Feeds
85%

AMD ATI Radeon HD 3870 graphics chip

Watch out, GeForce 8800 GT

High performance access to file storage

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.

High performance access to file storage

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
Video games make you NASTY AND VIOLENT
Especially if you are bad at them and keep losing
Report: Apple seeking to raise iPhone 6 price by a HUNDRED BUCKS
'Well, that 5c experiment didn't go so well – let's try the other direction'
Nvidia gamers hit trifecta with driver, optimizer, and mobile upgrades
Li'l Shield moves up to Android 4.4.2 KitKat, GameStream comes to notebooks
Gimme a high S5: Samsung Galaxy S5 puts substance over style
Biometrics and kid-friendly mode in back-to-basics blockbuster
Dell Wyse Cloud Connect: Pocket Android desktop
Ultrathin client with a lot of baggage. The upside? It's a rogue sysadmin's delight
AMD unveils Godzilla's graphics card – 'the world's fastest, period'
The Radeon R9 295X2: Water-cooled, 5,632 stream processors, 11.5TFLOPS
Sony battery recall as VAIO goes out with a bang, not a whimper
The perils of having Panasonic as a partner
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
NORKS' own smartmobe pegged as Chinese landfill Android
Fake kit in the hermit kingdom? That's just Kim Jong-un-believable!
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.