Our first conclusion is that the Radeon HD 4870 X2 manages to achieve its objective—namely to be the best performing card you can buy. It has been a long time coming, and other Radeons have had the same goal but have not been able to attain the same results. Case in point, look at the Radeon HD 3870 X2 which was launched at the beginning of the year. With this model, however, the advantage that the Radeon HD 4870 X2 takes over the GeForce GTX 280 is incontestable. It averages a 25% gain (with a peak at 51% in 2560x1600, plus eye candy) and above all, stays true in all of the games except for Flight Simulator X.
It must be said that the design of the Radeon HD 4870 X2 takes into account the mistakes made with the Radeon HD 3870 X2. The memory capacity has been quadrupled, so that now there is 1 GB of usable memory. Its frequency has not been reduced. The PCI Express controller serving as a bridge between the GPUs supports PCI Express 2.0. And there’s a side-port connection between the GPUs reserved for future use when the PCIe pathway might become saturated.
And thus, Nvidia has finally been beaten and won’t be able to respond in the coming weeks. Considering the size and price of its own GT200 graphics processor, Nvidia is somewhat prohibited from any sort of retaliation based on the same bi-GPU solution.
In short, the Radeon HD 4870 X2 is the newest and fastest 3D card of the moment—25% better on average than the GeForce GTX 280 and up to 51% at the highest resolutions. And if you’re hoping for something in the near future with lower energy consumption, less noise, or a lower price, we’d recommend you not hold your breath.
Editor’s Note: While we were hoping to provide comparison numbers with the 4870 X2 in CrossFire and a pair of 4870s in CrossFire versus the X2, we’ve been somewhat limited by time and troubleshooting in the short time we’ve had the card. Also, the untimely death of our power meter prevented us from measuring consumption here. Keep an eye out for a follow-up story where we compare more elaborate X2 configurations to a higher-end GTX 280 setup.