|Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 X2 Atomic ST-6026|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Thursday, 18 December 2008|
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3DMark06 Test 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.
Shader Model 2.0
Our first series of synthetic tests are performed at 1680x1050, and demands only 1.764 megapixels from the graphics card. Beginning with Shader Model 2.0 tests, Return to Proxycon and Firefly Forest are two fast-paced fast-moving scenes that put strain on the GPU's efficiency by calling for large amounts of low-demand graphics in need of high-speed output. Shader Model 2.0 tests have historically performed at slower frame rates when compared to Shader Model 3.0; at least this is the case on newer, more complex, video cards with larger overhead.
Shader Model 3.0 / HDR
The Shader Model 3.0 and HDR (High Dynamic Range) test series in 3dMark06 includes the Canyon Flight and Deep Freeze. Both of these test scenes demand intense graphical computations from the GPU, and when paired with newer (AMD Phenom or Intel Nehalem) processors can actually produce better frame rates than Shader Model 2.0 scenes with the same hardware (and overhead). At 1920x1200 the graphics card is called-on to produce 2.3 megapixels, which is enough to separate the weak from the strong.
While these results speak for themselves, I will add a bit of commentary. The Radeon HD 4870 is really outclassed by the dual-GPU products in this series, although it does nearly match performance to the GeForce 9800 GX2 and GTX 280 in the Shader Model 3.0/HDR tests. SM2 Tests resulted in the 9800 GX2, 4850 X2, and GTX 280 all being about the same; but the Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 turned up the heat in SM3/HDR testing. The real show-stopper was Sapphire 4870 X2 Atomic, which scored 6299 points in 3dMark06 SM2, compared to the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 280 AMP! Edition which scored only 5023. After SM3/HDR testing was complete, the Sapphire 4870 X2 Atomic scored 6911 points while the overclocked GTX 280 struggled to reach 3662.
Take the 3DMark06 tests at face value (as you should any synthetic benchmark), 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...