Let's Get It Out of the Way: Radeon HD 3870 vs. GeForce 8800 GT

The question on everyone's mind is how well does the 3870 stack up to the recently launched GeForce 8800 GT? If you haven't been noticing our hints throughout the review, AMD doesn't win this one, but since the 3870 is supposed to be cheaper a performance disadvantage is fine so long as it is justified by the price.

Does the 3870 deliver competitive performance given its price point? Let's find out.

Honestly, the Radeon HD 3870 stays very close to the 8800 GT, much closer than AMD's previous attempts to touch the 8800 series. But is the price low enough to justify the performance difference? For that we must do a little numerical analysis; the table below shows you what percentage of the 8800 GT's performance the Radeon HD 3870 delivers:

 3870: % of GeForce 8800 GT Performance 1280 x 1024 1600 x 1200 1920 x 1200 2560 x 1600
Bioshock 84.4% 82.4% 87.9% 93.9%
Unreal Tournament 3 87.8% 85.8% 89.6% 91.6%
ET: Quake Wars 80.5% 95.9% 96.8% 103%
Oblivion 66.7% 74.1% 74.4% 71.5%
Oblivion (4X AA) 70.5% 77.7% 80.2% 82.6%
Half Life 2: Episode 2 101% 95% 91%


World in Conflict 81.5% 85.7% 84.9% 89.2%
Call of Duty 4 103% 98.3% 92.3% 82.1%
Crysis 72.4% 73.3% 75.5% -
Average 83.1% 85.3% 85.8% 87.6%

Here's what's really interesting, on average the Radeon HD 3870 offers around 85% of the performance of the 8800 GT, and if we assume that you can purchase an 8800 GT 512MB at $250, the 3870 manages to do so at 87% of the price of the 8800 GT. The Radeon HD 3870 becomes even more attractive the more expensive the 8800 GT is and the opposite is true the cheaper it gets; if the 8800 GT 512MB was available at $219, then the 3870 doesn't stand a chance.

If AMD can actually meet its price expectations then it looks like the 3870 is actually competitive. It's slower than the 8800 GT, but the price compensates.

Pricing and Availability Obsoleting Products: Radeon HD 3870 vs. 2900 XT


View All Comments

  • ChronoReverse - Friday, November 16, 2007 - link

    I'll third that. The lines are great. Let's me know the resolution scaling quickly too. Reply
  • peldor - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    The line graphs are an improvement over the bar graphs. Good use of colors on these charts too. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    I think this is honestly one of the best ideas I've ever heard. If I were talented enough to make a good looking hand puppet...

    Take care,
  • xsilver - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    pfft. hand puppets,
    you need 3d virtual godzilla representing nvidia and 3d virtual king kong representing amd. BTW godzilla would win because it can shoot flames out of its mouth. :P

    about the article - is it not feasible that when the price of the 8800gt drops to $220 or lower the 3870 just needs to drop to 85% of that mark? With the 3870 being on the smaller die process, they could afford it or at least try to?
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    ohhhhhk, I just said that I'm not talented enough to make a couple of hand puppets, you expect me to be able to create 3D models of reptiles and animate them? I picked text as a medium for my artistic expression for a reason - I'm not exactly artistic otherwise ;)

    The thought of a $220 8800 GT and a $187 3870 (and thus an even cheaper 3850) is just too much for my mind to handle at this point. I think it'll eventually happen, but not in the near term, these things are too new and both companies like making money.

    Take care,
  • Anonymous Freak - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    Will you do a comparison on CrossFire performance, say, comparing two 3870s to two 8800GTs on X48 vs. 680i? Or even two 3870s on X48 vs. even ONE 8800 Ultra? If 3870 can really sell for $219, or 3850 for less than $200, two of them might well blow away an 8800 Ultra in $/fps terms, even worse than 8800 GT SLI does. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    Ask and you shall receive, I just added two new pages to the article - the new Page 10 tackles the CrossFire question.

    Take care,
  • wpapolis - Friday, November 16, 2007 - link

    First off, great article! I still surf other web sites but when I read articles produced by Anandtech, they are usually more informative and better presented. Anand, you have a great sense of the relevant information to include in your articles and I do appreciate your effort.

    Just one small thing regarding CrossFire performance. I was a little disappointed when I read your comment ...

    "Scaling looks pretty good from the Radeon HD 3850, however it's still not as good as what NVIDIA is able to achieve with the 8800 GT. NVIDIA consistently achieves about 11% better scaling from one to two GPUs than AMD."

    You mentioned that scaling of the 3850's isn't as good as a 8800 GT. In this case, did you compared ...
    2 x 3850's with 256MB per card
    vs. 2 x 8800 GT's with 512MB per card?

    If so, I would be interested in how well ...
    2 x 3870's with 512MB per card compares.

    I suspect that running a Crossfire configuration sucks up more RAM, so using a 256MB cards doesn't scale as well as using 512MB+ cards.

    I know, I know, you didn't get 2 x 3870's, but maybe you can get one more now? Maybe one more page to this article?

    Thanks again for your tremendous effort!

  • chrispyski - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    Nice crossfire chart. I know many people will be thinking about CF'ing the 3850's over a single high-end card (although I totally agree, it does not really work out well in the end) Reply
  • chucky2 - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    Those that could have waited for the 3850 and instead bought a 8600 or 2400/2600 are probably kicking themselves right now...


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