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Radeon HD 4870: Better Than GTX 260!

Bottom line

For once, our assessment of this Radeon HD 4870 will be simple: It’s an excellent high-end graphics card! With the same architecture and most of the strong points of the Radeon HD 4850, it’s in a higher category performance- and price-wise. The bottom line: Though it’s faster by an average of 6% (and in the majority of our tests) than the GeForce GTX 260, it sells for $299 – $150 less than the competing Nvidia card! Even the top-end card from Nvidia, the GeForce GTX 280 – souped up with more transistors, twice as much memory and higher clock speeds – is not that far ahead. It showed only 13% better performance than the Radeon HD 4870, though it costs twice as much.

A few points enter into the picture to make it bit less idyllic, however. First, the Radeon HD 4870 suffers slightly from the competition with its own stable mate, the HD 4850, since the smaller card has a better performance/price ratio (only 23% less performance at a price that is 60% lower). And, AMD has totally reversed its strong and weak points compared to the preceding generation, and in particular to the Radeon HD 3870 — The Radeon HD 4870’s performance is good with antialiasing enabled (despite having only 512 MB of memory), but it consumes a lot more power at idle and also under load (and more than the GeForce GTX 260). And it’s not exactly a model of silent performance, though it’s still a lot quieter than the GeForce GTX 260, and without heating up the inside of your case.

Now Nvidia will obviously be forced to react and drop the price of its GeForce GTX 260 in a hurry, which is another piece of good news, though so far we haven’t seen any signs that it is about to do that. As for AMD, there’s one more step they need to take to make a total success of this new generation – to release a very-high-end card (which will necessarily mean using two RV770s) that will earn the same enthusiasm. And that may be a little harder to do.

AMD Radeon HD 4870

With the same qualities as the Radeon HD 4850 but at a higher price point, the Radeon HD 4870 manages to compete directly with the GeForce GTX 260 – it’s both a little faster and a good deal less expensive than the Nvidia card, and without the excessive noise. Despite its higher power consumption, with prices as they stand currently, there’s really no doubt that it’s the better choice.

  • Pros
  • Cons
  • 6% better performance than the GeForce GTX 260Priced lower than the GeForce GTX 260Lower noise level than the GeForce GTX 260
  • High power consumption under load, and especially at idlePerformance/price ratio not as good as the Radeon HD 4850

+ Award Recommended Buy