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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  • ViRGE - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

  • dustinfrazier - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    Going on a year for Nvidia dominance and boy does it feel good. I bought my 8800gtx pair the first day they were available last year and never expected them to dominate this long. God I can't wait to see what comes out next for the enthusiasts. It get the feeling it is gonna rock! I really wanna see what both companies have up their sleeves as I am ready to retire my 8800s.

    I understand that these latest cards are great for the finances and good energy savers, but what does it matter if they already have a hard time keeping up with current next gen games at reasonable frame rates, 1920x1200 and above? What good does saving money do if all the games you purchase in 08 end up as nothing but a slide show? I guess I just want AMD to release a card that doesn't act like playing Crysis is equivalent to solving the meaning of life. Get on with it. The enthusiasts are ready to buy!
  • abhaxus - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    err, tried to do a hardocp logo and it hid everything in the previous post.
    text is:

    I've read that... but then I've also read on AT and that with current bios releases the asus boards are fine to around 360-400 FSB. I haven't O/C'ed an intel chip since the Celeron 300A so I am pulling my hair out trying to decide if it's worth it to plan for going SLI or just get a P35 board and stay with a single card.

    sorry to go so OT. the article was very good in typical anand style.
  • JonathanYoung - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    Just browsing through the article and this graphic caught my eye:

    Monitors command buffer to *ASSES* level of GPU utilization

    Not sure if this is an AMD or AT graphic, but you guys might want to correct it!
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    That'd be an AMD graphic, if I had an editable source I'd correct it, but all I've got is the PDF :)

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

    I have heard quite a few people dislike those line graphs you use, the eyes just don't register lines well vs bars (one reason why long lines are not put in center of roads and they use bars to make the line) Why not stick to bar graphs like you do in the power consumption page?

    The eyes like things to conform to a shape, or should I say the brain. :) Quick glance at a bar graph is easier for the brain to compute than following lines.
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    Regarding lines on road, this is somewhere on US83 between La Pryor and Leakey in southern Texas.


    I have no idea what that road marking means.

    As for the line charts, I like them better than a multiple bar chart would to display all the same info on a single chart.
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    It's always tough finding a good balance, since I can cram so much more information into a line graph than a bar graph. I've just been toying with these things for the 8800 GT and this review, I'll see if I can come up with something better for the next round :)

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

    Can't please everyone I guess. I really like the line graphs. I think it is much easier to compare cards scaling across resolutions and gives a better overview of performance in relation to one another.

    You could use hand puppets and then everyone would be happy. I know I would :)
  • JNo - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    I second that - lines ftw

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