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Make room for the big dawg
In addition to testing the new GeForces, we've gathered together quite a few intriguing Radeon cards. Many Radeon board vendors have been building custom versions of the 4800-series cards, and several of them are represented here today.


Ladies and gentlemen, this honkin' contraption is our very first triple-wide video card, the Palit Revolution 700 Deluxe. Yes, it's a Radeon HD 4870 X2 with a little something extra. Let us marvel at its... girth.


Palit says it chose this triple-slot cooling design in order to keep the card quiet, and that approach seems to have worked. To my ears, this card does indeed sound quieter than the regular dual-slot versions of the 4870 X2. And before you write it off as a gimmick, consider that this card takes up one less slot than a CrossFire pair of Radeon HD 4870s. In its own, large way, it somehow makes sense, like Kim Kardashian in a two-piece.


But it does kinda dwarf a regular old Radeon HD 4870 X2, even though both cards are 10.5" long.

Palit has made use of all that expansion plate real estate by equipping the Revolution 700 with an output port quad-fecta: DVI, VGA, HDMI, and DisplayPort are all represented. Included in the box is an HDMI-to-DVI adapter, too—a crucial bit for many of us.

Amazingly enough, though, Palit has chosen to stick with the Radeon HD 4870 X2's stock clock speeds. Surely they could have gotten an extra 50MHz out of that honking cooler, no?

Nevertheless, the Revolution 700 is a nice example of a card maker going out on a limb to offer something a little bit different. Unfortunately, it doesn't yet appear to be available at online retailers in the U.S. We received this example of the Revolution 700 a few weeks back, and at that time, Palit told us to expect street prices around $540. I would kind of expect that plan to be modified by the arrival of the GTX 295 and by the price cuts some vendors have made on regular ol' 4870 X2s based on AMD's reference design. Many of those X2 cards are now selling for $449, and most currently have a $50 mail-in rebate attached, as well. We'll have to see where prices are when the Revolution 700 arrives in volume, which I believe should happen any day now.

Sapphire's gem: the 4850 X2
Speaking of creative interpretations of the Radeon HD 4800 series, get a load of this thing:


That's Sapphire's Radeon HD 4850 X2, and as far as I know, it's totally unique. No other vendor seems to offer a dual-GPU version of the Radeon HD 4850, and this board is apparently Sapphire's own custom design. Perhaps that explains why the board itself is so very long—an eighth beyond 11 inches, in fact, longer than even Palit's triple-slot monstrosity. You'll want to check very carefully to see whether there's room inside your PC before ordering one of these.


Sapphire's 4850 X2 is even longer than a 4870 X2—or a GeForce GTX 295


In fact, the little heatsink pictured above protrudes from the back of the card, grabbing even more space. And yes, the card requires both a 6-pin and an 8-pin PCIe auxiliary power connection.

For all of its quirks, the 4850 X2 has some pretty obvious attractive attributes. Among them is the price-performance prospect of such a thing. Right now, the 4850 X2 is selling for $299 at Newegg, which puts it at roughly the same price as a couple of Radeon HD 4850s. And since its GPUs and memory run at stock speeds, it is very much like a couple of those. But this X2 has one big advantage: it sports 2GB of GDDR3 memory, or a gigabyte per GPU, double the amount on most 4850 cards. And in this performance class, when you're looking to run the latest games at the highest resolutions and quality settings, a gig is what you want. You'll see what I mean when we get to our benchmarks.