Today is all about the Radeon HD 4870 X2, the same card we previewed last month but AMD is quietly announcing a few other products alongside it. The 4870 X2, internally referred to as R700, is a pair of RV770 GPUs on a single card - effectively a single-card, Radeon HD 4870 CrossFire (hence the X2 moniker). Like previous X2 cards, the 4870 X2 appears to the user and the driver as a single card and all of the CrossFire magic happens behind the scenes.

  ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2 ATI Radeon HD 4870 ATI Radeon HD 4850
Stream Processors 800 x 2 800 800
Texture Units 40 x 2 40 40
ROPs 16 x 2 16 16
Core Clock 750MHz 750MHz 625MHz
Memory Clock 900MHz (3600MHz data rate) GDDR5 900MHz (3600MHz data rate) GDDR5 993MHz (1986MHz data rate) GDDR3
Memory Bus Width 256-bit x 2 256-bit 256-bit
Frame Buffer 1GB x 2 512MB 512MB
Transistor Count 956M x 2 956M 956M
Manufacturing Process TSMC 55nm TSMC 55nm TSMC 55nm
Price Point $549 $299 $199

 

The benefit of single-card CrossFire is of course that you can use this single card on any platform, not just ones that explicitly support CF. Since CrossFire is supported on both Intel chipsets and AMD chipsets, it's a bit more flexible than SLI and the need for single-card CF isn't nearly as great as the need for single-card SLI.

Unlike most single-card multi-GPU solutions, the 4870 X2 is literally two Radeon HD 4870s on a single card. The clock speeds, both core and memory, are identical and this thing should perform like a pair of 4870s (which is pretty quick if you have forgotten). The only difference here is that while the standard Radeon HD 4870 ships with 512MB of GDDR5 memory, each RV770 on a X2 gets a full 1GB of GDDR5 for a total of 2GB per card.

...which leads us nicely into some of AMD's other products that will be coming out in the next month or so. There will be 1GB versions of both the Radeon HD 4870 and Radeon HD 4850.

Then at $399 we'll see a Radeon HD 4850 X2, which as you can probably guess is a pair of Radeon HD 4850 GPUs on a single card, but with 2GB of GDDR3 and not GDDR5 like the 4870 X2. As interesting as all of these cards are, we only have the 4870 X2 for you today, the rest will have to wait for another time. But it is worth noting that if you are interested in buying a Radeon HD 4870/4850 and keeping it for a while, you may want to wait for the 1GB versions as they should give you a bit more longevity.

Enough with being distracted by AMD's product lineup, let's talk about the competition.

Let's Talk Pricing
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  • random2 - Wednesday, August 13, 2008 - link

    I didn't really notice much in the line of bias, however I'm beginning to wonder if this card didn't quite meet their expectations....or maybe after years of running similar types of benchmarks on video cards (which are all basically the same), and having to spend countless hours trying to jam a review together in time for deadlines, isn't quite as much fun as it used to be. We on the other hand can hardly keep our bodily fluids in place when we hear there is a new card review almost ready for release. Now I'm not sure just who the crazy ones are here...Is it Anand and Derek for wasting years of there lives trying to appease us unappeasables, or is it us, because even at my advanced age, I get a woody just thinking about a dual GPU ATI card....Mmmmm....Maybe I should talk to someone about this...
    Anyhow, thank you Anand and Derek for your efforts and more late nights no doubt.
    What I really find interesting is the bit of backlash we are starting to see against Nvidia. Not that I am a fanboy of anything...ok I've looked at a few girls...but When I think of Nvidias pricing strategies over the years while competition was in the realm of little to none from ATI, I cannot help but feel much the same as a choir boy in the preachers shower stall being asked to bend over and grab that soap. I know, no one says I have to, but if I want to play the latest games and become the lead singer it might help.
    I like hardware.....I like it functional, fast, reliable and affordable. Till now Nvidia has been kind of sticking it to us so to speak. Providing only the basics at more reasonable pricing and forcing us people of average incomes to sell drugs or our bodies in order to afford their high end products.
    Thank you AMD/ATI for saving me from a life on the street, for giving me the opportunity to turn away from a life of corruption, evil and self loathing. Never again will I feel the degradation and the compromising of my moral values in the search of higher frame rates. Bless you...
    Down with Nvidia! which I am now sure have become a key player in the evil axis...somewhere...or is that axis of evil?
    I wonder if I have time to stop into NCIX tomorrow before therapy?

    Denny Crane
    Reply
  • DarthAgitated - Tuesday, August 12, 2008 - link

    I am bothered by the fact that the test system specs are not shown which seems rather silly.

    I am even bothered more however by the ridiculous reactions to the article.

    Please look over the previous reviews with regards to the 4850 and 4870. Stating that both cards are the best cards at their price points. Or even the 9800GTX review where they praise the 4850 over the 9800GTX.

    Also take into account that the GX260 and 280 reviews happen when ATI had no new product out there and here was this brand new architecture being released.

    In this review he points out that the Nvidia price drop is due to AMD’s influence. As they did in the 4850 and 4870 review.. “You can either look at it as AMD giving you a bargain or NVIDIA charging too much, either way it's healthy competition in the graphics industry once again (after far too long of a hiatus).”

    So please stop with your “this site is pro-“whatever doesn’t fit with what I like” bullshit. Try actually reading the articles instead of doing what most people on the internet do and skim through everything. Here you have a very fast video card, which is shown to win in a bunch of benchmarks. And when he points out the issues with crossfire and SLI implementation and support for game titles, he is speaking a valid truth. And like the majority of x2 cards, it’s hard to get excited over something that can be achieved by simply plugging in a second video card.

    Please grasp the concept of this card being a niche product, a product that is not reaching its full potential if your not pushing a 30” lcd (or an hdtv I suppose) and 800+ watt power supply and playing specific games that are properly supported by the crossfire drivers and you happen to have $559.00 (OMG you didn’t automatically account for shipping and my local sales tax when posting that!!!) dollars burning a hole in your wallet.

    If you want your pro-whatever review then do a search on website that contains the name of the company you want to win and find their review and enjoy a, what I’m sure is a unbiased “this is fastest evarrr!” review.

    I for one appreciate this site and fact that it contains well thought out and technical articles on some new stuff like new cpu or gpu architecture. But don’t expect them to go off on a product that’s an updated version of an existing product that contains two other existing products and offers nothing new.

    Please put up the test system specs though please.

    Thanks.
    Reply
  • Zaitsev - Wednesday, August 13, 2008 - link

    I couldn't agree more, DarthAgitated. In the article, I thought credit was given when it was deserved and nothing more. Someone's panties did seem to be mildly bunched over the Sideport issue, however. ;) Reply
  • DRSoul - Wednesday, August 13, 2008 - link

    What's happening?? This article is not up to the usual Anandtech standard. I am writing this because I have over the past 4 - 5 years never read such a sober review on this site on such a high performing card. Might just be that they are getting so much new stuff that its becoming boring... Reply
  • AnnoyedGrunt - Wednesday, August 13, 2008 - link

    I thought the review was very good. I didn't detect bias, just a good mixture of praise for the performance but concern that the CrossFire support could not always be counted on.

    In general the feeling (at least on Anantech) towards SLI and CF solutions at this time seems to be similar to the original Single Core Hyper Threaded Intel Chips. Sometime, Hyper Threading helped and sometimes it didn't. It wasn't until true dual core processors arrived (along with multi-threaded software) that the dual CPU's really became good competition for higher clocked single core CPU's.

    I agree with the concern that both SLI and CF solutions are not ready for "prime-time" and are instead best for the early-adopters and enthusiasts that like to tinker and don't mind getting frequent driver updates and browsing forums for optimal driver configurations.

    I liked that the article provided some factual commentary regarding the tradeoffs between single and multi-GPU setups.

    Aside from that, I didn't notice a discussion regarding fan noise. Did I miss it somewhere, or is it not included in the article?

    -D'oh!
    Reply
  • steveyballme - Tuesday, August 12, 2008 - link

    I installed one of these things on "Pauline".

    I'm doing well over 180 FPS! WOW!
    Reply
  • ZootyGray - Tuesday, August 12, 2008 - link

    I can be very sensitive to some strange things sometimes.

    While reading this, I had to stop. I was sensing great rage. That's pretty dark. And it was taking over me! Like evil something. I don't read reviews to have experiences like that.

    Anyone else get a feeling like that? Maybe just me.

    I met a guy once who was about 8 months clean from crak coc. He was full of rage. I had to stop talking to him too. It was like he wasn't even there. This just reminded me of that. Which makes no sense and the whole thing was pretty insane. But I wonder why I sense such anger in a hardware review that's supposedly unbiased. I always thought I would enjoy such work - must be stressful. Passing stress to an audience is not right either.

    I don't know much about why; but my feelings don't lie. Anyone else get a sense of pain or anger? Maybe I got this from a different source. Maybe I am getting stressed from all the flame games. Maybe time to just let this go. Time to move on.
    Reply
  • anonymous x - Tuesday, August 12, 2008 - link

    i don't see any bias in this article- you can clearly see the performance benchmark scores, hardly any improvement over the other cards. Reply
  • Dark Legion - Wednesday, August 13, 2008 - link

    If you don't see any bias in the article, you clearly only looked at the pretty pictures and not the actual writing.

    Also, why not include the test setup? For all we know, there could have been another limiting factor, especially since we saw very little gains from having a pair of 4870 X2's at such a high resolution. I remember back when the GX2 was coming out and you reviewed it, you used an Intel Skulltrail board because you could use both Crossfire and SLI in it, and you weren't limited by anything else. THAT is unbiased, and you can truly compare the cards that you're reviewing. Now you review the best performing competing card, and you don't even tell us what setup you used. Oh, and you don't even include the GX2, which is Nvidia's best performing card, and also happens to be a multi-GPU single card solution (which takes up as much energy as the 4870 X2, so don't only put AMD down for that). Did it not stack up well enough compared to this card for you? This review was horrible. I have come to expect this from DT (*cough cough Jason *cough cough), but not so much from Anand.
    Reply
  • glynor - Tuesday, August 12, 2008 - link

    I find it very interesting that the one solitary example of a game that doesn't scale well on the 4870 X2 is Assassin's Creed with the patch. Also, I didn't see a detailed explanation of what settings and setup were used to test the different games (were these custom timedemos? FRAPS? built-in benches?).

    Either way... It is interesting to say the least. Assassin's Creed posted numbers well under the GTX 280 in the Anandtech results. However, if you look at Tech Report's numbers which were generated using the pre-patch (DirectX 10.1 supporting) version of the game from before they took Nvidia money, the picture is dramatically different. Instead of losing to the GTX 280 (not to mention the GTX 260 SLI), the 4870 X2 easily bests the GTX 280 SLI (x2) setup in both average FPS and in Median Low FPS.

    Just seems awful fishy to me. Overall this is good information. I'm particularly interested in the info on Sideport being disabled, as I'm not seeing similar information reflected in other reviews out there. I'm sure this is simply a case of Anand asking the right questions of the right people, but it'd be nice to see some independent confirmation.

    Overall, it seems to me that this review does seem to have a slight (not over the top, but slight) anti-dual-GPU bias. It feels like more stock is put in the "failing" shown by Assassin's Creed, which is dubious at best, and no other evidence is shown to back this up. Surely, any dual GPU product may suffer optimization problems with new games, but wouldn't this apply to SLI equally (if not more -- most results I've seen show Crossfire scaling better than SLI more often than not)? I guess I just feel that the conclusions are being drawn based on results "not in evidence".

    Discounting the outlier and contradicted Assassin's Creed results, I fail to see how the GTX 280 is in the same league at all as the new ATI dual-GPU card.
    Reply

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