|Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 Toxic Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Monday, 29 September 2008|
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3DMark06 Benchmark Results
3DMark is a computer benchmark by Futuremark (formerly named Mad Onion) to determine the DirectX 9 performance of 3D game performance with graphics cards. 3DMark06 uses advanced real-time 3D game workloads to measure PC performance using a suite of DirectX 9 3D graphics tests, CPU tests, and 3D feature tests.
3DMark06 tests include all new HDR/SM3.0 graphics tests, SM2.0 graphics tests, AI and physics driven single and multiple cores or processor CPU tests and a collection of comprehensive feature tests to reliably measure next generation gaming performance today. Some enthusiasts may note that Benchmark Reviews does not include CPU-bound tests in our benchmark battery, and that only graphic-bound tests are included.
Here at Benchmark Reviews, we believe that synthetic benchmark tools are just as valuable as video games, but only so long as you're comparing apples to apples. Since the same test is applied in the same controlled method with each test run, I believe 3DMark is a very reliable tool for comparing graphic cards against one-another.
More visitors to Benchmark Reviews operate at 1280x1024 resolution than any other, as it represents the native resolution of 19" LCD monitors. Using this resolution as a starting point, the maximum settings were applied to 3dMark06 which for these tests include 8x Anti-Aliasing and 16x Anisotropic Filtering. Low-resolution testing allows the graphics processor to plateau maximum output performance, which thereby shifts demand onto the system components to keep up. At the lower resolutions 3DMark 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 measuring the maximum output performance in the test results.
Right away our test results indicate that 3dMark06 benchmarks really like the CrossFireX pair of Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 video cards. But because of the added overhead of combined graphics processors and video frame buffer memory, the light load created by the shader model 2.0 tests have a relatively negative impact on the CrossFireX score. Another way of describing this phenomenon is comparing the combined Radeon HD 4850 video cards to a race car that has only high gears available in the transmission: it will have a faster top-end speed, but it will take longer to get there. The ZOTAC GeForce GTX 280 AMP! Edition video card is appears to also be another high-gear example, as gets nudged-out by the GeForce 9800 GX2 for SM 2.0 tests but outperforms the GX2 in the more complex HDR/SMR 2.0 tests.
In the SM 2.0 tests the Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 Toxic keeps well ahead of the Radeon HD 4850 and marginally ahead of the GeForce 9800 GTX+ at this resolution. However, moving into the more advanced HDR tests the Radeon HD 4870 produces a much more decisive lead over the 9800 GTX+ and maintains a proportionate lead over the Radeon HD 4850. The interesting news is that the Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 is beginning to approach the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 280 AMP! Edition's performance level.
At the widescreen resolution of 1680x1050, the scores are practically identical in terms of ratio to all of our previous tests. Once again, the shader model 2.0 tests put the 9800 GTX+ barely ahead of the HD 4850, at least until they reach the shader model 3.0 tests where everything is deeply reversed. Twin Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 video cards in a CrossFireX set are still running circles around the competition in every 3dMark06 benchmark test we conduct, and makes the argument for inexpensive multi-card performance setup. The Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 actually creeps past the factory overclocked ZOTAC GeForce GTX 280 AMP! Edition in the HDR/Shader Model 3.0 tests.
Finishing up the series of synthetic benchmark tests under heavy load, the GeForce 9800 GTX+ video card once again matches the Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 in the SM 2 tests, yet the Radeon HD 4850 dominates over the 9800 GTX+ by 29% in the more demanding shader model 3.0 tests. More impressive is the fact that Sapphires Radeon HD 4870 can approach the level of performance demonstrated by the AMP!'ed GTX 280 in SM 2.0 tests. However, taking cost into consideration, the CrossFireX set of Sapphire 4850's outperforms the more expensive GTX 280 by over 40% in 3dMark06; while the Toxic Edition 4870 nearly matches it.
Take the 3DMark06 tests at face value, because in our next section we begin real-world testing on a cadre of popular video games known for taxing the graphics processor, and the performance curve is expected change. Our first up is Call of Duty 4, so please continue on...