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[nextpage title=”Introduction”]
AMD is saying that the new Radeon HD 4870 X2 which was released today is the fastest single video card in the world today. Is that so? Let’s compare its performance to all other high-end video cards available today. Check it out.
As you can assume by its name, Radeon HD 4870 X2 is a video card with two Radeon HD 4870 GPUs. On X2 they work under the same clock rates as the regular HD 4870: 750 MHz for the graphics chip and 900 MHz for the memory. Both cards are based on GDDR5 memories, which are capable of transferring four data per clock cycle, thus the performance of the memory is if it was running at 3.6 GHz, achieving a 115.2 GB/s maximum theoretical transfer rate. Each GPU accesses 1 GB memory through a 256-bit bus.
So basically the new Radeon HD 4870 X2 is two Radeon HD 4870 working in parallel under CrossFire mode in just a single card. Putting two of them in parallel would equal to four Radeon HD 4870 in CrossFire.
We will talk more about the differences between the Radeon HD 4870 X2 and other current high-end video cards, but before let’s take an in-depth look at the reviewed model from Sapphire.

Radeon HD 4870 X2Figure 1: Sapphire HD 4870 X2.

Radeon HD 4870 X2Figure 2: Sapphire HD 4870 X2.

Radeon HD 4870 X2Figure 3: Sapphire HD 4870 X2.

This video card requires the installation of two auxiliary power connectors, one with 6 pins and another with 8 pins. The product comes with the necessary adapters for you to convert standard peripheral power plugs into a 6-pin and an 8-pin power plugs if your power supply doesn’t provide them or if you are installing two cards in CrossFire and your power supply has only one or two auxiliary power cable for video cards.

Radeon HD 4870 X2Figure 4: Auxiliary power plugs.

[nextpage title=”Introduction (Cont’d)”]
We removed the video card cooler to take a look. The cooler is all made of copper. During our benchmarking we were really disappointed by the standard AMD cooler. The air blowing out from the cooler was as hot as 73° C (163° F) and the temperature on the metallic part of the cooler was at 70° C (158° F). We hope that AMD partners launch models using a better cooling solution. Sapphire and HIS are the most probable candidates, as they like launching models with solutions from Arctic Cooling. If you are really worried about the hot air generated by this monster you should really think on water cooling, and Asetek announced today a water cooling solution for Radeon HD 4870 X2.

Radeon HD 4870 X2Figure 5: Video card cooler.

On Figures 6 and 7 you can see the video card without its cooler. It uses sixteen 1-Gbit Hynix H5GQ1H24MJR-T0C GDDR5 chips, making its 2 GB memory (1 Gbit x 16 = 2 GB), 1 GB per GPU. These chips can officially work up to 1 GHz, so there is 11% headroom for you to overclock the memories keeping them inside their specs. Of course you can always try to push them above their official specs.

Radeon HD 4870 X2Figure 6: Sapphire HD 4870 X2 with its cooler removed.

Radeon HD 4870 X2Figure 7: Sapphire HD 4870 X2 with its cooler removed.

In Figure 8, you can see all accessories and CDs/DVDs that come with this video card. With the accessories that come with this card you can convert the video output to VGA, HDMI, component video and composite video, plus the DVI and S-Video connectors already present on the product.

Radeon HD 4870 X2Figure 8: Accessories.

This video card comes with three games inside a DVD called “Ruby ROM 1.1”: Call of Juarez, Dungeon Runners and Stranglehold. Programs that come with this video card include CyberLink DVD Suite (PowerProducer 4, PowerDirector 5 Express, Power2GO 5.5, Mediashow 3 and trial versions of PowerBackup 2.5, PowerDVD Copy and LabelPrint 2), Cyberlink Power DVD 7, 3DMark Vantage Full, EarthSim and GameShadow.
Now let’s compare the Radeon HD 4870 X2 specifications to its main competitors.
[nextpage title=”More Details”]
To make the comparison between Radeon HD 4870 X2 and the other video cards we included in this review easier, we compiled the table below comparing the main specs from these cards. If you want to compare the specs of the reviewed video card to any other video card not included in the table below, just take a look at our NVIDIA Chips Comparison Table and on our AMD ATI Chips Comparison Table.

GPU Core Clock Shader Clock Processors Memory Clock Memory Interface Memory Transfer Rate Memory Price
GeForce GTX 280 602 MHz 1,296 MHz 240 1,107 MHz 512-bit 141.7 GB/s 1 GB GDDR3 USD 420 – 475
GeForce GTX 260 576 MHz 1,242 MHz 192 1,000 MHz 448-bit 112 GB/s 896 MB GDDR3 USD 270 – 300
GeForce 9800 GX2 600 MHz 1,500 MHz 128 1,000 MHz 256-bit 64 GB/s 1 GB GDDR3 USD 290 – 470
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 738 MHz 1,836 MHz 128 1,100 MHz 256-bit 70.4 GB/s 512 MB GDDR3 USD 200 – 210
GeForce 9800 GTX 675 MHz 1,688 MHz 128 1,100 MHz 256-bit 70.4 GB/s 512 MB GDDR3 USD 187 – 200
Palit GeForce 9800 GT 1 GB 600 MHz 1.5 GHz 112 900 MHz 256-bit 57.6 GB/s 1 GB GDDR3 N/A
Radeon HD 4870 X2 750 MHz 750 MHz 800 900 MHz 256-bit 115.2 GB/s 1 GB GDDR5 USD 560 – 580
Radeon HD 4870 750 MHz 750 MHz 800 900 MHz 256-bit 115.2 GB/s 512 MB GDDR5 USD 280 – 290
Radeon HD 4850 625 MHz 625 MHz 800 993 MHz 256-bit 63.5 GB/s 512 MB GDDR3 USD 170 – 190
Sapphire Atomic HD 3870 X2 857 MHz 857 MHz 320 927 MHz 256-bit 59.3 GB/s 1 GB GDDR3
Radeon HD 3870 776 MHz 776 MHz 320 1,125 MHz 256-bit 72 GB/s 512 MB GDDR4 USD 123 – 160

It is important to note that this table reflects the current prices for the listed video cards at Newegg.com, which are lower than the prices we published in other reviews, since prices tend to drop every day. We couldn’t find the reviewed card being sold yet and Radeon HD 4870 X2 models from other vendors are costing today between USD 560 and 580, even though the official suggested price is of USD 549.
This puts Radeon HD 4870 X2 as the most expensive video card available today, costing exactly the same thing as two Radeon HD 4870, so price-wise there is no difference between having one HD 4870 X2 or two HD 4870 in CrossFire. The advantage is, of course, the use of just one PCI Express slot on X2.
Some important observations regarding this table:

  • All NVIDIA chips are DirectX 10 (Shader 4.0), while all AMD/ATI chips are DirectX 10.1 (Shader 4.1).
  • The memory clocks listed are the real memory clock. Memory clocks are often advertised as double the figures presented, numbers known as “DDR clock.” Radeon HD 4870 and Radeon HD 4870 X2 use GDDR5 chips, which transfer four data per clock cycle and thus the “DDR clock” for these video cards is four times the value presented on this table (i.e., 3.6 GHz).
  • GeForce 9800 GX2, Radeon HD 3870 X2 and Radeon HD 4870 X2 have two GPU’s. The numbers on the table represent only one of the chips.
  • All video cards included on our review were running at the chip manufacturer default clock configuration (i.e., no overclocking), except Sapphire Atomic HD 3870 X2. The official core clock for Radeon HD 3870 X2 is 825 MHz, while the official memory clock is 900 MHz. So this card was a little bit overclocked. We couldn’t reduce these clocks to their reference values and since we hadn’t any other Radeon HD 3870 X2 available we included this video card anyway.
  • Prices were researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.
  • We couldn’t find Sapphire Atomic HD 3870 X2 for sale. This model will be more expensive than cards from other vendors based on the same GPU because it features water cooling. Just for you to have an idea, prices on the regular Radeon 3870 X2 are quoted between USD 240 and USD 370.

Before going to our tests let’s recap the main features from Sapphire HD 4870 X2.
[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]
Sapphire HD 4870 X2 main features are:

  • Graphics chip: Two Radeon HD 4870, running at 750 MHz.
  • Memory: 2 GB GDDR5 memory (256-bit interface) from Hynix (H5GQ1H24MJR-T0C), running at 900  MHz (“3.6 GHz”).
  • Bus type: PCI Express x16 2.0.
  • Connectors: Two DVI and one S-Video output (with component video support).
  • Video Capture (VIVO): No.
  • Cables and adapters that come with this board: S-Video to component video cable, S-video to composite video adapter, DVI-to-VGA adapter, DVI-to-HDMI adapter, one standard 4-pin peripheral power plug to 6-pin PCI Express auxiliary power plug (PEG) adapter, one standard 4-pin peripheral power plug to 8-pin PCI Express auxiliary power plug (PEG) adapter and Crossfire bridge.
  • Number of CDs/DVDs that come with this board: Five.
  • Games that come with this board: Call of Juarez, Dungeon Runners and Stranglehold (inside “Ruby ROM 1.1” DVD).
  • Programs that come with this board: CyberLink DVD Suite (PowerProducer 4, PowerDirector 5 Express, Power2GO 5.5, Mediashow 3 and trial versions of PowerBackup 2.5, PowerDVD Copy and LabelPrint 2), Cyberlink Power DVD 7, 3DMark Vantage Full, EarthSim and GameShadow.
  • Minimum Required Power Supply: 650 W.
  • More information: https://www.sapphiretech.com
  • Average price in the US*: USD 560

* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.
[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]
During our benchmarking sessions, we used the configuration listed below. Between our benchmarking sessions the only variable was the video card being tested.
Hardware Configuration

Software Configuration

  • Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit
  • Service Pack 1

Driver Versions

  • nForce driver version: 15.17
  • AMD/ATI video driver version: Catalyst 8.5
  • AMD/ATI video driver version: Catalyst 8.6 + hotfix (8.501.1.0, 6/21/2008) (Radeon HD 4850, HD 4870)
  • AMD/ATI video driver version: 8.520.0.0 (Radeon HD 4870 X2)
  • NVIDIA video driver version: 175.16
  • NVIDIA video driver version: 177.34 (GeForce GTX 260, GTX 280)
  • NVIDIA video driver version: 177.79 (GeForce 9800 GT, 9800 GTX+)

Software Used

Resolutions and Image Quality Settings
Since we were comparing very high-end video cards, we ran all our tests under three 16:10 widescreen high resolutions: 1680×1050, 1920×1200, and 2560×1600. We always tried to run the programs and games in two scenarios for each resolution, one with low image quality settings and then maxing out the image quality settings. The exact configuration we used will be described together with the results of each individual test.
Error Margin
We adopted a 3% error margin; thus, differences below 3% cannot be considered relevant. In other words, products with a performance difference below 3% should be considered as having similar performance.
[nextpage title=”3DMark06 Professional”]
3DMark06 measures Shader 3.0 (i.e., DirectX 9.0c) performance. We run this software under three 16:10 widescreen resolutions, 1680×1050, 1920×1200, and 2560×1600, first with no image quality enhancements enabled – results we call “low” on the charts and tables below –, then setting 4x anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering. See the results below.

Radeon HD 4870 X2
3DMark06 Professional 1.1.0 – 1680×1050 – Low Score Difference
Radeon HD 4870 X2 17557
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2 16260 7.98%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI 16221 8.24%
GeForce 9800 GX2 15623 12.38%
GeForce GTX 280 14904 17.80%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 14215 23.51%
GeForce GTX 260 13701 28.14%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 13355 31.46%
GeForce 9800 GTX 12759 37.60%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 11842 48.26%
GeForce 9800 GT 11471 53.06%
Radeon HD 3870 10694 64.18%
Radeon HD 4870 X2
3DMark06 Professional 1.1.0 – 1920×1200 – Low Score Difference
Radeon HD 4870 X2 17414
GeForce 9800 GX2 15547 12.01%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2 15489 12.43%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI 15486 12.45%
GeForce GTX 280 14215 22.50%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 13017 33.78%
GeForce GTX 260 12668 37.46%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 12206 42.67%
GeForce 9800 GTX 11631 49.72%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 10691 62.88%
GeForce 9800 GT 10253 69.84%
Radeon HD 3870 9454 84.20%
Radeon HD 4870 X2
3DMark06 Professional 1.1.0 – 2560×1600 – Low Score Difference
Radeon HD 4870 X2 15920
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI 14146 12.54%
GeForce 9800 GX2 13015 22.32%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2 12315 29.27%
GeForce GTX 280 11766 35.31%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 10159 56.71%
GeForce GTX 260 9894 60.91%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 9365 69.99%
GeForce 9800 GTX 8743 82.09%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 8077 97.10%
GeForce 9800 GT 7679 107.32%
Radeon HD 3870 6823 133.33%
Radeon HD 4870 X2
3DMark06 Professional 1.1.0 – 1680×1050 – High Score Difference
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2 16260 0.78%
Radeon HD 4870 X2 16134
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI 13946 15.69%
GeForce 9800 GX2 13900 16.07%
GeForce GTX 280 12157 32.71%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 11063 45.84%
GeForce GTX 260 10617 51.96%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 9391 71.80%
GeForce 9800 GTX 8981 79.65%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 8881 81.67%
GeForce 9800 GT 7899 104.25%
Radeon HD 3870 6915 133.32%
Radeon HD 4870 X2
3DMark06 Professional 1.1.0 – 1920×1200 – High Score Difference
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2 15489 1.15%
Radeon HD 4870 X2 15313
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI 13091 16.97%
GeForce 9800 GX2 12213 25.38%
GeForce GTX 280 10991 39.32%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 10014 52.92%
GeForce GTX 260 9450 62.04%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 8144 88.03%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 7972 92.08%
GeForce 9800 GTX 7811 96.04%
GeForce 9800 GT 6826 124.33%
Radeon HD 3870 6114 150.46%
Radeon HD 4870 X2
3DMark06 Professional 1.1.0 – 2560×1600 – High Score Difference
Radeon HD 4870 X2 12479
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2 12315 1.33%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI 10893 14.56%
GeForce 9800 GX2 9829 26.96%
GeForce GTX 280 8704 43.37%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 7550 65.28%
GeForce GTX 260 7285 71.30%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 6065 105.75%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 5896 111.65%
GeForce 9800 GTX 5774 116.12%
GeForce 9800 GT 5045 147.35%
Radeon HD 3870 4319 188.93%

[nextpage title=”3DMark Vantage Professional”]
3DMark Vantage is the latest addition to the 3DMark series, measuring Shader 4.0 (i.e., DirectX 10) performance and supporting PhysX, a programming interface developed by Ageia (now part of NVIDIA) to transfer physics calculations from the system CPU to the video card GPU in order to increase performance. Mechanical physics is the basis for calculations about the interaction of objects. For example, if you shoot, what exactly will happen to the object when the bullet hits it? Will it break? Will it move? Will the bullet bounce back? Notice that we didn’t upgrade the PhysX to the latest version, which would make the physics calculations for CPU Test 2 to be made by the GPU instead of the CPU on NVIDIA video cards (since we aren’t considering CPU or 3DMark scores this change wouldn’t produce any increase in our results anyway).
We ran this program at three 16:10 widescreen resolutions, 1680×1050, 1920×1200, and 2560×1600. First we used the “Performance” profile, and then we used the “Extreme” profile (basically enabling anti-aliasing at 4x, anisotropic filtering at 16x, and putting all detail settings at their maximum or “extreme” value. The combination of 2560×1600 resolution with extreme settings didn’t produce reliable results according to the program, so we aren’t going to add them here. The results being compared are the “GPU Scores” achieved by each video card.

Radeon HD 4870 X2
3DMark Vantage Professional 1.0.1 – 1680×1050 – Performance Score Difference
Radeon HD 4870 X2 11697
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI 8725 34.06%
GeForce GTX 280 7695 52.01%
GeForce 9800 GX2 6990 67.34%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 6193 88.87%
GeForce GTX 260 5898 98.32%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2 5651 106.99%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 4797 143.84%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 4499 159.99%
GeForce 9800 GTX 3805 207.41%
GeForce 9800 GT 3691 216.91%
Radeon HD 3870 2977 292.91%
Radeon HD 4870 X2
3DMark Vantage Professional 1.0.1 – 1920×1200 – Performance Score Difference
Radeon HD 4870 X2 9472
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI 6545 44.72%
GeForce GTX 280 6106 55.13%
GeForce 9800 GX2 5379 76.09%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 4880 94.10%
GeForce GTX 260 4582 106.72%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2 4336 118.45%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 3725 154.28%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 3370 181.07%
GeForce 9800 GT 2951 220.98%
GeForce 9800 GTX 2891 227.64%
Radeon HD 3870 2269 317.45%
Radeon HD 4870 X2
3DMark Vantage Professional 1.0.1 – 2560×1600 – Performance Score Difference
Radeon HD 4870 X2 5542
GeForce GTX 280 3549 56.16%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI 3482 59.16%
GeForce 9800 GX2 2910 90.45%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 2728 103.15%
GeForce GTX 260 2640 109.92%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2 2382 132.66%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 2050 170.34%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 1815 205.34%
GeForce 9800 GT 1638 238.34%
GeForce 9800 GTX 1557 255.94%
Radeon HD 3870 1244 345.50%
Radeon HD 4870 X2
3DMark Vantage Professional 1.0.1 – 1680×1050 – Extreme Score Difference
Radeon HD 4870 X2 8405
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI 6195 35.67%
GeForce GTX 280 6005 39.97%
GeForce 9800 GX2 4858 73.01%
GeForce GTX 260 4531 85.50%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 4360 92.78%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2 3567 135.63%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 3445 143.98%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 3201 162.57%
GeForce 9800 GT 2741 206.64%
GeForce 9800 GTX 2703 210.95%
Radeon HD 3870 1855 353.10%
Radeon HD 4870 X2
3DMark Vantage Professional 1.0.1 – 1920×1200 – Extreme Score Difference
Radeon HD 4870 X2 6916
GeForce GTX 280 4732 46.15%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI 4415 56.65%
GeForce GTX 260 3576 93.40%
GeForce 9800 GX2 3508 97.15%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 3490 98.17%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 2753 151.22%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2 2669 159.12%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 2399 188.29%
GeForce 9800 GT 2136 223.78%
GeForce 9800 GTX 2038 239.35%
Radeon HD 3870 1439 380.61%

[nextpage title=”Call of Duty 4″]
Call of Duty 4 is a DirectX 9 game implementing high-dynamic range (HDR) and its own physics engine, which is used to calculate how objects interact. For example, if you shoot, what exactly will happen to the object when the bullet hits it? Will it break? Will it move? Will the bullet bounce back? It gives a more realistic experience to the user.
We ran this program at three 16:10 widescreen resolutions, 1680×1050, 1920×1200, and 2560×1600, maxing out all image quality controls (i.e., everything was put on the maximum values on the Graphics and Texture menus). We used the game internal benchmarking feature, running a demo provided by NVIDIA called “wetwork.” We are putting this demo for downloading here if you want to run your own benchmarks. The game was updated to version 1.6. The results below are the average number of frames per second (FPS) achieved by each card.

Radeon HD 4870 X2
Call of Duty 4 – 1680×1050 – Maximum Score Difference
Radeon HD 4870 X2 134.6
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI 127.7 5.40%
GeForce 9800 GX2 106.2 26.74%
GeForce GTX 280 105.3 27.83%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 93.4 44.11%
GeForce GTX 260 91.0 47.91%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2 75.7 77.81%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 72.4 85.91%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 72.2 86.43%
GeForce 9800 GTX 69.1 94.79%
GeForce 9800 GT 61.3 119.58%
Radeon HD 3870 43.0 213.02%
Radeon HD 4870 X2
Call of Duty 4 – 1920×1200 – Maximum Score Difference
Radeon HD 4870 X2 120.6
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI 110.7 8.94%
GeForce 9800 GX2 94.5 27.62%
GeForce GTX 280 91.7 31.52%
GeForce GTX 260 77.1 56.42%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 76.4 57.85%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2 61.3 96.74%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 59.5 102.69%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 59.1 104.06%
GeForce 9800 GTX 57.7 109.01%
GeForce 9800 GT 50.8 137.40%
Radeon HD 3870 35.4 240.68%
Radeon HD 4870 X2
Call of Duty 4 – 2560×1600 – Maximum Score Difference
Radeon HD 4870 X2 83.8
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI 74.3 12.79%
GeForce 9800 GX2 64.8 29.32%
GeForce GTX 280 64.8 29.32%
GeForce GTX 260 53.5 56.64%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 48.1 74.22%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2 40.6 106.40%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 39.7 111.08%
GeForce 9800 GTX 38.3 118.80%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 36.7 128.34%
GeForce 9800 GT 33.3 151.65%
Radeon HD 3870 22.4 274.11%

[nextpage title=”Crysis”]
Crysis is a very heavy DirectX 10 game. We updated this game to version 1.2.1 and used the HOC Crysis Benchmarking Utility to help us collecting data. Since we don’t think the default demo based on the island map stresses the video card the way we want, we used the HOC core demo available with the abovementioned utility. We ran this demo under three 16:10 widescreen resolutions, 1680×1050, 1920×1200, and 2560×1600, first with image quality set to “low” and then with image quality set to “high.” Since all video cards achieved a number of frames per second below 10 at 2560×1600 with image details set to “high,” we are not including this test as the results aren’t reliable. We ran each test twice and discarded the first result, as usually the first run achieves a lower score compared to the subsequent runs since the game loses time loading files. The results below are the average number of frames per second (FPS) achieved by each card.

Radeon HD 4870 X2
Crysis 1.2.1 – 1680×1050 – Low Score Difference
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2 125 4.17%
GeForce GTX 280 125 4.17%
Radeon HD 4870 X2 120
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 101 18.81%
GeForce GTX 260 99 21.21%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI 91 31.87%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 91 31.87%
GeForce 9800 GTX 84 42.86%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 84 42.86%
GeForce 9800 GX2 75 60.00%
GeForce 9800 GT 75 60.00%
Radeon HD 3870 71 69.01%
Radeon HD 4870 X2
Crysis 1.2.1 – 1920×1200 – Low Score Difference
Radeon HD 4870 X2 119
GeForce GTX 280 115 3.48%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2 108 10.19%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 84 41.67%
GeForce GTX 260 83 43.37%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI 76 56.58%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 76 56.58%
GeForce 9800 GTX 69 72.46%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 67 77.61%
GeForce 9800 GX2 63 88.89%
GeForce 9800 GT 61 95.08%
Radeon HD 3870 58 105.17%
Radeon HD 4870 X2
Crysis 1.2.1 – 2560×1600 – Low Score Difference
Radeon HD 4870 X2 103
GeForce GTX 280 95 8.42%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2 71 45.07%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 53 94.34%
GeForce GTX 260 52 98.08%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI 49 110.20%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 49 110.20%
GeForce 9800 GTX 44 134.09%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 43 139.53%
GeForce 9800 GX2 42 145.24%
GeForce 9800 GT 39 164.10%
Radeon HD 3870 35 194.29%
Radeon HD 4870 X2
Crysis 1.2.1 – 1680×1050 – High Score Difference
Radeon HD 4870 X2 57
GeForce GTX 280 42 35.71%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 37 54.05%
GeForce GTX 260 32 78.13%
GeForce 9800 GTX 29 96.55%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 29 96.55%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 29 96.55%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI 28 103.57%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2 26 119.23%
GeForce 9800 GX2 25 128.00%
GeForce 9800 GT 25 128.00%
Radeon HD 3870 19 200.00%
Radeon HD 4870 X2
Crysis 1.2.1 – 1920×1200 – High Score Difference
Radeon HD 4870 X2 47
GeForce GTX 280 34 38.24%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 30 56.67%
GeForce GTX 260 26 80.77%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 23 104.35%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 23 104.35%
GeForce 9800 GTX 22 113.64%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI 21 123.81%
GeForce 9800 GX2 21 123.81%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2 20 135.00%
GeForce 9800 GT 20 135.00%
Radeon HD 3870 16 193.75%

[nextpage title=”Unreal Tournament 3″]

Unreal Tournament 3 is the latest installment from this famous first person shooter franchise, supporting DirectX 10 graphics when installed on Windows Vista with a DX10 compatible card. We upgraded Unreal Tournament 3 to version 1.2 and benchmarked it with the help of HOC UT3 benchmarking utility using the “Containment” demo, maxing out image quality settings (image quality at “high” and anisotropic filtering at x16). It is important to note that we haven’t applied the PhysX mod to this game, which would transfer PhysX processing from the CPU to the GPU on NVIDIA cards. The results below are the average number of frames per second (FPS) achieved by each card.

Radeon HD 4870 X2
Unreal Tournament 3 – 1680×1050 – Maximum Score Difference
GeForce 9800 GTX 112 16.67%
GeForce 9800 GX2 108 12.50%
GeForce GTX 260 106 10.42%
GeForce GTX 280 104 8.33%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 104 8.33%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 104 8.33%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 96 0.00%
Radeon HD 4870 X2 96
GeForce 9800 GT 95 1.05%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2 84 14.29%
Radeon HD 3870 83 15.66%

 

Radeon HD 4870 X2
Unreal Tournament 3 – 1920×1200 – Maximum Score Difference
GeForce 9800 GTX 108 13.68%
GeForce 9800 GX2 106 11.58%
GeForce GTX 260 103 8.42%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 98 3.16%
Radeon HD 4870 X2 95
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 94 1.06%
GeForce GTX 280 91 4.40%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 89 6.74%
GeForce 9800 GT 80 18.75%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2 78 21.79%
Radeon HD 3870 75 26.67%
Radeon HD 4870 X2
Unreal Tournament 3 – 2560×1600 – Maximum Score Difference
GeForce 9800 GTX 92 1.10%
GeForce 9800 GX2 92 1.10%
Radeon HD 4870 X2 91
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 78 16.67%
GeForce GTX 260 76 19.74%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 63 44.44%
GeForce GTX 280 62 46.77%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 60 51.67%
GeForce 9800 GT 52 75.00%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2 51 78.43%
Radeon HD 3870 47 93.62%

[nextpage title=”Half-Life 2: Episode Two”]

Half-Life 2 is a popular franchise and we benchmark the video cards using Episode Two with the aid of HOC Half-Life 2 Episode Two benchmarking utility using the “HOC Demo 1” provided by this program. We ran the game in three 16:10 widescreen resolutions, 1680×1050, 1920×1200, and 2560×1600, under two scenarios. First with quality set to maximum, bilinear filtering and anti-aliasing set to x0. This configuration we are calling “low” on the charts and tables below. Then we maxed out image quality settings, enabling x16 anisotropic filtering and 16xQCS anti-aliasing. This configuration we are calling “high” on our charts and tables. We updated the game up to the June 9th 2008 patch. The results below are the average number of frames per second (FPS) achieved by each card.

Radeon HD 4870 X2
Half-Life 2: Episode Two – 1680×1050 – Low Score Difference
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 170.0 6.25%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 164.9 3.06%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2 160.4 0.25%
Radeon HD 4870 X2 160.0
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 160.0 0.00%
GeForce GTX 260 157.0 1.91%
GeForce GTX 280 156.3 2.37%
GeForce 9800 GT 156.0 2.56%
GeForce 9800 GTX 153.8 4.03%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI 151.0 5.96%
Radeon HD 3870 145.7 9.81%
GeForce 9800 GX2 136.8 16.96%
Radeon HD 4870 X2
Half-Life 2: Episode Two – 1920×1200 – Low Score Difference
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 165.0 4.43%
Radeon HD 4870 X2 158.0
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2 156.7 0.83%
GeForce GTX 280 156.3 1.09%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 155.0 1.94%
GeForce GTX 260 153.0 3.27%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 149.8 5.47%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI 149.0 6.04%
GeForce 9800 GTX 146.9 7.56%
GeForce 9800 GT 143.0 10.49%
GeForce 9800 GX2 135.2 16.86%
Radeon HD 3870 120.1 31.56%
Radeon HD 4870 X2
Half-Life 2: Episode Two – 2560×1600 – Low Score Difference
Radeon HD 4870 X2 156.0
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI 147.0 6.12%
GeForce GTX 280 145.1 7.51%
GeForce 9800 GX2 130.6 19.45%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2 129.7 20.28%
GeForce GTX 260 124.0 25.81%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 119.0 31.09%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 117.0 33.33%
GeForce 9800 GTX 107.9 44.58%
GeForce 9800 GT 96.0 62.50%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 93.9 66.13%
Radeon HD 3870 72.8 114.29%
Radeon HD 4870 X2
Half-Life 2: Episode Two – 1680×1050 – High Score Difference
Radeon HD 4870 X2 157.0
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI 145.0 8.28%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 144.0 9.03%
GeForce 9800 GTX 137.9 13.85%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2 126.1 24.50%
GeForce 9800 GX2 125.4 25.20%
GeForce GTX 260 121.0 29.75%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 116.2 35.11%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 94.0 67.02%
GeForce GTX 280 89.3 75.81%
GeForce 9800 GT 80.0 96.25%
Radeon HD 3870 68.3 129.87%
Radeon HD 4870 X2
Half-Life 2: Episode Two – 1920×1200 – High Score Difference
Radeon HD 4870 X2 157.0
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI 131.0 19.85%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 124.0 26.61%
GeForce 9800 GTX 116.3 35.00%
GeForce 9800 GX2 111.1 41.31%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2 106.5 47.42%
GeForce GTX 260 101.0 55.45%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 97.2 61.52%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 74.0 112.16%
GeForce GTX 280 70.3 123.33%
GeForce 9800 GT 63.0 149.21%
Radeon HD 3870 56.8 176.41%
Radeon HD 4870 X2
Half-Life 2: Episode Two – 2560×1600 – High Score Difference
Radeon HD 4870 X2 130.0
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 75.0 73.33%
GeForce 9800 GTX 71.3 82.33%
GeForce GTX 260 61.0 113.11%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 58.4 122.60%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2 50.6 156.92%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI 46.0 182.61%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ 39.0 233.33%
GeForce 9800 GX2 37.5 246.67%
GeForce 9800 GT 36.0 261.11%
GeForce GTX 280 35.5 266.20%
Radeon HD 3870 34.9 272.49%

[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]
Is Radeon HD 4870 X2 really the fastest single video card on the market today? For most scenarios, yes.
Here is a summary of what we’ve seen.
On 3DMark06, which simulates shader 3.0 (DirectX 9.0c) games, Radeon HD 4870 X2 was between 23% and 65% faster than the regular HD 4870, between 8% and 17% faster than two GeForce 9800 GTX+ in SLI, between 12% and 27% faster than GeForce 9800 GX2 (which is also a dual-GPU solution) and between 18% and 43% faster than GeForce GTX 280.
On 3DMark Vantage, which simulates shader 4.0 (DirectX 10) games, Radeon HD 4870 X2 was between 89% and 103% faster than the regular HD 4870, between 34% and 59% faster than two GeForce 9800 GTX+ in SLI, between 67% and 97% faster than GeForce 9800 GX2 (which is also a dual-GPU solution) and between 40% and 56% faster than GeForce GTX 280.
On Call of Duty 4 Radeon HD 4870 X2 was between 44% and 74% faster than the regular HD 4870, between 5% and 13% faster than two GeForce 9800 GTX+ in SLI, between 26% and 29% faster than GeForce 9800 GX2 (which is also a dual-GPU solution) and between 28% and 31% faster than GeForce GTX 280.
On Crysis Radeon HD 4870 X2 was between 19% and 94% faster than the regular HD 4870, between 32% and 124% faster than two GeForce 9800 GTX+ in SLI, between 60% and 145% faster than GeForce 9800 GX2 (which is also a dual-GPU solution) and between 3% and 38% faster than GeForce GTX 280, except at 1680×1050 with no image quality settings enabled, where GTX 280 was 4% faster than HD 4870 X2.
On Half-Life: Episode Two we only saw Radeon HD 4870 X2 making other cards eating dust at 1920×1200 and 2560×1600 with image quality settings maxed out. Under this scenario HD 4870 X2 was 27% and 73% faster than the regular Radeon HD 4870, 20% and 183% faster than two GeForce 9800 GTX+ in SLI, 41% and 247% faster than GeForce 9800 GX2 and 123% and 266% faster than GeForce GTX 280. When running with no image quality settings enabled most high-end video cards achieved the same performance level on this game.
The only game where Radeon HD 4870 wasn’t the fastest card around was on Unreal Tournament 3, probably showing the lack of scalability under CrossFire configuration using our methodology, even though it achieved a good result at 2560×1600, where it was 47% faster than GeForce GTX 280 and 17% faster than the regular HD 4870.
As we mentioned, under most circumstances Radeon HD 4870 X2 will really be the fastest single card around.
We see only two problems with this card. The first one is, of course, its price. Today it is found around USD 560, but we hope to see its price dropping in the next few weeks. Keep in mind that GeForce GTX 280 arrived at the market two months ago at USD 650. So for the extreme gamer with money in his pocket looking for the fastest video card on the market, Radeon HD 4870 X2 is certainly the best option. If you REALLY have the money to build the ultimate gaming machine, two Radeon HD 4870 X2 in CrossFire should fulfill your wildest dreams. The gamer that doesn’t want to spend this much on a high-end video card we think that the regular Radeon HD 4870 is a terrific buy.
The second problem is the heat produced by this card. During our tests the air blowing out from the cooler was as hot as 73° C (163° F) and the temperature on the metallic part of the cooler was at 70° C (158° F). Unless you want to transform your room into a sauna, we strongly recommend you to wait for manufacturers to launch Radeon HD 4870 X2 models with a better cooling solution or for cooler manufacturers to launch add-on coolers or water cooling systems supporting this new video card.
It is important to mention that even with this very high temperature, the card was very stable and we haven’t trouble running any of our programs.