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Written by Olin Coles   
Saturday, 20 September 2008
Table of Contents: Page Index
Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic Dual Edition
Radeon HD 4870 Features
Sonic 4870 Specifications
Closer Look: Palit 4870 Sonic
Video Card Testing Methodology
3DMark06 Benchmarks
COD 4 Fraps Benchmarks
Crysis Benchmark Results
Unreal Tournament 3
World in Conflict Benchmarks
4870 Sonic Power Consumption
Radeon 4800-Series Final Thoughts
Palit Radeon 4870 Conclusion

Crysis Benchmark Results

Crysis uses a new graphics engine: the CryENGINE2, which is the successor to Far Cry's CryENGINE. CryENGINE2 is among the first engines to use the Direct3D 10 (DirectX10) framework of Windows Vista, but can also run using DirectX9, both on Vista and Windows XP.

Roy Taylor, Vice President of Content Relations at NVIDIA, has spoken on the subject of the engine's complexity, stating that Crysis has over a million lines of code, 1GB of texture data, and 85,000 shaders. To get the most out of modern multicore processor architectures, CPU intensive subsystems of CryENGINE 2 such as physics, networking and sound, have been re-written to support multi-threading.

Crysis offers an in-game benchmark tool, which is similar to World in Conflict. This short test does place some high amounts of stress on a graphics card, since there are so many landscape features rendered. For benchmarking purposes, Crysis can mean trouble as it places a high demand on both GPU and CPU resources. Benchmark Reviews uses the Crysis Benchmark Tool by Mad Boris to test frame rates in batches, which allows the results of many tests to be averaged.

The very first thing we discovered in the low-resolution tests was how seemingly poor the CrossFireX set of Sapphire Radeon HD 4850's performed. At 1280x1024 the ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ was matched in average frame rate by the Radeon HD 4850, and the Palit 4870 Sonic Dual Edition matched the overclocked GTX 260 and edged out the CrossFireX set of 4850's. To be fair, none of these video cards will probably ever realistically see this low of a resolution, so the performance only illustrates how high-end GPU power can be cut short if the monitor (resolution) doesn't match it.

Low-resolution testing allows the graphics processor to plateau its maximum output performance, which thereby shifts demand onto the other system components. At the lower resolutions Crysis will reflect the GPU's top-end speed in the composite score, indicating full-throttle performance with little load. This makes for a less GPU-dependant test environment, and is helpful in creating a baseline for measuring maximum output performance in the next few test results. At the 1280x1024 resolution used by some newer 17" and most 19" monitors, all of the video cards tested performed at very respectable levels.

Crysis_HQ_Benchmark_No-AA.jpg

The results of our 1280x1024 tests were very much identical in performance ratio to the results of our 1680x1050 tests. In both tests, the Radeon HD 4850 performed on the same level as the 9800 GTX+, and the Palit 4870 Sonic performed the same as the overclocked XFX GeForce GTX 260 and CrossFireX 4580's. The ZOTAC GeForce GTX 280 AMP! Edition distanced itself well ahead of the others, but this would soon change as the demands increased under 1920x1200 conditions.

Reading the results of our 1920x1200-resolution benchmarks using the SOYO DYLM26E6 monitor for testing, Crysis forces 2.3 million pixels to be processed by our graphical test products. At our highest widescreen resolution, the GeForce 9800 GTX+ performs nearly the same as Sapphire's Radeon HD 4850, but the Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic Dual Edition comes in 33% higher than both of them. Despite what 3dMark06 previously reported, the CrossFireX set of Radeon HD 4850's is not king in Crysis; the GeForce GTX 280 series is. If only by a small difference, the Sonic 4870 enjoys a 1 FPS lead over the GeForce GTX 260 and came 3 FPS behind the CrossFireX set.

Before we leave Crysis, I decided to include a look at post-processing performance with 4x AA enabled at the 1680x1050 and 1920x1200 resolutions. The chart below shows the average frame rate performance with 4x Anti-Aliasing enabled.

Crysis_HQ_Benchmark_4x-AA.jpg

With 4x AA enabled at 1680x1050, the Radeon HD 4850 produces a 2 FPS lead over the GeForce 9800 GTX+. The Palit Radeon HD 4870 video card does well against the CrossFireX set of 4850's, and reports a 2 FPS lead over the overclocked XFX GeForce 260. As if it was really unexpected, ZOTAC's GTX 280 AMP! Edition comes out (way) on top. But once the Honeywell 22-Inch LCD was swapped out, I began testing at 1920x1200 and the differences were made very clear.

At 1920x1200 the proof is self-evident, as the Radeon 4850 easily dominates the 9800 GTX+ by 7 FPS, and comes within 6 FPS of reaching the GeForce GTX 260. The Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic produces 26.4 FPS, and narrowly beats the GTX 260, but the CrossFireX set of 4850's leads it by 5 FPS. The heavily overclocked GTX 280 dominates the collection of video cards with a 38.4 frame rate.

With only a small dose of anti-aliasing added to Crysis, there are very few products that would make for playable frame rates. Our Island timedemo mixes a some beach and water views so it's going to be on the high side of frame rates when compared to actual game play, but as you can see the Radeon products do extremely well when post-processing effects are added.

Product Series Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 102-B50102-00-AT ZOTAC GeForce 9800 GTX+ ZT-98PES2P-WSP Palit Radeon HD 4870 Sonic Dual Edition 4870S+0452-PM9248

XFX GeForce GeForce GTX 260 GX-260N-ADDU

ZOTAC GeForce GTX 280 AMP! Edition ZT-X28E3LA-FCP
Stream Processors 800 128 800 192 240
Core Clock (MHz) 625 740 775 164 700
Shader Clock (MHz) N/A 1836 N/A 1242 1400
Memory Clock (MHz) 993 1100 1000 1150 1150
Memory Amount 512 MB GDDR3 512 MB GDDR3

512 MB GDDR5

896 MB GDDR3 1024 MB GDDR3
Memory Interface 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 448-bit 512-bit

In our next section, Benchmark Reviews tests the less demanding Unreal Tournament 3 with our collection of video card. Read on to see how a blended medium-demand GPU test with low video frame buffer demand will impact our test products.



 

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