Picking The Games

AMD did have some stipulations for our R700 preview, they were as follows:

1. Previews can be posted any time after 12:01 am on Monday, July 14th.
2. Previews can include benchmarks of any combination of artificial tests or games up to a maximum of four.
3. As PowerPlay has not been enabled in the BIOS on your engineering sample, please stay away from Idle Power tests at this point.
4. In the interest of leaving something for the full NDA lift in August, we'd ask you to keep this high level and not go deep on the architecture at this point.

Today is Monday, July 14th, so we met the first requirement. AMD didn't give us much detail on the architecture, so check there as well. PowerPlay hasn't been enabled but it will in the final card, fair enough, we will only test load power. The second point was the tricky one though - AMD only wanted us to test four games, although it was up to us to choose which ones.

Of course, we did take the opportunity to do some internal testing in order to find out what tests were the best to present. For the most part (yes there are exceptions) the R700 performed similarly to what we would expect from 4870 in CrossFire. Therefore, we would refer our readers to our RV770 review for a general idea of what to expect from R700 in the worst case.

AMD has said that they are still improving CrossFire support and performance for many games and this preview driver doesn't necessarily reflect the performance we will see at launch in all games. This puts us in a bit of a tight spot, as reporting numbers for the games that currently don't benefit (or don't benefit much) from R700 over 4870 could be attributed to the prerelease driver. This very fact limits our ability to fairly report on the potential downside of R700.

In light of that, to make the best of this limited preview, we feel that we both have to report on games that do benefit from CrossFire and underline the fact that there are games out there that do not benefit or that do not benefit significantly from CrossFire (or SLI or multiGPU in general). At launch, we will try to do a much better job of representing the potential downside: we are currently asking our readers and our forum members for feedback on what games they play or know of that do not benefit from multiGPU so that we can take a look at them and help fairly represent the downside of any multiGPU solution. Please help us out if you have the information or the time to do so.

Looking at games that benefit from CrossFire or that benefit differently with R700 than a multi-card solution, we decided that it wouldn't be any fun just to show what we've seen over and over in our reviews. We can't avoid Crysis, so that will be included. Oblivion has been a good standby that can still bring cards to their knees at the highest settings. But before we had even contemplated this preview we've been looking at adding a couple new games to our test suite.

We always get requests for MMOs, and Age of Conan is the new hotness. Even though the DX10 version isn't out in the wild yet, we developed a repeatable benchmark for this game and will be using it in this preview. Additionally, flying and racing games are often requested. We won't be adding flight sim in this round, but Race Driver GRID is an incredibly beautiful game that we are happy to add to our test suite.

Again, as we mentioned, R700 does perform similarly to CrossFire, so looking at past 4870 CrossFire results is a fair indication of performance.

The Test

Most of our numbers come from our recent RV770 review. For the new games we've added, we used the latest drivers available for all the cards. The beta drivers we have for R700 were used for all AMD parts in Age of Conan and Race Driver GRID.

Test Setup
CPU Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9770 @ 3.20GHz
Motherboard EVGA nForce 790i SLI
Intel DX48BT2
Video Cards ATI Radeon HD 4850
ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2
ATI Radeon HD 3870
EVGA GeForce 9800 GTX KO
NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GTX+
NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GTX
NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GX2
NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX
NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260
Video Drivers Catalyst Press Driver (8.7 beta)
Catalyst 8.5
ForceWare 177.34 (for GT200)
ForceWare 177.39 (for 9800 GTX/9800 GTX+)
ForceWare 175.16 (everything else)
Hard Drive Seagate 7200.9 120GB 8MB 7200RPM
RAM 4 x 1GB Corsair DDR3-1333 7-7-7-20
Operating System Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit SP1
PSU PC Power & Cooling Turbo Cool 1200W
The Card Age of Conan Performance
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  • David Brown - Monday, April 06, 2009 - link

    Well if you say so, but I am not sure most people would agree...I mean if you really think about it.
    ----------------------------------------
    David Brown
    http://mymmoshop.com/buy/age-of-conan-us/gold/inde...">http://mymmoshop.com/buy/age-of-conan-us/gold/inde...
    Reply
  • granulated - Wednesday, July 23, 2008 - link

    If the charts are all correct then I'm quite astonished that the bizarre results haveb't been highlighted.


    4870 @19x12=73.7fps
    4870CF@19x12=99.8fps


    4870 @25x16=43.9fps
    4870CF@25x16=30.4fps


    plus loads of other bizarre results
    Reply
  • paradoxnighthawk - Friday, July 18, 2008 - link

    I've been an ATi fan since I built my first PC with a 9600 256MB card. I have to say AMD has now proven it can handle the legacy of ATi. I haven't bought a new graphics card for myself since the X1900XT (been waiting for something like this to happen), and in just a short time I will be getting the 4870X2.

    A $500 to be card seems to dominate and combination of alternatives (even more expensive ones) in most applications. If nothing else, this will drive down the price-gauging of nVidia's new GTXs, and make the life of enthusiasts and gamers alike, much more interesting. Regardless, go AMD, bring the competition.

    Afterthought: If only AMD put this much brilliance into their Phenom X3 processors. I think the X3 idea has a lot of potential, just needs some more TLC.
    Reply
  • ilkhan - Thursday, July 17, 2008 - link

    You know what Id really like to see in these reviews?
    Instead of nVidia GeForce / AMD Radeon being repeated in each chart, use the street MSRP for that GPU.

    Then I could get everything I need on one graphic, crysis performance vs the price.

    We KNOW they are going to destroy everything else, so please stop bothering.
    Reply
  • jameswalker - Wednesday, July 16, 2008 - link

    I have 3 ati 4870x2 on an asus workstation motherboard with 4 intel qx9850, i'm going for the 3d mark world record, using linux. Because it is the only operating system that well utilize all 4 cpu's and my 3 video cards. It is water cooled by liquid nitrogen. Reply
  • vailr - Wednesday, July 16, 2008 - link

    Will this 4870 x2 card be commercially available in time for Leo Laporte's "Ultimate Game Machine"?
    Anand had phoned in, to talk on the UGM show:
    http://twitlive.tv/">http://twitlive.tv/
    on July 4 and had offered design tips for the UGM that's being assembled for a late August giveaway. The motherboard/video card selected (then: July 4) was an nVidia 780 motherboard coupled with SLI'ed: two water cooled 9800 GX2 cards:
    http://www.bfgtech.com/bfge98512gtxh2ocwe.aspx">http://www.bfgtech.com/bfge98512gtxh2ocwe.aspx
    Will a water cooled 4870 x2 card be available by mid-August?
    Reply
  • pattycake0147 - Monday, July 14, 2008 - link

    Excellent preview you guys always do a great job on your articles. Is there any news as to when the 790GX chipset is going to be released? Reply
  • dragonbif - Monday, July 14, 2008 - link

    I found a posting of the 1GB version of 4870
    http://www.powercolor.com/Global/products_features...">http://www.powercolor.com/Global/products_features...

    Also I do beleve that the card AnandTech tested is a 2GB 4870x2.
    Reply
  • thewanderer666 - Monday, July 14, 2008 - link

    Anand, I really enjoy your site, but please, get rid of Derek Wilson, not only does he fail miserably at showing that he really knows how to bench video cards (like when he tried to prove how his methodology is better than HardOCP) but he makes huge mistakes in judgement.

    First off, how come he doesn't answer the simple question of how is it possible that you guys, the most respected HW site got an X2 with only 1GB in RAM...many posts talk about this yet he has not even tried to reply. Second, his take on the performance results is simply flawed. If he had read the specs of the X2 as the rest of the sites and noted that the card had 2GB of RAM, the GRID results could have been easily explained by the additional frame buffer memory (1gb vs. 512mb) instead of coming with outlandish remarks about how there are internal aspects of the card that push the performance considerably above a regular crossfire setup.

    As I tell you I really like your site and I respect all of those who write here, but seriously for such a professional site such as yours it's really sad that you have a person like Mr. Wilson in your staff. I hope this is taken as constructive critisism and not as bashing...I'm a long time reader of your site and I have no intention of having anythg different in my mind than helping this site become even better.
    Reply
  • thewanderer666 - Monday, July 14, 2008 - link

    I did see the corrections were made regarding the huge mistakes in the original preview, so kudos for fixing them. Still I stand by my statements about the person in question...this kind of annoying mistakes are becoming more and more common on this site (on the graphics department). Knowing the Anand's professionalism these kind of noob mistakes (how about contacting AMD/ATI and asking them why the results might be so different) should not be allowed. Reply

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