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Written by Olin Coles   
Friday, 22 October 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
AMD Radeon HD 6870 Barts Video Card
Radeon HD 6870 Closer Look
Features and Specifications
Video Card Testing Methodology
DX10: 3DMark Vantage
DX10: Crysis Warhead
DX11: Aliens vs Predator
DX11: Battlefield Bad Company 2
DX11: BattleForge
DX9 SSAO: Mafia II
DX11: Metro 2033
DX11: Unigine Heaven 2.1
Overclocking and Temperatures
VGA Power Consumption
Radeon HD 6870 Conclusion

Radeon HD 6870 Conclusion

IMPORTANT: Although the rating and final score mentioned in this conclusion are made to be as objective as possible, please be advised that every author perceives these factors differently at various points in time. While we each do our best to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered, there are often times unforeseen market conditions and manufacturer changes which occur after publication that could render our rating obsolete. Please do not base any purchase solely on our conclusion, as it represents our product rating specifically for the product tested which may differ from future versions. Benchmark Reviews begins our conclusion with a short summary for each of the areas that we rate.

Beginning with frame rate performance, the AMD Radeon HD 6870 competes at a level slightly better than the older and more expensive Radeon HD 5850 video card, but it doesn't find a true NVIDIA GeForce target. This concurs with AMD's own results, placing the Radeon HD 6870 between the 5850 and 5870 in their product lineup. There were a few tests that matched the Radeon HD 6870 with the GeForce GTX 470, and then there were tests that pegged it against the 1GB GeForce GTX 460. Most times it required a heavily overclocked GTX 460 to find similar competition, especially because NVIDIA's GTX 465 was retired only a month after it launched.

We didn't test AMD HD3D technology, or the impact it has on video game frame rates, primarily because the middleware was not made available and there are only two monitors that currently exist to support it: the Zalman Trimon 3D and iZ3D H220z1. At the time of launch Viewsonic had announced their 120Hz Fuhzion 3D monitor, but the product had not yet shipped. AMD HD3D technology presently supports one display, using either DL-DVI and DP monitors or HDMI 1.4 3D HDTV, so 3D movie playback on one of the few compatible 3D TVs is a more likely application of this feature.


Appearance is a more subjective matter since the rating doesn't have benchmark scores to fall back on. Partners traditionally offer their own unique twist on the design, with improved cooling solutions and colorful fan shroud designs. AMD's design ultimately delivers function ahead of fashion, allowing heated air to externally exhaust outside of the computer case. This remains critically important to overclockers, but because the transition to 32nm wasn't achieved with Northern Islands the heat output with standard clock speeds is still considered moderately high.

I consider the constant move towards a smaller die process rather insignificant in the grand scheme of things, as NVIDIA once proved when their GeForce GTX 280 successfully launched at 65nm instead of 55nm. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is already building 32nm processors for other clientele, and AMD has noted that Moore's Law still applies - just not in regard to the Barts GPU. They claim that as a die processes become smaller, it also becomes much more costly to develop and produce.

There are six PLX display channel bridges on the Radeon HD 6850 and 6870 video cards, which open up the functionality. Two are dedicated to the only dual-link DVI port available on this video card, while the other DVI port remains single-link and consumes another. HDMI 1.4a uses one channel, and two mini-DisplayPort outputs each use a channel. The real innovation comes with DP 1.2, which can use a Multi-Stream Transport Hub to drive multiple displays at different resolutions, refresh rates, and color depth in Eyefinity. Please note that the dual mini-DisplayPort connections incorporated on this reference design may not be adopted by AMD board partners, who are free to implement a single full-size DisplayPort connection.

Value is a fast moving target, and please believe me when I say that it changes by the minute in this industry. Delivering better performance and additional features at a lower cost to consumers has been the cornerstone of AMD's business philosophy for more than a decade, and they've repeatedly demonstrated this resolve in each of their many battles with Intel CPUs and NVIDIA GPUs. AMD's latest Radeon continues the tradition of more for less, and PC hardware enthusiasts can expect the Radeon HD 6870 to sell for $239.99 at launch. This was originally explained to media as closer to $249.99, but subsequent price battles between manufacturers took their toll. As soon as online merchants offer 6000-series products, this section will be updated with links.

Using the manufacturer suggested pricing in conjunction with NewEgg's average product pricing (on 20 October 2010), the price segments reveal a gap. The 1GB GeForce GTX 460 sells for $220, followed by the GTX 470 at $395. This leaves a significant hole in their product lineup, but we've managed to fill it with a $260 factory-overclocked EVGA GeForce GTX 460 FTW for this review. On AMD's side, the Radeon HD 5850 is about $2 more than the Radeon HD 6870, and then there 's a hole between $180 and $240.

We've illustrated the cost per frame performance in the charts below:


In conclusion, the AMD Radeon HD 6870 introduces more flexibility for display devices, especially where Eyefinity is used, plus it enables stereoscopic 3D gaming and Blu-ray or 3D DVD playback for the first time. The reconfigured Cypress-turned-Barts GPU offers gaming performance that rivals the older Radeon HD 5850, occasionally competes with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, and easily outperforms the 1GB GTX 460. At the $240 price point there aren't many options, unless you want a less-impressive GPU that's been factory overclocked, or an older GPU that lacks HD3D and UVD3 support. AMD touted Barts' improved filtering performance, but test using 3DCenter Filter Tester showed that anisotropic texture filtering was still remains an issue. Overall I consider the AMD Radeon HD 6870 to be a good PC gaming product, stereoscopic 3D or otherwise, but overclockers could be disappointed with the lack of headroom. This is AMD's first self-branded video card, retiring nearly twenty years of ATI brand name recognition, so while it's done well to demonstrate modest mainstream performance capabilities there are still a few green areas. I'm not convinced the Radeon HD 6870 is going to impress consumers with improved Eyefinity support or added stereoscopic 3D functionality until these technologies become more mature, but thankfully the Radeon HD 6870 shines as a solid gaming product.

What do you think of the AMD Radeon HD 6870 video card? Leave comments below, or ask questions in our Forum.

Pros:Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award

+ Excellent mainstream DX11 graphics performance
+ Barts GPU Introduces stereoscopic 3D functionality
+ Reduced heat output enables nearly silent cooling fan
+ Fan exhausts all heated air outside of case
+ UVD3 Adds multi-view CODEC for 3D Blu-ray playback
+ Improves DisplayPort to 1.2 with display chaining
+ Supports CrossFire functionality


- Limited initial AMD HD3D product support
- Fails to fix anisotropic texture filtering
- Barts GPU yields minimal overclock


  • Performance: 9.50
  • Appearance: 8.75
  • Construction: 9.75
  • Functionality: 9.50
  • Value: 7.50

Final Score: 9.0 out of 10.

Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.

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# RE: AMD Radeon HD 6870 Barts Video CardBen 2010-10-21 19:09
Thanks for the super quick review. Only would have like it if the 5770 was on here as it is basically its replacement. Looks like a fairly good card, nothing like the 4000 and 5000 were for releases. Will have to see how they do when they start coming out with upgrades to the reference designs.
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# RE: RE: AMD Radeon HD 6870 Barts Video CardServando Silva 2010-10-21 19:24
5770 replacement? I don't think so. I've heard the 5700 series will remain the same for now (without replacements).
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# 6870 Does Not Replace 5770Olin Coles 2010-10-21 19:24
Thank you for your feedback. I think there's a misunderstanding about Radeon HD 6000 series, because it's not intended to replace anything in the 5000 series lineup. The $240 Radeon 6870 does not replace the $140 5770, and their performance profiles are completely different.
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# RE: 6870 Does Not Replace 5770Ben 2010-10-21 19:38
Hmm well what I mean is that in the 5000 range you have 5770 being the high mid, and in this range I understand with the expected 6900 series release the 6870 is meant to be high mid as well. Placed to run vs the 460 which is also in this bracket. From a basic consumer standpoint I am going to compare it to cards priced about the same was done in the review. So if I'm looking at a 5770 vs 6850 or 460 vs 6870 I would expect them to be eventually phasing out the previous gen in the bracket. Making it effectively its replacement.
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# RE: RE: 6870 Does Not Replace 5770Olin Coles 2010-10-21 19:59
True, the Radeon 5770 will eventually be retired. The $180 Radeon HD 6850 could also be used to fill that price point. Suffice it to say that the 6850 is about 30% faster than the 5770 based on my test results. I'll go back into the article and add some notation.
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# RE: RE: RE: 6870 Does Not Replace 5770Avro Arrow 2010-10-22 06:26
The Radeon HD 5770 was an abortion from the beginning. Why would anyone pay almost DOUBLE the price of an HD 4780 for a card that performs as well or worse in almost all games than the 4870, yet isn't powerful enough to properly tessellate DX11 graphics even though that's supposed to be its marquee feature? Thanks, I'll stick to my 4 Radeon HD 4870s for a good while longer! LMAO
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# New AMD 6870 Refernce ReviewJohn Darcy 2010-10-22 04:04
I wanted to thank you for another great review, concise, complete-with regard to time of test and release- and accompanied by your astute observations and opinions. I am a novice with this stuff but still enjoy building and using practical and up to date equipment. I was very pleased or happy to see the inclusion of this model in the market place position you described. I bought 2 of the 5870s one immediately and a 2nd at the v2 mark. I find them great but were a huge dent in my budget. It is refreshing to see all the editorial space devoted to conservation or power usage. It is an important issue and one easily minimized, particularly by me or friends from my era who still labor under the misconception that power resources are unlimited and cheap. It is a major consideration now as you intimated by the amount of hype you get on the green subject matters. I look forward to your articles agree or not-your expertise and experience provides me information i can usually understand.
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# RE: AMD Radeon HD 6870 Barts Video Cardaberkae 2010-10-22 04:47
Yes the barts chips is a juniper spin of and not a cypress one. I'm glad and surprised the 6870 beats the gtx 470 ( I guess nvidia got scared and dropped the prices permanetly) better prices, better performance all benefit the end user!
I love this review ( but would have likes multi gpu setup test)
With sandibridge around the corner, the entrylevel gpus will be dimineshed, AMD is stepping up its game in the mid level gpu section. ( because it will soon be entry level and not midlelvel)
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# RE: AMD Radeon HD 6870 Barts Video CardRealNeil 2010-10-22 05:52
I was glad to see the announcement of price reductions from NVIDIA Yesterday. Price wars are good for the ones buying these cards.

I don't like that ATI and NVIDIA cards are so far apart as to how they do Phys-X and other newer game technologies. I'd like to see them both cleave to standards so we could rate them in a better and fair way against one another. ATI says that Phys-X is closed by the other guy, and NVIDIA say's it isn't,..........what a crock. They should both do it all.
Not knowing if Phys-X and Cuda will take off and be a part of every game makes me lean towards buying the cards that have it built-in to them just to ensure that I don't have to buy all over again later just to be able to play the next new wazoo games that developers are dreaming up. Thanks for the considered look at these new AMD Cards.
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# RE: RE: AMD Radeon HD 6870 Barts Video CardOlin Coles 2010-10-22 06:58
I agree with you on this, Neil. You've got one manufacturer who builds a strong product, but it lacks high-end antialiasing, has a broken anisotropic filter, doesn't support PhysX, and has very limited 3D support. The other manufacter does offers a product without these problems, but they cost more. It's not an easy choice, if all you want to do is play a video game and not concentrate on market technologies.
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# RE: AMD Radeon HD 6870 Barts Video CardBorg 2010-10-22 07:23
ok...for those who like to push alot a card with oc then buy a 460 1gb
thats what i get, cause with the new prices 460 worth more and better tesselations VS non
otherwise ati boys stay with the 5850
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# RE: RE: AMD Radeon HD 6870 Barts Video Cardaberkae 2010-10-23 05:41
Actually the gtx 460 FTW is a pretty good card too!
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# WowSiliconDoc 2010-10-24 15:12
Good luck Olin.

So the 5830 doesn't exist anymore !

ROFLMAO - It's a hoot seeing so many geeks claiming to know something, and the entire red rooster set of intertards cannot bring themselves to type 5 8 3 0 .
What card has 1120 shaders ? LOL
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# RE: WowOlin Coles 2010-10-24 15:17
Much like the GTX 465, the 5830 was a filler part that was offered in limited supply. Now that yields are much better, the salvaged GPUs that were used in these two models are no longer in quantity supply.
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# The memory hole.SiliconDoc 2010-10-26 16:21
Right, but does any of that matter ? NOPE.
There are no less than 8 different 5830's available on the egg right now, exceeding a few other " quantity models".
Out of the 20-30+ reviews, I've seen ONE that logically and honestly claimed one of the cards "being replaced" was the 5830.
We have 5870, 5850, 5830 - not like it's easy to miss the 3rd card. You really have to work at it.
Those the masses and the two competing companies rely on for releases, affect the market quite substantially, yet they miss the single 1120 shader card ATI had on the table, when the 2nd 1120 shader hits ? Widely IT'S NOT EVEN MENTIONED NOR CHARTED IN ENTIRE ARTICLES.
"It's low in production" is a joke.
I have no idea if it's pressure or brainwashing or incompetence, but in any case no excuse will satisfy, period. I'm certain you understand that.
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# RE: RE: WowSiliconDoc 2010-10-26 16:55
Yet the GTX465 was included front and center and in the benches and GPU charts in the GTX460 release article here, , quite unlike the now already gone from reviews 5830.
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# RE: RE: RE: WowOlin Coles 2010-10-26 17:07
SiliconDoc, you might have missed it but we've already updated all of our Radeon HD 6850 review articles with 5830/5770 results and charts. I don't believe the 5830 has anything to do with the 6870 review.
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# OkSiliconDoc 2010-10-26 21:01
Thanks. Glad to hear an update was applied.
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# Ah, the untouchable subject.SiliconDoc 2010-10-26 16:37
The 5830's price was reduced publicly by AMD upon the 460's release, as it's competitor.
Now that AMD has released another set of competitors to the 460 in very short order, the 5830 falls into the amnesiac category. 8 different 5830's are currently available on one of the very popular online purchasing sites.
I've seen just one review actually mention the 5830 when reviewing the Barts 6000 release.
Those of us who are awake, obviously in the minority, have reason to be disturbed.
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# RE: Ah, the untouchable subject.Olin Coles 2010-10-26 17:12
It's not untouchable at all. I just don't see how a $170 Radeon HD 5830 has anything to do with a $250 Radeon HD 6870. Maybe the 6850, but certainly not the 6870.
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# RE: RE: Ah, the untouchable subject.SiliconDoc 2010-10-26 20:54
Ok, so on the VGA POWER CONSUMPTION page, this article, the 5830 is conspicuously missing, even though all those other cards that have "nothing to do with a $250 6870" are in fact, listed.
26 cards in total.
No 5830.
I'm not here to criticize you, but your last response is quite surprising to say the least. I don't suppose any card other than the GTX460 1gig "has anything to do with a $250 6870" , or perhaps we could just have a review with the 6870 compared to the 5850 or just the 5870, whichever the 6870 happens to be closest to. I suppose by your statement that's the 5850.
I will find more than the 5850 in the bench charts won't I.
I am sorry logic and comprehension and honesty isn't in the mix, all too often.
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# RE: RE: RE: Ah, the untouchable subject.Olin Coles 2010-10-26 21:04
The power consumption table is the same on every single video card article it is used on. We update the table, and it replicates to every article. The only reason it's not in there is because we only received the ATI engineering sample, and not a retail card. If you'll recall, 5830 engineering samples game in a 5870 package with the correct cores and speeds. It wouldn't be appropriate to use this package for power consumption testing.

Believe me, it's not a conspiracy. I don't think it could be even if we really, really tried.

While you're at it, go back and re-read the 6850 review. It was re-written to compare against the 5770 and 5830.
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# RE: AMD Radeon HD 6870 Barts Video Cardsmith 283 2010-11-28 03:10
hey ppl.
i wanna play crysis2 on max settings so... which graphic card sholud i bu.
plzzz help me :(
ma budget is around 350-400$
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# crysis 2 system requirementsaberkae 2010-11-28 09:20
The system requirements aren't out yet. I can't recommend aything especially at that price point that can even maximize crysis 1 and warhead @ 60+ fps @ least 1080p, you can go with 2 gtx 460s ( 1gig) in sli, or if you wait till AMD's Cayman chips will cause prices to drop! Currently Asus gtx 480 sells for $370 @ and used EVGA one for $350 @ amazon. If the prices of the gtx 470 falls to $200 I would recommend 2 of those. Or buy a gtx 480 now and when crysis 2 will come out the prices will fall again, so you can buy another one and put it in sli.
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# That is what neededworld of warcraft gold 2010-12-09 00:14
I think that the shebei is needed and they are strong to make the energy going,i think so.
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