Diamond Radeon HD 4870 512MB


Diamond’s had a rough history. So rough, that if you follow their history from the ’90s, you’ll find that there’s practically nothing left of the original company besides the brand. That might not be a bad thing–I’m not saying their business or hardware was flawed, though you could argue that–but the pressure has forced them to evaluate the way they run their business.

NVIDIA has a hard-core following, because partners like XFX and eVGA support their community. Lifetime warranties, overclocker-friendly policies, and active community tools like forums, knowledgebases, and live chat are what keep people buying from them, no matter what. ATI partners don’t seem to have the same kind of interest, or dedication, maybe. Diamond’s definitely leaning in that direction.

The 4870 is an excellent card, but for now, all the models are functionally identical, and there are yet to be factory-overclocked cards, let alone custom-cooled models. Variation ranges from changing the sticker to adding spiffy adapters. If you buy Diamond, you’re not buying a different card, you’re buying better service, only they’re not charging extra.

The Card & Bundle

The departure from other unmistakably Asian companies is visible right on the box. And I don’t mean the box’s relative T&A famine, limited multilingual marketing material, or American-style (vague) self-promotion, but the green, highly-visible "USA Customer Support" brandished beneath the Stars and Stripes. Now, don’t take this the wrong way: I believe that customer service, no matter what country it’s in, is staffed by the same brand of phone monkey. Their operating close to home just makes a lot of things faster and easier.

Their retail box is very clear about what kind of slot you’re going to use and which video-out options you’re getting, and uses idiot-proof pictorials just in case (phone monkey-proof?). Inside it’s got the card, a component-out cable, a single VGA adapter, an HDMI adapter, and a CrossFire bridge, along with the quick-start guide and drivers in a stiff envelope.

Diamond doesn’t change a thing with this card; the clocks, cooling, even the sticker is stock. The sticker has a pseudo-metal look to it that I could take or leave, it makes it look like workstation hardware, but it’s by all accounts better than a rendering of a fake woman’s cleavage.

While the support’s there–I used their tech support’s live chat and received an immediate answer to my question–I think they’re shorting their users with their warranty. Which was what I asked about: how long’s the warranty (1 year) and what does it cover (accidents, failure, but not changing the heatsink, or even overclocking with ATI’s Overdrive let alone third-party utilities, not that they have any way to know). I mean, I could look that up, but just getting a response right when you’re at their website is genius. Well, not genius, but it satisfies my desires to not have to read stupid technical crap and find the tiniest link ever to get answers.

Which isn’t to say that their page is bad: it’s probably the best ATI partner’s page I’ve had the pleasure to navigate and pluck specifications since, well, the last Diamond card I’ve reviewed.

Test Computer Specifications

  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 3GHz
  • Motherboard: Asus Rampage Formula
  • Memory: 2GB Crucial Ballistix Tracer DDR2 800 @ 4-4-4-12 (Sponsored by Crucial)
  • Power Supply: Thermaltake Toughpower 1000 (Sponsored by Thermaltake)
  • Operating System: Windows Vista Ultimate x64 (Sponsored by Microsoft)

Video Card Specifications

Specifications taken from manufacturer’s website:

  • GPU : HD 4870
  • ASIC Core : RV 770
  • Core Clock : 750
  • BUS : PCI Express x16
  • Ports : Dual DVI,HDTV-out with VIVO
  • Stream Processors : 800
  • MFG Process : 666 million transistors on 55nm fabrication process
  • Transistor Count : 660 Million
  • Cooling : Active – FanCooler
  • Memory Clock : 900
  • Memory Configuration : 16Mx32
  • Memory Type : GDDR5
  • Memory Bandwidth : 161 GB/Sec
  • Memory Size : 512MB
  • Memory Interface : 256-bit
  • RAMDAC : 400 Mhz
  • HDTV : YES
  • HDMI : HDMI compliance / HDCP ready
  • Native Display Support : 10-bit
  • 3D Resolution : 2560×1600
  • TV-OUT Resolution : 720

DirectX 10 Titles

Performance Notes

Great video card, beaten by the 280, costs half as much. We’ve all been there. I should mention that fast hardware is literally rewarding for me to review, since the timedemos go so much faster. This card pleases me.

DX9, OpenGL, and Synthetics

Performance Notes

Watching this single-GPU card beat out the 3870 X2 is also cool. I mean, I really liked the X2, because it was a flawless execution of the multi-GPU concept, but I’m not heartbroken to see it upstaged by a $300 card.

Video, Power, and Overclocking

Like all 4000-series cards, Diamond’s 4870 excels with video. The previous subjective shortcoming’s of ATI’s video processing, namely delays with moire compensation, are gone, another thing 4000 gets right.

There’s no reason to expect this stock card to consume less power or make less noise than any other stock 4870, and it doesn’t. The card runs hot and loud, with the fan speed modulating up and down frequently. The shifts make its profile higher than if it just blew constantly. It still makes less noise than a GTX 280.

Like with my other 4870s, this card easily reached the overclocking ceiling in the Catalyst Control Center. Don’t tell Diamond, but this card’s warranty is void. Thermally, the card doesn’t seem to be affected by the slight overclock, since most of it is memory overclocking. Again, this card struggles contain frames in its diminutive 512MB frame buffer, so memory overclocking is where it’s at.


The only adversary any 4870 has is other 4870s. People have fewer brand favorites in the ATI camp simply because manufacturers have been slow to vary the high-end models, let alone policies. People end up buying from one company because they save $10 over some other brand’s identical card. Diamond’s in a good position to develop a community fashioned after eVGA and other massive NVIDIA partners. The only thing holding them back is their short, limited warranty. Their service is about right.

One year, no overclocking, no modding. For a company that’s hip-deep in gaming, they’re not very fun.

So that’s it about Diamond: good packaging, nice bundle, no cheesecake, and lots of support, provided you follow all their rules. The 4870 still deserves commendation: it’s an impressive card at a very good price. But I can’t wait to see some better cooling.

Leave a Comment