It's not hard to walk away surprised at the end of an AMD based video card review these days. With the boring Catalyst releases of the last few months and generally lagging performance behind its biggest competitor NVIDIA, you don't go in expecting too much.
Word is the NDA delay was due to driver issues, and we assume it's probably a performance thing because this is the second HD 3870 that we have tested and we can honestly say that both haven't skipped a beat when it comes to stability.
Performance is what you would probably expect; in a game that manages to take advantage of Crossfire the X2 incarnation of the 3870 will come out ahead of everything, on the other hand if it doesn't take advantage then things don't look so crash hot.
So how do you rate a card like that? Well in all honesty I would give the performance portion of the card two thumbs up. This is for a few reasons though; firstly, when you throw in a game that can make use of Crossfire it flies along. Secondly, this extra power isn't coming at a great cost in all departments, pricing looks positive at the low to mid $600 AUD mark, power draw isn't humongous and noise levels are only ever so slightly elevated.
There isn't just that though, the potential here is huge! Crossfire X should be available soon, we tried to put two cards together and they didn't want to play as the second card just actually sat there doing nothing graphically. The fan span and cooled a card that wasn't doing any hard work.
Then there's the package, tisk tisk MSI. We love you but come on where's our game? Yes the HDMI connector is nice, yes we like the inclusion of the 8-pin adapter and all in all the box design and layout is very informative. With that said though, going back to what initial pricing looks like, not getting a game isn't really that bad. It's not a $1000 like some high performance cards at launch, so we can't really complain.
Quality? Don't get me started! It's great that the card is weighted well and feels sturdy like a high end graphics card should. It's not something we can complain about at all.
As far as features go we've got a pretty good line-up; HDMI support, PCI Express 2.0 (but backwards compatible), Dual GPU with Quad GPU support coming and a pre-overclock.
All in all, the card is pretty darn good. How would we make it better? Well as far as the card goes there's not a lot more to do. Sure you could put GDDR4 on it and increase the clocks more but ultimately what we need is just better support for Crossfire in games. This isn't a card issue but a software problem which we hope AMD are working on.
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- Page 1 [Introduction]
- Page 2 [The Package]
- Page 3 [The Card]
- Page 4 [Test System Setup and 3DMark05]
- Page 5 [Benchmarks - 3DMark06]
- Page 6 [Benchmarks - Half Life 2 (Episode One HDR)]
- Page 7 [Benchmarks - Prey]
- Page 8 [Benchmarks - F.E.A.R.]
- Page 9 [Benchmarks - Company of Heroes]
- Page 10 [Benchmarks - World in Conflict]
- Page 11 [High Quality AA and AF]
- Page 12 [Benchmarks - 3DMark06 - Vista]
- Page 13 [Benchmarks - Call of Juarez (DX10) - Vista]
- Page 14 [Benchmarks - Lost Planet (DX10) - Vista]
- Page 15 [Benchmarks - Company of Heroes (DX10) - Vista]
- Page 16 [Temperature and Sound Tests]
- Page 17 [Power Consumption Tests]
- Page 18 [Final Thoughts]
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