Obsoleting Products: Radeon HD 3870 vs. 2900 XT

There must be something in the water these days, first NVIDIA makes most of its product line obsolete and now with the Radeon HD 3870 AMD gets rid of any reason to have the 2900 XT.

Our benchmarks show that the cheaper, cooler, quieter Radeon HD 3870 is at worst, the same speed as the poorly received Radeon HD 2900 XT. Granted there are a few areas where the 2900 XT does better, but for the most part it simply can't hold its own against the 3870.

These next two tables summarize things a little better for those of you that are more interested in raw numbers. What you're looking at here is the percentage of 2900 XT performance each one of these cards delivers, first off is the Radeon HD 3870 vs. the 2900 XT:

 3870: % of Radeon HD 2900 XT Performance 1280 x 1024 1600 x 1200 1920 x 1200 2560 x 1600
Bioshock 107% 106% 107% 110%
Unreal Tournament 3 98.8% 96.2% 93.3% 93.8%
ET: Quake Wars 108% 117% 118% 111%
Oblivion 101% 103% 101% 100%
Oblivion (4X AA) 104% 103% 105% 105%
Half Life 2: Episode 2 100% 97.7% 96.3%


World in Conflict 118% 120% 115% 118%
Call of Duty 4 136% 130% 118% 102%
Crysis 104% 104% 103% -
Average 110% 110% 108% 106%

On average, the Radeon HD 3870 gives us a 6 - 10% increase in performance over the more expensive, less featured, louder Radeon HD 2900 XT. Not bad for improvement over the course of 6 months.


 3850: % of Radeon HD 2900 XT Performance 1280 x 1024 1600 x 1200 1920 x 1200 2560 x 1600
Bioshock 90.7% 91% 92.9% 60.1%
Unreal Tournament 3 92.1% 86.1% 80.8% 77.2%
ET: Quake Wars 107% 104% 99.3% 81.7%
Oblivion 91.1% 86.4% 85.8% 85.4%
Oblivion (4X AA) 92.5% 89.3% 89.1% 83.5%
Half Life 2: Episode 2 97.4% 90% 87.1%


World in Conflict 109% 108% 97.4% 92.9%
Call of Duty 4 108% 93.6% 88.3% 75.8%
Crysis 93.7% 91.4% 89.7% -
Average 97.9% 93.2% 90.1% 80.3%

The Radeon HD 3850 comes close in performance to the 2900 XT, especially at lower resolutions, but at ultra high resolutions it delivers only about 80% of the performance of its older brother.

Let's Get It Out of the Way: Radeon HD 3870 vs. GeForce 8800 GT Mid-Range Battle: Radeon HD 3850 vs. GeForce 8600 GTS
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  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    I was talking about http://anandtech.shopping.com">http://anandtech.shopping.com, currently working on getting a solution to the RTPE issues :)

    Take care,
  • dm0r - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    Loved the review and also the 3850....this is the real midrange card ill buy...excellent power consumption.
    Just only 1 thing missing is the temperature of the gpu's, but anyway excellent review
  • yacoub - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    Why are you recommending people wait for the 256MB of the GT? That model has no bearing on anything for people playing Crysis, CoD4, World in Conflict, etc. All the testing done on the 512MB GT shows that 512MB is really the new minimum for vRAM for gamers running a 19" or larger display and the 256MB model is well and truly irrelevant to their purchase options.
    Instead, the reason they should wait a couple weeks is just to see how the 512MB's availability and pricing changes.
  • yacoub - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    I really really like the new style to the charts and graphs. Everything is very easy to read and understand! Much improved over some older review designs! =)

    Also, lol @ how pathetic the 8600GT performs! :D
  • Iger - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    Actually, in terms of power consumption I would call this round a win for AMD. My home PC is on 24/7, but I really get to play on it for maybe a couple of hours a day at best (actually, probably, much less). AMD leads idle consumption by 40w, while losing the load power by 5. I think for pretty much every one 3870 will turn out cheaper than 8800GT. And I think it's important enough to be mentioned in article (no offence - just trying to be helpful).

    About prices - currently on overclocker.co.uk 8800GT 512 is preorderable for 350$, 8800GT 256 - for 290$, 3870 - for 320$ and 3850 - for 235$ (and AMD cards actually are listed in stock(!!) - impressive).
    With such disposition I would be close to buying a 3850 atm, btw... But, anyway, europe's prices are terrible :(

    Thanks very much for the article - it'll serve to satisfy at least some hunger before Phenom's ;)

  • Leadthorns - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    Some review sights suggest that the IQ is marginally better on the 3870. Would be interested to know your take on this
  • lux4424 - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    In 2006 there were number of articles and presentations about benefits of new WDDM (Windows Vista Driver Model). These also mentioned WDDM 2.1, coming with DX10.1, and the benefits it should bring. Couple of examples:

    WinHEC 2006, http://download.microsoft.com/download/5/b/9/5b970...">Future Directions In Graphics:
    *) Move to preemptive context switching and page-level memory management
    *) Video, Glitch-resilience: Preemptive context switching in WDDM 2.1 is key
    *) WDDM 2.1 – efficient GPU virtualization


    WinHEC 2006, http://download.microsoft.com/download/5/b/9/5b970...">Desktop And Presentation Impact On Hardware Design:
    *) Advanced Scheduling with page level context switching
    *) Direct impact on desktop scenarios

    Since then it's absolute silence on the matter. It would be really great if Anandtech would cover the promises made WRT WDDM 2.1 (DX10.1) or even WDDM 2.0 (DX10) after SP1 for Vista is released.

  • GTMan - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    Sentence with no ending...

    "Hopefully with DX11 Microsoft will be a little more used to the"

    Thanks for the article, interesting reading.
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    eep, thanks :)

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

    I am extremely disappointed in the review of the product.

    1) Only Vista was used, though XP has a lot larger user base.

    2) Limited variety of games.

    3) Limited variation of AF/AA

    4) No UVD tests.

    All could be forgiven if the title would have included First Look: DX10. I understand there is a limited time to do tests and it seems you had trouble getting your samples so this could lead to the problem. I usually look to anand for the most complete review of products (rather than having to look at many different incomplete ones sites use), but I believe this review to be incomplete and not what I expect from Anandtech.

    I await follow up reviews to reinstate my faith in this site. (and yes I am sure I will modded down as I will probably been seen as a 'hater' rather than trying to give constructive critism.

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