The HD 4870 X2 performance isn't really much of a surprise; it's two HD 4870s clocked at exactly the same speed on a single PCB. For the most part we see the card performing almost in line with a pair of standard 4870s.
The thing is, though, that the P45 chipset from Intel at the moment is one of the hottest pieces of kit, thanks to the massive overclocks it's achieving. The only problem with the chipset is that it doesn't come with two PCI-E x16 slots; most configurations are x8 / x8 which actually hits the performance of two cards quite considerably.
If you find yourself a bit of an AMD fanboy (or fangirl) in the graphics card department, a single HD 4870 is still going to score behind a single GTX 280 consistently, meaning that you're not buying the fastest graphics card available. And while a pair of HD 4870s would be great, the performance hit from not having a x16 / x16 configuration is just too much to justify the associated cost vs. performance increase.
Thanks to the release of the HD 4870 X2, this is something you don't need to worry about anymore. It really is great news for people who want a super fast graphics card solution from AMD in their P45 rig.
Unfortunately Crossfire X still has issues, but hopefully the AMD driver team is still working hard on new drivers. It's not something that we would rush out and do at the moment, or even recommend to most people.
The HD 4870 X2 is an excellent card and it really gives you the chance to buy a P45 board confidently. With the HD 4870 X2 I can now build a new system that will overclock extremely well, thanks to the ability of using the very fast P45 platform. It's also an added bonus for a lot of people in that it's cheaper than its X48 brother.
There wasn't really anything else AMD could do with the HD 4870 X2; no doubt over the coming weeks we will see companies overclock the card and hopefully we will see companies like ASUS go for a new cooling arrangement just to mix it up a bit more. But on a whole, AMD have done a lot right with this card, including the fact that they didn't downclock the core or the memory from the already very impressive HD 4870.
Like we said before, Crossfire X still has some issues, but the ability for big performance is there with a minimum FPS count of 25 in World in Conflict at 2560 x 1600 with 4x AA and 16x AF. I think my own personal mission over the coming days or weeks will be to crack that 30 FPS minimum mark with a pair of HD 4870 X2s in hand. With a bit of overclocking on both the CPU and the graphics cards, it should be doable.
Without forgetting the company behind the sample, Sapphire have done a decent job with the package by including a number of applications, including a full version copy of 3DMark Vantage.
The HD 4870 X2 is going to quickly become a popular card among people at launch and hopefully can allow AMD to become a fearsome force in the graphics card arena once again over the next 12 months.
Now we just have to see how NVIDIA are going to retaliate; it's doubtful that they're just going to sit back and watch AMD enjoy the sales of their new card.