Product: ATi Radeon HD4870
Company: AMD
Authour: Alex 'AlexV' Voicu
Editor: Eric 'Ichneumon' Amidon
Date: July 28th, 2008

Boy, food-chain exploration is no longer what it used to be (contorted way of apologizing for the delay in publishing this article). As was obvious, our next stop is the 4850's bigger, badder brother, the 4870:


A few words on what to expect compared to the 4850:

  • A more case-temperature friendly cooling solution: the 4870 uses a dual slot cooler that vents hot air outside of the case

  • A higher idle-temperature:  This is a consequence of the fact that the 4870 doesn't implement Powerplay to the same extent the 4850 does, has higher idle clocks and focuses on silent operation (no, this one isn't a thermonuclear device either, the temperatures are safe for normal operation)

  • The card needs two 6-pin power-plugs

As has become customary, we'll walk you through what we're doing before churning out the graphs:

  • We've moved from having a large heterogeneous mix of in-game settings to testing according to 3 exact presets:

    • BASELINE: This is the game set to its maximum quality settings, but without any AA or AF enabled

    • HIGH QUALITY: Same as above, but 4X AA gets enabled alongside 16X AF

    • EXTREME QUALITY: Game settings remain at their maximum respective value, but AA gets bumped to 8X, whilst AF remains pegged at 16X

    • CROSSFIRE EXTREME QUALITY: Still maximum in-game settings and 16X AF, but we're using the Crossfire exclusive 16X AA mode - this mode can only be forced through the CCC and thus will only work in games that support such forcing; we're investigating it since it probably is of interest to quite a few people out there

    • For games that have no support for AA, including Stalker, Timeshift, Bioshock DX10, and Gothic 3 in this investigation, the baseline setting has 16X AF enabled

  • Most in-built benchmarking utilities have been relinquished in favor of FRAPS runs - whilst we most certainly don't consider this to be the be-all end-all of testing, it's probably a better way of showing how the games tested will actually perform in practice

  • We've also moved from averaging 3 three minute runs with FRAPS to averaging 6 of them - this should help remove some of the inherent variability associated with FRAPS testing

  • Unless otherwise specified, all tests are run at 1920x1200

  • For each game, a graph will be presented to you showing the percentile increase of card A vs. card B - the percentile increase is calculated as (A-B)/B  and expressed in percentage points

Here are the specs for the system we used during testing:

Based on frequencies and specifications alone, we'd expect to see the 4870 being around 20% faster than the 4850 in scenarios that aren't bandwidth bound, more than that if the 4850 was running out of bandwidth. Of course, there must be a less than "happy, happy, joy, joy" case: this is when we're testing a CPU limited scenario, or when the GPUs are running out of RAM (the 512MB dilemma)-under such circumstances the delta can range from non-existent to significantly less than what clocks would predict.

Since splitting up the 4850 review into multiple distinct articles drew out the process longer than we intended (and it ended up crowding up the front-page), we've given up that solution and will be providing you with everything in one epic package with DX10, DX9, single card and Crossfire results all together. You'll also find that comments are quite short; there are only so many ways one can say the same thing over and over again.  The crossfire tests will follow the commented single card tests on each page with a "Crossfire Tests" heading.

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