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Conclusion

It is time to summarize our experience with the Radeon HD 4870 X2 now. The new card’s results in out tests are highly optimistic in general, with very few exceptions. As usual, we will show you a few summary diagrams for every display resolution.

The Radeon HD 4870 X2 starts out briskly, winning eight out of the 16 tests. It enjoys an 80% lead over the GeForce GTX 280 in Call of Juarez and a 15% lead in two more games. The new card is slower than its opponent in seven tests but the gap is large in only three tests, including World in Conflict. Still, the Radeon HD 4870 X2 easily provided a comfortable frame rate in both CoH: Opposing Fronts and Hellgate: London. Moreover, such an expensive and advanced graphics card as the Radeon HD 4870 X2 is not really meant for playing at 1280x1024, so these results have little practical value.

At a display resolution of 1600x1200, the Radeon HD 4870 X2 is inferior to the GeForce GTX 280 in only three tests. And its frame rate is quite playable in every of these three. In the other tests, save for Command & Conquer, ATI’s flagship outperforms the ex-leader of the 3D world by 1.7% in one test to as much as nearly 100% in another!

We see a similar picture at a resolution of 1920x1200 but the Radeon HD 4870 X2 has a greater advantage over the GeForce GTX 280 now. It is 10-15% in more tests and over 100% in Call of Juarez. The new card’s victory in 3DMark Vantage should also be counted in because the Extreme profile uses 1920x1200 resolution.

The resolution of 2560x1600 was the triumph for the Radeon HD 4870 X2. The new card was developed for that and it fulfilled its purpose. The double amount of graphics memory helped it win in almost every test, except for Call of Duty 4 where the gap from the GeForce GTX 280 is a mere 6% anyway. Moreover, the Radeon HD 4870 X2 provides a comfortable or near-comfortable speed in every game save for Crysis, Lost Planet and World in Conflict. So, it is the first graphics card that makes the resolution of 2560x1600 truly available for practical gaming!

We should confess the new card is not absolutely free from drawbacks. First of all, it consumes too much power. It is the first time in our tests that we have a graphics card that consumes far more than 200 watts. This also means the card generates a lot of heat. To dissipate this heat, the cooler’s fan has to operate at a high speed, producing a lot of noise. So, in order to achieve such a high level of performance, you have to use a really high-wattage power supply and you have to put up with the hotness and noisiness of your Radeon HD 4870 X2.

The classic drawback of homogeneous multi-GPU solutions – the lack of performance growth when not supported on the software level – persists too, even though it is not as serious as before. Judging by our tests, ATI has nearly got rid of it, but there are far more games available on the market, and we cannot be sure this problem won’t show up in some of them. Hopefully, ATI will be collaborating with game developers to solve such problems as quickly as possible.

All in all, ATI has confirmed its claim for leadership in building consumer 3D graphics hardware. The Radeon HD 4870 X2 is indeed the highest-performance card for today. However, it is not a direct opponent to the GeForce GTX 280 because it costs somewhat more money.

Talking about the particular version of the card, the PowerColor HD 4870 X2 2GB GDDR5 is a typical reference card without special accessories. If you buy it, you’ll get only what you pay for, i.e. the fastest graphics card available today.

PowerColor HD 4870X2 2GB GDDR5 Summary

Highs:

  • The best gaming performance today
  • Excellent performance in high resolutions
  • Outperforms Nvidia GeForce GTX 280 in most benchmarks
  • Wide range of supported FSAA modes
  • Best edge detect CFAA quality in the industry
  • Excellent quality of anisotropic filtering
  • 1600 ALU, 80 texture processors and 32 render back ends
  • 1GB of fast GDDR5 memory onboard
  • 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
  • No compatibility issues

Lows:

  • Cooling system efficiency is questionable
  • High noise in 3D mode
  • Extremely high power consumption and heat dissipation
  • Maximum performance depends on hardware CrossFire support
  • Scanty accessories bundle
 
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