Power Consumption

NVIDIA's idle power optimizations do a great job of keeping their very power hungry parts sitting pretty when in 2D mode. Many people I know just leave their computers on all day and generally playing games 24 hours a day is not that great for the health. Idle power is important, especially as energy costs rise, and taking steps to ensure that less power is drawn when less power is needed is a great direction to move in. AMD's 4870 hardware is less power friendly, but 4850 is pretty well balanced at idle.

Moving on to load power.

These numbers are peak power draw experienced over multiple runs of 3dmark vantage's third feature test (pixel shaders). This test heavily loads the GPU while being very light on the rest of the system so that we can get as clear a picture of relative GPU power draw as possible. Playing games will incur much higher system level power draw as the CPU, memory, drives and other hardware may also start to hit their own peak power draw at the same time. 4850 and 4870 CrossFire both require large and stable PSUs in order to play actual games.  

Clearly the 4870 is a power junky posting the second highest peak power of any card (second only to NVIDIA's GTX 280). While a single 4870 draws more power than the 9800 GX2, quad SLI does peak higher than 4870 crossfire. 4850 power draw is on par with its competitors, but 4850 crossfire does seem to have an advantage in power draw over the 9800 GTX+.

Heat and Noise

These cards get way too hot. I keep burning my hands when I try to swap them out, and Anand seems to enjoy using recently tested 4800 series cards as space heaters. We didn't look at heat data for this article, but our 4850 tests show that things get toasty. And the 4870 gets hugely hot.

The fans are kind of quiet most of the time, but some added noise for less system heat might be a good trade off. Even if it's load, making the rest of a system incredibly hot isn't really the right way to go as other fans will need to work harder and/or components might start to fail.

The noise level of the 4850 fan is alright, but when the 4870 spins up I tend to glance out the window to make sure a jet isn't just about to fly into the building. It's hugely loud at load, but it doesn't get there fast and it doesn't stay there long. It seems AMD favored cooling things down quick and then returning to quiet running.

Multi-GPU Performance in Assassin's Creed, Oblivion, The Witcher & Bioshock Final Words
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  • calumhm - Friday, September 11, 2009 - link

    i mean, ATI invented the unified pixel/shader architechture, or so i believe, and this generation they've got dx10.1 level hardware something like 7 months and counting before Nvidia have any.

    Also i once read an article about SLI and Crossfire, about how SLI has only one rendering type, scissors. (meaning the screen is divided in two) Whereas ATI have scissors, tiled, (so that the more demanding areas of the screen are better divided amongst the cards) and others.
    Also, you can combine any HD series ATI card with any HD series card! thats way better than having to say, buy another 7800 for SLI because just one isn't doing it anymore, even though the 9800 series are out. With CFire you could add a 4870 to your old 3870!

    Im currently with Nvidia (a 9600gt (found one for £60!)) but am frequently impressed by ATI.

    -IS- ATI the smart customer's choice?
  • heaneyforestrntpe68 - Thursday, October 21, 2021 - link

    well I am looking forward to a single card setup. SLI or CF is beyond the reach of my pockets. :P https://bit.ly/2Z7E1jr
  • billywigga - Friday, August 29, 2008 - link

    im pretty shore the 4870 is low profile ive been looking everywhere for a low profile graphics card and i think i foung a high ends one unlike the geforce 8400 and the 8600 those arenot very good and they dont look good either but where do i buy the 4870
  • Hrel - Thursday, August 21, 2008 - link

    Why has there been no article comparing the 8800GT to the 9800GT? Is it just a rebrand, are there noticeable performance differences. It's 9 series, I assume it has hybrid power, but I don't know. Anandtech, PLEASE! Do an article on this.
  • billywigga - Friday, August 29, 2008 - link

    bang for the buck id get the 9800 because its newer also all the diffrence is it has more intagrated ram your saving a lot if you just get more ram to your computer.
  • firewolfsm - Friday, August 1, 2008 - link

    I'm trying to do the same benchmark for Crysis for my 4850 as I have a similar system and a fresh vista install. Just wondering what kind of driver settings you used.
  • spikeysting - Saturday, July 19, 2008 - link

    I just got it for $179 at Frys. Such a good deal.
  • Yangorang - Tuesday, July 8, 2008 - link

    Anyone tried this mod?
  • jALLAD - Friday, July 4, 2008 - link

    I would for sure go for the 4870. (I am a Quake Wars fan boy u see :P)
    But I was unsure how these would perform on Linux. Is the driver support reliable? Right now I use a 7950 NVIDIA and their support on Linux is almost shite. I was wondering whether its better or worse...

    Anyone ?
  • KriegenSchlagen - Monday, July 7, 2008 - link

    If you are a Quake Wars fan, aren't the scores higher in 3-4 GeForce SLI configs vs. Crossfire mode 4870?

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