Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 45nm
Asus Striker II NSE nForce 790i SLI Mobo
Crucial Ballistix Tracer DDR3-1600 4GB Kit
Thermaltake ToughPower 850 Cable Management ESA Power Supply
Thermaltake BigWater 780e Liquid Cooling System
Thermaltake Armor+ ESA Full Tower
Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit SP1
If this is a video card replacement rather than a new build, uninstall the previous video card drivers prior to uninstalling the old video card. If the card happens to be a Radeon with a later version of Catalyst drivers, I’ve found that you can leave the CCC installed, but unless you have the latest version, you may want to uninstall all Catalyst drivers.
Installation of the Revolution 700 Deluxe will probably be rather tough in some midtowers, but was as easy as any other video card in my full tower. As I mentioned earlier, the card requires one 8-pin and 1 6-pin PCI-E power connector.
I have found that the best way to install Catalyst drivers in Vista is download the latest Catalyst Suite and the latest standalone driver, which are available on the same page at ATI’s site, and install them on a CD. Insert the CD while starting the system. Include the standalone driver so Vista will find it while looking for a driver to install. Install the Catalyst Suite after the driver reboot. Catalyst will probably reinstall the VGA driver, but at least you aren’t fighting Vista over the generic Windows drivers, which has caused me problems to no end.
Testing – Fan Noise / Temps
The 8-11 version of the Catalyst Control Center has a fan control. Thank Goodness, I thought we’d never get one! So I thought I’d check out fan performance and noise.
Default fan speed is 37%, the fans are totally silent at that setting. Idle temp was 59C, as opposed to around 70C-80C with the reference model of the HD 4870 X2. Using Ozone3D’s FurMark to max out the GPUs, load temp was 74C, compared to the mid 90′s with the reference model. Not bad at all.
Another benefit from the Revolution’s coolers is the fast temp drop after coming off of load. The reference card takes a long time for the temps to drop, but the temps dropped immediately after closing FurMark, and were back to 60C in less than a minute.
Checking out the highest fan speed while still maintaining silence, the fans were inaudible at 44%, at 45% they could be heard. Usually changing the fan speed that small of an amount makes little difference in temperature, but at 44%, idle temp dropped to 56C. Load temp remained at 74C.
Finally, I ran the fans at 100%. Yes, they were just as loud as you’d expect a pair of 80mm fans to be running wide open, actually something I haven’t heard in quite some time, and haven’t missed a bit.
Running the fans at full speed did make quite a difference, idle temp dropped to 47C, and load dropped to 67C. Changing fan speed doesn’t always make that much difference, so I’m well pleased.
While I’m here, I may as well mention the Catalyst 8-11 drivers. During the testing period, which amounted to a few days, the drivers appeared much more stable than any version of Catalyst I’ve used this year. Maybe we finally got a good one.
Using the ATI Overdrive in the Catalyst Control Center, I cranked up the GPU clock to 800mHz, which is the max setting. Surprisingly, the temperatures weren’t affected. I opted not to go to an earlier driver to use a 3rd party overclocker like Rivatuner, it isn’t set up to run with Catalyst 8-11.