Sapphire HD 4870 X2 Video Card Review
By Gabriel Torres on August 12, 2008


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 X2
click to enlarge
Figure 1: Sapphire HD 4870 X2.

Radeon HD 4870 X2
click to enlarge
Figure 2: Sapphire HD 4870 X2.

Radeon HD 4870 X2
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Figure 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 X2
click to enlarge
Figure 4: Auxiliary power plugs.

Introduction (Contíd)

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 X2
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Figure 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 X2
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Figure 6: Sapphire HD 4870 X2 with its cooler removed.

Radeon HD 4870 X2
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Figure 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 X2
click to enlarge
Figure 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.

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:

Before going to our tests let’s recap the main features from Sapphire HD 4870 X2.

Main Specifications

Sapphire HD 4870 X2 main features are:

* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.

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

Driver Versions

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: 1680x1050, 1920x1200, and 2560x1600. 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.

3DMark06 Professional

3DMark06 measures Shader 3.0 (i.e., DirectX 9.0c) performance. We run this software under three 16:10 widescreen resolutions, 1680x1050, 1920x1200, and 2560x1600, 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 - 1680x1050 - LowScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X217557 
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2162607.98%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI162218.24%
GeForce 9800 GX21562312.38%
GeForce GTX 2801490417.80%
Sapphire Radeon HD 48701421523.51%
GeForce GTX 2601370128.14%
GeForce 9800 GTX+1335531.46%
GeForce 9800 GTX1275937.60%
Sapphire Radeon HD 48501184248.26%
GeForce 9800 GT1147153.06%
Radeon HD 38701069464.18%

Radeon HD 4870 X2

3DMark06 Professional 1.1.0 - 1920x1200 - LowScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X217414 
GeForce 9800 GX21554712.01%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X21548912.43%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI1548612.45%
GeForce GTX 2801421522.50%
Sapphire Radeon HD 48701301733.78%
GeForce GTX 2601266837.46%
GeForce 9800 GTX+1220642.67%
GeForce 9800 GTX1163149.72%
Sapphire Radeon HD 48501069162.88%
GeForce 9800 GT1025369.84%
Radeon HD 3870945484.20%

Radeon HD 4870 X2

3DMark06 Professional 1.1.0 - 2560x1600 - LowScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X215920 
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI1414612.54%
GeForce 9800 GX21301522.32%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X21231529.27%
GeForce GTX 2801176635.31%
Sapphire Radeon HD 48701015956.71%
GeForce GTX 260989460.91%
GeForce 9800 GTX+936569.99%
GeForce 9800 GTX874382.09%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850807797.10%
GeForce 9800 GT7679107.32%
Radeon HD 38706823133.33%

Radeon HD 4870 X2

3DMark06 Professional 1.1.0 - 1680x1050 - HighScoreDifference
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2162600.78%
Radeon HD 4870 X216134 
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI1394615.69%
GeForce 9800 GX21390016.07%
GeForce GTX 2801215732.71%
Sapphire Radeon HD 48701106345.84%
GeForce GTX 2601061751.96%
GeForce 9800 GTX+939171.80%
GeForce 9800 GTX898179.65%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850888181.67%
GeForce 9800 GT7899104.25%
Radeon HD 38706915133.32%

Radeon HD 4870 X2

3DMark06 Professional 1.1.0 - 1920x1200 - HighScoreDifference
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2154891.15%
Radeon HD 4870 X215313 
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI1309116.97%
GeForce 9800 GX21221325.38%
GeForce GTX 2801099139.32%
Sapphire Radeon HD 48701001452.92%
GeForce GTX 260945062.04%
GeForce 9800 GTX+814488.03%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850797292.08%
GeForce 9800 GTX781196.04%
GeForce 9800 GT6826124.33%
Radeon HD 38706114150.46%

Radeon HD 4870 X2

3DMark06 Professional 1.1.0 - 2560x1600 - HighScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X212479 
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2123151.33%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI1089314.56%
GeForce 9800 GX2982926.96%
GeForce GTX 280870443.37%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870755065.28%
GeForce GTX 260728571.30%
GeForce 9800 GTX+6065105.75%
Sapphire Radeon HD 48505896111.65%
GeForce 9800 GTX5774116.12%
GeForce 9800 GT5045147.35%
Radeon HD 38704319188.93%

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, 1680x1050, 1920x1200, and 2560x1600. 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 2560x1600 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 - 1680x1050 - PerformanceScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X211697 
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI872534.06%
GeForce GTX 280769552.01%
GeForce 9800 GX2699067.34%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870619388.87%
GeForce GTX 260589898.32%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X25651106.99%
Sapphire Radeon HD 48504797143.84%
GeForce 9800 GTX+4499159.99%
GeForce 9800 GTX3805207.41%
GeForce 9800 GT3691216.91%
Radeon HD 38702977292.91%

Radeon HD 4870 X2

3DMark Vantage Professional 1.0.1 - 1920x1200 - PerformanceScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X29472 
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI654544.72%
GeForce GTX 280610655.13%
GeForce 9800 GX2537976.09%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870488094.10%
GeForce GTX 2604582106.72%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X24336118.45%
Sapphire Radeon HD 48503725154.28%
GeForce 9800 GTX+3370181.07%
GeForce 9800 GT2951220.98%
GeForce 9800 GTX2891227.64%
Radeon HD 38702269317.45%

Radeon HD 4870 X2

3DMark Vantage Professional 1.0.1 - 2560x1600 - PerformanceScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X25542 
GeForce GTX 280354956.16%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI348259.16%
GeForce 9800 GX2291090.45%
Sapphire Radeon HD 48702728103.15%
GeForce GTX 2602640109.92%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X22382132.66%
Sapphire Radeon HD 48502050170.34%
GeForce 9800 GTX+1815205.34%
GeForce 9800 GT1638238.34%
GeForce 9800 GTX1557255.94%
Radeon HD 38701244345.50%

Radeon HD 4870 X2

3DMark Vantage Professional 1.0.1 - 1680x1050 - ExtremeScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X28405 
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI619535.67%
GeForce GTX 280600539.97%
GeForce 9800 GX2485873.01%
GeForce GTX 260453185.50%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870436092.78%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X23567135.63%
Sapphire Radeon HD 48503445143.98%
GeForce 9800 GTX+3201162.57%
GeForce 9800 GT2741206.64%
GeForce 9800 GTX2703210.95%
Radeon HD 38701855353.10%

Radeon HD 4870 X2

3DMark Vantage Professional 1.0.1 - 1920x1200 - ExtremeScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X26916 
GeForce GTX 280473246.15%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI441556.65%
GeForce GTX 260357693.40%
GeForce 9800 GX2350897.15%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870349098.17%
Sapphire Radeon HD 48502753151.22%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X22669159.12%
GeForce 9800 GTX+2399188.29%
GeForce 9800 GT2136223.78%
GeForce 9800 GTX2038239.35%
Radeon HD 38701439380.61%

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, 1680x1050, 1920x1200, and 2560x1600, 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 - 1680x1050 - MaximumScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X2134.6 
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI127.75.40%
GeForce 9800 GX2106.226.74%
GeForce GTX 280105.327.83%
Sapphire Radeon HD 487093.444.11%
GeForce GTX 26091.047.91%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X275.777.81%
Sapphire Radeon HD 485072.485.91%
GeForce 9800 GTX+72.286.43%
GeForce 9800 GTX69.194.79%
GeForce 9800 GT61.3119.58%
Radeon HD 387043.0213.02%

Radeon HD 4870 X2

Call of Duty 4 - 1920x1200 - MaximumScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X2120.6 
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI110.78.94%
GeForce 9800 GX294.527.62%
GeForce GTX 28091.731.52%
GeForce GTX 26077.156.42%
Sapphire Radeon HD 487076.457.85%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X261.396.74%
GeForce 9800 GTX+59.5102.69%
Sapphire Radeon HD 485059.1104.06%
GeForce 9800 GTX57.7109.01%
GeForce 9800 GT50.8137.40%
Radeon HD 387035.4240.68%

Radeon HD 4870 X2

Call of Duty 4 - 2560x1600 - MaximumScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X283.8 
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI74.312.79%
GeForce 9800 GX264.829.32%
GeForce GTX 28064.829.32%
GeForce GTX 26053.556.64%
Sapphire Radeon HD 487048.174.22%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X240.6106.40%
GeForce 9800 GTX+39.7111.08%
GeForce 9800 GTX38.3118.80%
Sapphire Radeon HD 485036.7128.34%
GeForce 9800 GT33.3151.65%
Radeon HD 387022.4274.11%

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, 1680x1050, 1920x1200, and 2560x1600, 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 2560x1600 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 - 1680x1050 - LowScoreDifference
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X21254.17%
GeForce GTX 2801254.17%
Radeon HD 4870 X2120 
Sapphire Radeon HD 487010118.81%
GeForce GTX 2609921.21%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI9131.87%
GeForce 9800 GTX+9131.87%
GeForce 9800 GTX8442.86%
Sapphire Radeon HD 48508442.86%
GeForce 9800 GX27560.00%
GeForce 9800 GT7560.00%
Radeon HD 38707169.01%

Radeon HD 4870 X2

Crysis 1.2.1 - 1920x1200 - LowScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X2119 
GeForce GTX 2801153.48%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X210810.19%
Sapphire Radeon HD 48708441.67%
GeForce GTX 2608343.37%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI7656.58%
GeForce 9800 GTX+7656.58%
GeForce 9800 GTX6972.46%
Sapphire Radeon HD 48506777.61%
GeForce 9800 GX26388.89%
GeForce 9800 GT6195.08%
Radeon HD 387058105.17%

Radeon HD 4870 X2

Crysis 1.2.1 - 2560x1600 - LowScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X2103 
GeForce GTX 280958.42%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X27145.07%
Sapphire Radeon HD 48705394.34%
GeForce GTX 2605298.08%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI49110.20%
GeForce 9800 GTX+49110.20%
GeForce 9800 GTX44134.09%
Sapphire Radeon HD 485043139.53%
GeForce 9800 GX242145.24%
GeForce 9800 GT39164.10%
Radeon HD 387035194.29%

Radeon HD 4870 X2

Crysis 1.2.1 - 1680x1050 - HighScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X257 
GeForce GTX 2804235.71%
Sapphire Radeon HD 48703754.05%
GeForce GTX 2603278.13%
GeForce 9800 GTX2996.55%
Sapphire Radeon HD 48502996.55%
GeForce 9800 GTX+2996.55%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI28103.57%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X226119.23%
GeForce 9800 GX225128.00%
GeForce 9800 GT25128.00%
Radeon HD 387019200.00%

Radeon HD 4870 X2

Crysis 1.2.1 - 1920x1200 - HighScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X247 
GeForce GTX 2803438.24%
Sapphire Radeon HD 48703056.67%
GeForce GTX 2602680.77%
Sapphire Radeon HD 485023104.35%
GeForce 9800 GTX+23104.35%
GeForce 9800 GTX22113.64%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI21123.81%
GeForce 9800 GX221123.81%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X220135.00%
GeForce 9800 GT20135.00%
Radeon HD 387016193.75%

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 - 1680x1050 - MaximumScoreDifference
GeForce 9800 GTX11216.67%
GeForce 9800 GX210812.50%
GeForce GTX 26010610.42%
GeForce GTX 2801048.33%
Sapphire Radeon HD 48701048.33%
GeForce 9800 GTX+1048.33%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850960.00%
Radeon HD 4870 X296 
GeForce 9800 GT951.05%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X28414.29%
Radeon HD 38708315.66%

 

Radeon HD 4870 X2

Unreal Tournament 3 - 1920x1200 - MaximumScoreDifference
GeForce 9800 GTX10813.68%
GeForce 9800 GX210611.58%
GeForce GTX 2601038.42%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870983.16%
Radeon HD 4870 X295 
GeForce 9800 GTX+941.06%
GeForce GTX 280914.40%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850896.74%
GeForce 9800 GT8018.75%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X27821.79%
Radeon HD 38707526.67%

Radeon HD 4870 X2

Unreal Tournament 3 - 2560x1600 - MaximumScoreDifference
GeForce 9800 GTX921.10%
GeForce 9800 GX2921.10%
Radeon HD 4870 X291 
Sapphire Radeon HD 48707816.67%
GeForce GTX 2607619.74%
GeForce 9800 GTX+6344.44%
GeForce GTX 2806246.77%
Sapphire Radeon HD 48506051.67%
GeForce 9800 GT5275.00%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X25178.43%
Radeon HD 38704793.62%

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, 1680x1050, 1920x1200, and 2560x1600, 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 - 1680x1050 - LowScoreDifference
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870170.06.25%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850164.93.06%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2160.40.25%
Radeon HD 4870 X2160.0 
GeForce 9800 GTX+160.00.00%
GeForce GTX 260157.01.91%
GeForce GTX 280156.32.37%
GeForce 9800 GT156.02.56%
GeForce 9800 GTX153.84.03%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI151.05.96%
Radeon HD 3870145.79.81%
GeForce 9800 GX2136.816.96%

Radeon HD 4870 X2

Half-Life 2: Episode Two - 1920x1200 - LowScoreDifference
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870165.04.43%
Radeon HD 4870 X2158.0 
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2156.70.83%
GeForce GTX 280156.31.09%
GeForce 9800 GTX+155.01.94%
GeForce GTX 260153.03.27%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850149.85.47%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI149.06.04%
GeForce 9800 GTX146.97.56%
GeForce 9800 GT143.010.49%
GeForce 9800 GX2135.216.86%
Radeon HD 3870120.131.56%

Radeon HD 4870 X2

Half-Life 2: Episode Two - 2560x1600 - LowScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X2156.0 
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI147.06.12%
GeForce GTX 280145.17.51%
GeForce 9800 GX2130.619.45%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2129.720.28%
GeForce GTX 260124.025.81%
GeForce 9800 GTX+119.031.09%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870117.033.33%
GeForce 9800 GTX107.944.58%
GeForce 9800 GT96.062.50%
Sapphire Radeon HD 485093.966.13%
Radeon HD 387072.8114.29%

Radeon HD 4870 X2

Half-Life 2: Episode Two - 1680x1050 - HighScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X2157.0 
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI145.08.28%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870144.09.03%
GeForce 9800 GTX137.913.85%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2126.124.50%
GeForce 9800 GX2125.425.20%
GeForce GTX 260121.029.75%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850116.235.11%
GeForce 9800 GTX+94.067.02%
GeForce GTX 28089.375.81%
GeForce 9800 GT80.096.25%
Radeon HD 387068.3129.87%

Radeon HD 4870 X2

Half-Life 2: Episode Two - 1920x1200 - HighScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X2157.0 
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI131.019.85%
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870124.026.61%
GeForce 9800 GTX116.335.00%
GeForce 9800 GX2111.141.31%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2106.547.42%
GeForce GTX 260101.055.45%
Sapphire Radeon HD 485097.261.52%
GeForce 9800 GTX+74.0112.16%
GeForce GTX 28070.3123.33%
GeForce 9800 GT63.0149.21%
Radeon HD 387056.8176.41%

Radeon HD 4870 X2

Half-Life 2: Episode Two - 2560x1600 - HighScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X2130.0 
Sapphire Radeon HD 487075.073.33%
GeForce 9800 GTX71.382.33%
GeForce GTX 26061.0113.11%
Sapphire Radeon HD 485058.4122.60%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X250.6156.92%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI46.0182.61%
GeForce 9800 GTX+39.0233.33%
GeForce 9800 GX237.5246.67%
GeForce 9800 GT36.0261.11%
GeForce GTX 28035.5266.20%
Radeon HD 387034.9272.49%

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 1680x1050 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 1920x1200 and 2560x1600 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 2560x1600, 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.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Sapphire-HD-4870-X2-Video-Card-Review/602


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