HIS Radeon HD 6870 1GB Video Card in Crossfire

We've checked out the HD 6850 in CF and since we've got another HD 6870 from HIS, it's time to turn our attention to the bigger brother in tandem.

Manufacturer: HIS
15 minutes & 2 seconds read time

Introduction and Package


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We've looked at the HD 6850 in Crossfire and that's all great, but now it's time to get down to business and while the HD 6870 isn't going to be the top single GPU card from AMD (that's reserved for the HD 6970), the aggressive pricing structure of the model means that going CF could be a very good option.

We haven't actually had a look at a retail version of the HD 6870 yet, but that's about to change with the help of the HIS HD 6870. Since currently the models carry with them reference clock speeds, we figured that instead of just running it by itself which would ultimately result in the same performance as the reference HD 6870, we would instead pair it up with the reference card.

Since we haven't looked at the HIS HD 6870 yet, we will check out the bundle that they've put together on the card before we look at the actual card itself and the specifications of the model.

The Package

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The bundle is very similar to the HIS HD 6850 one. Really, the only change is the addition of an extra dual Molex to 6-Pin PCI-E power convertor. It's a little interesting that AMD didn't have a gamer partner with the launch of the card; maybe they'll reserve it for the HD 6900 series or maybe the game bundle has almost left us altogether.

Card and Specifications

The Card

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The look of the card doesn't hold any surprises. At the moment all HD 6870s follow the reference design. Of course, partners throw their sticker on top and we love the nice blue theme that HIS is using.

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Since the whole card follows the reference design, we've just got our two 6-Pin PCI-E power connectors at the top of the card, a single CF connector and connectivity is fully loaded with Dual-Link DVI, Single-Link DVI, HDMI 1.4 and dual 1.2 DisplayPort.


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Again following the reference design means reference clocks and that means 900MHz on the core and 4200MHz QDR on the 1GB of memory. Of course, as we mentioned, this is a Crossfire article and as you can see at the bottom of GPU-Z we've got our two cards running together.

Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASRock, Kingston, Mittoni, Noctua and Corsair.

Like our HD 6850 CF article, we've got a whole mess of cards in our benchmarks. As far as single GPU setups go, we've got the ECS Black GTX 460 OC, Sapphire HD 6850 and AMD HD 6870.

Checking out dual GPU setups, we've got the HIS HD 6850 CF setup along with the single card, but dual GPU HD 5970. Of course, we had to include the GTX 460 OC SLI setup as it's the biggest competitor to the new HD 6800 series.

Let's get started!

3DMark Vantage

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmarkvantage/
Buy It Here

3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware.

3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.

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Vantage might not be something that AMD is concentrating on, but we've got a good score here and while the HIS HD 6870 CF setup falls behind the GTX 460 SLI one in the standard performance run, we can see it manages to just knock it off at the higher resolution X preset.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 2
Developer Homepage: http://www.unigine.com
Product Homepage: http://unigine.com/press-releases/091022-heaven_benchmark//

New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.

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Heaven performance is very strong and you can see the HIS HD 6870 CF setup doesn't have any problems out performing everything else here. This is a good example of just how strong the Tessellation performance is when compared to the HD 5970.

Benchmarks - Resident Evil 5

Resident Evil 5

Version and / or Patch Used: Demo Benchmark
Developer Homepage: www.residentevil.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.residentevil.com/

Resident Evil 5 is a survival horror video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on September 18. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.

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With the synthetic benchmarks out the way it's time to check out some games. Straight away we see very strong performance. At 2560 x 1600 nothing really comes close to the setup except for the HD 6850 CF one.

Benchmarks - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/UK/default.aspx
Product Homepage: http://www.hawxgame.com/

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X is an arcade-style flight simulator video game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and iPhone OS.

The fundamental gameplay mechanics are similar to those of other console-based flight series. Players take on enemies with over 50 aircraft available. Each mission is at real world locations in environments created with commercial satellite data. A cockpit, first person, and third person view are selectable. The third person view gives the player an external view of both their plane and the target.

Set above the skies of a near-future world, increasingly dependent on private military companies with elite mercenaries who have a relaxed view on the law. As these non-governmental organizations gain power, global conflict erupts with one powerful PMC attacking the United States.

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H.A.W.X. performance across the board is great. Scaling is fantastic and these are some great numbers across the board. It's hard to believe that these cards aren't replacing the HD 5800 series with what they're able to offer.

Benchmarks - Mafia II

Mafia II

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.2kczech.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.mafia2game.com/
Buy It Here

Mafia II is a third-person action-adventure video game, the sequel to Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven. It is developed by 2K Czech, previously known as Illusion Softworks, and is published by 2K Games. The game is set from 1943 to 1951 in Empire Bay (the name is a reference to New York's state nickname "The Empire State"), a fictional city based on San Francisco and New York City, with influences from Chicago and Detroit. The game features a completely open-ended game map of 10 square miles. No restrictions are included from the start of the game. There are around 50 vehicles in the game, as well as licensed music from the era.

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Mafia II sees some great performance and while the scaling isn't as strong as some of the other games we've looked at, you can see the 2560 x 1600 average moving from 48 FPS to 69 FPS is impressive, as at the latter speed the game is very playable at that resolution.

Benchmarks - Lost Planet 2

Lost Planet 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark - Test A Scene 1
Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.lostplanet2game.com/

Lost Planet 2 is a third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition which is also made by Capcom, taking place ten years after the events of the first game, on the same fictional planet. The story takes place back on E.D.N. III 10 years after the events of the first game. The snow has melted to reveal jungles and more tropical areas that have taken the place of more frozen regions. The plot begins with Mercenaries fighting against Jungle Pirates. After destroying a mine, the Mercenaries continue on to evacuate the area, in which a Category-G Akrid appears and attacks them. After being rescued, they find out their evacuation point (Where the Category-G appeared) was a set-up and no pick up team awaited them. The last words imply possible DLC additions to the game, "There's nothing to be gained by wiping out snow pirates... unless you had some kind of grudge."

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Scaling is great and performance really does sky rocket. You can see in single card form we're not able to get the 60 FPS average we want at any resolution. When in Crossfire, though, we see great numbers at 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050, with 2560 x 1600 performance being only a few FPS away from being smooth.

Benchmarks - Aliens vs. Predator

Aliens vs. Predator

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.rebellion.co.uk/
Product Homepage: http://www.sega.com/games/aliens-vs-predator/

Aliens vs. Predator is a science fiction first-person shooter video game, developed by Rebellion Developments, the team behind the 1999 original PC game, and published by Sega for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The game is based on the Alien vs. Predator franchise, a combination of the characters and creatures of the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise. There are three campaigns in the game, one for each race/faction (the Predators, the Aliens and the Colonial Marines), that, while separate in terms of individual plot and gameplay, form one overarching storyline.

Following the storyline of the campaign modes comes the multiplayer aspect of the game. In this Multiplayer section of the game, players face off in various different gametypes in various different ways.

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Like LP2 we see great scaling again. More importantly, though, we go from a setup that couldn't get an average of over 60 FPS to a setup that manages to smash that at the first two resolutions and be only a few FPS behind it at the highest resolution.

Benchmarks - Final Fantasy XIV

Final Fantasy XIV

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark - Elezen (Male)
Developer Homepage: http://www.square-enix.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.finalfantasyxiv.com/

Final Fantasy XIV, also known as Final Fantasy XIV Online, is the fourteenth installment in the Final Fantasy series. The game is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game and is developed and published by Square Enix. The game takes place in a land called Hydaelyn, mainly in a region named Eorzea, which will have a contemporaneously aesthetic blend of science fiction and classic fantasy elements.

The battle and job systems will be different from the one previously used in Final Fantasy XI, which utilized experience points and level-based progression. Final Fantasy XIV is being designed to utilize a skill-based progression[15] system similar to that of Final Fantasy II. Character races will resemble and allow players to create avatars similar to ones in Final Fantasy XI. Group play has been de-emphasized, and now solo and group play have been balanced. Weapon use will alter "character development".

Note: Final Fantasy XIV gives us a score and not a normal FPS rating, our understanding is that anything around 2000 points or above is considered playable.

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The CF HIS HD 6870 setup is plagued with the same issues under FF XIV as the other dual GPU AMD setups.

Benchmarks - Street Fighter IV

Street Fighter IV

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.streetfighter.com/

While Street Fighter IV features models and backgrounds rendered in 3D, the gameplay remains on a traditional 2D plane, with the camera having freedom to move in 3D at certain times during fights, for dramatic effect. Producer Yoshinori Ono has stated that he wanted to keep the game closer to Street Fighter II. A new system called "Focus Attacks" ("Saving Attack" for the Japanese version) has been introduced, as well as Ultra moves. The traditional six-button control scheme returns, with new features and special moves integrated into the input system, mixing classic gameplay with additional innovations.

All the characters and environments in Street Fighter IV are rendered as 3D models with polygons, similar to the Street Fighter EX sub-series Capcom produced with Arika. However, there are a couple of key differences. Art director and character designer Daigo Ikeno, who previously worked on Street Fighter III 3rd Strike, opted for non-photorealistic rendering to give them a hand-drawn look, with visual effects accented in calligraphic strokes, ink smudges and ink sprays during the fights.

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Just massive numbers across the board; much higher than you'll ever need. It's still awesome to see averages of over 400 FPS; brings me back to the Quake 3 Arena time demo testing days and benching on setups that were just so much faster than they needed to be.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/
Buy It Here

The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.

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The numbers are insane here, especially at the highest resolution and while performance is a little wonky at the lower end of the scale, these are some rock solid numbers across the board.

Benchmarks - Batman Arkham Asylum

Batman Arkham Asylum

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.batmanarkhamasylum.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.batmanarkhamasylum.com/

Batman: Arkham Asylum exposes players to a unique, dark and atmospheric adventure that takes them to the depths of Arkham Asylum - Gotham's psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. Gamers will move in the shadows, instigate fear amongst their enemies and confront The Joker and Gotham City's most notorious villains who have taken over the asylum.

Using a wide range of Batman's gadgets and abilities, players will become the invisible predator and attempt to foil The Joker's demented scheme.
Batman: Arkham Asylum features an original story penned exclusively for the game by famous Batman author and five-time Emmy award winner Paul Dini, whose credits include Lost season one and Batman: The Animated Series.

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It seems the HD 6870 CF setup hits a bit of a wall around the 120 FPS minimum. Still huge numbers, however, and ones that 120Hz gamers are going to appreciate.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AF

Our high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.

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Strong scaling across the board when it comes to benching with AA on. The only game that falls just under the average we need is AVP. Move the AA to 2x instead of 4x and you would be at the level you need.

Temperature Test

Temperature Tests

The temperature of the core is pulled from MSI Afterburner with the max reading used after a completed run off 3DMark Vantage and the Performance preset.

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The setup on a whole offered similar temp levels to the lower end HD 6850 CF setup.

Sound Test

Sound Tests

Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.

After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).

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Between the two HD 6800 CF setups this one is a little louder, but nothing too serious.

Power Consumption Tests

Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).

There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.

The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a SSD hard drive is used with a single CD ROM and minimal cooling fans.

So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.

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Power draw as you would expect is a bit up when compared to the HD 6850 CF setup. It's still fairly good with it being a little less than the GTX 460 SLI setup at load.

Total Performance Rating (TPR)

Total Performance Rating

The TPR graph is a combination of all our benchmarks in which NVIDIA and ATI are on an even playing field.

The TPR number is a combination of:

3DMark Vantage, Heaven Benchmark V2, Resident Evil 5, Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., Mafia 2 (PhysX Off), Lost Planet 2, Aliens vs. Predator, Final Fantasy XIV, Street Fighter IV, Far Cry 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum (PhysX Off) and our four High Quality tests which include Mafia 2, Aliens vs. Predator, Street Fighter IV and Far Cry 2.

All of the benchmark results achieved are then combined into a single number. As this graph will grow over time and cards won't be re-tested, next to each model you'll find the driver version that was used when the card was benchmarked.

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Overall the TPR is strong and the setup manages to outperform the overclocked GTX 480 Super OC (when OCed even further). The only reason it doesn't win overall is because of the Final Fantasy XIV scaling issue. Not only does it not improve, but it goes backwards.

If the score was about the same as the single GPU performance it would pull out a win. If it improved as much as the GTX 460 SLI setup does then it would be easily on top of the leader board. It means we just have to work a little harder.

Total Value Rating (TVR)

Total Value Rating

The TVR graph is the TPR score divided by the price of the video card. The price of the video card is based on the list price of the model on Newegg.com. In the event the card isn't listed, it will be based on the U.S. $ MSRP given to us by the manufacturer.

In the event we can't source a price from either, the product will not receive a TVR rating. As with our TPR graph, the amount of video cards on the list will grow over time and the price of the model won't change from what it was when first reviewed. For this reason the U.S. $ price that the card is based off will be included next to the name of the model.

In the event you want to find the TVR rating yourself based on the current price, all you have to do is simply divide the TPR number by the list price.

TVR numbers are rounded to the nearest whole number; 100.3 will be 100; 100.8 will be 101 and 100.5 will be rounded down to 100.

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The value for the HD 6870 in single card form wasn't as strong as the HD 6850, so it comes as no surprise that value does sit towards the bottom of the scale here. The setup continues to show better value than top single card setups, though; cards like the GTX 480, HD 5870 and HD 5970, and we can clearly see it offers more performance than all of them.

Final Thoughts

Compared to the reference HD 6870, and at the moment any other HD 6870 for that matter, the HIS version isn't going to offer you anything too different except maybe a slight variation in the bundle. This is to be expected, though, as at the moment we're currently seeing partners restricted to reference designs only. No doubt within the next few months, or even month, we'll see companies begin to mix it up and HIS has two series we're big fans of; the Turbo series which is their main OC line and the IceQ series which uses upgraded cooling. We've got our fingers crossed we'll see the HD 6800 series with some lovin' from these lines sooner rather than later.

We didn't test single GPU performance for the simple reason we wouldn't see anything different to the reference card we'd already tested, so on the single GPU performance front the HIS HD 6870 by itself is going to perform strong.

Looking at Crossfire numbers, the decision to buy one or two cards is going to be a tough one. AMD has really gone to town on Crossfire scaling and it's not unusual for us to see gains that are tipping 100%. At the higher resolution we really do see the card fly along and buying two is going to be a must for anyone that's going to be running something like a 30" monitor and wants silky smooth gameplay.

The HIS HD 6870 is a really nice card and it's one worth keeping an eye out for. While at the moment the only real difference is the sticker that manufacturers are using, it has to be said that the HIS sticker is pretty cool, but I'm a fan of blue!

HIS has helped us make the decision to buy a video card a little harder today. The question is, do we buy one or two?

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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