Radeon HD 4870 X2: Four Cards Compared

Radeon HD 4870 X2 And GeForce 9800 GX2 Compared

In the last direct comparison, the high-end dual-chip models from AMD and Nvidia meet to do battle. The duel is somewhat unfair because the GeForce 9800 GX2 is no longer more than upper-middle class. A (non-existent) GTX 260 GX2 or GTX 280 GX2 would be the right competitor. But there is no need for the 9800 GX2 to hide. With the overclocked quad-core CPU as a base, the Nvidia card demonstrates extremely good performance, and AMD’s dual-chip response really has to fight.

You might not want to believe it, but it’s true—the weaker graphics chip of the GeForce 9800 GX2 seems to stress the CPU less, which pushes the frame rate up tremendously.

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Assassins Creed in fps12800xAA16800xAA19200xAA12804xAA16804xAA19204xAAOverall
HD 4870 X2 8.10 QX@3.6765.466.967.551.352.252.8356.1
9800 GX2 180.42 QX@3.6791.392.386.777.072.465.8485.5
Performance difference in percent-28.4-27.5-22.1-33.4-27.9-19.8-26.7

Incidentally, AMD has improved significantly in this area. Without Catalyst 8.10, the results would be up to 70% lower. AMD optimized the driver right on time.

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Call of Duty 4 in fps12800xAA16800xAA19200xAA12804xAA16804xAA19204xAAOverall
HD 4870 X2 8.10 QX@3.67276.2265.4226.5239.3199.9177.11384.4
9800 GX2 180.42 QX@3.67214.0189.4158.1179.5155.8131.91028.7
Performance difference in percent29.140.143.333.328.334.334.6

With anti-aliasing, Nvidia runs out of memory and the dual-chip Radeon HD 4870 X2 pulls away.

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Crysis High in fps12800xAA16800xAA19200xAA12804xAA16804xAA19204xAAOverall
HD 4870 X2 8.10 QX@3.6734.
9800 GX2 180.42 QX@3.6749.545.741.641.624.96.6209.9
Performance difference in percent-30.9-31.9-25.0-23.616.9340.9-11.1

This doesn’t look any different in very high quality mode. Nvidia has a clear advantage in Crysis without anti-aliasing. When activating anti-aliasing, the GeForce 9800 GX2 collapses even earlier due to its 2 x 512 MB of video memory. The Radeon HD 4870 X2 has 2 x 1 GB and takes an easy lead.

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Crysis Very High in fps12800xAA16800xAA19200xAA12804xAA16804xAA19204xAAOverall
HD 4870 X2 8.10 QX@3.6729.426.325.727.424.423.8157.0
9800 GX2 180.42 QX@3.6742.333.827.828.615.01.0148.5
Performance difference in percent-30.5-22.2-7.6-4.262.72280.05.7

Quake Wars has always run slightly better on Nvidia graphics chips. The game relies on CPU power. Fast dual-chip cards are a handicap, it seems.

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ET: Quake Wars in fps12800xAA16800xAA19200xAA12804xAA16804xAA19204xAAOverall
HD 4870 X2 8.10 QX@3.6790.187.689.186.486.386.1525.6
9800 GX2 180.42 QX@3.6799.6101.990.2103.0100.197.6592.4
Performance difference in percent-9.5-14.0-1.2-16.1-13.8-11.8-11.3

With Half Life 2 the results change. AMD graphics chips have always had a slight advantage here.

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Half Life 2 Episode 2 in fps12800xAA16800xAA19200xAA12804xAA16804xAA19204xAAOverall
HD 4870 X2 8.10 QX@3.67130.3123.5119.9128.6123.4122.4748.1
9800 GX2 180.42 QX@3.67123.6117.6117.2123.7119.1118.2719.4
Performance difference in percent5.

In Mass Effect you can see the true performance. The dual-chip HD 4870 X2 speeds up significantly at higher resolutions.

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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
9800 GX2 180.42 QX@3.67131.1128.5109.9111.485.459.2102.979.056.8864.2
Performance difference in percent0.10.913.74.32.619.310.98.521.57.5

Nvidia cards have had a 30% advantage from the very beginning. AMD has not been able so far to catch up in Microsoft Flight Simulator X.

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MS FlightX SP2 in fps12800xAA16800xAA19200xAA12804xAA16804xAA19204xAAOverall
HD 4870 X2 8.10 QX@3.6729.129.729.429.829.829.3177.1
9800 GX2 180.42 QX@3.6740.641.540.541.642.941.0248.1
Performance difference in percent-28.3-28.4-27.4-28.4-30.5-28.5-28.6

Without anti-aliasing the 9800 GX2 wins by far, but with anti-aliasing it’s all about pure graphics power and the Radeon HD 4870 X2 simply has more.

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World in Conflict in fps12800xAA16800xAA19200xAA12804xAA16804xAA19204xAAOverall
HD 4870 X2 8.10 QX@3.6753.556.154.550.052.952.5319.5
9800 GX2 180.42 QX@3.6770.869.458.849.140.131.2319.4
Performance difference in percent-24.4-19.2-7.31.831.968.30.0
  • 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!