Sapphire's Ultimate HD 3850 and Atomic HD 3870

Article Index

Test System and 3DMark06 Results

HOW WE CONFIGURED THE TEST SYSTEMS: We tested all of the graphics cards used in this article on an MSI P6N Diamond motherboard powered by a Core 2 Duo E6600 processor and 2GB of low-latency Corsair RAM. The first thing we did when configuring our test systems was enter into the BIOS and set all values to their "optimized" or "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.

The HotHardware Test System

Enjoy the beautiful Vista


Motherboard -

Video Cards -

Memory -

Audio -

Hard Drive

Hardware Used:
Core 2 Duo E6600 

MSI P6N Diamond
nForce 680i SLI chipset

GeForce 8800 GTS 512MB
GeForce 8800 GTX
Radeon HD 3870
Sapphire Atomic HD 3870
Sapphire Ultimate HD 3850

2048MB Corsair PC2-6400C4D
2 X 1GB, 4-4-4-12 (1T)

Integrated Creative X-Fi

Seagate Barracuda

750GB - 7,200RPM - SATAII

OS - 

DirectX -

Video Drivers

Synthetic (DX) - 

DirectX9 -
DirectX10 -
OpenGL -
DirectX10 -
DirectX10 - 

DirectX10 - 
Relevant Software:

Windows Vista Ultimate

DirectX 10

NVIDIA Forceware v169.25
ATI Catalyst v7.12

Benchmarks Used:
3DMark06 v1.1.0
Half Life 2: Episode 2*
Company of Heroes
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars 1.2*
Crysis Demo
Bioshock 1.1
PT Boats: Knights of the Sea

* - Custom Test
(HH Exclusive demo)

Performance Comparisons with 3DMark06 v1.1.0

3DMark06 is the most recent addition to the 3DMark franchise. This version differs from 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 as well. 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.

According to the 3DMark06 results, the Radeons HD 3870s have finally begun to catch up again to the juggernaut that the 8800 family has been over the past year.  Although the highest scores go to the 8800 GTS 512 and 8800 GTX, the HD 3870s closely tail behind, with the pre-overclocked Atomic HD 3870 bettering the default clocked version by nearly 80 points.  Ultimately, the Ultimate HD 3850 finds itself at the bottom of this list, trailing the other cards by 12 percent or more, mainly due to the SM 3.0 / HDR results.

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