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Radeon HD 4870 X2: Four Cards Compared

Comparison Of Graphic Chips And Test Configurations

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.

Card Manufacturer and ChipCode NameMemoryGPU ClockShaderMemory ClockSPs
GeForce GTX 280 SLIGT2001024 GDDR3602 MHz4.0, 1296 MHz2214 MHz240
GeForce GTX 280GT2001024 GDDR3602 MHz4.0, 1296 MHz2214 MHz240
GeForce GTX 260 SLIGT200896 GDDR3576 MHz4.0, 1242 MHz1998 MHz192
GeForce GTX 260GT200896 GDDR3576 MHz4.0, 1242 MHz1998 MHz192
GeForce 9800 GX22xG922x512 MB GDDR3600 MHz4.0, 1500 MHz2000 MHz2x128
GeForce 9800 GTX+G92b512 MB GDDR3738 MHz4.0, 1836 MHz2200 MHz128
Card Manufacturer and ChipMemory BusManufacturing ProcessTransistorsInterface
GeForce GTX 280 SLI512 Bit65 nm1400 millionPCIe 2.0
GeForce GTX 280512 Bit65 nm1400 millionPCIe 2.0
GeForce GTX 260 SLI448 Bit65 nm1400 millionPCIe 2.0
GeForce GTX 260448 Bit65 nm1400 millionPCIe 2.0
GeForce 9800 GX22x256 Bit65 nm2x754 millionPCIe 2.0
GeForce 9800 GTX+256 Bit55 nm754 millionPCIe 2.0
Manufacturer and ChipCodenameMemoryGPU ClockShaderMemory ClockSPs
Radeon HD 4870 X2 4CF2xR7004x1024 MB GDDR5750 MHz4.13600 MHz4x800
Radeon HD 4870 X2R7002x1024 MB GDDR5750 MHz4.13600 MHz2x800
HIS Radeon HD 4870 X2R7002x1024 MB GDDR5750 MHz4.13600 MHz2x800
HIS Radeon HD 4870 X2 OCR7002x1024 MB GDDR5800 MHz4.13860 MHz2x800
Asus Radeon HD 4870 X2 Top OCR7002x1024 MB GDDR5790 MHz4.13660 MHz2x800
MSI Radeon HD 4870 X2 OCR7002x1024 MB GDDR5780 MHz4.13600 MHz2x800
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 X2R7002x1024 MB GDDR5750 MHz4.13600 MHz2x800
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 X2 OCR7002x1024 MB GDDR5790 MHz4.13760 MHz2x800
Radeon HD 4870 CFRV770512 MB GDDR5750 MHz4.13600 MHz800
Radeon HD 4870RV770512 MB GDDR5750 MHz4.13600 MHz800
Radeon HD 4850 CFRV770512 MB GDDR3625 MHz4.11986 MHz800
Radeon HD 4850RV770512 MB GDDR3625 MHz4.11986 MHz800
Radeon HD 4670RV730512 MB GDDR3750 MHz4.12000 MHz320
Manufacturer and ChipMemory BusManufacturing ProcessTransistorsInterface
Radeon HD 4870 X2 4CF4x256 Bit55 nm4x956 millionPCIe 2.0
Radeon HD 4870 X22x256 Bit55 nm2x956 millionPCIe 2.0
HIS Radeon HD 4870 X22x256 Bit55 nm2x956 millionPCIe 2.0
HIS Radeon HD 4870 X2 OC2x256 Bit55 nm2x956 millionPCIe 2.0
Asus Radeon HD 4870 X2 Top OC2x256 Bit55 nm2x956 millionPCIe 2.0
MSI Radeon HD 4870 X2 OC2x256 Bit55 nm2x956 millionPCIe 2.0
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 X22x256 Bit55 nm2x956 millionPCIe 2 .0
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 X2 OC2x256 Bit55 nm2x956 millionPCIe 2.0
Radeon HD 4870 CF256 Bit55 nm956 millionPCIe 2.0
Radeon HD 4870256 Bit55 nm956 millionPCIe 2.0
Radeon HD 4850 CF256 Bit55 nm956 millionPCIe 2.0
Radeon HD 4850256 Bit55 nm956 millionPCIe 2.0
Radeon HD 4670128 Bit55 nm514 millionPCIe 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%.

CPU 1Intel Core 2 Quad Extreme QX6850 @ 3.673 GHz (11x333 MHz),Socket 775, 1.328 V, 65 nm, L2 Cache 2x4096 KB
CPU 2Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 @ 2.93 GHz (11x266 MHz),Socket 775, 1.28 V, 65 nm, L2 Cache 4096 KB
CPU 3Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 @ 3.47 GHz (13x266 MHz),Socket 775, 1.328 V, 65 nm, L2 Cache 4096 KB
CPU 4Intel Core 2 E8500 @ 3.804 GHz (9.5x400 MHz),Socket 775, 1.272 V, 45 nm, L2 Cache 6144 KB
FSB1066 MHz (4x266 MHz)
MotherboardAsus P5E3 Deluxe, PCIe 2.0 2x16, ICH9R
ChipsetIntel X38
Memory2x1 GB, Ballistix (Crucial Technology) 1.5 V,DDR3 1066 7-7-7-20 (2x533 MHz)
AudioIntel High Definition Audio
LANIntel 1000 Pro
Hard DrivesWestern Digital WD5000AAKS 500 GB, SATA, 16 MB Cache,Hitachi 120 GB, SATA, 8 MB Cache
DVDGigabyte GO-D1600C
Power SupplyCoolerMaster RS-850-EMBA 850 W
MotherboardAsus P5N-T Deluxe, PCIe 2.0 2x16
ChipsetNvidia nforce 780i SLI
Memory2x1 GB, A-Data Technology 1.8 V, DDR2 800 5-5-5-18 (2x400 MHz)
AudioADI 1988B SoundMax
LANMarvell 88E1116 Gigabit
GraphicAMD 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 SystemWindows Vista Enterprise SP1
DirectX10 and 10.1
Chip Set DriverX38 Intel 8.3.1.1009780i Nvidia nForce 9.64
  • 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
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • Pei-chen
    Wow, AMD cards consume power like a Detroit SUV. I like Nvidia GTX 2xx series’ Toyota Prius like efficiency at idle.
    Reply
  • 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
    Reply
  • ilovebarny
    And i wish they had SLI'ed the 9800GTX+.
    Reply
  • Chizops
    Why didn't they try using core i7 (extreme maybe)
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • cleeve
    Wow, tons of info there, Tino. Nicely done!
    Reply