ATI is on a bit of a roll these days. Last month, they launched their new Radeon HD4850 GPU, which really shook up the market. It won the price performance crown handily, but Nvidia responded quickly by dropping prices on their cards. Today, however, we're looking at two of ATI's latest: the Asus EAH4870X2, and the HD 4870.
The Mid-Range Champ
The HD4870 is the higher end version of the 48XX series. The core is clocked at 750 MHz, while the memory is clocked at 900 MHz. While the memory bus width is only 256 bit, the 4870 uses 512 MB of GDDR5 RAM, which is much faster than the older GDDR3. This gives it an effective memory bandwidth of 115 GB/s, almost 80 percent more than the 4850. This really helps the 4870 when you crank up the resolution, as we shall see.
The card comes in a dual-slot configuration, and the bigger cooler keeps things nice and silent, and doesn't heat up your case. Power requirements are quite high, with the 4870 pushing total system power to around 200 watts at idle and 280 watts under load. You need an SMPS that's rated at a minimum of 600 watts to run this properly, with two six-pin PCI-Express power connectors.
Here's where things get interesting. The 4870 X2 is a monster of a card. Hidden under the massive dual slot cooler are two 4870 GPUs, along with 2 GB of GDDR5 RAM. 2 GB is more RAM than most systems have today, so it's clear that ATI is serious about taking the fight to Nvidia. The card is extremely power hungry, with the system drawing 250 watts at idle, and 450 watts under load. It needs one six pin and one eight pin PCI-Express power connector.
new records in every test we ran. We got a score of 16,995 3D Marks in 3D Mark 06, and 13,279 point We tested the 4870 and 4870 X2 at 1920x1200 as well as at 1680x1050. As expected, the 4870 X2 set in 3D Mark Vantage, under the Performance preset. In the Extreme preset in 3D Mark Vantage, the 4870 X2 scored 7281, more than twice the 4870's 3580. This really shows the power this card has.The 4870 did quite well too, scoring 14,550 in 3D Mark 06, and 8,870 in 3D Mark Vantage, under the Performance preset. In our gaming tests, we noticed that the 4870X2 gives you free AntiAliasing.
No matter whether we turned on 2X, 4X or even 8X AA, frame rates in Crysis (at 1920 x 1200 and the very high preset) did not change by more than four fps. We averaged 34 frames per second regardless of the AA setting. This is quite staggering, since AA has traditionally been one of the factors that brought a system to its knees. The 4870X2 is extremely fast at higher resolutions.
At lower resolutions, the gap between the 4870 and the X2 narrows, since the GPU is not stressed as much. If you're not gaming at 1920 x 1200 and above, the 4870 is great value, but if you want extreme gaming at any price, the 4870 X2 is the card to get.
ATI has the Midas touch in this generation--everything it touches turns to gold. This is great news for the consumer, and we can heartily recommend both these cards. If you have an extensive budget and intend to game at the highest resolutions on 24-inch (or larger) monitors, the 4870 X2 is the card to get. On a 22-inch monitor, the 4870 is extremely fast, and at the Rs. 18,000 (US$411) price point, is good value for money.