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RV670: AMD ATI Radeon HD 3870

AMD ATI Radeon HD 3870 512MB

Manufacturer: AMD
UK Price (as reviewed): from £127.09 (inc. VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $269.99 (ex. Tax)

The last few weeks have been a particularly busy time in the technology industry, with the introduction of Nvidia’s GeForce 8800 GT, Intel’s first 45nm processor and now the announcement of AMD's Spider platform. The platform, which AMD touts as the first of its kind, is comprised of the long-awaited quad-core Phenom processors, the AMD 790FX chipset and of course, lest we forget, the ATI Radeon HD 3800 series graphics cards that launched just a couple of weeks ago.

There’s a reason for this rush to get hardware onto the market though – it’s because the latest crop of games are shaping up to be pretty good. I can’t remember the last time, at least in recent years, where we had so many big games launching in such a short time.

We have been treated to a bunch of titles on the PC from many of the big developers this year, including the likes of Crytek, Epic Games, Infinity Ward, Irrational Games (now 2K Boston/2K Australia), Massive...and of course, we can't forget Valve Software.

The titles delivered by these developers, amongst a whole host of others, have been hailed as helping to drive the industry forwards into the ever-so-touted 'next generation' of gaming. Of course, that’s subject to questioning and matter of opinion, but it’s a big buzz word that AMD, Nvidia and Microsoft are throwing around quite regularly at the moment.

AMD's RV670 graphics chip

AMD's RV670 graphics chip

Some of this is obviously due to the release of the ‘next generation’ of consoles from Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony in the past couple of years. During this period, many fringe PC gamers questioned whether PC gaming would survive because the consoles were almost on a par with high-end PCs at the time they launched. PC gaming wasn’t in good shape at that time, but it appears that things have changed this year – every developer we’ve spoken to is keen to push the point that PC gaming is in great shape.

One thing that backs this up is the launch of Nvidia’s GeForce 8800 GT 512MB which, although there are stock shortages at the moment, has pushed a lot of gamers to consider upgrading their systems. AMD’s ATI Radeon HD 3800-series hopes to push this trend even further and during AMD's event in Warsaw, many company representatives told bit-tech that it had massive volume at launch, but even that wasn't enough because, like the GeForce 8800 GT, is out of stock at most retail outlets. AMD hoped to capitalise on Nvidia’s supply shortages (which are expected to ease in the next couple of weeks) in the short term and I believe it did, but the long term is a more interesting proposition, as AMD hopes to take some market share back from the Jolly Green Giant.

Yes, this article is a little late, but after some initial problems during testing (which were mainly down to the quite crazy time constraints we were put under), we’re finally here today to report on how AMD’s new flagship graphics card, the Radeon HD 3870, stacks up against the competition. At the same time, we’ll dive down into the architecture and sift through DirectX 10.1 to find out what all of the fuss is about.

Because of the amount of ground we’ve got to cover in this article, we decided that the right thing to do would be to break it down into chunks that are nice and easy for you to read. If you’re not a graphics geek and don’t want to try and understand the architecture behind the chip, you can of course move on past it – the same can be said for DirectX 10.1, but as this is one of the major selling points of the Radeon HD 3800-series, we certainly recommend giving that portion of the review a good read.

bit-tech Radeon HD 3870 coverage

  • Page 1-2: Introduction
  • Page 3: Radeon HD 3870 card design
  • Page 4-7: Radeon HD 3870 architecture
  • Page 8-9: DirectX 10.1
  • Page 10-16: Performance testing
  • Page 17: Power Consumption
  • Page 18: Conclusions