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270 Watt For The Performance Crown: AMD's Radeon HD 4870 X2

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 8 comments

Sunnyvale (CA) - AMD is ready to launch its second assault at Nvidia’s performance leadership in the graphics industry within three weeks. This time AMD goes after Nvidia’s flagship cards GTX 260 and GTX 280 and if we believe the company, then AMD has regained the performance the crown with a significantly faster card that comes with two GPUs, 1600 processors and bunsen burner heat.

Ok, so we know that enthusiasts don’t care very much about the power consumption of their PC. But, slowly but surely, we seem to be hitting ridiculous power levels with graphics cards. About two months ago, Nvidia rolled out its 236 watt design; AMD’s ATI division now follows with a 270 watt version to top its rival from the green team.

We have to admit, though, that your investment in electricity will get you products with impressive supercard specs.

Nvidia’s $500-or-so GTX280 comes with 1.4 billion transistors, 1 GB of GDDR3 memory with a bandwidth of 141 GB/s and 240 processing cores, clocked at 1296 MHz, that deliver a single-precision floating point performance of 933 GFlops. For about $50 more you could step up to AMD’s brand new Radeon HD 4870 X2, which delivers 2 x 956 million transistors, 2 GB of GDDR5 memory with a bandwidth of 230 GB/s, 1600 processors running at 750 MHz (the same as a single-GPU on a HD 4870 card) and a single precision floating point performance of 2.4 TFlops.

AMD claims that the new X2 card will scale with an efficiency of about 60-90% compared to the single GPU card in typical benchmarks and current games and deliver more than twice the speed than Nvidia’s GTX 280 in some games - such as Call of Juarez. Compared to two 4870 cards, which would cost you about $600 at current prices, the $549 Radeon HD 4870 X2 will offer between 8 and 20% more speed, AMD claims. The enormous horsepower of this card may open up new opportunities in desktop supercomputing as two of these cards can crank out a theoretical maximum of close to 5 TFlops through 3200 stream processors.

If you don’t want to shell out $550 for a new graphics card, AMD will soon begin offering a slightly scaled down version of the card as a HD 4850 X2 version with a clock speed of 625 MHz, 2 GB of GDDR3 memory, 2.0 TFlops floating point performance and a maximum power consumption of 230 watts. AMD claims that the performance of this card will be comparable to Nvidia’s GTX 280 cards for the price of a GTX 260.

However, if you do want the bragging rights, you will have to go with the 4870 X2, and if you can afford it, in a $1000+ CrossFireX configuration. According to AMD, two cards and four GPUs is currently the only possibility to run Crysis (DX10 HQ, 4xAA, 8xAF) and Lost Planet (DX10 HQ, 8xAA, 16xAF) in a resolution of 2560x1600 at more than 30 fps.

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  • 3 Hide
    chise1 , August 12, 2008 3:11 PM
    Now that these cards in CF can play Crysis adequately, what game with completely unoptimized code are we going to use as a benchmark for ridiculous graphics cards?
  • 1 Hide
    otheos , August 12, 2008 3:23 PM
    Quote:
    This time AMD goes after Nvidia’s flagship cards GTX 260 and GTX 280


    Oh I am sorry, but the 260 is history even from the first launch of the 4850, and the 280 was bearly holding itself against the 4870.

    As for the 270watt well it sounds better when compared to the performance of that the 236watt of the 280 gives you.

    And ontop you can still opt for the cheaper 4850 x2 which is still beating the 280 by some margin (at least based on the crossfire performance) with power consumption of 6watt less.

    I think the 4870 x2 is not so much of a defeat for nVidia as much as the 4850 x2 is, given that it's both less power hungry and cheaper.

    Not to mention the vastly cheaper single GPU cards.

    Bye bye nVidia.
  • 1 Hide
    njalterio , August 12, 2008 3:35 PM
    Nice job spelling out "performance" on the chart. Way to leave the "e" off on the second line.

    Don't mean to bash, but is it amateur hour or something?
  • 0 Hide
    Pei-chen , August 12, 2008 3:45 PM
    chise1Now that these cards in CF can play Crysis adequately, what game with completely unoptimized code are we going to use as a benchmark for ridiculous graphics cards?

    Farcry 2.
  • 1 Hide
    eccentric909 , August 12, 2008 3:57 PM
    njalterioNice job spelling out "performance" on the chart. Way to leave the "e" off on the second line.Don't mean to bash, but is it amateur hour or something?


    PowerPoint issue maybe? Either way, I don't think it's one of Tom's own graphics, but borrowed from AMD. I could be wrong though.
  • 0 Hide
    Claimintru , August 12, 2008 7:48 PM
    I've always been curious. There are a multitude of applications, especially older games that have issues with SLI configurations and crossfire. These graphics cards with 2 cores run into that problem or not? Since its 2 GPU's working together, just with a different interface....Would hope and think not since the info is being coordinated on the same card, but still curious
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , August 12, 2008 7:51 PM
    In 2 out of 3 of the reviews i read, the GTX280 beats the ATI 4870x2 in
    Crysis. In 1 other they had the same fps.

    on games that scales the internal crossfire good, its nice, seen reviews
    getting over 30fps lower than other benchmarks with this card tho.
    Making it equal or worse than the GTX280 some places, and up
    to 45% faster in others.

    Good product, but not great.
  • 0 Hide
    TheGreatGrapeApe , August 13, 2008 7:43 PM
    yarryarrIn 2 out of 3 of the reviews i read, the GTX280 beats the ATI 4870x2 inCrysis. In 1 other they had the same fps.


    What reviews were those, and at what settings?
    Pretty much the HD4870X2 outperforms the GTX280 when the settings are Very High (ie DX10) in Crysis (Toms Review, Anand), the GTX280 outperforms the HD4K-X2 when Crysis is set to High (DX9) the Tech Report showed both settings in their review and you can see the lead change based on setting GTX-DX9 / HD4K-DX10.
    For what Crysis is being used for why you would test it in the easier DX9 mode makes little sense since the point of using it as a benchmark and mentioning it as playable at X setting is because when everything is cranked it crushes cards/systems. And for what these cards are made for just like them not being benchmarked at 1280x1024, you don't benchmark them on lower settings.

    They still trade blows for the performance crown, but be sure you get your Crysis information correct because it seems to many people want to use those DX9 results when trying to drum up some attention or find fault.