Final Words

The two new additions to the test suite, Age of Conan and Race Driver GRID certainly beef up the portfolio of advantages AMD has in the current generation. Not only that, but we got quite an interesting surprise with GRID. Yes, even with R700 the menu screens were slow, jerky and painful at 2560x1600, but gameplay with R700 was much improved. We will still see the upper limit at twice the performance of a single RV770, but the fact that R700 looks to offer at least the potential for much better scaling at the high end (where the card will be marketed) than two card solutions is an advantage, even if it only comes from the additional RAM. We will need to look at CrossFire again when the 1GB 4870 is available to get a more apples to apples comparison here.

We don't have any solid evidence in this article of the GPU to GPU communication hardware making a real difference in scaling, but we will be interested to see if that changes by the time R700 hits store shelves. We can say that, for those who want to game at the extremely high end, 4870 X2 with it's 2GB of on board RAM will be a more consistent solution than 2x 512MB 4870 cards in CrossFire, as evidenced by our Race Driver GRID test.

But as we've said many times before, the success of CrossFire is in the consistency of it's performance. We absolutely need to see AMD put everything they have into making all games past, present, and future scale well with CrossFire. There needs to not be even the inkling of a question that CrossFire might not improve the performance of a game. Until then it is very risky for AMD to put all of its hope for the high end business into a multi-GPU solution.

Maybe they've done it. Maybe their driver team, by the time 4870 X2 launches will have improved driver support to where it needs to be. Maybe the changes to the R700 hardware will be enough to fill in the gaps and bring performance up closer to the theoretical limit for many more games. The information we have here shows the incredible potential R700 has, but it will be absolutely necessary to wait until launch day to see if the execution behind the hardware has been enough to realize this potential across the board.

This isn't a case where the quality of the hardware, but rather the quality of the driver and programming style of modern game developers will be key in delivering value. For the launch of this card we will be looking at as large a cross section of games as we can, as the importance of broad testing has never been more clear than with AMD's first part after their declared strategy of using single card multi-GPU solutions to compete in the high end space. We will need to see more examples of improved single card multi-GPU performance over CrossFire, as well as improvements in CrossFire performance in general if AMD is to be taken seriously going forward in the high end space.

The 4870 X2 will be AMD's proving ground. This preview shows what might be, what could be ... but we must wait for final hardware and final drivers before we can honestly evaluate the card for what it is. Let us hope AMD knows how important having pervasive compatibility really is for this launch.

Power Heat and Noise
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  • toyota - Monday, July 14, 2008 - link

    I have seen 4 so far plus all the individuals that have personal cards now and they have ALL been 2gb models. like I said earlier ATI doesnt even have a 4870 X2 1gb model in their slides. Reply
  • Alexstarfire - Tuesday, July 15, 2008 - link

    I've become curious as this is like the 4-5th comment I've come across that talks about a 2GB model and a 1GB model. What I'm curious is whether or not you are talking about a 2x2GB model, to make 4GB across 2 cards, or just 2GB in total RAM, because the one on this site has 2GB of RAM total 2x1GB, 4GB across 2 cards.

    I have a feeling many are just getting confused, but I'd like to sk to make sure.
    Reply
  • Lakku - Monday, July 14, 2008 - link

    AMD, you fail! Without even reading the whole article, which I will finish in a sec, that board layout already has me in a tizzy. Are you really going to point the PCI-E 8 and 6 pint connectors facing that way? Maybe because it's so long, but I am not sure I like that idea of having a stiff cable (most PS's these days have sleeved cables) having to be routed that way. Then again, I am flying off half-cocked right now, so (if you live around Austin, TX and listen to 93.7 12 to 1, you'll know I am part of Snatch... so this may just all backfire in my face after I get done reading the article). Reply
  • Lerianis - Monday, July 14, 2008 - link

    Yeah, I have to agree that is a stupid way to point the connectors..... DOWN? They should be pointed towards the wall of the computer, not the bottom of the computer, in order to take into account that most people have a card or three UNDERNEATH those video cards. Reply
  • toyota - Monday, July 14, 2008 - link

    I didnt read through the whole article but why did Anandtech end up with a 1024mb version when EVERYBODY else is getting 2048mb versions? heck even all the ATI slides showed 2048mb for the R700.

    http://www.driverheaven.net/reviews.php?reviewid=5...">http://www.driverheaven.net/reviews.php?reviewid=5...
    http://enthusiast.hardocp.com/article.html?art=MTU...">http://enthusiast.hardocp.com/article.html?art=MTU...
    http://techreport.com/articles.x/15105">http://techreport.com/articles.x/15105
    Reply
  • orionmgomg - Monday, July 14, 2008 - link

    I was wondering the exact same thing.

    Maybe they are going to release even better results with the 2GB version and blow away Nvida!?

    I am a Nvidia Fan Boy - or should I say - who ever gots the biggest guns Fan Boy, so if ATI brings in the meat and potatos, Ill eat em all up.

    PS: I have an ASUS X38 DDR3 with QX9650 & 2 Gigs DDR3 1600 7-7-7-20, and I have been running just 1 EVGA 8800 Ultra Because SLI is not supported with this mobo, so when I upgraded from the 680i I sold my other Ultra...

    But!!!!!!!! This MOBO HAS CrossFIRE!!!

    As almost all other X38/X48 Mobos do! And I have been waiting for a Cross Fire solution that was worthy. If I could just get 2 of the 4870x2 cards in my system for Quad GPU - that would be really nice - give my Dorkfielf 4.0 something to do. LOL

    PS; Also need to upgrade to Vista 64 as a 32 bit OS would not like 4 gigabytes of ram on the video cards, and with 2GBs system memory - may be a problem - plus upgrade ro 4 GBs of course...
    Reply
  • csiszarerik - Tuesday, July 15, 2008 - link

    Hm, reply on your PS: try to install service pack 1 for Vista... my 4 gigs are there... before it was only 3.3 gigs... i have read somewhere that the new core in SP1 supports higher ram amounts... Reply
  • imaheadcase - Monday, July 14, 2008 - link

    Ram on video card means Jack Squat in all but a few games out, even then its not noticeable. A 512meg vs 2gig card means no performance difference if 2 equal cards.

    Reply
  • Lerianis - Monday, July 14, 2008 - link

    It doesn't? That's funny: every single testing place I have seen says that when you have a lot of memory on the card to hold textures and other things, it does help with performance a lot, since they don't have to page things to the hard drive or pull things from the hard drive as often. Reply
  • Alexstarfire - Tuesday, July 15, 2008 - link

    That's if, AND ONLY IF, all the stuff doesn't already fit onto the cards memory. Most of the time you'll run the FPS into the ground before that happens, negating any performance gain you may possibly get. If, however, you happen to find a game where the FPS remains high, like in GRID, then it will help. Course, you'd need quite a big monitor to get a resolution that high, but that's beside the point. Reply

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