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Radeon HD 4870 X2: Four Cards Compared

Radeon HD 4870 And HD 4870 X2 Compared

In the following direct comparisons, we will provide a more detailed analysis of the advantages of the X2 for different games and resolutions. In this analysis, we compare the frame rates (fps) and give them as a percentage that shows the gain or drop in performance in each case. The first comparison addresses the old question: is a single-chip card enough, do you need CrossFire, and how much do you gain from a second graphics chip?

Assassin’s Creed runs absolutely perfectly with the Radeon HD 4870. A slight increase can only be seen above 1920x1200 pixels with anti-aliasing. But you don’t really need a dual-chip card when the boost is only 12.6%.

Assassin’s Creed in fps12800xAA16800xAA19200xAA12804xAA16804xAA19204xAAOverall
HD 4870 X2 8.10 QX@3.6765.466.967.551.352.252.8356.1
HD 4870 8.10 QX@3.6769.068.365.651.851.046.9352.6
Performance difference in percent-5.2-2.02.9-1.02.412.61.0

Call of Duty 4 can be played smoothly with a single-chip card. The dual-chip card raises performance to a whole new level, though—the gain of 62% to over 100% is gigantic and there should not be any shakiness left even in missions with heavy graphics demands.

Call of Duty 4 in fps12800xAA16800xAA19200xAA12804xAA16804xAA19204xAAOverall
HD 4870 X2 8.10 QX@3.67276.2265.4226.5239.3199.9177.11384.4
HD 4870 8.10 QX@3.67170.2140.0114.8125.7101.087.4739.1
Performance difference in percent62.389.697.390.497.9102.687.3

In Crysis, a dual-chip card pays off in high resolutions with anti-aliasing turned on. After more than a month of optimizing CrossFire, Crysis has finally become faster and benefits from the two HD 4870 X2 GPUs. At lower resolutions, the CPU limits performance, determining the maximum frame rate.

Crysis High in fps12800xAA16800xAA19200xAA12804xAA16804xAA19204xAAOverall
HD 4870 X2 8.10 QX@3.6734.231.131.231.829.129.1186.5
HD 4870 8.10 QX@3.6738.234.531.831.521.918.6176.5
Performance difference in percent-10.5-9.9-1.91.032.956.55.7

With the highest picture quality and anti-aliasing, you really need twice the graphics power. The gain at higher resolutions with AA is increased even more through the larger graphics memory of 2 x1 GB, which is the reference spec for AMD’s Radeon HD 4870 X2. If you have a Radeon HD 4870 with 1 GB of graphics memory, the difference in going to the X2 will be smaller. The values shown in the table are limited by the 512 MB test card.

Crysis Very High in fps12800xAA16800xAA19200xAA12804xAA16804xAA19204xAAOverall
HD 4870 X2 8.10 QX@3.6729.426.325.727.424.423.8157.0
HD 4870 8.10 QX@3.6731.725.821.821.815.612.1128.8
Performance difference in percent-7.31.917.925.756.496.721.9

The id engine employing OpenGL responds well to CPU power. The graphics card has less of an impact, so a single chip is enough for this game.

ET: Quake Wars in fps12800xAA16800xAA19200xAA12804xAA16804xAA19204xAAOverall
HD 4870 X2 8.10 QX@3.6790.187.689.186.486.386.1525.6
HD 4870 8.10 QX@3.6790.187.288.787.486.383.8523.5
Performance difference in percent0.00.50.5-1.10.02.70.4

The Source engine used to drive Half Life 2 responds more to CPU performance, getting hardly any advantage from the dual-chip Radeon HD 4870 X2.

Half Life 2 Episode 2 in fps12800xAA16800xAA19200xAA12804xAA16804xAA19204xAAOverall
HD 4870 X2 8.10 QX@3.67130.3123.5119.9128.6123.4122.4748.1
HD 4870 8.10 QX@3.67132.7126.4124.0132.7125.3115.3756.4
Performance difference in percent-1.8-2.3-3.3-3.1-1.56.2-1.1

Mass Effect, with the UT3 engine, scales very nicely with the graphics processors (GPUs) used. The gain can be up to 80%. The game runs smoothly only with the dual-chip card, especially with anti-aliasing.

Mass Effect in fps12800xAA16800xAA19200xAA12804xAA16804xAA19204xAA12808xAA16808xAA19208xAAOverall
HD 4870 X2 8.10 QX@3.67131.2129.7125.0116.287.670.6114.185.769.0929.1
HD 4870 8.10 QX@3.67133.3105.484.264.949.139.263.448.038.4625.9
Performance difference in percent-1.623.148.579.078.480.180.078.579.748.4

Flight Simulator is unable to take advantage of two-card configurations and consequently doesn’t demonstrate any gain at all.

MS FlightX SP2 in fps12800xAA16800xAA19200xAA12804xAA16804xAA19204xAAOverall
HD 4870 X2 8.10 QX@3.6729.129.729.429.829.829.3177.1
HD 4870 8.10 QX@3.6730.930.730.731.430.831.3185.8
Performance difference in percent-5.8-3.3-4.2-5.1-3.2-6.4-4.7

World in Conflict without anti-aliasing responds more to CPU speed. With anti-aliasing turned on, the Radeon HD 4870 X2 gains performance, but only pays off at resolutions above 1680x1050 or 1920x1200. Below that, it’s subjectively a waste.

World in Conflict in fps12800xAA16800xAA19200xAA12804xAA16804xAA19204xAAOverall
HD 4870 X2 8.10 QX@3.6753.556.154.550.052.952.5319.5
HD 4870 8.10 QX@3.6755.558.055.147.640.434.5291.1
Performance difference in percent-3.6-3.3-1.15.030.952.29.8
  • 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