With the launch of the Radeon HD 4870, AMD showed us that they are not only still in the game, but they are back. Their hardware either out performed or was on par with NVIDIA hardware priced significantly higher. As a result, NVIDIA was forced to significantly adjust their prices downward to remain competitive. And, currently, they are competitive in terms of pricing and performance.

But in this business competitive isn't always good enough. AMD came out of the gate swinging for a knock out. And they did a good job of winning a significant amount of mindshare. They built a good product and priced it very aggressively at launch. While our concern is the current state of things, and our recommendation will be for the part that gives our reader the best value, that's not how every graphics card enthusiast sees it. The things companies do (like initially selling their hardware at way too high a price) can significantly affect the position of some enthusiasts.

That might be one reason NVIDIA went down the core 216 path with the GTX 260. A name more like GTX 265 would have been nice, and we already talked about how much we don't need dozens of parts all with slight tweaks and price differences cluttering up the market. But, the core 216 did help make NVIDIA's hardware more competitive (even if it didn't put it over the top). And more competitive is a good thing. Better competition does nothing but benefit the consumer, and we love to see it. If NVIDIA took that step because they want to win back some mindshare then that's fine with us. All we care about is what performs best in a price class, because that is what benefits our readers.

Of course, the core 216 might also have been anticipating the eventual availability of the Radeon 4870 1GB. In which case, the core 216 falls short.

Well, it isn't just that the GTX 260 falls a little short. The fact is that the extra RAM really does make a significant difference in many high quality high resolution situations when playing current games. We didn't expect the gains we see here, and combined with the original stellar performance of the Radeon HD 4870, we have to say that we are impressed.

The Radeon HD 4870 1GB has the same number of GDDR5 chips on board, but the devices on the 1GB model are double the density of the 512MB part.

Yes, these are different parts. The top one is the 512MB version and the bottom one is the 1GB.

The 512MB card we have uses Qimonda GDDR5, while the 1GB model we tested has Hynix devices. As GDDR5 is still pretty new, it is likely that the delay in getting out the 1GB model of the 4870 had to do with delays in getting a high enough supply of high density RAM.

Anyway, we mentioned that the GTX 260 core 216 doesn't quite keep up now that the 4870 has twice as much RAM. Let's take a look ath exactly how short it falls, first in terms of how much performance we gain over the original model and then in absolute terms.

The Test and Performance Imrpovement


View All Comments

  • SiliconDoc - Friday, October 03, 2008 - link

    No offense robotslave, none to anandtech either, but they've reached the point that the corpo-politician model of perma e-boner has been erected, and there's no going back.
    They need no gamer left behind legislation. lol
    It must be blocked from the floor overclocking vote. tee hee
    ( don't you care about team cohesion and enthusiasm levels ?) -rofl
    I mean do you expect these silicon valley monster review boys to settle for 1024x768x32 on a $150.00 vidcard lineup ?
    That sounds like a hostile work environment.
    The "secondary" market (or is that 3rd world now ?) requires too much viagra, the team has to think about morale and hype, man.
    I think we'd better move to the "less interesting" review pages where gamerz aren't "seen or heard" even if they "are there".
    ( I'll see ya there, or rather, I won't ... wink)

  • Gaz - Thursday, September 25, 2008 - link

    which of theses two senario's would be the better one to implement 4 x 4870 1gb or 2 x 4870x2
    I have a MSI K9A2 platinum that can handle 4 cards in crossfireX the only problem is that the power conections to the cards and the size of the power supply needed to run all 4 4870 1gb cards compaired to the 2 x 4870x2 which would only use 2 six pin and 2 eight pin conectors
    the 4 x 4870 1gb i think would use 8 six pin power conecters to run the vidio cards but what size psu would you realy need a 1500psu or would a 1350 or 1000 psu do
    I havent bought any cards yet
  • Comdrpopnfresh - Thursday, September 25, 2008 - link

    I think the changes in the 4870 show that AMD was smart in designing their current generation of graphics products.

    They were able to provide an appreciable performance increase by adding more memory. In doing this, they saved money by not have to tape out new die alterations, and don't drastically alter power consumption.

    Nvidia, on the other hand, didn't seem to be able to provide as much of a performance improvement, while increasing power consumption and probably having to spend on the new core.
  • Paladin1211 - Thursday, September 25, 2008 - link

    Unlike the GTX 260 Core 216, this card isn't an epic fail at its price point... Reply
  • AlB80 - Thursday, September 25, 2008 - link

    "It still draws a significant amount more power at idle and load than the GTX 260."

    They still using catalyst 8.7.
  • dennilfloss - Thursday, September 25, 2008 - link

    I am confused when you say it does not tax memory as much because with QTP3, I sometimes reach around 950MB of VRAM use, so I'd think the extra 512MB would make quite a bit of difference in not having to use the hard disk instead of some VRAM. I think most of the Oblivion players interested in the 1GB version of the 4870 will have extra texture mods installed. Do you use one of the more detailed texture packs in Oblivion or is your Oblivion just vanilla?

  • grmnasasin0227 - Thursday, September 25, 2008 - link

    So now that the 1GB is out, when will we be able to see the 4870X2 compared to a 4870 1GB in CF? I'd like to know which is the better buy. Reply
  • Kulamata - Thursday, September 25, 2008 - link

    I would have liked to have seen the 4850 XFire included; I think it (they?) can run with this pack. I'm keeping my eye open for the promised 4850 X2; we'll see if they're a real product. If so, I'm quite interested for 1920 X 1200. Reply
  • emilyek - Thursday, September 25, 2008 - link

    Can you guys show frames for something other than 2560 x 1600 and maxed AA/AF? Not everyone has a 30" Apple Cinema Display or better.

    Cards that are neck and neck at that resolution very well might have anywhere from a 10-20 fps difference at, say, 1680 x 1050, where most people game.
  • AnnonymousCoward - Thursday, September 25, 2008 - link

    Look again: the line graphs have your resolution. Reply

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