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-   -   BFG 8800 GTX OC vs. ATi HD 3870 X2 mini-review (http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/member-reviews/5424-bfg-8800-gtx-oc-vs-ati-hd-3870-x2-mini-review.html)

-n7- April 4, 2008 08:39 PM

BFG 8800 GTX OC vs. ATi HD 3870 X2 mini-review
See second post for my take on things, & pics!


System Specs
Q6700 @ 3.5 GHz
8 GB @ DDR2-1050 5-5-5-18
Raptor 150 GB & Seagate 1 TB (games installed on those)
Vista Ultimate SP1 x64

Drivers Used
nVidia Forceware 174.74 (current useable beta driver)
AMD Catalyst 8.3 (current official driver)

Driver settings were at defaults aside from nVidia's Texture Filtering being set to High Quality, where it should be anyway.

8800 GTX OC clocks: 594/1404/900
HD 3870 X2 clocks: 823.5/900

For all benchs, i ran tests at least 3 times or more, other than for the Crysis timedemo where results were extremely similar over multiple runs, & for 3DMock.
Results posted are averaged from the multiple runs.

3DMark06 @ 2560x1600 4xAA/16xAF
8800 GTX - 5235
3870 X2 - 8019

UT3 botmatch @ 2560x1600 maxed

Warfare - Floodgate
8800 GTX - 46.82 FPS average, 96.13% of time spent > 30 FPS
3870 X2 - 55.5 FPS average, 87.54% of time spent > 30 FPS

Warfare - Avalanche
8800 GTX - 46.66 FPS average, 97% of time spent > 30 FPS
3870 X2 - 62.36 FPS average, 92.4% of time spent > 30 FPS

Deathmatch - Defiance
8800 GTX - 59.24 FPS average, 97.34% of time spent > 30 FPS
3870 X2 - 75.12 FPS average, 94.95% of time spent > 30 FPS

Crysis GPU Timedemo

2560x1600 everything "High" DX9 64-bit

8800 GTX - 15.75 fps average
3870 X2 - 9.16 fps average

2560x1600 everything "Medium" DX9 64-bit
8800 GTX - 29.43 fps average
3870 X2 - 42.35 fps average

2048x1536 everything "High" DX9 64-bit
8800 GTX - 20.68 fps average
3870 X2 - 21.44 fps average

1920x1200 everything "High" DX9 64-bit
8800 GTX - 25.58 fps average
3870 X2 - 31.68 fps average

1600x1200 everything "High" DX9 64-bit 4xAA
8800 GTX - 22.51 fps average
3870 X2 - 22.96 fps average

Call of Duty 4 Fraps run

2560x1600 everything maxed 4xAA/16xAF
8800 GTX
min - 23.67 fps
ave - 37.6 fps
max - 50.33 fps
min - 16.33 fps
ave - 28.19 fps
max - 37.67 fps

1600x1200 everything maxed 4xAA/16xAF
8800 GTX
min - 41.33 fps
ave - 66.08 fps
max - 89 fps
3870 X2
min - 29 fps
ave - 50.88 fps
max - 84.33 fps

HL2: Episode 2 Fraps run

2560x1600 everything maxed 4xMSAA/16xAF
8800 GTX
min - 34.33 fps
ave - 40.7 fps
max - 50.67 fps
3870 X2
min - 40.33 fps
ave - 47.84 fps
max - 64.33 fps

1600x1200 everything maxed 8xMSAA/16xAF
8800 GTX
min - 46 fps
ave - 56.38 fps
max - 71.33 fps
min - 62.67 fps
ave - 79.85 fps
max - 117.33 fps

Timeshift Fraps run

2560x1600 everything maxed
8800 GTX
min - 30.67 fps
ave - 38.6 fps
max - 48.67 fps
3870 X2
min - 17.67 fps
ave - 25.03 fps
max - 32 fps

1600x1200 everything maxed
8800 GTX
min - 52
ave - 62.37 fps
max - 85 fps
3870 X2
min - 33.33 fps
ave - 46.33 fps
max - 58.67 fps

F.E.A.R. benchmark

2560x1600 maxed 4xAA/16xAF

8800 GTX
min - 23 fps
ave - 42.67 fps
max - 92 fps
3870 X2
min - 7.33 fps
ave - 52 fps
max - 289.67 fps

1600x1200 maxed 4xAA/16xAF
8800 GTX
min - 42.67 fps
ave - 79.67 fps
max - 182.33 fps
3870 X2
min - 19 fps
ave - 97.33 fps
max - 361.33 fps

Company of Heroes benchmark

2560x1600 everything maxed
8800 GTX
min - 22.8 fps
ave - 55.93 fps
max - 128.77 fps
3870 X2
min - 30.83 fps
ave - 62.17 fps
max - 104.63 fps

1600x1200 everything maxed
8800 GTX
min - 52.93 fps
ave - 101 fps
max - 237.97 fps
3870 X2
min - 62.93 fps
ave - 117.3 fps
max - 191.93 fps

CS: Source benchmark

2560x1600 everything maxed 4xMSAA/16xAF
8800 GTX - 170.9 fps average
3870 X2 - 171.47 fps average

1600x1200 everything maxed 8xMSAA/16xAF
8800 GTX - 183.88 fps average
3870 X2 - 228.65 fps average

Tomb Raider: Anniversary Fraps run

2560x1600 maxed 8xAA/16xAF
8800 GTX
min - 84 fps
ave - 97.02 fps
max - 110.67 fps

2560x1600 maxed 4xAA/16xAF (8x AA not available)
3870 X2
min - 52.5 fps
ave - 72.74 fps
max - 86 fps

-n7- April 4, 2008 08:40 PM

First off, thanx for reading through my little review! :)

I've had an 8800 GTX since early last summer which has served me decently well.
You can see a review i did of it vs. an HD 2900 XT 1 GB last summer here.

I wanted to try out the HD 3870 X2 to see how it was though; hence this review.


Thoughts on the cards:

Everyone knows the 8800 GTX is a fantastic card.
It's been at the top (or very near to) for quite a long time now.

I've been happy with mine for the most part, excluding how problematic nVidia's drivers have been.
Stability & issues in games with their drivers has been an issue since the very first day i bought the GTX, & that hasn't gone away.
The current drivers are much improved, but i'd say they've got a ways to go.

As for the new HD 3870 X2, here's where the story gets ugly.

I'd say that most everyone who's seen my posting knows that i've never been a fan of SLI or Crossfire.
I've pretty actively suggested against it, citing the numerous drawbacks associated with multi-GPU setups.

So why do i have a Crossfire combo card?

As mentioned, for one thing, i wanted to try it out, as it's hard to gauge things entirely from reviews & user opinion.
And this way, i can speak from experience.

So what do i think of the HD 3870 X2?

Not very highly, let's sum it up that way.

- dual displays work flawlessly; kudos to AMD for getting this right; :down: to nV for still not getting this at all in SLI
- good performance in certain titles the drivers are obviously optimized for, especially Source engine stuff.

- basically everything else

Too harsh?
Well, here's why.

- as usual with AMD, cooler is loud under heavy load.
Fortunately it's quiet when idle, & even under load it's not bad, but the fan design is the same loud crap they've had since the dual slot cooled X1800s.
- horrible minimum fps in pretty much all games.
I knew this would be an issue beforehand, but now that i've dealt with it, i'm not impressed at all.
Maximum fps is higher, averages are sometimes better, sometimes worse, depending on the title, but minimums are crap.
- chugging in Crysis, HL2: Episode 2, COD4, & likely other games even when fps was fine
I don't know how to really explain it, but while fps are great, it feels like the rendering is behind a tiny bit, & then it catches up, & feels really strange.
I imagine there's another name for this, but whatever it is, it's crap.
- garbage performance in titles not heavily optimized for
Basically, getting the performance of one card vs. two when the game doesn't like CF (or SLI, no doubt), which is not fun or ideal at all.
- Edit: Seems there's a hotfix needed to fix an issue where the card gets stuck in 2D mode sometimes, which results in horrible performance.
This caused me a lotta grief until i discovered this, as i thought CF wasn't working right.
Would be nice if AMD mentioned this is a major issue when you download the drivers instead of having to fight with it with no clue what's going on.

This does not affect the benchmarks i posted, as i only posted the results from when the card was working right, & rechecked after applying said hotfix.

So in summary, the HD 3870 X2 will be getting returned, & the GTX will remain in my system once again.

-n7- April 5, 2008 03:49 PM

Updated second post with some pertinent info to my opinion of the card.

SKYMTL April 5, 2008 04:13 PM

GREAT little review. Congrats on your purchase.

sswilson April 5, 2008 04:14 PM

Did you consider using the 8.2 drivers for the X2?

8.3 drivers have been dismissed by a great many users for dropping FPS over the 8.2s, although I'm not sure how they affect the X2.

SKYMTL April 5, 2008 06:32 PM

Personally, I find the X2 performs better with the 8.3 drivers but support for the HD3870 cards is severely lacking. It seems like the ATI driver team only focused on the X2.

You should also check out that hotfix's information. Those are Beta ATI 8.4 drivers. ATI seems to call their beta driver releases "hotfixes" while Nvidia calls them exactly what they are: beta drivers.

-n7- April 5, 2008 06:59 PM

I've retested the games where i was having issues with the card staying stuck in 2D mode, but it doesn't change my opinion of things (nor the benchmarks; i only averaged the working runs in the first place).

I think that the concept of the card is nice.

It's a far more elegant clean solution, unlike nVidia's SLI sandwich with which there's no innovation involved.

But Crossfire (& SLI) have many drawbacks even when working properly, too many for me to tolerate.

SLI would likely be a bit better performance with regards to minimum fps & performance where SLI doesn't work due to their stronger single cards being far better than AMD's, but it's still not an ideal solution IMO.

Of course, SLI also doesn't work with dual displays yet, so it's not something i'd even consider. (I don't consider disabling SLI...errr, turning on "Multi-Monitor Mode" functional dual displays.)

In short, damnit, bring on some real upgraded single GPU cards AMD/nV!

yycraven April 6, 2008 08:02 PM

Nice review.
So I have a question, is it worth for me to get a 3870X2 or keep my 8800GT 512MB. reason Im asking is I can get one for a good deal.
But now reading this review not sure.

-n7- April 9, 2008 06:52 PM

I personally wouldn't really recommend the 3870 X2 to anyone at its current pricing.
Of course, if you can get if for $300, perhaps, but to me, there are just too many drawbacks overall.

The 9800 GTX would likely be a safer bet for an overall performance bump.

Primu$ April 10, 2008 11:46 AM

Hey -n7-, Im new here Great review on the two cards, nice benchies too :thumb:
Cant wait to get info on the 9800 GTX its gonna be supreme too
These cards are getting more bigger everytime too wowzers!
Anyways cya around

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