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Sapphire HD4870 X2 Atomic water-cooled graphics card

Liquid engineering and the world's most expensive graphics board

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Beneath the Asetek hardware, the Sapphire Atomic is a regular HD 4870 X2 graphics card so it is horribly long and may be tricky to install inside your PC, although the water cooling helps as it converts the Atomic into a single-slot design.

3DMark Vantage Performance Mode Results

Sapphire HD4870 X2 Atomic - 3DMark Vantage

Blue bars used a Core i7 965 at 4GHz
Red bars used a Core 2 QX9650 at 3GHz
Longer bars are better

Sapphire has used the precise cooling control that is offered by the switch from air to water and has raised the clock speed from 750MHz/900MHz to 800MHz/1000MHz, which is a bigger step than it sounds as the memory on HD 4870 is GDDR 5. This makes the new effective speed 4000MHz rather than 3600MHz.

Installing the Atomic on our overclocked 4GHz Core i7 system was easy as we simply left the CPU cooler and heat exchanger hanging from the edge of the board in an undignified manner. The difference in noise level between the standard HD 4870 X2 and the Atomic was quite immediately apparent. Although the Atomic isn’t silent it's certainly very quiet with both the pump and fan making less noise than the Noctua NH-C12P with LGA1366 mounting kit. It’s a very effective cooler and we really should do an in-depth review soon.

3DMark06 Results

Sapphire HD4870 X2 Atomic - 3DMark06

Blue bars used a Core i7 965 at 4GHz
Red bars used a Core 2 QX9650 at 3GHz
Longer bars are better

The standard HD 4870 X2 delivered storming performance across the board and very nearly matched the Atomic, which was something of a surprise as the extra clock speed used by Sapphire had little effect. We verified this by overclocking the reference card from 750MHz/900MHz to 800MHz/925MHz and found that this small amount of extra speed had no noticeable effect in our benchmark tests.

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