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Written by Olin Coles   
Thursday, 18 December 2008
Table of Contents: Page Index
Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 X2 Atomic ST-6026
Radeon HD 4870 X2 Features
Atomic ST-6026 Specifications
First Look: Sapphire Atomic
Video Card Testing Methodology
3DMark06 Test Results
COD 4 Fraps Benchmarks
Crysis Benchmark Results
Devil May Cry 4 Benchmark
World in Conflict Benchmarks
VGA Power Consumption
Atomic 4870 X2 Heat Output
Radeon 4800-Series Final Thoughts
Sapphire ST-6026 Conclusion

Call of Duty 4 Benchmarks

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare runs on a proprietary game engine that Infinity Ward based off of the tried-and-true Q3 structure. This engine offers features such as true world-dynamic lighting, HDR lighting effects, dynamic shadows and depth of field. "Bullet Penetration" is calculated by the Infinity Ward COD4 game engine, taking into account things such as surface type and entity thickness. Certain objects, such as cars, and some buildings are destructible. This makes distinguishing cover from concealment important, as the meager protection provided by things such as wooden fences and thin walls does not fully shield players from harm as it does in many other games released during the same time period. Bullet speed and stopping power are decreased after penetrating an object, and this decrease is calculated realistically depending on the thickness and surface of the object penetrated.

This version of the game also makes use of a dynamic physics engine, a feature which was not implemented in previous Call of Duty titles for Windows PC's. The new in-game death animations are a combination of pre-set static animations combined with ragdoll physics. Infinity Ward's use of the well-debugged Quake 3 engine along with new dynamic physics implementation allows Call of Duty 4 to be playable by a wide range of computer hardware systems. The performance may be scaled for low-end graphic cards up to 4x Anti-Aliasing and 16x Tri-linear anisotropic texture filtering.

Before I discuss the results, I would like to take a moment to mention my general opinion on Fraps software when it comes to game performance benchmarking. If you're not familiar with the software, Fraps (derived from Frames per second) is a benchmarking, screen capture, and real-time video capture utility for DirectX and OpenGL applications. Some reviewers use this software to measure video game performance on their Windows system, as well as record gaming footage. My opinion is that it offers a valid third-party non-bias alternative to in-game benchmarking tools; but there is one caveat: it's not perfect. Because the user must manually begin the test, the starting point may vary from position to position and therefore skew the results.

In my testing with Fraps v2.9.4 build 7039, I used the cut-scene intro to the coup d'etat scene when Al Asad takes over control. First I allowed the level to load and let the scene begin for a few moments, then I would use the escape key to bring up the menu and choose the restart level option, I would immediately press F11 to begin recording the benchmark data. This scene is nearly four minutes long, but I configured Fraps to record the first 180 seconds of it to remain consistent. Once the scene would end, I would repeat the restart process for a total of five tests. So within a 2 millisecond starting point margin, all benchmark results are comparable which is probably as accurate as it can possibly get with this tool.


In our frame rate results, all five of the collected test scores were within 0.5 FPS of one-another and then averaged for the chart you see above. Because the products we are testing compete for the high-end segment of discrete graphics, the frame rates in Call of Duty 4 all share similar results with only small degrees of difference between 1680x1050 and 1920x1200 resolutions.

Because of the shear muscle the Sapphire ST-6026 packs, the video cards we've tested on CoD4 fall into one of two categories: those that aren't the Sapphire Radeon 4870 X2 Atomic, and those that are. At 1680x1050, everything except the Atomic produced frame rates between 101-109 FPS. The Atomic 4870 X2 on the other hand, produced 150 FPS and yawned at the boredom. At 1920x1280 the results weren't much different, with the competition sweating out 85-95 FPS while the Sapphire Atomic 4870 X2 burned through 130 FPS. Quite impressive.

Product Series AMD/ATI Radeon HD 4870 Reference Design NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GX2 Reference Design Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 11139-00-40R ZOTAC GeForce GTX 280 AMP! Edition ZT-X28E3LA-FCP Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 X2 Atomic ST-6026
Stream Processors 800 128 (x2) 800 (x2) 240 1600
Core Clock (MHz) 750 600 625 700 800
Shader Clock (MHz) N/A 1500 N/A 1400 N/A
Memory Clock (MHz) 900 1000 993 1150 1000
Memory Amount

512 MB GDDR5

512MB (x2) GDDR3 512MB (x2) GDDR3 1024 MB GDDR3 1024MB (x2) GDDR5
Memory Interface 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 512-bit 256-bit

In our next section, we shall see if the performance-demanding video game Crysis will help strengthen this position.


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