Final Words

So this may come as a surprise to some, but the AMD Radeon HD 4870 1GB Quad CrossFire leads in our benchmarks when focusing on the resolution that matters for this hardware (2560x1600).

While driver issues and a lack of other "stuff" like PhysX and CUDA to do matter with GPUs in situations where hardware doesn't scale, the AMD solution leads the GeForce GTX 295 in more benchmarks (Age of Conan, Left 4 Dead, and Far Cry 2), and ties the NVIDIA solution in one title (Fallout 3). Not shown in our numbers is Race Driver GRID, as we have a continuing issue in FRAPS that gets in the way of recording performance numbers with 4-way NVIDIA solutions. We were able to watch frame rate, however, and it was clear that the NVIDIA hardware didn't reach the performance levels of AMD hardware in GRID.

Certainly this isn't a sweeping victory for AMD, and the outcome, because it is close, rests incredibly heavy on the benchmarks we chose and were able to run. Different titles may have produced different results. Thus there is no clear winner in terms of absolute performance. This will depend greatly on title preference. It is worth noting, however, that when Quad GTX 295 leads Quad 4870 1GB, the NVIDIA card comes in at the very top in terms of performance more often than does AMD. But the dark horse in the 4-way focused article is the 3-way high NVIDIA GPUs.

The 3-way GTX 280/285 leads the 4-way GTX 295 in half our tests: it's a wash and it's either slightly cheaper or slightly more expensive depending on the specific flavor. The 4-way Radeon HD 4870 1GB only leads 3-way GTX 280/285 in 2 out of the 6 tests, though it ties in one of them (Fallout 3 again). If GRID were added back in, it's likely the playing field would be completely even on that count.

If you want an added twist, moving from 2-way to 4-way, AMD tends to scale better at 2560x1600 than NVIDIA. Whether that's because of lower baseline performance of the 2-way option and less system limitation at the high end, it's still impressive that the playing field is this even.

So what's the bottom line? Wow ... It's very hard to say that the differentiator is only performance itself. But as we had less trouble with 3-way than 4-way, so our very slight preference for this one is the 3-way GeForce GTX 285. Overclocked hardware will get you even further into the stratosphere. Enjoy the ride.

If you don't happen to have a motherboard that supports 3x double-slot x16 physical PCIe cards, 4-way will have to be the option. In that case, Quad HD 4870 1GB scores points for keeping up with the Joneses, scaling, and bang for the buck. In terms of performance per dollar, which some people may not care about at these top end price points, AMD leads. At the same time, we must consider that heavy investors like things to play with and PhysX and CUDA do add a potential benefit over AMD that some enthusiasts may like.

So who's got the true halo? Who can provide the best highest-possible-end option? In spite of our leanings and recommendations and considerations, It's a wash. This one goes down in the history books as a battle for the high end that will come down to brand preference.

Power Consumption


View All Comments

  • JarredWalton - Sunday, March 01, 2009 - link

    Fixed, thanks. Note that it's easier to fix issues if you can mention a page, just FYI. :) Reply
  • askeptic - Sunday, March 01, 2009 - link

    This is my observation based on their review over the last couple of years Reply
  • ssj4Gogeta - Sunday, March 01, 2009 - link

    It's called being fair and not being biased. They did give the due credit and praise to AMD for RV770 and Phenom II. You probably haven't been reading the articles. Reply
  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - link

    He's a red fan freak-a-doo, with his tenth+ name, so anything he sees is biased against ati.
    Believe me, that one is totally goners, see the same freak under krxxxx names.
    He must have gotten spanked in a fps by an nvidia card user so badly he went insane.
  • Captain828 - Sunday, March 01, 2009 - link

    In the last couple of years, nVidia and Intel have had better performing hardware than the competition.
    So I don't see any bias and the charts don't show any either.
  • lk7200 - Wednesday, March 11, 2009 - link

    Shut the *beep* up f aggot, before you get your face bashed in and cut
    to ribbons, and your throat slit.
  • SiliconDoc - Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - link

    Another name so soon raging red fanboy freak ? Going to fantasize about murdering someone again, sooner rather than later ?
    If ati didn't suck so badly, and be billion dollar losers, you wouldn't be seeing red, huh, loser.
  • JonnyDough - Tuesday, March 03, 2009 - link

    Hmm...X1900 series ring a bell? Methinks you've been drinking... Reply
  • Razorbladehaze - Sunday, March 01, 2009 - link

    Wow, what i was really looking forward to here disappeared entirely. I was expecting to see more commentary on the subjective image quality of the benchmarks, and there was even less discussion relating to that then in the past two articles kinda a bummer.

    On the side note what was shown was what I expected from piecemeal of a number of other reviews. Nice to see it combined though.

    The only nougat of information I found disturbing is to hear the impression that CUDA is better than what ATI has promoted. This in light of my understanding that nVidia just hired a head tech officer from the University where Stream (what ati uses) computing took roots. Albeit that CUDA is just an offshoot of this, it would seem to me that, this hiring would lead me to beleive that nvidia will be migrating towards stream rather than the opposite. Especially if GPGPU computing is to become commonplace.

    I think that it would be in nVidia's best interest to do this as I am afraid that Intel is right and that nvidia's future may be bleak if GPGPU computing does not take hold and this is one strategy to migrate towards their rival AMD's GPGPU to reduce resource usage to explore this tech.

    Well yeah... i think i went way way off on a tangent on this one so...yeah im done.
  • DerekWilson - Monday, March 02, 2009 - link

    Sorry about the lack of image quality discussion. It's our observation that image quality is not significantly impacted by multiGPU. There are some instances of stuttering here and there, but mostly this is in places where performance is already bad or borderline, otherwise we did note where there were issues.

    As far as GPGPU / GPU computing, CUDA is a more robust and more widely adopted solution than is ATI Stream. CUDA has made more inroads in the consumer space, and especially in the HPC space than has Stream. There aren't that many differences in the programming model, but CUDA for C does have some advantages over Brook+. I prefer the fact that ATI opens up it's ISA down to the metal (along side a virtual ISA), while NVIDIA only offers a virtual ISA.

    The key is honestly adoption though: the value of the technology only exists as far as the end user has a use for it. CUDA leads here. OpenCL, in our eyes, will close the gap between NVIDIA and ATI and should put them both on the same playing field.

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