Radeon HD 4870 X2: Four Cards Compared

Assassin’s Creed v1.02

Ed.: The following tests were performed with different drivers and CPUs. After the chip name and the memory size of the benchmarked configuration, you’ll see the driver version. It’s pretty self-explanatory—8.10 stands for AMD’s Catalyst 8.10 package and 180.42 means Nvidia GeForce version 180.42. After that, you’ll see the CPU that was used. X68 = Core 2 Duo X6800 Extreme Edition at 2.93 GHz (comparable to E6750 and E8200) or 3.47 GHz; E85 = Core 2 Duo E8500 at 3.8 GHz; QX = Core 2 Quad QX6850 at 3.67 GHz. Overclocked video cards are labeled with “OC.”

The GeForce GTX 260 SLI and GTX 280 in their single-card and SLI arrangements perform better with an overclocked quad-core CPU in all resolutions. As a single card, the GeForce GTX 260 is taken close to its limits. If you speed up the CPU clock speed by another 200 MHz it realizes its full potential.

The Radeon HD 4850 benefits from an overclocked quad-core CPU only at low resolutions. Above 1920x1200, it reaches its limits. The Radeon HD 4870 can easily take another 500 MHz of CPU power before it maxes out.

The dual-chip cards from AMD and Nvidia are far from their limits. The HD 4870 X2 shows identical frame rates in different resolutions, which indicates that its being held back by CPU horsepower. An overclocked quad-core CPU does not provide enough power for the 3D card.

The Nvidia GeForce 9800 GX2 is also limited by the CPU at low resolutions, but it uses the power from the quad-core best, earning the best frame rates in the lineup. Overall, it seems that any dual-chip configuration, be it a pair of cards running in CrossFire/SLI or two GPUs on the same board, are limited by CPU muscle. Even overclocked CPUs can’t give them enough to showcase the extent of their capabilities.

Driver Comparison: Catalyst 8.9 Versus Catalyst 8.10 w/ Radeon HD 4870 X2

In Assassin’s Creed, you don’t see a significant difference between the graphics drivers, but that is likely due to measurement tolerances.

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Assassin’s Creed in fps12800xAA16800xAA19200xAA12804xAA16804xAA19204xAAOverall
HD 4870 X2 8.10 QX@3.6765.466.967.551.352.252.8356.1
HD 4870 X2 8.9 QX@3.6765.966.468.851.950.751.3355.0
Performance difference in percent-0.80.8-1.9-
  • 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
  • neiroatopelcc
    "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.
  • Pei-chen
    Wow, AMD cards consume power like a Detroit SUV. I like Nvidia GTX 2xx series’ Toyota Prius like efficiency at idle.
  • ilovebarny
    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
  • ilovebarny
    And i wish they had SLI'ed the 9800GTX+.
  • Chizops
    Why didn't they try using core i7 (extreme maybe)
  • enforcer22
    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.
  • bdollar
    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.
  • 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.
  • cleeve
    Wow, tons of info there, Tino. Nicely done!