It is time to sum up our experience with the Radeon HD 4870 CrossFire subsystem. It has done well in our tests but could not compete with the Radeon HD 4870 X2 at the highest resolutions. However, the configuration with two Radeon HD 4870 cards is competitive at resolutions up to 1920x1200 inclusive.
Let’s view the detailed results using summary diagrams.
When you play in 1280x1024 resolution, the CrossFireX configuration is much slower than the GeForce GTX 280, by more than 20%, in only two games: Hellgate: London and CoH: Opposing Fronts. In both cases CrossFire technology doesn’t work at all, but the frame rate is sufficient for comfortable gaming in each of them. The CrossFireX configuration enjoys a substantial advantage in three tests, too. It amounts to 80% in Call of Juarez, ensuring the long-expected breakthrough in terms of playing comfort.
In four more games the ATI solution is ahead by 2% to 10%. That’s a good result but we shouldn’t forget that the GeForce GTX 280 is cheaper than the Radeon HD 4870 CrossFire ($499 against $600 for the graphics cards only).
There is almost no difference between the Radeon HD 4870 X2 and the 4870-based CrossFireX tandem here.
ATI’s platform shows its muscle at 1600x1200/1680x1050, beating the GeForce GTX 280 in five tests and slightly outperforming the latter in five tests more. There are cases when the 4870 X2 is ahead of the 4870-based CrossFireX and vice versa.
ATI’s dual-processor solutions are superior at high resolutions. They win 10 tests and have two ties against Nvidia’s four wins. The only drawback is the high power consumption and heat dissipation. Computer enthusiasts should upgrade their power supplies because the combined power draw of a dual-chip 4870-based system is over 250 watts!
It is at a resolution of 2560x1600 that the Radeon HD 4870 X2 is brilliant whereas the Radeon HD 4870 CrossFire is not, because it has only 512 megabytes of graphics memory. We guess two HD 4870 cards with 1GB of memory on each would behave exactly like the 4870 X2.
Anyway, the Radeon HD 4870 CrossFire beats the GeForce GTX 280 in nine tests and loses to it in only three out of 15 tests that support resolutions above 1920x1200. Moreover, the CrossFire tandem delivered a playable frame rate in most of the tests.
Summing it up, we guess that building a graphics subsystem out of two Radeon HD 4870 cards may make sense for people who already have one such card but do not have a 30-inch monitor with a resolution of 2560x1600. Moreover, the bulky 4870 X2 and GeForce GTX 280/260 may not be installed in small system cases and the Radeon HD 4870 may make a good alternative then.
Of course, the Radeon HD 4870 CrossFire subsystem is less easy to install than a single card. It also requires a mainboard with two PCI Express x16 slots and support for ATI CrossFire technology. But CrossFire is now supported by a huge number of mainboards based on AMD’s and Intel’s chipsets, so this shouldn’t be a problem.
The particular cards from Club 3D and VisionTek are precise copies of the reference sample and have all of its pros and cons. Unfortunately, both cards come with scanty accessories, which makes the less appealing in the customer’s eyes. We don’t think such economy is acceptable with regards to top-end solutions.
Club 3D HD 4870 512MB GDDR5 and VisionTek Radeon HD 4870: Summary
- Excellent performance in contemporary games
- Impressive potential with two cards in CrossFire mode
- Outperforms Nvidia GeForce GTX 280 in a number of benchmarks
- Wide range of supported FSAA modes
- Best edge detect CFAA quality in the industry
- Excellent quality of anisotropic filtering
- 800 ALU, 40 texture processors and 16 render back ends
- DirectX 10.1 and Shader Model 4.1 support
- Fully-fledged hardware HD video decoding
- High-quality HD video post-processing with scalability
- Built-in 8-channel audio controller with HD support
- Sound over HDMI
- Compact size compared with Nvidia GeForce GTX 280
- No compatibility issues
- Cooling system efficiency is questionable
- High noise in 3D mode
- Relatively high power consumption
- Software CrossFire support is far from ideal
- Insufficient graphics memory for resolutions over 1920x1200 in CrossFire mode
- Scanty accessories bundle