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
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  • Parhel - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    Even though you're wrong, do you mind if I use your math on my upcoming trip to Europe? It would really help me out. :)
  • MrKaz - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    Since no one seems to ask but since when crossfire works on Nvidia 680i?

    Also you said this correctly over load power:
    "The difference is negligible, but when you include the fact that the 8800 GT is faster, the Radeon HD 3870 actually has worse performance-per-watt than the competition. "

    But you unfortunately failed to mention this over idle power:
    "The difference is huge, especially when comparing to the older ATI and NVIDIA offers, even when comparing to the new 8800GT it’s still a 40 Watts difference."
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    It doesn't, we used a P965 board for CrossFire, but you couldn't have known that - thus I've updated the test table :)

    And I've included commentary on the idle power of the 3800 series, my apologies for the oversight.

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

    Anand do you think Crossfire scaling would improve if you used some X38 or rd580?
    Or the 4x PCIe slot on 965 doesn’t affect it much?

    Does the 790 and Phenom get reviewed this month?

    Continue the good work!
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    Personally I don't think the chipset is at fault for poor scaling here, but you do make a good point - I'll see if we can run some numbers internally and figure that out.

    Indeed this isn't the only AMD product that gets reviewed this month...

  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    Woops, my mistake, Derek ran the CF tests and they were on a P35 board and not a P965. I've updated the article accordingly.

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

    Thanks Anand!
  • jcromano - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    From page 5:

    Looking at our own price search engine we see that only Amazon is listing a card available at $249, but it's not in stock, nor are any of the other more expensive 8800 GTs listed.

    I have been unable to use the RTPE for the past two weeks or so. What's the trick? Here is the error it gives me:

    Warning: mysql_pconnect(): Lost connection to MySQL server during query in /var/www/vweb/rtpeserve/php/login.php on line 53

  • Crassus - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    Yep. Same here error message here, both in Firefox and IE. I've been trying to make use of the RTPE for weeks now, without success. Or was it converted to Anandtech "staff only" use? ;c)
  • jcromano - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    Ok. Thanks for the quick response. I look forward to the return of the RTPE, but maybe your shopping page can substitute in the meantime.


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