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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  • David Brown - Monday, April 6, 2009 - link

    Well if you say so, but I am not sure most people would agree...I mean if you really think about it.
    ----------------------------------------
    David Brown
    http://mymmoshop.com/buy/age-of-conan-us/gold/inde...">http://mymmoshop.com/buy/age-of-conan-us/gold/inde...
    Reply
  • granulated - Wednesday, July 23, 2008 - link

    If the charts are all correct then I'm quite astonished that the bizarre results haveb't been highlighted.


    4870 @19x12=73.7fps
    4870CF@19x12=99.8fps


    4870 @25x16=43.9fps
    4870CF@25x16=30.4fps


    plus loads of other bizarre results
    Reply
  • paradoxnighthawk - Friday, July 18, 2008 - link

    I've been an ATi fan since I built my first PC with a 9600 256MB card. I have to say AMD has now proven it can handle the legacy of ATi. I haven't bought a new graphics card for myself since the X1900XT (been waiting for something like this to happen), and in just a short time I will be getting the 4870X2.

    A $500 to be card seems to dominate and combination of alternatives (even more expensive ones) in most applications. If nothing else, this will drive down the price-gauging of nVidia's new GTXs, and make the life of enthusiasts and gamers alike, much more interesting. Regardless, go AMD, bring the competition.

    Afterthought: If only AMD put this much brilliance into their Phenom X3 processors. I think the X3 idea has a lot of potential, just needs some more TLC.
    Reply
  • ilkhan - Thursday, July 17, 2008 - link

    You know what Id really like to see in these reviews?
    Instead of nVidia GeForce / AMD Radeon being repeated in each chart, use the street MSRP for that GPU.

    Then I could get everything I need on one graphic, crysis performance vs the price.

    We KNOW they are going to destroy everything else, so please stop bothering.
    Reply
  • jameswalker - Wednesday, July 16, 2008 - link

    I have 3 ati 4870x2 on an asus workstation motherboard with 4 intel qx9850, i'm going for the 3d mark world record, using linux. Because it is the only operating system that well utilize all 4 cpu's and my 3 video cards. It is water cooled by liquid nitrogen. Reply
  • vailr - Wednesday, July 16, 2008 - link

    Will this 4870 x2 card be commercially available in time for Leo Laporte's "Ultimate Game Machine"?
    Anand had phoned in, to talk on the UGM show:
    http://twitlive.tv/">http://twitlive.tv/
    on July 4 and had offered design tips for the UGM that's being assembled for a late August giveaway. The motherboard/video card selected (then: July 4) was an nVidia 780 motherboard coupled with SLI'ed: two water cooled 9800 GX2 cards:
    http://www.bfgtech.com/bfge98512gtxh2ocwe.aspx">http://www.bfgtech.com/bfge98512gtxh2ocwe.aspx
    Will a water cooled 4870 x2 card be available by mid-August?
    Reply
  • pattycake0147 - Monday, July 14, 2008 - link

    Excellent preview you guys always do a great job on your articles. Is there any news as to when the 790GX chipset is going to be released? Reply
  • dragonbif - Monday, July 14, 2008 - link

    I found a posting of the 1GB version of 4870
    http://www.powercolor.com/Global/products_features...">http://www.powercolor.com/Global/products_features...

    Also I do beleve that the card AnandTech tested is a 2GB 4870x2.
    Reply
  • thewanderer666 - Monday, July 14, 2008 - link

    Anand, I really enjoy your site, but please, get rid of Derek Wilson, not only does he fail miserably at showing that he really knows how to bench video cards (like when he tried to prove how his methodology is better than HardOCP) but he makes huge mistakes in judgement.

    First off, how come he doesn't answer the simple question of how is it possible that you guys, the most respected HW site got an X2 with only 1GB in RAM...many posts talk about this yet he has not even tried to reply. Second, his take on the performance results is simply flawed. If he had read the specs of the X2 as the rest of the sites and noted that the card had 2GB of RAM, the GRID results could have been easily explained by the additional frame buffer memory (1gb vs. 512mb) instead of coming with outlandish remarks about how there are internal aspects of the card that push the performance considerably above a regular crossfire setup.

    As I tell you I really like your site and I respect all of those who write here, but seriously for such a professional site such as yours it's really sad that you have a person like Mr. Wilson in your staff. I hope this is taken as constructive critisism and not as bashing...I'm a long time reader of your site and I have no intention of having anythg different in my mind than helping this site become even better.
    Reply
  • thewanderer666 - Monday, July 14, 2008 - link

    I did see the corrections were made regarding the huge mistakes in the original preview, so kudos for fixing them. Still I stand by my statements about the person in question...this kind of annoying mistakes are becoming more and more common on this site (on the graphics department). Knowing the Anand's professionalism these kind of noob mistakes (how about contacting AMD/ATI and asking them why the results might be so different) should not be allowed. Reply

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