Radeon HD 4870 X2: Four Cards Compared

Mass Effect

With the overclocked quad-core CPU (QX@3.67), Nvidia gets a strong competitor. While AMD needs no less than the Radeon HD 4870 in CrossFire (CF) or the dual-chip Radeon HD 4870 X2 in order to catch up to the GeForce GTX 280 or even beat it, a GeForce GTX 260 is easy prey. The UT3 engine is perfect for showing 3D power (GPU scaling), and the Radeon HD 4870 X2 CrossFire (4CF) can make use all four of its graphics chips to constantly lay down very playable frame rates. A faster CPU will raise the frame rate in all resolutions, although it’s hard to say where the limit is.

The fastest graphics cards in SLI and CrossFire modes are limited by the CPU in all resolutions without anti-aliasing. With anti-aliasing, the graphics power makes a difference. SLI with GeForce GTX 260 and GTX 280 cards only pays off in higher resolutions, while the single card wins in lower resolutions. When combined via SLI, both GTX cards are limited by the CPU—you can see that from the fact that there are hardly any differences between the chips, and the weaker GTX 260 can easily follow the GTX 280.

Almost all single-card solutions are taken to their limits with Mass Effect. The Radeon HD 4850 shows minimal or no increase whatsoever from the overclocked CPU. GeForce GTX 260 and GTX 280 cards hardly benefit from the fast quad-core CPU above 1680x1050 with anti-aliasing. The Radeon HD 4870 shows only low gains in frame rate above 1920x1200 without anti-aliasing.

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

You can see a slight increase in Mass Effect, but most of the results are within the normal measurement variations.

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Mass Effect in fps12800xAA16800xAA19200xAA12804xAA16804xAA19204xAA12808xAA16808xAA19208xAAOverall
HD 4870 X2 8.10 QX@3.67131.2129.7125.0116.287.670.6114.185.769.0929.1
HD 4870 X2 8.9 QX@3.67129.6128.3126.0113.785.968.6112.583.966.7915.2
Performance difference in percent1.21.1-
  • 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!