ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2 - AMD Back On Top

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Our Test Systems and 3DMark06


HOW WE CONFIGURED THE TEST SYSTEMS: We tested all of the graphics cards used in this article on either an Asus nForce 790i SLI Ultra based Striker II Extreme motherboard (NVIDIA GPUs) or an X48 based Asus P5E3 Premium (ATI GPUs) powered by a Core 2 Extreme QX6850 quad-core processor and 2GB of low-latency Corsair RAM. The first thing we did when configuring these test systems was enter their respective BIOSes and set all values to their "optimized" or "high performance" default settings. Then we manually configured the memory timings and disabled any integrated peripherals that wouldn't be put to use. The hard drive was then formatted, and Windows Vista Ultimate was installed. When the installation was complete we fully updated the OS, and installed the latest DX10 redist and various hotfixes, along with the necessary drivers and applications.

HotHardware's Test Systems
Intel and NVIDIA Powered


Hardware Used:
Core 2 Extreme QX6850 (3GHz)

Asus Striker II Extreme
(nForce 790i SLI Ultra chipset)

Asus P5E3 Premium
(X48 Express)

Radeon HD 4870 X2 (x2)
Radeon HD 4870 (x2)
Radeon HD 4850 (x2)
Radeon HD 3870 X2 (x2)
GeForce 9800 GTX+ (x2)
GeForce 9800 GTX (x3)
GeForce 9800 GX2 (x2)
GeForce GTX 260
GeForce GTX 280 (x3)

2048MB Corsair DDR3-1333 C7
(2 X 1GB)

Integrated Audio
Integrated Network

Western Digital "Raptor" 74GB
(10,000RPM - SATA)


Relevant Software:

Windows Vista Ultimate SP1
DirectX June 2008 Redist

NVIDIA Forceware v177.39 / v177.83
ATI Catalyst v8.8b

Benchmarks Used:
3DMark06 v1.0.2
3DMark Vantage v1.0.1
Unreal Tournament 3 v1.2*
Crysis v1.2*
Half Life 2: Episode 2*
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars*

* - Custom Benchmark

Futuremark 3DMark06
Synthetic DirectX Gaming


3DMark06

3DMark06 is a synthetic benchmark, designed to simulate DX9-class game titles. This version differs from the earlier 3Dmark05 in a number of ways, and includes not only Shader Model 2.0 tests, but Shader Model 3.0 and HDR tests as well. Some of the assets from 3DMark05 have been re-used, but the scenes are now rendered with much more geometric detail and the shader complexity is vastly increased. Max shader length in 3DMark05 was 96 instructions, while 3DMark06 ups that number to 512. 3DMark06 also employs much more lighting and there is extensive use of soft shadows. With 3DMark06, Futuremark has also updated how the final score is tabulated. In this latest version of the benchmark, SM 2.0 and HDR / SM3.0 tests are weighted and the CPU score is factored into the final tally as well.

The Radeon HD 4870 X2 was predictably strong in 3DMark06. The overall score for the default benchmark doesn't tell us very much, however, as the test is CPU limited.  If we tunnel down and look at the individual test results though, they better explain what's happening here.





The less taxing Shader Model 2.0 portion of the benchmark is mostly CPU bound as well.  The spread in the Shader Model 3.0 / HDR test, however, is somewhat more pronounced.  As you can see, the Radeon HD 4870 X2 finishes at, or very near, the top of the charts depending on the configuration tested.  Based on what we see here, expect the 3DMark06 world record to be broken in the next few days by a pair of heavily overclocked Radeon HD 4870 X2 cards.  The 4870 X2 CrossFire configuration put up the best overall score for a "stock" configuration we have seen to date.


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