The Radeon HD 3870 sits at the top end of ATi’s mid-range offerings and it’s proved hugely popular since its launch. Like the HD 3850, it’s a 55nm part with 666 million transistors and 320 stream processors. It supports DirectX 10.1, Shader Model 4.1 and the PCI Express 2.0 interface, and is CrossFire-compatible.
It’s worth noting that the HD 3870 X2 is essentially two of these GPUs crammed onto a single, very large, board, which reflects the cost of two individual HD 3870s.
The HD 3870 improves over the HD 3850 with a core clock of 775MHz – compared with 670MHz – and 512MB of cutting-edge GDDR4 memory, running at an effective 2.25GHz compared with 1.66GHz GDDR3. Other than that, they’re the same card, with a 256-bit memory bus and similar dimensions. Both require a power supply with plenty of grunt: 450W is recommended, or 550W to run two of them together.
The good news is that while this card is about $70 dearer than the 512MB HD 3850, it offers a significant step up in performance. In Crysis, it was faster at 1280 x 1024 and Medium settings by 14%, and the gap increased to 26% when we upped the resolution to 1600 x 1200 and High settings. It topped its lesser sibling by similar margins in Call of Duty 4, too: 41fps, compared with 34fps, in our High settings test.
But its closest rival is really Nvidia’s 9600 GT. That card was close behind in our Crysis Medium test, with 50fps, also managing an impressive 21fps in our High test, and moving in front with faster results in all of our Call of Duty 4 tests. The 9600 GT costs $70 less than the HD 3870, meaning ATi will once again have to fight back with price cuts.
If you can’t afford another $75 for the 8800 GTS 512MB, your choice is between this and the 9600 GT. Given its much lower price, the GT wins through.
This Review appeared in the June, 2008 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine
Source: Copyright © PC Pro, Dennis Publishing