The game being too hard at its Very High level of detail, we benchmarked the cards without FSAA to get a more playable speed.
The 256-bit memory bus doesn’t constrain the ATI Radeon HD 3870 even in such a difficult test as Crysis. Moreover, the senior model of the new family is slightly ahead of the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT 512MB not at low but at high resolutions. This doesn’t mean the game is playable at the highest quality settings, though. The Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTX is unable to do that, even. On the other hand, the ATI Radeon HD 3870 is at least as good as the ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT 512MB here. The cheaper ATI Radeon HD 3850 is 15-20% slower than the senior model depending on display resolution.
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
The frame rate is fixed at 30fps in this game as this is the rate at which the physical model is being updated at the server. Thus, this 30fps speed is the required minimum for playing the game.
The ATI Radeon HD 3870 is unable to match the Nvidia GeForce 8800 GT 512MB at 1280x1024, the gap being as large as 27%, but it catches up with the opponent at 1600x1200! Perhaps this is the consequence of the improvements in the memory controller which help it cope better with MegaTexture technology. The ATI Radeon HD 2900 XT 512MB doesn’t show such outstanding results, at least. So, the senior ATI Radeon HD 3800 is just as good for this game as the more expensive and rare-to-find GeForce 8800 GT 512MB. That’s another point in favor of AMD’s graphics department.
The ATI Radeon HD 3850 looks good, too, providing the required 30+fps even at 1600x1200/1650x1050 and being almost as fast as the noisy and non-economical Radeon HD 2900 XT 512MB. The new card just doesn’t have enough of local memory at higher resolutions, but it does offer a solid performance at lower resolutions, which makes it an excellent choice for people who can’t spend much money for their graphics card.