HD3870 compared & Technology overview
The HD3870 series are bases on the ATI RV670 core, a graphics processor counting 666 million transistor and build on the 55nm production process. The card is nearly an exact copy of the HD2900XT we reviewed
earlier, although here and there some changes have been made. Here is table which provides an excellent comparison of past and present ATI technology:
Due to the smaller production process the GPU die has shrank quite a lot, together with a lesser amount of transistors this brand new GPU should score quite a bit better in thermal energy output then the elder R600 core. The HD3870 and HD2900XT both come with an unified programmable shader architecture existing out of the same amount of stream processors, but with the GPU clocked 25MHz higher the HD3870 should score a bit better in 3D games and benchmarks. The downside is that the memory bus width has been cut in half, but due to the use of GDDR4 and its much higher clock rate the HD3870 won't have too much problems feeding the GPU with high resolution textures. Besides that, on PCI-Express 2.0 compatible mainboards the HD3870 will get a small extra performance boost due the doubled bandwidth between the host and the video card.
|Memory modules: The HD3870 videocards we've tested come with Hynix HY5FS123235A Double Date RAM of the fourth generation. This RAM is rated for 2400MHz (1200MHz DDR) at only 1,8V. The flipflops are bound inside a FBGA Flip Chip package which is ROHS Compliant (lead free). On our cards we found up to 8 chips of each 64MB, good for a total memory space which is 512MB large.|
While Club3D went for ATI's reference design, HIS brought us their superclocked version of the HD3870: the IceQ3 Turbo edition. This video card comes with a 10% higher GPU core clock while the memory bandwidth has also been increases by another 6%, the HIS video card will definitely come in handy in recent power demanding 3D games. The features list is rich, here is how the HD3870 video cards compare against the elder HD2900XT and the NVIDIA 8800GT and 9600GT:
Most recent mid-range video cards come with multi-gpu support and advanced hardware video acceleration support. With the HD3870 you get benefits like programmable AA levels and DirectX 10.1 compatibility but in practice you can hardly say this is worth your cash, there are not even a single DirectX 10.1 games announced and running AA at such super resolutions is far from possible in up-to-date game engines. The smaller GPU production process combined with ATI's PowerPlay should help decreasing the total heat output; always handy but with technology's like HybridSLI in front of us there is probable still much left to improve. Every card we tested is HDMI compatible, but for GeForce cards this feature is still optional, you should pay close attention to which board partner has it added and who has not. Besides that, with GeForce cards you're still looking for an additional SP/DIF cable while with the ATI video cards the sound card is complete on board. The downside for ATI's product is that even with HDMI fully supported the DVI-I to HDMI adapter is still optional, so you should still pay good attention to what card you'll be getting.
All-in-all you can say that the current mid-range cards are close to each other on the side of features, let's proceed to our today's tested samples and let's see what extra's can be found with each of those ->