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Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards
Written by Ronald Tibbetts   
Tuesday, 11 March 2008
Table of Contents: Page Index
Diamond Viper ATI Radeon HD 3870 512MB Video Card
HD 3870 Package and Contents
HD 3870 Technology
Features and Specifications
Diamond HD 3870: Closer Look
HD 3870: Detailed Features
Video Card Testing Methodology
Real World Benchmarks
Synthetic Benchmarks
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Test Results: Games

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 (DirectX 10) 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 the CryENGINE 2 such as physics, networking and sound, have been re-written to support multi-threading.

Crysis Demo 
CPU Test.jpg

As one of the most demanding titles currently available, Crysis is a great example of what modern video cards can do. The Diamond HD 3870 definatly holds up in lower resolution gaming, though once we passed 1280x1024 that drastically changed with average FPS dropping by almost 26%. Though classically anything under 30 FPS has been considered un-playable, Crysis maintains a smoothness never befor seen at such low FPS; a credit to the game developers. FPS aside, the game-play was beautiful at higher resolutions with vibrant and stunning details.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is the latest action-thriller from Infinity Ward, the creators of the Call of Duty series. Armed with an arsenal of advanced and powerful modern day firepower, players are transported to treacherous hotspots around the globe to take on a rogue enemy group threatening the world. As both a U.S Marine and British S.A.S. soldier fighting through an unfolding story full of twists and turns, players use sophisticated technology, superior firepower and coordinated land and air strikes on a battlefield where speed, accuracy and communication are essential to victory.

Since CoD4 contains no built-in benchmark, we measured frame rates with FRAPS while playing through the same sequence to attain reproducible results. We chose the beginning cut scene where the player is transported through the city in a car. Throughout the scene there is heavy combat involving multiple AI units mixed with the beautiful cinematic shots the game is popular for. The results were consistent and accurate, despite the inaccurate methodology.


The Diamond HD 3870 handled Call of Duty 4 very well never dropping below 50 FPS, even at 1920x1200.

World in Conflict uses the latest version of Massive's proprietary Masstech engine taking advantage of DX10 technology and features advanced lighting and physics effects, and allows for a full 360 degree range of camera control. World in Conflict is a late Cold War real-time strategy game with a strong focus on unit tactics, action, team play, and destruction. Players take on a specific role commanding air, armor, infantry, and support units to form a combined arms force against the enemy. By controlling key strategic points on the map, you sway the battle in your favor. There is no resource-gathering, so every second not spent fighting the enemy over a piece of land is a second wasted.


World in Conflict appears to be severly CPU bound even at lower resolutions, though performace was still very good with all settings at their highest with the average FPS never dropping below 40 even at very high resolutions.

Half-Life 2: Episode Two is the second installment in Valve Corporation's series of episodes for Half-Life 2. Continuing with Valve's method of orienting each episode around a particular theme or set of technologies, Episode Two focuses on expansive environments, travel and less linear play. Following the closing events of Episode One, it sees Gordon Freeman and the series' other major players moving away from City 17 to the surrounding countryside. Only minor game engine updates have been added to Episode Two, such as motion blur and improved facial expressions on character models.


Episode Two as with all the previous titles based on the Half-Life 2 engine always seem to fair well with ATI/AMD hardware. There appears to be no exception here as the Diamond HD 3870 chews up everything the game has to throw at it. Even at 4xAA the Diamond HD 3870 manages a very respectable 60 FPS average at 1920x1200.

Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance is a standalone real-time strategy game expansion to Supreme Commander, developed by Gas Powered Games and published by THQ, and is the second title in the Supreme Commander franchise. Forged Alliance adds new gameplay features to the game, with several new units for the three pre-existing factions, and is further optimized for increased performance in response to issues with the original. To put it lightly, Supreme Commander is one of only a handful of games that can manage to bring modern high-end systems to their knees.


Forged Alliance is yet another game that is severly CPU bound, as can be seen by the very low minumum FPS, and the consistent maximum FPS results between 1024x768 and 1280x1024. Though the minimun FPS are nothing to write home about, the average results show the Diamond HD 3870's ability to keep the game playable, though only a faster processor is going to help raise minimum FPS at this point.


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