Internally, its CrossFire bridge connector is located on the left side of the outer edge. And finally, as discussed on the previous page, the connection interface is PCI Express 3.0.

Four spring loaded screws with clear plastic washers are located on top of the board to hold the heatsink to the card. Once the four screws were unscrewed, the heatsink came off very easily. With its dual heatpipe and triple fan configuration, Gigabyte promises its WindForce 3X design runs considerably cooler than AMD's reference stock heatsink. We will post actual temperature results shortly. Our photo above should provide a little more insight into the hardware used on Gigabyte's Radeon HD 7870 2GB OC card. Two 6-pin PCI Express power connectors are still located on the outer edge of the board facing towards the side of the chassis -- but for its non-reference design, Gigabyte has 100% Japanese made solid state capacitors, ferrite core/metal choke, and lower RDS(on) MOFSET for improved reliability, lower power consumption, and lower heat output. Combined with its 2oz copper PCB, Gigabyte markets this as its Ultra Durable design. Every Gigabyte video card I have reviewed in the past has been used in production machines here at APH Networks, and I have never experienced any reliability issues at all.

The custom heatsink features direct heatpipe contact over the GPU core with thermal pads that go over the memory chips to provide additional cooling. The heatsink base has a fairly smooth finish with no excess thermal paste, so it makes pretty good contact with the Radeon HD 7870 chip during operation. With all these in mind, Gigabyte promises 10-30% lower power switching loss, 10-30% better overclocking capabilities, and 5-10% lower temperatures just purely due to electronics. We will see how it works out in just a moment.

In the center of it all is AMD's Radeon HD 7870 "Pitcairn" graphics processor unit, which we have discussed in detail in the preceding page. This GPU is designed to run at 1000MHz stock as aforementioned, but Gigabyte gave it a slight bump in the factory firmware to run it at 1100MHz; a modest 10% overclock. Our card came with eight Hynix H5GQ2H24MFR memory ICs for a total of 2GB GDDR5 graphics memory. That is 256MB per chip, running at 1200MHz (4800MHz effective), which is the same as AMD's stock specifications. We will see how well it goes above that later on in our review in the overclocking section.

Our test configuration as follows:

CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K @ 4.5GHz
CPU Cooling: Thermaltake Frio (Noctua NF-P12)
Motherboard: ASUS P8P67 PRO
RAM: Kingston HyperX KHX1600C9D3X2K2/8GX 2x4GB
Storage: OCZ Vertex 2 120GB; Western Digital Scorpio Blue 500GB
Chassis: Lian Li PC-Z60 (Noctua NF-S12B ULN)
Power: Cooler Master Silent Pro Hybrid 1050W
Sound: Auzentech X-Fi Bravura
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional x64 SP1

Compared Hardware
- Gigabyte Radeon HD 7870 2GB OC (1100MHz core/4800MHz memory)
- AMD Radeon HD 7870 2GB (Stock reference)
- AMD Radeon HD 6870 1GB (Stock reference)
- Gigabyte Radeon HD 6870 1GB SOC (950MHz core/4400MHz memory)
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570 1280MB (Stock reference)
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 570 1280MB SOC (845MHz core/1690MHz shader/3800MHz memory)

Page Index
1. Introduction, Specifications, Bundle
2. AMD Radeon HD 7800 Series Architecture
3. A Closer Look, Test System
4. Benchmark: 3DMark 11
5. Benchmark: Battlefield: Bad Company 2
6. Benchmark: Call of Duty: Black Ops
7. Benchmark: Colin McRae: DiRT 2
8. Benchmark: Far Cry 2
9. Benchmark: Just Cause 2
10. Benchmark: Metro 2033
11. Benchmark: Unigine: Heaven v2.5
12. Power Usage, Temperature, Noise
13. Overclocking and Conclusion