AMD Launches ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2

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News Posted: Mon, Jan 28 2008 12:22 AM

When AMD released the Radeon HD 2900 XT in May of last year, we were left with a bitter taste in our mouths.  Not because the product was all that bad, but because it seemed AMD was content to leave NVIDIA uncontested at the high-end of the 3D graphics card market.  If you remember, when the Radeon HD 2900 XT launched AMD had targeted the mid-range GeForce 8800 GTS, and not NVIDIA’s high-end 8800 GTX or Ultra.  It seemed as if AMD just didn’t want to be in the fight for 3D graphics supremacy any longer and enthusiasts like yourselves, who seek nothing but the highest performing products, were left with only a single option.


Thankfully things have changed in the last few months.  After the R600 shipped, AMD’s engineers went right back to work.  And in November AMD released the Radeon HD 3800 series of products, which were based on an updated GPU design that performed much like the R600, but with more moderate power and thermal characteristics.  The new GPU, formerly codenamed RV670, still wasn’t quite as fast as NVIDIA’s higher-end offerings, but its low power profile gave AMD the ability to engineer the product we’ll be showcasing here today, the Radeon HD 3870 X2.


The Radeon HD 3870 X2 was codenamed R680 throughout its development.  Although that codename implies the card is powered by a new GPU, it is not.  The Radeon HD 3870 X2 is instead powered by a pair of RV670 GPUs linked together on a single PCB by a PCI Express fan-out switch.  In essence, the Radeon HD 3870 X2 is “CrossFire on a card”.  Take a look...




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replied on Mon, Jan 28 2008 7:31 AM

Very nice, If the price is right.. I might just pick this one up. 

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replied on Mon, Jan 28 2008 10:19 AM

I appreciate the HH Review. Between Anandtech and Kyle over at Hardocp flaming about which review method is better It makes me all more appreciative for the HH reviews. I think Kyle has a point in some ways about caned benchmarks but I think its a easy work around by creating your own timedemos, like you guys did with quake wars. The subjective review is just too dependant on the person and not the actual data and you cant repeat it exactly accross the system.

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sniperdoc replied on Mon, Jan 28 2008 11:24 AM

Pretty terrible review. How about doing a proper comparison of the cards? It was good showing the performance of the 3700 series and Crossfire mode to the X2 card... but why only show the nVidia single card scores? It'd be a better comparison to put the SLI scores in there. Take the 8800GTX and the 8800GT 512MB in SLI mode as a comparison... as I highly doubt that the X2 comes close to either one in scores.

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jtm55 replied on Mon, Jan 28 2008 12:50 PM

Hi All

I agree with you Flyin. I think that HotHardware's approach to benchmarking is the right way to go. The creation of their own time demo addresses the canned benchmark concern, while at the same time giving you a real world experience.

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phresh replied on Mon, Jan 28 2008 1:13 PM

sniperdoc:

Pretty terrible review. How about doing a proper comparison of the cards? It was good showing the performance of the 3700 series and Crossfire mode to the X2 card... but why only show the nVidia single card scores? It'd be a better comparison to put the SLI scores in there. Take the 8800GTX and the 8800GT 512MB in SLI mode as a comparison... as I highly doubt that the X2 comes close to either one in scores.

 

QFT

What I don't get is why you would use two different boards/chipsets when it was completely unnecessary. This is not good testing methodology and seems to hint at you having performed SLI benchmarks as well but then simply leaving those results out since AMD apparently rubs you guys the right way.

Yeah that's right, GeForce cards will run on crossfire boards, believe it or not.

Also, perhaps I overlooked this but I didn't see anywhere whether or not a crossfire board is required to run this card.

I guess there's a good reason I've never heard of hothardware.com before today. Wow, your forums suck too.. flash-based? bleh...
 

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replied on Mon, Jan 28 2008 1:39 PM

Hello general assumptions.. give me a break.  They tested a single card against another single card.. They are one of the few sites that included standard crossfire numbers as well..  Why would they include sli when that is way out of the price of this X2 ? And on top of that you can see it in relation to the GTX which is basically the same price. Next time you post here make sure you read the review first because you make it sound like their being biased which youd know isnt true if you took the time to read. 

They used two boards because those are the boards with "official" support for their technologies SLI and crossfire respectively. The majority of people are not gona buy a crossfire intel board and stick a GTX in it and vice versa. When you fellas grow up, ya'll come back now. 

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phresh replied on Mon, Jan 28 2008 2:14 PM

FlyinBrian:

They used two boards because those are the boards with "official" support for their technologies SLI and crossfire respectively. The majority of people are not gona buy a crossfire intel board and stick a GTX in it and vice versa. When you fellas grow up, ya'll come back now. 

 

But they didn't do SLI benchmarks so using two boards was a mistake. All it did is add another unnecessary variable into the equation. Your reasoning lacks reason Brian. FAIL.

The fact is that 680i boards are a rip-off compared to P35 boards and the P35s also overclock a bit better. Hence myself and many others who've done their research are running 8800-series cards on crossfire-capable boards, because that's where the best bang per buck is at the moment. Yeah, guess what, PCI-E is a standard so they are interchangeable until you want to run crossfire or SLI.

Way to be a fanboy though.

-phresh
 

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replied on Mon, Jan 28 2008 2:31 PM

I am really too old to be arguing about something as trivial as a pc component.. However I will explain it for you once again.. If your going to build around a Nvidia GTX would it not make sense to use a Nforce board so that one day you can put in another GTX later ? They didnt test SLI because there was no point, given the performance vs a single GTX you can clearly see that if SLI would of won. But then you are far outside of the price/performance of the single 3870x2 solution.  I once again reccomend for you to read the review and not just flip through the graphs.

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To phresh: This forum is awesome and I respect it so I'm gonna refreign from starting a flame war, but if you think it sucks why create an account here & post twice. If your primary reason for joining this forum was to slam it then there's no need for a 3rd post!

BTW: It's common knowledge that any single card will run on any chipset... duh.
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Marco C replied on Mon, Jan 28 2008 3:49 PM
Thanks. If I was reviewing a game, I'd use HardOCP's approach, but to determine relative performance between two products, using a timedemo is the best method in my opinion.

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Marco C replied on Mon, Jan 28 2008 3:54 PM
I'll disagree with your assessment that this was a "terrible" review, but I see where you're coming from. The reason I don't test SLI is two-fold - 1) I compared single-cards throughout the benchmarks, and only included 3870 CrossFire as a reference point and 2) NVIDIA's 8800 GTX is the closes price-match to the X2.

HotHardware readers know that NVIDIA cards can be run in SLI mode, and there are a TON of SLI benchmarks on the site for all to see. This isn't "imsortaintopchardwareanddontknowmuch.com".

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replied on Mon, Jan 28 2008 4:40 PM

Everyone is making such a big deal about it but I think the performance ended up exactly where I thought it would.. basically 8800GTX ish performance with the right driver support of course. I think this card bought AMD some time but their next GPU had better really bring the goods or its gona be another long year for AMD. The price performance of this card is really good.. I think if it can be aquired for 399 ish then it would be a real deal. I would like to see a few more games thrown in when you guys get the time. I would also like to aquire the HIS overclocked turbo model instead of the reference design. My 2 cents.
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jtm55 replied on Mon, Jan 28 2008 6:29 PM
Hi All, That's pretty much what I thought as well. New egg however has the cards in stock for this price though. http://www.newegg.com/Store/SubCategory.aspx?SubCategory=48&name=Video-Cards

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Dave_HH replied on Mon, Jan 28 2008 6:54 PM
Phresh,

Thanks for your input. We always value a new perspective here of course. However, you're sorely uninformed, or at least, you're not thinking through things carefully.

To your point on testing platforms - Let me ask you, what's the objective of a test setup for benchmarking? I'll answer for you. In a direct comparison, it's supposed to be evaluating what each product, under it's best performance condition, can do. Ask NVIDIA Marketing what their recommended test platform is and they'll tell you its an NVIDIA chipset, and that's FACT. Ask AMD and they'll say, it's an Intel chipset though it sort of even goes against their grain.

Now, consider that and the fact that this is a GPU REVIEW. The subtle variances between motherboard chipsets when you're testing at high res, high AA settings and high image quality settings, are totally meaningless. The tests are GPU bound, no if, ands or buts about it. Drop in the same CPU and you'll be looking at a 1-2% variance at most.

I do see your point about testing SLI versus the card. A pair of 8800GTs offer a comparable price point versus one of these cards. However, you have no idea of how much testing and under what timelines we had to get this testing done in. Three new driver drops in a week actually. So, would we have liked to show an 8800GT SLI setup? Yes but there just weren't enough hours in the day before launch.

Regardless, we appreciate your input but it sure would be nice if the accusations were kept in check and we could all have an intelligent conversation over it...

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Dave_HH replied on Mon, Jan 28 2008 7:02 PM
The "HardOCP" approach, which really isn't an exclusive of course to that site, is to use FRAPS, which introduces a lot of variables and dare I say, very confusing graphs.

That's their perogative of course but we personally think custom timedemos with average frame rate numbers are the way to go, where possible and then FRAPS or frame rate logging is OK, as long as you repeat the test a few dozen times and make doubly sure you take the same path. We've seen frame rates vary considerably under these conditions on many occasions though.

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Wow the debut price is 450 which means sub 4 bill variants will come very soon... maybe I'll get 2 of these instead of Nvidias next flagship! Makes sense for me since I normally gravitate towards Intel chipsets!!!
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I wouldn't mind seeing it compared to two 8800GT 512mbs. The total cost is roughly the same. The 3870 X2 is more versatile because it can be run on any board, but nonetheless considering the prices match up it should be included, if possible.

Hello

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replied on Tue, Jan 29 2008 2:51 PM

Davo do you guys still have the 3870x2 around ? If so, it would be great to see a few more games added to the review.

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Like Bioshock!!! Big Smile

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replied on Tue, Jan 29 2008 3:33 PM
Yes Bioshock, a modern racing game, Gears of war, ETC
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 One Unreal 3 game would be nice, I agree.

Hello

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Marco C replied on Tue, Jan 29 2008 4:47 PM
Yeah, I still have the card. I've shyed away from UT3 games because they run well on just about anything. But I'm also working on a round-up of these cards and will include UT3 in the future.

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replied on Tue, Jan 29 2008 7:40 PM

Sorry I keep asking questions here but I am really interested in this product because my next build I am finally going to be done with Nforce boards (thank God) and I was curious what model of the regular 3870 was being used. The reason I ask is I was thinking of picking up two of the His radeon 3870 turbo models and using them in crossfire mode. They are factory overclocked to 850 mhz and run gddr4 at 2.38 gh. So with that In mind I am thinking that combination of overclock, memory bandwidth, and crossfire should be a high performance monster.. what do you think ?

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I'm sure it would be plenty powerful, but why not get 1 3870 X2 and perhaps another 1 at a later date for crossfire... ahh to have the power of 4 GPUs under the hood!!!

This is very likely the route I'll be going this year.

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replied on Tue, Jan 29 2008 9:14 PM

I have thought about that too.. but I havent decided. The high memory bandwith of the ddr 4 combined with overclock seems that the crossfire combo would be a high performer especially if the numbers HH included from their crossfire was stock reference board. I could see the overclocked versions really giving insane performance. Then again if HiS comes out with an overclocked edition of the X2 i will probably get that no questions asked

 

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FlyinBrian:
if HiS comes out with an overclocked edition of the X2 i will probably get that

I would imagine that OC'ed boards will start showing up very soon from most partners.

 

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jtm55 replied on Wed, Jan 30 2008 8:05 AM

Hi All,

I think that'll be the card I'm getting for my build. I'm not sure if I'll go the Crossfire route or not. I will wait & see how two of the cards Scale before making that decision.

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replied on Wed, Jan 30 2008 5:08 PM

If you already have a GTX is probably isnt worth it.  Unless you just want to get away from Nvidia for some reason. You could add another gtx for sli.

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Getting another Ultra is a viable option, but I would venture that dual 3870 X2's in xfire would outperform their sli counterparts... couple that with the fact that I prefer Intel chipsets and it makes sense for me personally.

 

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jtm55 replied on Wed, Jan 30 2008 7:06 PM

 Hi All,

That means I'd have to go with a Nvidia Motherboard. I've no experience with them. I've always used Intel Motherboards. I'd like to hear how you Guys with Nvidia boards feel about them, are they stable? Every Intel Motherboard I've owned has been Rock Solid. 

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replied on Thu, Jan 31 2008 12:55 AM

EVGA boards seem fairly descent to me if your going for an nvidia chipset. I think DFI lan party series is good too. I used my DFI lan party for like 4 years and the only reason It stoped working is I put on an after market cooler on the northbridge chip and accidently cracked it.

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phresh replied on Mon, Feb 4 2008 2:52 PM

Davo:
The subtle variances between motherboard chipsets when you're testing at high res, high AA settings and high image quality settings, are totally meaningless. The tests are GPU bound, no if, ands or buts about it.
 

Given that, why don't we test them on completely different boards for the *** of it then! It'll be fun! We'll have to reload Windows and everything!

 

You guys are awesome at missing the mark. 

 

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phresh:
You guys are awesome at missing the mark. 

To phresh:

What makes you an authority? Do you have any legitimate credentials?

You come off like you know a page more than the book, have you ever built a system... if so, how many?

Do you have any expirience bench testing high end machines comparatively or running a tech website?

Do you consider your critiques constructive criticism? If not then what is your agenda?

To the admins:

I've gathered that you guys have a pretty "thick skin" for the most part, but I can't help feeling as though phresh is willfully condescending and also can't help feeling a bit aggitated by it.

To the HH forum community:

You guys may feel like I'm overreacting and wasting my time by questioning this individual, but I respect HotHardware and trust their reviews implicitly!

BTW: If you think my reaction was spawned by just 1 post, read his other 2!

 

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phresh replied on Mon, Feb 4 2008 6:50 PM

recoveringknowitall:

To phresh:

What makes you an authority?

Never claimed to be an authority. I'm just a dude that thinks critically and enjoys flaming forums. 

 

recoveringknowitall:

Do you have any legitamate credentials?

I can spell legitimate, does that count? 

recoveringknowitall:

You come off like you know a page more than the book, have you ever built a system... if so, how many?

No, I just run eMachines. lol. Really though, approaching 50 or so over the past decade. 

recoveringknowitall:
 

Do you have any expirience bench testing high end machines comparatively or running a tech website?

Bench testing yes, did a lot getting my q6600 to 3.4 stable on air without too many volts. Tech website, nope.

recoveringknowitall:

Do you consider your critiques constructive criticism? If not then what is your agenda?

Yes and I also enjoy being condescending, bite me.  My agenda is simply to point out things that don't make sense and have a bit of fun along the way.

 

Sincerely,

-phresh 

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IMO you are misinformed and childish. I hope that if you continue to post here that you will step up your maturity and present your oppinion without disrespecting the people that run this site.

 

 

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phresh replied on Mon, Feb 4 2008 7:17 PM

 And I think you lack any significant point and suck at spelling. Let's fight about it.

 The fact remains that no one here has properly addressed the issues I brought up. Pure fail.

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We don't flame here, find another forum to disrespect.

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 Hi there,

I have a 17 inch LCD monitor 1280*1024 32bit, Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 @ 3.262GHz 466FSB ORTHOS,PRIME,OCCT,SANDRA,AND OTHER FULLY STABLE (1.86GHz Default) with Gigabyte GA-P35-DQ6 Motherboard (Rev. X.X WITH F7 BIOS) with 2GB Kingston Hyper-X 800MHz Memory modules in Dual Channel Mode (128bit - 64bit*2).I'm using ATI GFX-Cards FOREVER and the reason is because i don't know what the Bench sites are saying or doing but every time that i was trust any of the benchmarks i was pissed off because is like they are saying lies to me at least.Finally i want to make something about the ATI HD3870 clear and not for the ATI HD3870 X2 is that in any game i'm playing the frames are about 60F.P.S.(Frames Per Second) and up, not at least in any time of the game drops below of that at ALL FULL GRAPHICS and all Details Cranked Up - AA16X,HDR and so on...... and something else those 55nm babes and not 65nm are so easy overclockable ~1000MHz+++ core (stock cooling- within VGA BIOS modifications).

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