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Comparison Of Graphic Chips And Test Configurations

Radeon HD 4870 X2: Four Cards Compared
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HIS and Sapphire sent Radeon HD 4870 X2 cards set to reference clock rates—any additional overclocking was performed in our own lab. All settings were set via the AMD graphics driver. As a baseline for analysis, the HIS card was tested with both normal frequencies and overclocked. All models with increased frequencies are marked “OC.”

When we started benchmarking for this project, we were using the most current drivers for this test, Catalyst 8.10 from AMD and Nvidia’s beta driver 180.42. On the following page, we will talk about the difficulties and problems we noticed with Catalyst 8.10. The Nvidia beta driver is stable with single cards and the Intel chipset (X38), but with SLI on the nForce 780i, we sometimes experienced problems in Assassin’s Creed and Mass Effect causing the whole system to freeze. As far as performance is concerned, the latest Catalyst 8.11 drivers improve frame rates in Far Cry 2 and Stalker: Clear Sky, according to AMD.

Nvidia Graphics Cards
Card Manufacturer and Chip Code Name Memory GPU Clock Shader Memory Clock SPs
GeForce GTX 280 SLI GT200 1024 GDDR3 602 MHz 4.0, 1296 MHz 2214 MHz 240
GeForce GTX 280 GT200 1024 GDDR3 602 MHz 4.0, 1296 MHz 2214 MHz 240
GeForce GTX 260 SLI GT200 896 GDDR3 576 MHz 4.0, 1242 MHz 1998 MHz 192
GeForce GTX 260GT200 896 GDDR3 576 MHz 4.0, 1242 MHz 1998 MHz 192
GeForce 9800 GX2 2xG92 2x512 MB GDDR3 600 MHz 4.0, 1500 MHz 2000 MHz 2x128
GeForce 9800 GTX+ G92b 512 MB GDDR3 738 MHz 4.0, 1836 MHz 2200 MHz 128

Card Manufacturer and Chip Memory Bus Manufacturing Process Transistors Interface
GeForce GTX 280 SLI 512 Bit 65 nm 1400 million PCIe 2.0
GeForce GTX 280 512 Bit 65 nm 1400 million PCIe 2.0
GeForce GTX 260 SLI 448 Bit 65 nm 1400 million PCIe 2.0
GeForce GTX 260 448 Bit 65 nm 1400 million PCIe 2.0
GeForce 9800 GX2 2x256 Bit 65 nm 2x754 million PCIe 2.0
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 256 Bit 55 nm 754 million PCIe 2.0

AMD Graphics Cards
Manufacturer and Chip Codename Memory GPU Clock Shader Memory Clock SPs
Radeon HD 4870 X2 4CF 2xR700 4x1024 MB GDDR5 750 MHz 4.1 3600 MHz 4x800
Radeon HD 4870 X2 R700 2x1024 MB GDDR5 750 MHz 4.1 3600 MHz 2x800
HIS Radeon HD 4870 X2 R700 2x1024 MB GDDR5 750 MHz 4.1 3600 MHz 2x800
HIS Radeon HD 4870 X2 OC R700 2x1024 MB GDDR5 800 MHz 4.1 3860 MHz 2x800
Asus Radeon HD 4870 X2 Top OC R700 2x1024 MB GDDR5 790 MHz 4.1 3660 MHz 2x800
MSI Radeon HD 4870 X2 OC R700 2x1024 MB GDDR5 780 MHz 4.1 3600 MHz 2x800
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 X2 R700 2x1024 MB GDDR5 750 MHz 4.1 3600 MHz 2x800
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 X2 OC R700 2x1024 MB GDDR5 790 MHz 4.1 3760 MHz 2x800
Radeon HD 4870 CF RV770 512 MB GDDR5 750 MHz 4.1 3600 MHz 800
Radeon HD 4870 RV770 512 MB GDDR5 750 MHz 4.1 3600 MHz 800
Radeon HD 4850 CF RV770 512 MB GDDR3 625 MHz 4.1 1986 MHz 800
Radeon HD 4850 RV770 512 MB GDDR3 625 MHz 4.1 1986 MHz 800
Radeon HD 4670 RV730 512 MB GDDR3 750 MHz 4.1 2000 MHz 320

Manufacturer and Chip Memory Bus Manufacturing Process Transistors Interface
Radeon HD 4870 X2 4CF 4x256 Bit 55 nm 4x956 million PCIe 2.0
Radeon HD 4870 X2 2x256 Bit 55 nm 2x956 million PCIe 2.0
HIS Radeon HD 4870 X2 2x256 Bit 55 nm 2x956 million PCIe 2.0
HIS Radeon HD 4870 X2 OC 2x256 Bit 55 nm 2x956 million PCIe 2.0
Asus Radeon HD 4870 X2 Top OC 2x256 Bit 55 nm 2x956 million PCIe 2.0
MSI Radeon HD 4870 X2 OC 2x256 Bit 55 nm 2x956 million PCIe 2.0
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 X2 2x256 Bit 55 nm 2x956 million PCIe 2 .0
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 X2 OC 2x256 Bit 55 nm 2x956 million PCIe 2.0
Radeon HD 4870 CF 256 Bit 55 nm 956 million PCIe 2.0
Radeon HD 4870 256 Bit 55 nm 956 million PCIe 2.0
Radeon HD 4850 CF 256 Bit 55 nm 956 million PCIe 2.0
Radeon HD 4850 256 Bit 55 nm 956 million PCIe 2.0
Radeon HD 4670 128 Bit 55 nm 514 million PCIe 2.0

Memory Clock=DDR clock rate doubled; physical clock rate is half
DDR5-DDR clock rate quadrupled; physical clock rate is one quarter
SPs=Stream Processors
OC=Overclocked (clock rate higher than standard)
SLI= 2 Nvidia cards in parallel
CF=CrossFire, 2 AMD cards in parallel
4CF=CrossFire, 4 AMD graphics chips in parallel
R700=2xRV770
Shader 2.0=DirectX 9.0; 3.0=DirectX 9.0c; 4.0=DirectX 10; Shader 4.1=DirectX 10.1

The standard CPU for our graphic card charts is an X6800 Extreme Edition running at 2.93 GHz, which is comparable to an E6750 or E8200. For this high-performance test we used a quad-core CPU, which runs at 3.67 GHz, overclocked using the multiplier with settings of 11x333 MHz. If you’ve read the article Wake 3D Power Wake-up, you already know all the steps we took: in order to find the highest overall result, the fastest double chip card should get the fastest CPU partner. We had to choose between an E8500 at 3.8 GHz and the over clocked quad core CPU with 3.67 GHz; the latter turned out to be faster by 3.5%.

Nvidia Single Graphics Cards, AMD Single- and CrossFire Graphics Cards
CPU 1 Intel Core 2 Quad Extreme QX6850 @ 3.673 GHz (11x333 MHz),
Socket 775, 1.328 V, 65 nm, L2 Cache 2x4096 KB
CPU 2 Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 @ 2.93 GHz (11x266 MHz),
Socket 775, 1.28 V, 65 nm, L2 Cache 4096 KB
CPU 3 Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 @ 3.47 GHz (13x266 MHz),
Socket 775, 1.328 V, 65 nm, L2 Cache 4096 KB
CPU 4 Intel Core 2 E8500 @ 3.804 GHz (9.5x400 MHz),
Socket 775, 1.272 V, 45 nm, L2 Cache 6144 KB
FSB 1066 MHz (4x266 MHz)
Motherboard Asus P5E3 Deluxe, PCIe 2.0 2x16, ICH9R
Chipset Intel X38
Memory 2x1 GB, Ballistix (Crucial Technology) 1.5 V,
DDR3 1066 7-7-7-20 (2x533 MHz)
Audio Intel High Definition Audio
LAN Intel 1000 Pro
Hard Drives Western Digital WD5000AAKS 500 GB, SATA, 16 MB Cache,
Hitachi 120 GB, SATA, 8 MB Cache
DVD Gigabyte GO-D1600C
Power Supply CoolerMaster RS-850-EMBA 850 W

Nvidia SLI Graphics Cards
Motherboard Asus P5N-T Deluxe, PCIe 2.0 2x16
Chipset Nvidia nforce 780i SLI
Memory 2x1 GB, A-Data Technology 1.8 V, DDR2 800 5-5-5-18 (2x400 MHz)
Audio ADI 1988B SoundMax
LAN Marvell 88E1116 Gigabit

Drivers & Configuration
Graphic AMD Catalyst 8.6 and 8.9,
HD 4870 X2 ATI Catalyst 8.10,
9800 GX2 Nvidia ForceWare 175.16, GTX 260 und GTX 280 Forceware 177.39,
Nvidia GeForce 180.42
Operating System Windows Vista Enterprise SP1
DirectX 10 and 10.1
Chip Set Driver X38 Intel 8.3.1.1009
780i Nvidia nForce 9.64

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  • -4 Hide
    Anonymous , November 19, 2008 7:40 AM
    Not only do we have four super-fast Radeon HD 4870 X2s to test, but also a list of 31 other graphics configurations including CrossFire and SLI setups. If you're in the market for AMD's fastest card available, you'll want to see this.

    Radeon HD 4870 X2: Four Cards Compared : Read more
  • 6 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , November 19, 2008 9:37 AM
    "Because of accessories and price, Sapphire is our best-buy recommendation."
    One slight warning about sapphire though. If you have problems, don't expect their support team to help you before you've solved the problem yourself!

    I made a ticket regarding some issues with my 4870 on august 7th, and received a reply on the 26th of september! That's 46 days to address an error they simply stated would go away with a bios upgrade from their homepage!

    As for the article, I actually liked the detailed driver errors they encountered. Not that I liked the errors themselves, but I liked them being explained. Usually you just read 'after spending some hours resolving driver errors ....' without getting any wiser.
  • 2 Hide
    ilovebarny , November 19, 2008 12:37 PM
    Why didnt they use the GTX260 Core 216? its like way better than the regular GTX260. And i just read yesterday that Nvidia was only going to make GTX260 Core 216 now. http://www.fudzilla.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=10497&Itemid=1
  • 0 Hide
    ilovebarny , November 19, 2008 12:39 PM
    And i wish they had SLI'ed the 9800GTX+.
  • -9 Hide
    Chizops , November 19, 2008 1:01 PM
    Why didn't they try using core i7 (extreme maybe)
  • -7 Hide
    enforcer22 , November 19, 2008 1:11 PM
    Pei-chenWow, AMD cards consume power like a Detroit SUV. I like Nvidia GTX 2xx series’ Toyota Prius like efficiency at idle.



    Hmm your right. Power house vs crippled mouse.. yeah your analagy sucked im sure mine did to but all i saw from what you typed was i like weak stuff dont give me more power.
  • 5 Hide
    bdollar , November 19, 2008 1:27 PM
    seems to me if you are going to be comparing the highest end cards and even crossfire them for 4x you would have the highest resolution as one of the options. i would think people considering going x2 in crossfire would consider a 30" screen.

    don't get me wrong, i liked the article but would have liked to have seen the resolution spectrum hit the top.
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , November 19, 2008 1:34 PM
    It's nice to see the 9800GX2 included in the tests. I was considering the 4870x2 due to all the rave reviews but they never had the comparison like this against my current 9800GX2. I won't be getting new card anytime soon it seems. Thanks.
  • 4 Hide
    cleeve , November 19, 2008 2:13 PM
    Wow, tons of info there, Tino. Nicely done!
  • 3 Hide
    marcolau , November 19, 2008 2:37 PM
    neiroatopelcc is right , shappire support is non existent.

    I bought a 2900 xt more than a year ago , on the box in huge letters the pomise for the blax box ( games from steam ) , well where are they ?

    I am still waiting , i sent them an email but after a month no reply .

    Good way to show how u care about your customers Shapphire and even better way to lose them.

    now for 8 bucks difference i bought a Asus 4870 , i had a nice bag for cd software and games and i had them soon .

    Bye Bye Shappire
    So no more shappire , asus all the way :) 
  • 1 Hide
    dirtmountain , November 19, 2008 2:42 PM
    Well done, great information.
  • 0 Hide
    marcolau , November 19, 2008 2:47 PM
    ah i forgot to mention it , i also get a slightly overclocked card with no warranty issues :) 
  • 1 Hide
    scryer_360 , November 19, 2008 3:18 PM
    Wasn't there a comparison using Phenom, Yorkdale and Nehalem chips just a few weeks ago where dual and tri-sli GTX 280 cards were clearly superior to the 4870 X2 in single card and dual card (that is, one 4870 X2 and two 4870 X2s) configurations? What gives here where suddenly the 9800 GX2 is a powerful card again and the GTX 280 is presented as nothing but terrible?

    Eh? These charts do not make sense either, we're getting a 9800 GX2 seemingly more powerful than a GTX 280 in here.

    Was is das? Ich bin TERRIBLY CONFUSED.
  • 1 Hide
    bounty , November 19, 2008 3:59 PM
    Basically except for a few games, new cards are pointless. In the last round Nvidia made cards that still don't play crysis well, but you may have gone from 100 to 130 fps in some other game (but it doesn't matter). And AMD caught up.

    If it's CPU's that are the problem, then damnit, game developers seriously need to find some better multithreading optimizations.
  • 5 Hide
    BlakHart , November 19, 2008 4:06 PM
    my 1gb 4870 is always left out :(  lol
  • 4 Hide
    hellwig , November 19, 2008 4:16 PM
    Scryer_360Wasn't there a comparison using Phenom, Yorkdale and Nehalem chips just a few weeks ago where dual and tri-sli GTX 280 cards were clearly superior to the 4870 X2 in single card and dual card (that is, one 4870 X2 and two 4870 X2s) configurations? What gives here where suddenly the 9800 GX2 is a powerful card again and the GTX 280 is presented as nothing but terrible?Eh? These charts do not make sense either, we're getting a 9800 GX2 seemingly more powerful than a GTX 280 in here.Was is das? Ich bin TERRIBLY CONFUSED.



    My thoughts too, their Best Video Card list from November had:

    1) 4870 X2
    2) GTX 280
    3) 9800 GX2, GTX 260, 4870

    But now the 9800 GX2 is superior/equal to a 4870 X2?
  • 4 Hide
    slomo4sho , November 19, 2008 4:41 PM
    I highly appreciate the "fps per watts" chart.

    Seems the bottom line still is that everything past the 9800 GTX+ or 4850 is basically overkill for most 1680x1050 game play with the obvious exception being Crysis(this game is just coded poorly). Anything over 30 fps will hardly be noticable to the human eye so there really is no sense in buying a card that consumes 150 extra watts of power and costs $300 more so you can have 100+ fps.
  • 4 Hide
    dagger , November 19, 2008 4:42 PM
    hellwigMy thoughts too, their Best Video Card list from November had:1) 4870 X22) GTX 2803) 9800 GX2, GTX 260, 4870But now the 9800 GX2 is superior/equal to a 4870 X2?


    That's only true in some games. Different engines handle different cards differently. Remember, 9800gx2's g92 is identical to that of a 9800gtx, single 4870 outperform 9800gtx by 20-30%, cf/sli/x2 depends highly on driver optimizations, 9800gx2 already has mature drivers, which means more efficient operations, smaller gap against 4870x2 overall, and outperforming it in a few games. 4870x2 will improve over time.

    As for 9800gx2 outperforming gtx280, that has always been true. It's just few people realize it. Gtx280 cost $420, 9800gx2 $275. Nvidia's hype machine focus on current cash cow.
    http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3341&p=13
    http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3341&p=14
    http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3341&p=15
    http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3341&p=16
    http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3341&p=17
    http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3341&p=18
    http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3341&p=19
  • 2 Hide
    Arbie , November 19, 2008 4:44 PM
    Regarding the problems with the ASUS "SmartDoctor" Windows utility, my experience is the same as most people report: NEVER install an ASUS Windows app. They usually combine negligible functionality with a huge increase in problems. The only exception I've found is their PCProbe II which works well with their own motherboards. You can learn the easy way or the hard way on this. BTW I love my HD 4850.
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