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Can't Decide: 285 vs. 4870x2

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March 11, 2009 7:35:41 AM

I have a 4850 and have not done Nvidia for awhile, but don't really care about brand. I was originally set on the 4850x2 because of its great price/performance ratio. I need want something that can handle the most demanding games now (think crysis/farcry or similar) @ 1920x1200. Then I posted about it here and started reading online and there seem to be quite a few user/articles that have had problems with the card (overall quality/drivers/noise/etc).

Then I was set on the GTX 285 (maybe SSC?). Now I see that the Sapphire 4870x2 is down to around $400. My basic assessment of the reviews is that while the 4870x2 is faster in most situations, it's not faster by much. I'm a bit wary of dual GPUs and even more so about Xfire after reading online (plus 16x becomes 8x on my mobo in Xfire).

The 285 seems like even though its a bit slower overall, the frame rates are still playable (1920x1200) in most games and it sometimes "feels" faster (no micro-studdering - does the 4870x2 really suffer from that?), it's more even over a range of games, it doesn't have the driver issues, it's quieter, and it runs cooler, though it still doesn't strike me as a particularity good value.

Also, I have never messed with overclocking a video card and I like the performance but not price increases of the SSC version (or versions with the slightly slower Black Edition). It's about a $40-50 cost. Is it worth it for oc'd versions? And I have heard that XFX and EVGA have better warranties than Sapphire. Thoughts?

Budget: ~$400
System: 9450 stock, P5Q Pro (yes, I can Xfire - no, I can't SLI), 4GB ram
Resolution: 1920x1200
Purchase Date: This weekend

Which card would be the best bet?


Edit: Bad signs for the 4870x2 just on these forums or just unlikely incidents?

Why does my new 4870x2 suck so much?
4870x2 Problems
Sapphire 4870x2 not performing good

More about : decide 285 4870x2

a b U Graphics card
March 11, 2009 7:48:21 AM

Well if u r so much worried abt 4870X2, then u can look into the GTX295...And wat is the mobo u r using??
Related resources
March 11, 2009 8:41:18 AM

You can wait a little bit for the 4890 which is expected in a month. If not I suggest you 4870 1GB, its about 10% slower but probably half the price of 285 (after price drop)
March 11, 2009 10:54:38 AM

Actually its 30% slower than the 285 GTX...the 280 GTX is 10% slower than the 285 GTX and 4870 is 20% slower than that.

But I have to agree witht he wait for the 4890, since its sure to lower both ATi prices and especially Nvidia prices.
March 11, 2009 11:17:34 AM

Why not just drop like 120 now and get another 4850 for XF? And why does everyone like FarCry 2, its fun for like an hour until you realize you are just doing the same thing over and over.....and over...
a b U Graphics card
March 11, 2009 11:31:28 AM

billin30 said:
Why not just drop like 120 now and get another 4850 for XF?
+1, money-wise, this would probably give you the most for your money unless you can get a good price for your used 4850.
March 11, 2009 5:26:53 PM

From the replies so far, you would think I had asked for advice on anything but the two listed cards. I do appreciate the responses though. Here is why I'm not sure about the suggestions:

----
The GTX 295 is ~$500+...I only have ~$400 for a card, as mentioned in the op (plus it's still a dual gpu and so it would cause some of the same reservations as the 4870x2)

The 4850x2 probably has more bad press than any other card that performs that well for such a good price. If I can avoid potential problems (ex: read op) I will.

The 4890 is not coming out until April and it will probably not be any faster than the 285. I'm looking to buy now.

The 4870 (1GB) is a great card, but I'm considering the 4870x2. The two choices are really in a different league.

I am selling my 4850 (512MB) - for a good price - to a friend along with my 19" (getting a 24") monitor. The CF 4850 would be an improvement over one, but I still think most of the other cards would provide faster and more reliably consistent performance.
----

I would still love to hear your opinions on the 4870x2 vs. the 285 (probably factory oc'd). They are still probably the best cards I can buy for ~$400.
March 11, 2009 5:32:52 PM

well you can't compared em, they are in different leagues, I mean the 4870 X2 is faster hands down, but it can be more problematic because of drivers.

For the money spent, at least Canadian prices, 4870 X2 is a better card for the money since your paying around 1 more for 30% more performance.
March 11, 2009 5:44:24 PM

Either wait for prices to go down or just get yourself the 4850 x2, especially since you already have one 4850. You can crossfire the 4850 with the 4850x2 and you'll have 3 GPUs to crunch those polygons and pixels.
Both 4850 x2 and 4870x2 work great you just have to use cat9.1 or newer drivers, since they are the only ones that include the official dual GPU support from ATI.
GTX 295 has some driver issues running 2nd GPU on some games but should be resolved with future driver update.
Your choice.
Cheers
March 11, 2009 5:47:25 PM

p4andafter said:

The 4850x2 probably has more bad press than any other card that performs that well for such a good price. If I can avoid potential problems (ex: read op) I will.


That is due to the fact that the card was released 6 months before ATI released the official driver support fro dual GPU.
When you look at reviews or people's posting make sure that tehy are dated from 2009 after Cat 9.1 was released.


March 11, 2009 5:55:18 PM

I have a 4850x2 and the card is amazing for the price. Like Euphoria said you need to use Catalyst 9.1 or above for it to really be stable. So far this card can handle any game I play at 1920*1200 with all settings at their highest value.

One thing though is that the fans are on the louder side of the spectrum but I had a vf-900 I wasn't using and a friend had another vf-900 he wasn't using so I put the both on the card and voila .... no more annoying fan noise and temps are cooler than with the stock heatsink/fans.

If you decide to get the 4850x2 be sure to get the 2gb version .... it's worth the few more $$. DriverHeaven reviewed the 1gb version and they had some issues with it at higher resolution.
March 11, 2009 6:25:27 PM

smartel7070 said:

If you decide to get the 4850x2 be sure to get the 2gb version .... it's worth the few more $$. DriverHeaven reviewed the 1gb version and they had some issues with it at higher resolution.


Yes that is true. I purchased the hd4850 x2 1GB and at resolutions of 1920 x 1080 with everything maxed it was performing less than the 2GB version, from what I was seeing in the reviews. I returned the card and got myself a hd4870 1GB since the hd4850 x2 2GB was a bit over my budget.

Dont get me wrong though, if you you play at lower resolutions than 1920x1080, the hd4850 x2 1GB is an awesome card, giving you better performance then the gtx 280 at $90 lower price.


Cheers
March 11, 2009 8:44:02 PM

L1qu1d said:
well you can't compared em, they are in different leagues, I mean the 4870 X2 is faster hands down, but it can be more problematic because of drivers.

For the money spent, at least Canadian prices, 4870 X2 is a better card for the money since your paying around 1 more for 30% more performance.


I wouldn't argue with the idea that 4870x2 would be faster in most situations, but here are my concerns:

1) For current and soon to be released games, it looks like the 285 would be able to run playable frame rates. There's a lot of hyperbole (not you, in general) when talking about card performance. "Card A absolutely destroys card B" ...when the difference in frame rates would not actually be visible to the human eye.

2) Because frame rates would be acceptable, would the single GPU be the better option? I have heard rumors that a single GPU can sometimes "feel smoother". Is there any truth to that or have you tried the 4870x2?

3) I would assume that Sapphire has a decent warranty, but I have heard better things about EVGA and XFX. XFX now has a 4780x2 on newegg, but it's $465 (out of the price range). I have a Sapphire now, but it's the 4850 and I haven't heard about too many issues with that card.
March 11, 2009 8:58:40 PM

Euphoria_MK said:
Either wait for prices to go down or just get yourself the 4850 x2, especially since you already have one 4850. You can crossfire the 4850 with the 4850x2 and you'll have 3 GPUs to crunch those polygons and pixels.
Both 4850 x2 and 4870x2 work great you just have to use cat9.1 or newer drivers, since they are the only ones that include the official dual GPU support from ATI.
GTX 295 has some driver issues running 2nd GPU on some games but should be resolved with future driver update.
Your choice.
Cheers

It's good to hear that about the drivers, and I'm glad to see that they are on the ATI site. I'm selling my 4850 to a friend to raise the money for the new card, so unfortunately a tri-gpu setup would not be an option. Also, I'm about $100 too poor to get a 295, otherwise I would probably just do that. ~$400 is my limit.

Euphoria_MK said:
That is due to the fact that the card was released 6 months before ATI released the official driver support fro dual GPU.
When you look at reviews or people's posting make sure that tehy are dated from 2009 after Cat 9.1 was released.

I found one review that showed some improvement in the 4870 and 4870x2. Maybe the update is good. Do you have a 4850x2 with 1920x1200 and if so, what games do you play/how is the performance?

Euphoria_MK said:
Yes that is true. I purchased the hd4850 x2 1GB and at resolutions of 1920 x 1080 with everything maxed it was performing less than the 2GB version, from what I was seeing in the reviews. I returned the card and got myself a hd4870 1GB since the hd4850 x2 2GB was a bit over my budget.

Dont get me wrong though, if you you play at lower resolutions than 1920x1080, the hd4850 x2 1GB is an awesome card, giving you better performance then the gtx 280 at $90 lower price.


Cheers

There's no doubt that the card has a great price/performance ratio. It just sounds like it might be louder/hotter/buggier (maybe not the buggier part now) than the 280/5 (or 4870, for that matter...or the 4870x2?).
March 11, 2009 9:03:28 PM

smartel7070 said:
I have a 4850x2 and the card is amazing for the price. Like Euphoria said you need to use Catalyst 9.1 or above for it to really be stable. So far this card can handle any game I play at 1920*1200 with all settings at their highest value.

One thing though is that the fans are on the louder side of the spectrum but I had a vf-900 I wasn't using and a friend had another vf-900 he wasn't using so I put the both on the card and voila .... no more annoying fan noise and temps are cooler than with the stock heatsink/fans.

If you decide to get the 4850x2 be sure to get the 2gb version .... it's worth the few more $$. DriverHeaven reviewed the 1gb version and they had some issues with it at higher resolution.


The only thing is I don't want to mess with the hardware...how loud was it anyway? It sounds like the 4870x2 is loud, but less so than the 4850x2.
March 11, 2009 10:39:51 PM

p4andafter said:
The only thing is I don't want to mess with the hardware...how loud was it anyway? It sounds like the 4870x2 is loud, but less so than the 4850x2.


Its super quiet when you are doing regular stuff, when you play games and the GPU load increases the fan speed increases too, so if you have a better airflow in your case it might keep your temperatures lower and thus the fan speed and noise would be lower. But as it is, these fans can be noisy.

On another note, one thing I like about the 4870 x2 in comparison to the hd4850 x2 is that you can install custom fan/heatsink that Thermalright makes and it will make your card as close to quiet as you can get.

Currently hd4850 x2 does not have custom cooling solution. I wrote an email to both Arctic Cooling and Thermalright, and they both responded that at this time they do not have any plans on producing a custom Heatsink for this product.

I purchased instead the HIS hd4870 1GB from new egg for $189 last week and the card is awesome and very quiet. It comes with a huge heatsink that cools the heck out of the GPU. I am running it at 775MHz and mem 1000 which translates to 4000MHz transfer rate.

When the prices go down I am planing to get a second HD 4870 1GB probably the same HIS or whatever I can find cheaper and then crossfire them.

Cheers

BTW I play Left4Dead, Crysis, GTA IV, Team Fortress 2, Prince of Persia, COD4, UT3, and I have couple of other games laying around.

March 12, 2009 12:58:04 AM

i dunno why i got rated down for telling him to go for the 4850x2. at the 1900x1200 reso, it can handle most game thrown at it. it's not difficult for the card.

my friend has the card w/the new catalyst drivers on it, and it's fine, never had a problem.

he plays similar games as i do which are: FarCry2, TF2, COD4/5, L4D, and Prince of Persia. he can run every game on the list with max settings except for crysis and farcry flunctuates at times but still have consistent fps.

then again, i agree with posters above that a 4870 1gb can run all those games very well at that reso as well, except crysis and farcry. so...your call.

FC2 and Crysis on GTX285
http://www.overclock3d.net/reviews.php?/gpu_displays/as...

FC2 with 4870 1gb
http://www.xbitlabs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=16053&sid...

it hangs in there great even with a GTX280

FC2 with 4850x2
http://vr-zone.com/articles/sapphire-4830-4870-4870-tox...

once again, it handles it very well with a nice max frame rate, and a 33fps average on top settings.


from what i know from those two games, farcry2 tends to favor ATI cards more, and Crysis tends to favor Nv's cards. the fastest solution you could probably get within your range is 4870x2. all i am saying is, you can turn down the settings a bit and settle for a 4850x2, save 140$, and get great performance with a very very slight hit to quality.

March 12, 2009 1:17:51 AM

I have had no issues what so ever with my 4870 X2. It was in a E8400 system clocked at 3.6Ghz. Now it is in a I7 920 rig. If you are a novice at installing drivers, ATI is not the best choice. I have never had an issue with ATI drivers. This is my 4 ATI card in a row. I have had about 5 different drivers on my 4870 x2 and have had no issues.

People who have driver problems need to use google to teach themselves how to upgrade drivers properly.

Instead they feel the need to complain without putting in the effort to fix their problem.

I can't speak for the Nvidia cards. Anything above the 280 seems to handle today's games just fine.

My hd4870x2 makes the games I play look awesome on my samsung 25.5 @1920x1200. It doesn't run hot and it is very quiet.

March 12, 2009 1:24:24 AM

aznguy0028 said:
i dunno why i got rated down for telling him to go for the 4850x2. at the 1900x1200 reso, it can handle any game thrown at it. it's not difficult for the card.

my friend has the card w/the new catalyst drivers on it, and it's fine, never had a problem.

he plays similar games as i do which are: FarCry2, TF2, COD4/5, L4D, and Prince of Persia. he can run every game on the list with max settings except for crysis.

then again, a 4870 1gb can run all those games on max as well, except crysis. so...your call.

Unless I'm reading it wrong, I think it was the poster above you (gkay09) who got rated down, not you. In any case, I generally don't mess with ratings either way.

The 4850x2 does seem like a good and and a great value, but since I was set on the ~$400 285 ssc (probably not in the value category), now I'm thinking of getting the similarly priced 4870x2.
March 12, 2009 1:47:54 AM

keither5150 said:
I have had no issues what so ever with my 4870 X2. It was in a E8400 system clocked at 3.6Ghz. Now it is in a I7 920 rig. If you are a novice at installing drivers, ATI is not the best choice. I have never had an issue with ATI drivers. This is my 4 ATI card in a row. I have had about 5 different drivers on my 4870 x2 and have had no issues.

People who have driver problems need to use google to teach themselves how to upgrade drivers properly.

Instead they feel the need to complain without putting in the effort to fix their problem.

I can't speak for the Nvidia cards. Anything above the 280 seems to handle today's games just fine.

My hd4870x2 makes the games I play look awesome on my samsung 25.5 @1920x1200. It doesn't run hot and it is very quiet.

Good to hear on the card experience. I have 9.2 installed now...as long as the drivers are available, I have no problems finding and installing them.

Out of curiosity, what brand is your card, and/or is Sapphire good (my 4850 from them is good, but...)?

I know I've just read two benchmark charts that are favorable to the 4870x2 (here and here), but this one (here) is not and it was just done this month so they should have the right drivers. The x2 gets: COD at 16 fps min...FC2 at 8 fps min...slower than the 285 in nearly every test... The numbers don't even seem realistic.
a b U Graphics card
March 12, 2009 11:21:33 AM

There is no arguing there, the GTX285 is, for now, the most powerful single-GPU card out there.

As in any financial investment, you have to make compromises. Being a single-GPU card, the GTX285 will probably have much more consistent gaming performance from game to game than a dual-GPU since single-GPU drivers and support is much more mature. However, games well optimized for dual-GPU might give better results for less $$$ than the GTX285. It's basically like the old "dual vs quad" debate.

Either way, I don't think you will be disappointed unless most of the games you play don't have good SLI/Xfire support and that usually change with game/driver patch in the first month of release.
March 12, 2009 3:00:20 PM

p4andafter said:
Good to hear on the card experience. I have 9.2 installed now...as long as the drivers are available, I have no problems finding and installing them.

Out of curiosity, what brand is your card, and/or is Sapphire good (my 4850 from them is good, but...)?

I know I've just read two benchmark charts that are favorable to the 4870x2 (here and here), but this one (here) is not and it was just done this month so they should have the right drivers. The x2 gets: COD at 16 fps min...FC2 at 8 fps min...slower than the 285 in nearly every test... The numbers don't even seem realistic.


I have a Palit. This is my first time buying a Palit. It works well so far.

Below is my Min/Max/Average on crysis. ( Benchmarks were taken well into the game)
Settings are high @1920x1200 on a 25.5 Samsung 1080P.

37 61 51.583
31 61 44.533
34 47 41.557
23 53 44.531
21 49 41.224
28 76 42.917
34 68 47.15
38 51 45.307
25 41 31.357
20 65 40.833

Fear 2 demo @ max settings ( during playing the actual game I noticed FPS mostly in the high 40's to mid 50's)

27 63 44.033
38 43 41.45
38 42 39.686
40 43 41.324

I just did a fresh install after I uninstalled windows 7 so I don't have benchmarks for COD. However I remember COD being very high. That game is not as hard on your hardware as FEAR 2 or Crysis.

The lowest I have ever seen on my X2 is 20 FPS. It is usually hits the 20's during an explosion. My average min is 29. My numbers might seem low compared to others but you have to remember that I am playing on a 25.5 @1920x1200. If I go down to 1680x1050 on my old 22 the numbers would go up.

I also have a 4850 1 gb in my HTPC with an E8400 @ stock. The 4850 1 gb is a capable card for the money.

I agree with you. Those numbers don't seem accurate.
When I bought my 4870x2 I had the same thoughts as you. Conflicting benchmarks all over the place.

Nvidia seems to offer nice cards now. When I bought I didn't consider them because it wasthe pre-280 days.

ATI would still be my choice right now.

March 12, 2009 10:06:19 PM

Zenthar said:
There is no arguing there, the GTX285 is, for now, the most powerful single-GPU card out there.

As in any financial investment, you have to make compromises. Being a single-GPU card, the GTX285 will probably have much more consistent gaming performance from game to game than a dual-GPU since single-GPU drivers and support is much more mature. However, games well optimized for dual-GPU might give better results for less $$$ than the GTX285. It's basically like the old "dual vs quad" debate.

Either way, I don't think you will be disappointed unless most of the games you play don't have good SLI/Xfire support and that usually change with game/driver patch in the first month of release.

It's a good way to think about it. Since the cards (as optioned) are the same price, and I don't usually rush out for the latest games on release date, it does seem like the 4870x2 is the best option.
March 12, 2009 10:27:01 PM

keither5150 said:
I have a Palit. This is my first time buying a Palit. It works well so far.

Below is my Min/Max/Average on crysis. ( Benchmarks were taken well into the game)
Settings are high @1920x1200 on a 25.5 Samsung 1080P.

37 61 51.583
31 61 44.533
34 47 41.557
23 53 44.531
21 49 41.224
28 76 42.917
34 68 47.15
38 51 45.307
25 41 31.357
20 65 40.833

Fear 2 demo @ max settings ( during playing the actual game I noticed FPS mostly in the high 40's to mid 50's)

27 63 44.033
38 43 41.45
38 42 39.686
40 43 41.324

I just did a fresh install after I uninstalled windows 7 so I don't have benchmarks for COD. However I remember COD being very high. That game is not as hard on your hardware as FEAR 2 or Crysis.

The lowest I have ever seen on my X2 is 20 FPS. It is usually hits the 20's during an explosion. My average min is 29. My numbers might seem low compared to others but you have to remember that I am playing on a 25.5 @1920x1200. If I go down to 1680x1050 on my old 22 the numbers would go up.

I also have a 4850 1 gb in my HTPC with an E8400 @ stock. The 4850 1 gb is a capable card for the money.

I agree with you. Those numbers don't seem accurate.
When I bought my 4870x2 I had the same thoughts as you. Conflicting benchmarks all over the place.

Nvidia seems to offer nice cards now. When I bought I didn't consider them because it wasthe pre-280 days.

ATI would still be my choice right now.

Nice post. Thanks for the benches...

I'll be playing at 1920x1200 (24") as well, and your frame rates look entirely acceptable even at min.

From this and the vast majority of reviews the X2 seems like the best option for the money right now, so I think that seals it.
!