Radeon HD 4870 X2: Four Cards Compared

The principle focus of this piece is a four-way comparison between four of AMD’s fastest graphics cards— its Radeon HD 4870 X2. Asus, HIS, MSI, and Sapphire all sent us their own versions of the board, with cooling solutions similar to the reference design, little to no differences in the cooling solution, and minimal clock speed variation, which as we all know, can have a tremendous impact on 3D performance. Asus, with the TOP model, and MSI with its OC edition, are overclocked by the manufacturer. In order for HIS and Sapphire to compete, they were manually overclocked and tested at their highest stable speeds.

4x Radeon HD 4870 X2 in the overclocking test.

To make sure the Radeon HD 4870 X2 cards aren’t lonely, we’ve added numbers for the fastest and most current cards from AMD and Nvidia, along with an overclocked quad-core CPU. Among the additional configurations are the Radeon HD 4850 and Radeon HD 4870 as single board and in CrossFire arrangements, Nvidia’s GeForce 9800 GTX+, the double-chip 9800 GX2, as well as the GeForce GTX 260 and GTX 280, both as a single card and as a combined unit using SLI. For comparison purposes, we provide results with different CPUs and older driver versions. And in addition, we provide the results from the newcomer, the Radeon HD 4670. In total we have 31 combinations, which should give you a very complete overview of the current chip classes and the 3D performance they are able to provide.

The article is organized into several parts. The first part talks about the product tests done on the Radeon HD 4870 X2 cards from Asus, HIS, MSI and Sapphire. We follow this with charts for the benchmarks, and the driver comparison between Catalyst versions 8.9 and 8.10. Although 8.11 is indeed now available, you shouldn’t see significant performance variation in anything other than Stalker: Clear Sky and Far Cry 2—neither of which are included in this piece.

In the third part, we give a detailed analysis of single-card HD 4870 versus Radeon HD 4870 X2, X2 versus two cards in CrossFire, X2 versus X2 CrossFire (4CF), and the double-chip Radeon HD 4870 X2 cards versus the GeForce 9800 GX2 from Nvidia. In the last part, you’ll find the overall performance results and information on price/performance ratios, noise levels, power consumption, temperatures, and frame rates sorted by resolution.