Feeds
85%

AMD ATI Radeon HD 3870 graphics chip

Watch out, GeForce 8800 GT

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

We tested a Sapphire HD 3870 on an MSI X38 Diamond motherboard with an Intel 45nm Core 2 Extreme QX9650 'Penryn' processor and 2GB of OCZ DDR3-1333 memory running on Windows XP SP2.

The contest was a little unfair as we were using a PowerColor HD 2900 XT with 1GB of GDDR 4 memory instead of the more usual 512MB, but broadly speaking the 3870 and the 2900 XT had similar performance. The difference in noise levels and heat output was quite astonishing, however, as the 2900 was horrible and offensive while the 3870 was cool, calm and collected.

Crysis Results
AMD ATI Radeon HD 3870 - Crysis
Results in average frames per second
Longer bars are better

As we had a pair of the PowerColors we ran them in CrossFire to get an idea how we expect the 3870 to scale. Although we patched the drivers with a hotfix for Crysis, we found that CrossFire performance in the new game was lower than a single graphics card so it's clear that the drivers need some work. In 3DMark06 and FEAR: Extraction Point the performance of the two cards in CrossFire was epic.

3DMark06 Results
AMD ATI Radeon HD 3870 - 3DMark06
Longer bars are better

FEAR: Extraction Point Results
AMD ATI Radeon HD 3870 - FEAR
Results in average frames per second
Longer bars are better

For comparison, we used an MSI GeForce 8800GT which consistently beat the 3870. The figures are a little confused as we used different screen resolutions for Crysis. However, the 8800GT was running at a higher resolution than the Sapphire 3870 and it still returned higher frame rates. You pay £30 more for the MSI 8800GT than you do for the Sapphire HD 3870, and Sapphire chucks in a moderate bundle of software to make the deal even more appealing. There’s Cyberlink DVD Suite for producing DVDs, CyberLink PowerDVD 7 for watching them, and a voucher for Valve’s Black Box which consists of Half-life 2 Episode 2, Portal and Team Fortress 2.

Verdict

The ATI Radeon HD 3870 is a decent package at a very fair price but the fact remains that AMD’s latest and greatest graphics card can't quite take the fight to Nvidia’s GeForce 8800 GT. Perhaps it’s a good thing that AMD has produced a graphics chip that is relevant to the guy in the street without any pretension of being the fastest chip in the world. Either way, we're very glad to draw a veil over the hot and noisy Radeon HD 2900 XT.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

85%

AMD ATI Radeon HD 3870 graphics chip

AMD takes aim at the superb GeForce 8800 GT with its new Radeon HD 3870 and hits the mark, kind of...
Price: £159 RRP

More from The Register

next story
Xperia Z3: Crikey, Sony – ANOTHER flagship phondleslab?
The Fourth Amendment... and it IS better
Don't wait for that big iPad, order a NEXUS 9 instead, industry little bird says
Google said to debut next big slab, Android L ahead of Apple event
Microsoft to enter the STRUGGLE of the HUMAN WRIST
It's not just a thumb war, it's total digit war
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers
Hardware: Check. Software: Huh? Licence: Licence...?
The Apple launch AS IT HAPPENED: Totally SERIOUS coverage, not for haters
Fandroids, Windows Phone fringe-oids – you wouldn't understand
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.