vs 4870X2 benches added here
When it comes to price/performance, it's tough to beat the 4800-series. They spit out tremendous image quality at good, consistent framerates and show a way of handling AA unlike anything the enthusiast crowd have ever seen. In fact, the truth is that there are several great graphics cards on the market right now at very reasonable prices--something that has been long overdue. Nvidia released its great flagship, the 8800GTX, at a time when there was no competition in the market. The architecture reigned supreme for nearly two years and will probably go down as one of the greatest achievements in the industry, despite getting off to a rough start in hardware and software reliability. The downside was that Nvidia could price it at a premium as long as they wanted to because ATI decided to take a sabatical. Until now.
Introducing the 48** Series:
Now, nearly two years later, ATI has stepped back up to the plate and offered 3 very fine options to counter Nvidia's new lineup: HD4850, HD4870 & HD4870X2. And not just that, they have countered a major market advantage for dual-card setups that, up until now, has remained Nvidia's stronghold. SLI is no longer the sole topic of discussion when it comes to multi-GPU performance. Crossfire is slowly, but surely, creeping its way in to garner some attention.
And the attention is much deserved. As you'll see in the benches below, there are several titles in which Crossfire scales 90-100% over a single card setup. And not just at high resolutions and ridiculous amounts of AA (although this usually increases the gap.)
The goal of these benchmarks was to show:
1) Scaling of the HD4870 with today's most demanding games
2) Scaling of the HD4870 in Crossfire in those same games
In each test, careful detail was given to benchmark the exact same location/timeframe. In the course of this week, I'll be adding additional tests to add to this review. In the interim, I'd like to start out showing some extensive testing that was done in a couple of today's most demanding games.
Xeon E3110 Wolfdale 4.2 GHz
HD 4870, HD4870 Crossfire 2.0
Asus Maximus Formula II P45
4GB G.Skill DDR2-1000
Silverstone Zeus 850W PSU
Vista Ultimate 64
Catalyst 8.6, 8.6 hotfix, Catalyst 8.7
FRAPS Benchmark Utility
Catalyst Profile fan adjustment (40% both GPUs) Idle / GPU1=46c; GPU2=40c
Dual-prime95 stable - small FFTs @ 4.2GHz
Oblivion is several years in age by now, but that doesn't stop it from remaining one of the most popular benchmarking utilities. When you're testing the strength of a graphics card, there are few utilities or games that can stress it in so many different ways. The ridiculous amount of foliage offers a great testing ground for transparency AA in conjunction with MSAA at high levels which are applied to the trees and many architectural landscapes that lie along your path. In this particular test below, testing was done in one of the most demanding parts of this game found to date: Chorrol Forest.
Along your path to Chorrol there is a forest to the left that you will arrive it. Through that forest you will reach Wendir. This area is abounding in different types of foliage ranging from regular grass, to the pink performance-hitting grass, to bushes and trees every which way you turn. To this day, with the proper applied settings, this location can still bring a modern day high-performance graphics card to its knees.
So, let's see how the HD4870 performed.
Crossfire Scaling = 87%
We can clearly see the high amounts of AA taking its toll.. even on one of today's top high-end cards. We also see some pretty good scaling in Crossfire--up to 87%. By lowering the settings a little, we can bump performance a little on a single 4870.
Crossfire Scaling = 73%
Now that's looking a little better. It's amazing to see that a game that has been on the market so long can still stress modern day high-end cards like it can. Crossfire continues to scale well at 73%.
(Benched without the framerate cap on 7/22. Cap can be removed via the ini file in "BaseEngine" folder.)
It's finally here. Actually, it's been here since late May, but many of us were waiting to try this beast out on some new hardware to see how it performed. Although the skeleton remains pretty much what was seen on the 360, visuals are slightly improved through increased AA and AF methods and performance has noticeably picked up. A high-end setup can now run this game like it was meant to be ran instead of chugging along at 25-30fps like it often did on the 360.
Although it's been said the new Radeon lineup had trouble running AA on this game, I saw no problems on my end. Forcing 4xAA in the driver appeared to work just fine and still offered solid performance. This is one of those games, however, that clearly needs optimization in the driver. Although Mass Effect is visually impressive, it should be running better than it currently does on the 4870. This is one of those times that having a dual-card setup can benefit by still keeping an unoptimized driver pushing a game along at over 60fps.
And who needs 60? How's 132 sound to ya?
Crossfire Scaling = 90.3%
I think Mass Effect met its daddy.
Call of Juarez - DX10
One wonders why CoJ hardly ever shows up in the benchmark tests across various review sites. In DX10 mode, it's one of the most visually impressive games to date and, besides that, it's just damn cool. Think about it. In what other game can you cruise through the Wild West firing six-shooters, raiding bars and flirting with hookers? Seriously, though. It's one of those games that offers a lot of eye candy and, due to lots of Oblivion-like foliage and high-res texturing, can really tax the hardware. Especially the shadow map setting which was unplayable on previous gen hardware. Well, not anymore.
This is another title in which it seems ATI could optimize the driver a little better for, however. Although it runs just fine on a single 4870, I remember running this game on my overclocked Ultra at around 45fps. Granted I did have the shadow maps turned down to 1024 whereas they were maxed to 2048, along with every other in-game setting, in this test. I still expected to see it perform a little better in this game. What I saw, however, was incredible Crossfire scaling.
Again, keep in mind that shadow maps were enabled and set to 2048.
Like Mass Effect, this is another game where multi-GPU users clearly benefit by having enough graphics power to hit that 60fps realm. And, when running vsync there is a noticeable difference. The single 4870 didn't seem slow, but there was a little more lag there than there was on the Crossfire setup. Crossfire scaled at an amazing 102%
in this test.
F.E.A.R. is the one game that always seems to run best on Nvidia cards. That may still be the case, but the 4870 still puts out some good performance. At 4xAA the game simply flies on a single 4870 and, on a Crossfire setup, well, it runs so fast that you could swear it was Doc Brown in his plutoneum-fueled DeLorean with an ATI logo on the side.
632 fps.. are you #$*#& me? I bet few of us who played F.E.A.R. when it first released and saw how good it looked ever believed we would see it run this fast this soon. Notice the insane scaling of Crossfire. The minimum framerate more than doubles, and so does the max.
Crossfire Scaling = 74.9%
There seems to be a quirk in the driver, however, when 8xAA is enabled. Minimums drop considerably on both configurations. Seems ATI has some optimizing to do here.
The Witcher is one of the best looking RPGs around. Big, wide open landscapes with lots of impressive colors. Although sporting a nice game engine, this one has seemed to stress graphics cards a little more than you'd expect. It remains to be seen whether this is some sort of code optimization issue or if it's simply an inefficient game engine. A single 4870 handles it pretty well, though. There is no Crossfire scaling at this time, unfortunately. ATI has released a public statement saying that they are working on it.
Who needs a PS3 and Gran Turismo when you have this gem? Grid is simply a fantastic looking game that runs smooth as silk on current hardware and, better yet, is just downright fun to play. From its open-wheel racing to sport-touring to destruction derby modes, there is plenty of variety for whatever your racing tastes. GRID features the same graphics engine used in DIRT, a previous rally-racing title from Codemasters, but the landscapes are a little more complex. Downtown city environments are a little spruced up, and racing up mountainsides in the sport-touring modes reveals realistic mountainsides filled with hundreds of detailed trees. It simply has the best looking forested landscapes I've seen next to Crysis. Add to that the impressive physics, and you have a clear-cut winner on your hands. Cars take real-time damage right in front of you. For example, during one session of the benching below, I slammed into an opposing car and not only did the body of the car smash in and lose paint, but his left window shattered right before me so that it revealed the driver. Too cool.
GRID simply flies on the 4870--both on a single card and in Crossfire. To see true Crossfire scaling you need to crank the AA up pretty high. It was only when enabling 24xAA plus multisampling transparency that you can really begin seeing a wide gap in framerate between a single 4870 and 4870 Crossfire.
As you can see, scaling is mediocre until enabling 24xAA with MSTAA, but once you get there--wow! 109% increase at the average, and a 252% increase at the minimum! What's also impressive is that from 8xAA to 24xAA you only see a 6fps drop in the minimum framerate when in Crossfire. Now that rocks.
24xAA - 109%; 12xAA - 54%; 8xAA - 20.6%
An instant classic. Nothing much else needs to be said about this one as it's one of the most popular titles on the PC. It was released almost a year ago and to this day is still one of the best looking titles out on the PC.
Today's modern cards chew through this game pretty easily. The 4870 handles it very well in DX10 mode but takes a slight hit when running in DX9 and enabling AA. Here's a comparison of the scaling between single/multi GPU and DX9/DX10.
Unlike the 3800-series, the 4800-series seems to excel in DX10 and not DX9. What's impressive, again, is the scaling that's seen when in Crossfire.
DX9 - 96.4%; DX10 - 89%
To view CrossfireX vs. 4870X2 benches, go here: