ASUS Matrix & Sapphire Toxic Radeon HD 4870, 4850

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ASUS ROG EAH4870 Matrix

The ROG EAH4870 Matrix is a significantly different beast than the 4850. While it still sports the same Super Hybrid Engine chip and iTracker application, the rest of the card is completely different.

Although iTracker allows for overclocking, the 4850 is shipped at stock speed and does not have any sort of guaranteed factory overclocking. The 4870, on the other hand, does come factory overclocked to 770MHz core clock and 920MHz memory clock. That is a 20MHz overclock in core clock and 20MHz overclock of memory. This is hardly anything to write home about and doesn't come close to ASUS' own 4870 TOP which features a much higher overclock. However, top-end factory overclock isn't the purpose of the Matrix series.

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The ROG EAH4870 uses a very unique dual-slot cooler that features two fans. In a way, the cooler looks like a slightly longer, frankensteinian version of the single fan cooler found on the 4850 version. However, there are many significant differences between the two coolers.

The most obvious difference is the extra fan, which is placed in the middle of the card, directly over where the GPU is located. The second difference is in the type of fans used. While the single fan cooler on the 4850 uses a blower style fan, the 4870 features two conventional low-profile fans, although the tips of the fan blades have been curved to give it a bit of a hybrid design.

The cooler also sports four copper heatpipes. The heatsink is separated into four pieces with one heatpipe per piece. The first piece wraps around the second fan at the back of the card near the power connectors. The second and third heatsinks both wrap around the first fan located in the center of the card. The last heatsink is located at the front of the card near the I/O panel.

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The cooler also has very different operating characteristics compared to the one found on the 4850 version. In 2D mode, only the fan that is located in the middle of the card is turned on while the second fan is turned off completely. Switching to 3D mode will turn both fans on. We also found that this cooler has much better passive cooling abilities than the one found on the 4850 and both fans often turned off completely. However the passive cooling ability still isn't optimal and the fans can only stay off for 15-20 minutes before one of them needs to turn back on again to bring the temperature back down. We found the constantly toggling of the fans while in 2D mode to be quite annoying, as they turned on and off every 15 minutes or so.

We also noticed that the fans on the 4870 are noticeably louder than the blower on the 4850 version. While the two fan's aren't individually any louder than the blower fan on the 4850, when combined at medium to full speed, they can produce quite a ruckus. They also produce a slightly higher pitched noise which we found to be more irritating and finally there was significant "wind" noise when both fans were on simultaneously, presumably due to the airflow of the two fans interfering with each other.

Overall the cooler is very fancy and nice to look at but it isn't the most efficient model we've seen nor is it the quietest. In terms of noise, it isn't much better than the 4870 reference cooler. However it does get the job done at least as well as the reference cooler and with some tweaks in the iTracker application, the fans can be brought down to a more acceptable level.

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Both the ASUS ROG EAH4850 Matrix and the EAH4870 come packaged with the same bundle. Inside the box you'll find the following:
  • 1 x DVI-toVGA video adapter
  • 1 x DVI-to-HDMI video adapter
  • 1 x molex-to-6-pin PCI-E power adapter
  • 1 x component video splitter adapter
  • 1 x driver CD
  • 1 x digital user manual CD (multi-language)
  • 1 x Speed Setup booklet
This is a fairly standard bundle and includes most of everything you'll need for single-card use. However if you want to use two Matrix cards in Crossfire, you'll need to purchase the Crossfire bridge connector separately since neither package comes with one. The driver disk also contains the iTracker software, as well as the GamerOSD utility which is similar in function to FRAPS and the ASUS Video Security Online application, which allows you to monitor your system via webcam.

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