Key Points:
  • Buy the ATI Radeon HD 4870 if you want to own an underrated piece of retro PC history that still functions in a modern-day setting, and has arguably saved AMD’s GPU division.
  • Released in 2008, the Radeon HD 4870 had only 512 MBs of VRAM and was eventually upgraded to 1GB when games and monitors advanced.
  • If you go to AMD’s website for HD 4870 drivers, the latest OS they technically support is Windows 8, but it’s possible to run it with the Windows 7 driver.

The Radeon HD 4870 is another one of those GPUs from the bygone era. It was a revelation for the AMD GPU brand, taking the lead over NVIDIAs GPUs for a couple of years. But today, it does not hold up a chance of being in the same ballpark as modern GPUs. 

This entry-level gaming card came out when AMD was lagging behind its top competitor NVIDIA. Everyone expected AMD to roll over and shut down their GPU division to focus more on CPUs. But low behold, AMD struck gold with this card. They blew NVIDIA’s GTX 260 and 280 out of the water. A combination of price to performance and optimized efficiency architecture made the HD 4870 unbeatable. 

Quick Facts

Release Date
25/06/2008
Original price
$299
Units Sold
N/A

In this review, we will be looking at whether these older GPUs still should hold a place in our PCs or if they should just be viewed as historical landmarks in the evolution of PC technology. 

up close image of ATI Radeon HD 4870
Launched in 2008, the ATI Radeon HD 4870 was an entry-level gaming graphics card.

 Best Deal Today

Remember, this card was released in 2008 at the original MSRP of $299. If you can find a new one today, I doubt it will still cost that much.

Typical of used products, the pricing depends on mileage. You can find deals by doing a quick search on google.

Radeon HD 4870 Overview

 Release date and price

The Radeon HD 4870 was released on August 12th, 2008. I think it was one of the biggest GPU releases for AMD. Not only did it save their GPU division, but it also beat NVIDIA cards for a good couple of years. 

The original MSRP for this GPU was $299. I find it crazy that over the last 15 years, a ton of GPUs have been released at this price point. PCs with relative performance can still be built for about the same price point as in 2008. 

Features

Radeon HD 4870 had only 512 MBs of VRAM when it was released. It was eventually upgraded to 1GB when games and monitors started eating that up too quickly. So could you imagine being excited for GPU with only 1 GB RAM today? 

In all honesty, some features might play more into fans of retro gaming or CRT monitor aficionados. The video output on this card boasts 2X DVI and 1X S-Video ports. If you don’t know what S-Video is, it is a high-quality video signal reaching 480i or 576i. You will mostly see it today on old VHS players and CRT TVs. 

Specifications

Clock Speed750 MHz
Memory512 MB – 1GB
Memory TypeGDDR5
InterfacePCIe 2.0 x16
Slot WidthDual 
Length9.5 inches
Width4.4 inches
Release DateJune 25th, 2008
Warranty2 years
Release MSRP$299

Radeon HD 4870 Review

ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT next to ATI Radeon HD 4870 on a desk
ATI Radeon HD 4870 runs on an average-sized RV770 graphics processor.

Looking at eBay listings and all the old release articles about this card, I could not resist getting one. If you have read my article on the GTX 470, you know I am a sucker for older GPU styles. I am nostalgic, as I now have one in my hands again. I think I now know why PC building was not seen as a mainstream hobby in 2008. 

Gaming 

When it comes to gaming, I will not be able to test this with current triple-A games like Fallout 3. In all fairness, Fallout 3 did come out in 2008. At 1080p ultra settings, I got an average of 55 FPS. I got a bit more ambitious and tried to play GTA V, but I only averaged 28.3 FPS.

Compatibility 

A significant thing to remember with this card is compatibility. I had a little trouble getting it to work with Windows 10 PC, but after some tinkering, I got it working to its full capability. If you go to AMD’s website for HD 4870 drivers, the latest OS they technically support is Windows 8, but I got the Windows 7 driver working for me. 

This was not a factor for me, but when this came out, one of the big selling points was its compatibility with Mac. The Mac Pro tower at the time still had parts you could swap out yourself, a novel idea, right? So with this card, you could upgrade the base model Mac Pro GPU. If you still happen to be rocking a 15-year-old Mac Pro tower. 

Radeon HD 4870 Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Refurbished and used cards are widely available
  • Can run some games reliably at 1080p 

Cons

  • Only has DVI and S-Video Outputs 
  • VRAM is lower than modern-day standards
  • Not the fasted graphics processor in the market

Radeon HD 4870: Is It a Buy?

Buy it if…

You want to own a piece of retro PC history that can still do its job in a modern-day setting. The Radeon HD 4870 is a GPU that arguably saved AMD’s GPU division, and it deserves more recognition than it gets. 

If you want a cool-looking GPU to impress all your PC nerd friends with, depending on how you feel about this card’s design. 

Don’t buy it if…

If you want a graphics processor that can compete with modern-day GPUs, Radeon HD 4870 might not be your best option. It’s unlikely you can game to your heart’s content on a $70 card. The 1 GB of VRAM severely limits what games are compatible with it. Some modern-day triple-A games crashed before they even launched with the HD 4870. 

Up Next…

Last update on 2022-12-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

ATI Radeon HD 4870 Specs: Price, Speed, and More FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Is Radeon HD 4870 Good?

The Radeon HD 4870 was the king of GPUs when it was released in 2008. But today, it does not quite hold up to the standard set by modern GPUs.

Is ATI Radeon HD 4800 series good for gaming?

The Radeon HD 4800 series is suitable for light gaming today. When it came out, it could handle all the triple-A games. But today, the 1 GB of VRAM does not meet the lowest requirements for many bigger games.

About the Author

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  • Tech Radar Available here: https://www.techradar.com/reviews/pc-mac/pc-components/graphics-cards/ati-radeon-hd-4870-415541/review
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