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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

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 during our 1680x1050 resolution tests was how well NVIDIA products performed compared to the seemingly more-impressive Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 and 4870 X2 Atomic ST-6026. Test results like these begin to raise the question of how unbiased games like Crysis are when they proudly proclaim "NVIDIA: The way it was meant to be played". I don't consider this to be coincidence, but at the same time it's probably also not coincidence that Crysis demands more GPU power than any other product, which was perfect for a time when AMD/ATI couldn't build a decent VGA product to save their lives (literally).

Analyzing the chart below illustrates two distinct trends. The first is that the Radeon HD 4870 and 4850 X2 are virtually identical to the GeForce 9800 GX2. The second trend tries to convince us that an outragously overclocked GeForce GTX 280 can beat or match the performance of an overclocked 4870 X2. I suppose that some of readers, those famous for skipping to this (Crysis) test and the conclusion, will fall for the punch line. The rest of us have seen the test results from the previous two sections, and already know the joke.


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 time-demo 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. The results shown in the chart below illustrate (more distinctly) how well NVIDIA products scale with anti-aliasing enabled.

It would be easy to accuse NVIDIA of some level of wrong-doing, but there is one glaring piece of evidence in their defense: AMD/ATI graphic cards stop at 8x AA, while modern GeForce products reach 16x Q AA before calling it quits. So with this being an undisputed fact among our test products, it makes more sense to see the GTX 280 outperform the Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 X2 Atomic ST-6026.


At the end of our Crysis testing, it was apparent that heavy post-processing effects are still an obstacle that Radeon HD video cards have yet to clear. The products used in this review have been used in others, and also tested at-length on our X48 benchmark system, and the results have been comparible throughout.

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, Benchmark Reviews tests with Devil May Cry 4 Benchmark. Read on to see how a blended high-demand GPU test with low video frame buffer demand will impact our test products.


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