Feature Articles

AMD Radeon HD 6870 CrossFireX Performance Analysis

AMD Radeon HD 6870 CrossFireX Performance Analysis



Radeon HD 6800 Series CrossFireX Performance Analysis

Double Trouble

After Evergreen comes Northern Islands, and just last week, AMD released their next generation graphics solution with the Radeon HD 6870 and HD 6850. The two new SKUs powered by the all-new Barts GPU has received high praise from for its compelling combination of performance and price (us included). In fact, the new cards even forced NVIDIA to cut prices of their cards - the GeForce GTX 470 can now be had for around US$259, while the 1GB variants of the GeForce GTX 460 is set to retail for around US$199.

However, the new cards are not perfect and one of the major criticisms leveled at the card was that architecturally, Northern Islands is not all that different from Evergreen, leading some to be dismayed that AMD failed to introduce a revolutionary architecture. Nevertheless, there’s no denying that the new Radeon HD 6800 series cards offer serious graphics firepower for their price, and we are sure that they’ll sell like hot cakes.

And in HardwareZone tradition, we are now following up on our Radeon HD 6800 series review with an analysis on how the Radeon HD 6870 will perform in CrossFireX. AMD claims that performance scaling has been improved and we are hoping to see some dramatic increases in performance.

Our original intention was to present both Radeon HD 6870 and HD 6850 CrossFireX results, but due to some compatibility issues, our two Radeon HD 6850 cards refused to work together. Hence, we’ll be looking at the results from the Radeon HD 6870 and update you in due time once we get the issue of our Radeon HD 6850 cards sorted.

Test Setup

To evaluate how the new Radeon HD 6800 series cards will perform in a 2-way CrossFireX configuration, we’ll be using our trusty X58 setup with the following specifications:

  • Intel Core i7-975 (3.33GHz)
  • Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD4P motherboard
  • 3 x 1GB DDR3-1333 G.Skill memory in triple channel mode
  • Seagate 7200.10 200GB SATA hard drive
  • Windows 7 Ultimate

It goes without saying that the key battle here will be between the Radeon HD 6870 CrossFireX against the 1GB GeForce GTX 460 variant in SLI. Also, it’ll be interesting to see if the new Radeons in CrossFireX can beat a single dual-GPU Radeon HD 5970 and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480.

The list of cards tested and driver version used:

  • AMD Radeon HD 6870 2-way CrossFireX (Catalyst 10.10)
  • AMD Radeon HD 6870 1GB GDDR5 (Catalyst 10.10)
  • ASUS EAH6850 DirectCU 1GB GDDR5 (Catalyst 10.10)
  • ATI Radeon HD 5970 2GB GDDR5 (Catalyst 10.9)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 1560MB GDDR5 (ForceWare 260.89)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 2-way SLI (1GB version - ForceWare 258.80)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 1GB GDDR5 (ForceWare 258.96)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470 1280MB GDDR5 (ForceWare 258.96)

The list of benchmark used are as follows:

  • Futuremark 3DMark Vantage
  • Crysis Warhead
  • Far Cry 2
  • Warhammer: Dawn of War 2
  • Battlefield Bad Company 2
  • “Heaven" from Unigine v2.1
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat