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R680: AMD ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2

R680: ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2

Manufacturer: AMD
UK Price (as reviewed): £268.75 (inc. VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $449.00 (ex. Tax)

For the last fifteen months, the graphics industry has been an uncharacteristically one-sided affair, with Nvidia practically dominating proceedings ever since it launched its hugely successful G80 graphics processing unit.

While Nvidia was busy selling bucket loads of GeForce 8800s, ATI was finishing its integration into the AMD portfolio after its buyout in the second half of 2006 and, at the same time, the graphics chip vendor was trying to ready its DirectX 10-based R600 GPU for release.

R600 was then delayed and, when it finally launched as the Radeon HD 2900 XT, it ended up being only marginally less underwhelming than the GeForce 8600-series launch that happened just a month earlier. And it then went from bad to worse when the mid-range Radeon HD 2000-series cards launched, as they underperformed at their price point—we continued to recommend the previous generation mid-range cards—and they could easily be classed as last year’s low-point in the graphics industry.

R680: AMD ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2 Introduction
AMD's ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2

Thankfully, things haven’t been so doom and gloom for AMD’s graphics product group since then and, with the launch of the RV670-based Radeon HD 3870 and Radeon HD 3850 graphics cards in November, AMD finally had a couple of graphics cards that were well worth considering over the competition—even after Nvidia launched the frankly awesome GeForce 8800 GT. Despite ATI’s return to competition, the graphics product group still hadn’t released a credible response to Nvidia’s GeForce 8800 GTX—the backbone for much of the Jolly Green Giant’s success for the last fifteen months—at least, that is... until today.

It’s almost like a dream because many conspiracy theorists believed that AMD would quietly exit the high-end and focus more of the resources on the mass market. While the latter part of that statement is true, the former couldn’t be farther from the truth, as the company has released its first true high-end graphics card since the Radeon X1950 XTX; allow me to introduce you to the Radeon HD 3870 X2 – a product that AMD has referred to as R680 on numerous occasions.

Over the course of this article, we’re going to cover the Radeon HD 3870 X2 in typical bit-tech fashion – we’ll cover the technology first and then that will be followed closely by a comprehensive selection of benchmarks from some of today’s hottest games.

bit-tech Radeon HD 3870 X2 coverage

  • Page 1: Introduction
  • Page 2-5: Hardware and Technology
  • Page 6-12: Performance Testing
  • Page 13: Power Consumption
  • Page 14: Conclusions
Without further ado, let’s get on and look at the hardware...