Radeon HD 4870 X2 and Crossfire review -
21 - Conclusion
A couple of weeks ago when we presented you a preview of the Radeon HD 4870 X2 with a select number of benchmarks you already had a good opportunity to see what the this card could mean in the graphics arena. It's fierce, it's bad'ass .. it's one mean rendering piece of equipment to have in your PC. Absolutely stunning framerates, very good stability and great Crossfire scaling. I have to admit here that the X2 just is a surprisingly fine product. NVIDIA on their side can not compete one-on-one with performance, not even with the GeForce GTX 280, which quite honestly is such a fine piece of gear. The one thing that NVIDIA does give a good edge is obviously it's new PhysX implementation. It's time for ATI to get of their butts and do something about that as well, that's the stuff we consumers like to see implemented.
But heck, AMD trumped NVIDIA with the RV770 GPU and the usage of GDDR5 memory. But I will keep saying this, I like single GPU solutions better than dual-GPU solutions. Typically there are less complications, there is less power consumption, less heat .. all kinds of stuff I can think about. Multi-GPU gaming is not the next logical step in the almighty GPU evolution. See, typically you run into when I do something Crossfire/SLI related is ask myself the question: should you really be comparing a single GPU based product against a dual GPU based product and is that a fair thing to do ? And the answer is a flat no.
Here's where I land at my CrossFireX tale. See, my experiences with CrossFireX where a bit of a mixed bag really. At this very point I can not really recommend it as the price will not justify the benefits. Granted, where the four GPUs kick in, they kick in hard. But the fact was that a good number of games did not take advantage of the quad multi-GPU setup whatsoever. Frontlines: Fuel of War crashed, GRAW2 showed no scaling, Crysis as always with Crossfire was an issue and GRID funnily enough was CPU limited. Make no mistake though, on the other hand an average 137 FPS @ 2560x1600 in Call of Duty 4 with everything maxed out, that surely didn't suck :)
FEAR performance went through the roof , and my favorite Game Mass effect was showing 120 FPS on average at 2560x1600. That's the kind of stuff that will make a certain body part a little stiff. But the reality it's still a 50-50 split (what works straight out of the bag with four GPUs and what not). I'd really like to see ATI implement game-profiles so that we can make and assign multi-GPU render methods ourselves.
4-way GPU Crossfire aside, make no mistake, a single X2 based card with 2 GPUs ran absolutely fine. Yet even so, I feel that I have more confidence in a single-GPU based graphics card mainly due to the fact you'll have much less to worry about. With multi-GPU gaming (it doesn't matter whether that is NVIDIA or ATI) you'll always run into slight irritations; sometimes a game is not yet supported or working at all in Crossfire/SLI. Also there's other stuff to consider, power consumption is doubled up but also .. your graphics solution will all of the sudden will create 2x more heat.
So that is where my conclusion will head to. Here at Guru3D we favor single-GPU based products, but clearly we can not ignore what incredible power the X2 has harbored under that hood of hers. The R700, is an extremely powerful graphics solution that will offer much better overall performance than anythin currently available on the market.
What a fine product the X2 is man. Let's talk dough then. Deplorably the Radeon HD 4870 X2 will be introduced at a higher price than I expected, AMD will introduce it onto the market at 549 USD where I wish it would have been 499 USD. But here's the thing, the one card we have not yet tested is the Radeon HD 4850 X2. That card will cost you roughly 399 USD and we are pretty darn certain it'll beat the GeForce GTX 280 just as well. The tremendous amount of computing power with a total of 1600 Shader cores is guaranteed to shake, stir and make some noise in the graphics arena. Keep your eyes close at Guru3D.com as once these boards hit the market we'll try and do our next to review it as soon as possible.
Allow me to revert back to the PowerColor Radeon 4870 X2 offering for a minute. Props to them for getting their retail sample over here with the speed of light. A real fine product, okay bundle (though it might still change - this was very last minute) and of course a high-quality built R700 card. The card is 100% reference based, so do not expect higher clock frequencies or weird configurations. It's a baseline performing high-end product, equal to the reference design to the frame per second precise.
The Radeon HD 4870 X2 undeniably is the fastest performing product on the market right now. But next to the sheer gaming power do not forget the additional features like DirectX 10.1, the UVD 2.0 engine to decode the hottest Blu-ray 1080P movies, full HDMI compatibility with support for 7.1 channel sound. Surely 549,- USD / 400 EUR is a lot of money to play games folks, and I would like to relay this question back to the graphics chipset makers -- why do you think people slowly move towards consoles ? It's all about the money.
Money aside, what a true pleasure it has been testing the 4870 X2 cards. Personally I play my games at 2560x1600, I'm one of those lucky bastards to own a 30" Dell screen, and playing games like Call of duty 4 or Mass Effect with framerates over 80 FPS in that resolution with the highest Image Quality settings available .. that's just amazingly impressive .. well even that might be a slight understatement. Astounding is likely the right word for this product.
So yes, let me conclude by sticking to just one word .. astounding. You'll just love the 4870 X2.
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Special thanks go out to AMD and TUL (Michael, Jon, Antal and Tia) for their great support.
Cheers guys !
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