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What's better? 2 x Radeon 4870 or 1 x Radeon 5870?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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April 30, 2010 7:04:06 PM

I'm getting ready to order the parts for a new system, and was reviewing the video card benchmarks included in the March 26, 2010 article GeForce GTX 480 And 470: From Fermi And GF100 To Actual Cards.

To my surprise, I found that in benchmark after benchmark, 2 x ATI Radeon 4870 outperform 1 x ATI Radeon 5870. The only cards that consistently do better (in these charts) than 2x4870 are the top of the line and much more costly GTX 480 and Radeon 5970.

Examples:






In the 3DMark Vantage benchmark, 2x4870 does under-perform relative to 1x5870, but I'm not sure how much weight to give these results relative to the results for the specific games shown above.




Based on current prices at NewEgg.com:

2x4870: $319.98
1x5870: $439.99

So: I'm curious what everyone thinks. Is there more to this than the raw benchmark numbers? Am I misunderstanding what I'm reading? I'd like to get a good gaming system and don't really mind the $440 price tag for the ATI Radeon 5870, but from the benchmarks, it appears that I would actually get better -- or at least comparable -- performance from two 4870's, while saving $120.

I appreciate any insight people can offer!
April 30, 2010 7:41:55 PM

Personally, if you're looking for a crossfire setup, I would reccomend two 5770 cards. These scale extraordinarily well in crossfire and represent pretty good value for money.
Two 5770 cards will beat a 5870, have DX11, are much more energy efficient and are a lot easier to get your hands on than 2 4870 cards.

The above assumes you have your heart set on a crossfire setup. Crossfire generally works remarkably well in this day and age, but there's the very occasional game where the performance might be a bit dodgy until ATI update their crossfire profiles.

The price difference is minimal: Google Shopping reports £96 for the 4870 and £106 for the 5770.

Tl;dr version. If you want crossfire, get two 5770s instead.
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April 30, 2010 7:42:09 PM

The 1gb 4870 CF would definately be faster and more fun to work with, but it is an older architecture and as a result it is hotter and (Crossfire would make this worse), it is not dx11 (not a major factor now but in about a year can be seriously noticabe), it uses alot more power than the 5870. What else do you have in your system this is important because crossfire tends to bottleneck a little more but 2 4870s tend not to suffer from this too much. For me I would go with the 5870 because of two main reasons (i) It is more futuristic and as a result would look better (image quality) in games especially dx11 games and (ii) Most of the 4870s on the market now are horrible as they don't have the reference design and strangely they seem to be worse especially in terms of cooling (the good ones are gone) I am feeling the full effects of this problem now as I have a HIS 4870 512mb with fried display ports and as a result it is only good for a slave in crossfire (hopefully) and I can't find one with good cooling and CF bridge at a good price (still investigating the ASUS on Newegg and the Diamond on Amazon (PLEASE IF YOU KNOW WHERE I CAN FIND ONE WITH GOOD COOLING & ACCESSORIES TELL ME)

NB: You can get a Sapphire 5870 for $389.99 on Newegg now http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
and a XFX for $409.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... and $419.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... the latter with a free AVP game and both with lifetime warranty
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a b U Graphics card
April 30, 2010 7:43:11 PM

What's you'r new CPU, MB, RAM and PSU?
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a c 225 U Graphics card
April 30, 2010 7:45:02 PM

Those graphs do not show any results w/ two 4870's. What you are looking at is the ATI equivalent of the GTX 295 or the earlier version of the 5970 w/ two GPU's on a single card.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

As to your question....note that you are looking mostly at DX9/10 test results.....if that's what you will be playing and intend to play your new games under....the 4870x2, GTX 295 or other DX10 card is an obvious choice. But if you are seeking to reap the benefits of DX11's features, then I'd be looking at the 470 / 5850 or the 480 / 5870 tiers.
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April 30, 2010 7:47:27 PM

Two 5770s are also quite potent like 'Willakan' said and it is usually quite close to the 4870x2 and even beats it on a few occasions and it is definately more future proof, cool and a reasonabe power consumer!!!
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April 30, 2010 7:59:26 PM

Stay with 5000 series. It's new, more efficient, and have DX11. As card choice and configuration (5770, 5850 or 5870, CF or not), divide performance by price and choose what you need/can afford.
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a b U Graphics card
April 30, 2010 8:02:48 PM

JackNaylorPE said:
Those graphs do not show any results w/ two 4870's. What you are looking at is the ATI equivalent of the GTX 295 or the earlier version of the 5970 w/ two GPU's on a single card.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

As to your question....note that you are looking mostly at DX9/10 test results.....if that's what you will be playing and intend to play your new games under....the 4870x2, GTX 295 or other DX10 card is an obvious choice. But if you are seeking to reap the benefits of DX11's features, then I'd be looking at the 470 / 5850 or the 480 / 5870 tiers.


A 4870x2 is the same as 2 4870's, just it is on one board, what is you point
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a b U Graphics card
April 30, 2010 9:56:11 PM

if you already have a 4870 1GB, get another for crossfire, if you don't, get the 5870 so you can crossfire down the line if you want/need to
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April 30, 2010 10:17:03 PM

Willakan said:
Personally, if you're looking for a crossfire setup, I would reccomend two 5770 cards. These scale extraordinarily well in crossfire and represent pretty good value for money. Two 5770 cards will beat a 5870, have DX11, are much more energy efficient and are a lot easier to get your hands on than 2 4870 cards.

Okay, good advice, thanks. I think the DX11 is going to be the decisive factor. No point in building a new machine so I can play old games to their utmost potential. ;-)


Willakan said:
The above assumes you have your heart set on a crossfire setup. Crossfire generally works remarkably well in this day and age, but there's the very occasional game where the performance might be a bit dodgy until ATI update their crossfire profiles.

Well, I don't really, but that's how I've been leaning. Do you think I should consider an nVidia card? Based on the feedback from everyone here, I've pretty much narrowed it down to either the Radeon 5870 or the GTX 480.


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April 30, 2010 10:23:55 PM

Go with the 5870 less heat and power plus cheaper
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April 30, 2010 10:31:14 PM

Ray Charles said:
The 1gb 4870 CF would definately be faster and more fun to work with, but it is an older architecture and as a result it is hotter and (Crossfire would make this worse), it is not dx11 (not a major factor now but in about a year can be seriously noticabe), it uses alot more power than the 5870. What else do you have in your system this is important because crossfire tends to bottleneck a little more but 2 4870s tend not to suffer from this too much.

For me I would go with the 5870 because of two main reasons (i) It is more futuristic and as a result would look better (image quality) in games especially dx11 games and (ii) Most of the 4870s on the market now are horrible as they don't have the reference design and strangely they seem to be worse especially in terms of cooling (the good ones are gone) I am feeling the full effects of this problem now as I have a HIS 4870 512mb with fried display ports and as a result it is only good for a slave in crossfire (hopefully) and I can't find one with good cooling and CF bridge at a good price (still investigating the ASUS on Newegg and the Diamond on Amazon (PLEASE IF YOU KNOW WHERE I CAN FIND ONE WITH GOOD COOLING & ACCESSORIES TELL ME)

Lots of good advice. Thank you.

About what else I have in my system: Here's what I'm currently thinking of -- still undecided between a couple choices for each part:

CPU:
Somewhere between the i7 920 and the i7960.

Motherboard:
– ASUS P6X58D Premium, or
– Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7.

(If anyone has any other suggestions, I'm all ears.)

RAM:
Tentatively either:
– Crucial 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600), or
– Corsair Dominator 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)

I don't really know if the 1600 is worth the extra $60.

Graphics:
– Radeon HD 5870 1GB 256-bit, or
– GeForce GTX 480 (Fermi)

Hard Drives:
– WD VelociRaptor 600GB 10000 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5"
– Intel X25-M 80GB SATA II SSD


And, of course, here's the key component that will make the whole system!



Ray Charles said:
NB: You can get a Sapphire 5870 for $389.99 on Newegg now http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
and a XFX for $409.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... and $419.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... the latter with a free AVP game and both with lifetime warranty

Oh, cool, thanks. All three of those are cheaper than the one I had bookmarked.
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April 30, 2010 10:37:18 PM

unknown_13 said:
What's you'r new CPU, MB, RAM and PSU?

Oh, I forgot to list the PSU above. Here's what I'm looking at:

SILVERSTONE ST1000-P 1000W ATX 12V $189.99

I really have no idea if this is a good choice. I think I got the idea from the Tom's Hardware "build your own" parts list for March, 2010.

[Added: Yep.]
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April 30, 2010 10:43:07 PM

JackNaylorPE said:
Those graphs do not show any results w/ two 4870's. What you are looking at is the ATI equivalent of the GTX 295 or the earlier version of the 5970 w/ two GPU's on a single card.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...


Huh. Interesting. I didn't realize that was even available.


JackNaylorPE said:
As to your question....note that you are looking mostly at DX9/10 test results.....if that's what you will be playing and intend to play your new games under....the 4870x2, GTX 295 or other DX10 card is an obvious choice. But if you are seeking to reap the benefits of DX11's features, then I'd be looking at the 470 / 5850 or the 480 / 5870 tiers.

Alright. You and everyone else have convinced me to go with a card that can handle DX11.
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May 1, 2010 3:06:22 AM

Get the 5870 ..I first bought two 5770s and while the performance was good, they got hot. I returned them and picked up a 5870.. the 5870 is noticably smoother in games, Best way to go imo.
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a b U Graphics card
May 1, 2010 3:25:17 AM

Bighairyman said:
Get the 5870 ..I first bought two 5770s and while the performance was good, they got hot. I returned them and picked up a 5870.. the 5870 is noticably smoother in games, Best way to go imo.


you must have had pretty bad airflow if those were getting hot, i have 2 x 4870 1GB and they are fine (they run a bit hotter)
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May 1, 2010 6:00:24 AM

This airflow issue is more important than it seems! I say this because you can buy alot of components (CPU,GPU,PSU) with wonderful cooling systems individually without a good case it would defeat the purpose or reduce the value of these said parts with good cooling. My advice is to look at purchase a sturdy, cable management friendly, aesthetically attractive case (personal preference) with good airflow and cooling system of fans. I have a Coolermaster Centurion 590 (I like the look) and it has good airflow and facilitates somewhere in the vicinity of 8 fans, one 80mm and the rest in 120mm. resulting in good cooling but it is heavy, not fully tooless, has no reset button (can set the pw button to do this but never tried it) and it hard drive bay a bit trouble some.The newer Coolermaster case are better like the 690, 690 II, HAF 922, HAF 932 and Antec as well as Thermaltake have very good cases also. All in all buy a case to match the caliber of its internal components or even surpass it!!!
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a b U Graphics card
May 1, 2010 8:39:57 AM

Well since you will buy an i7 platform i think u should get a HD 5870 now and later Xfire it with another 5870
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a c 376 U Graphics card
May 1, 2010 12:20:51 PM

As long as you are willing to OC then an HD5850 is what you want. It's definitely the best value for the money on the high end right now. If you bump up the voltage it can OC 40-50%, well past the performance of the HD5870 or 2xHD5770 at stock. $100 cheaper than the HD5870 and compared to crossfired HD5770s it will use less power/give off less heat, leave you a slot to upgrade with later on and have no crossfire scaling/compatibility issues or problems with minimum frame rates due to a 128-bit bus.
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May 2, 2010 1:56:32 PM

jyjjy said:
As long as you are willing to OC then an HD5850 is what you want. It's definitely the best value for the money on the high end right now. If you bump up the voltage it can OC 40-50%, well past the performance of the HD5870 or 2xHD5770 at stock. $100 cheaper than the HD5870 and compared to crossfired HD5770s it will use less power/give off less heat, leave you a slot to upgrade with later on and have no crossfire scaling/compatibility issues or problems with minimum frame rates due to a 128-bit bus.


I've always been reluctant to overclock. How exactly does a person go about overclocking a graphcis card? Can the 5770s be OC'd? Or the 5870? Or is OC'ing something you can do with some cards but not others? Sorry for the elementary questions -- I've never read anything about this because I've always figured it would be more trouble than it's worth.
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a c 376 U Graphics card
May 2, 2010 10:07:06 PM

All cards can be overclocked but some can do so much more than others. 10-20% is pretty typical so the 40-50% the HD5850 can achieve is quite impressive. It can do so because with the HD5850 you can modify the core voltage which allows for a higher overclock. Most cards don't allow for this and even in those that do an OC this high is extremely rare. The HD5870 is the same processor(HD5850 just has 10% of the stream processors disabled) and can do the same. They usually can OC to the same speed(1000-1100mhz) but the HD5870 already has rather high clocks at stock(850mhz) compared to the HD5850s 725mhz so the performance increase isn't as impressive.
OCing can be a somewhat tedious process if you want to get the absolute highest stable speed but it isn't particularly difficult and can even very easy if you aren't looking to push the card to the limit. If you want to let's say put the HD5850 up to 1000mhz and consider that good enough it will probably just involve using some software to set the voltage a bit higher then using a slider to change the clock speeds. If you want to find out exactly how high your card can go it will involve slowly raising the speeds to see if the card remains stable and at what voltage.
You can find guides through google but most of what I'm seeing is probably a bit outdated. There are lots of threads on the subject in the video card overclocking forum on here;
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/forum-29-181.html
And you can start your own if you desire.
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