A Closer Look At The Card
At first glance, the PowerColor PCS+ HD 4870 1GB GDDR5 looks completely different than AMD's reference Radeon HD 4870. While the two cards do share essentially the same PCB, their specifications and coolers are quite different.
The PowerColor PCS+ HD 4870 1GB GDDR5 features a custom cooler with a large, center mounted fan. To the front and back of the fan are a couple of densely packed arrays of aluminum heatsink fins, linked by four heat-pipes to a copper base that sits directly atop the GPU. Two heat-pipes run along the top of the card and through the rear-mounted heatsink fins, and the other two along the bottom of the card and through the front-mounted heatsink fins. The design is relatively simple and elegant, and far lighter than AMD's reference cooler.
During testing, we actually found the cooler to perform better than PowerColor's claims. Whereas our reference Radeon HD 4870 idled at around 75'C and peaked at about 90'C, PowerColor's offering with the PCS+ cooler idled at roughly 60'C and never broke 80'C under load. And keep in mind, this PowerColor card is factory overclocked. The cooler definitely works well. The PowerColor PCS+ cooler does have a drawback though--it's louder than AMD's reference cooler under light to moderate loads. While idling, the PowerColor PCS+ HD 4870 1GB GDDR5 is clearly more audible than AMD's reference cards, but not annoyingly so. But under a heavy load, both cards create a similar amount of noise.
The actual specifications for the PowerColor PCS+ HD 4870 1GB GDDR5 consist of an 800MHz GPU clock and a Memory Clock 925MHz (3.7Gbps effective). As we have already mentioned, there is 1GB of frame buffer memory on-board, double that of the initial batch of reference Radeon HD 4870 cards. The outputs are identical to reference cards, however, and consist of a pair of dual-link DVI outputs and an S-Video / HD TV output. HDMI output with audio is also available through the use of an included dongle.