HD 6870 1GB Value and Conclusion
The arrival of the HD 6870 1GB is causing a total reshuffle of GPU pricing from both red and green camps, so you’ll have to forgive us if inevitable price-shifts change the situation post-publishing this article.
At time of writing the HD 6870 1GB is set to replace the HD 5850 1GB
as ATI’s £200 part, with prices from various board partners of around £200 for a stock HD 6870 1GB and around £210 for a custom cooled model. These prices will inevitably drop though, as availability and inter-board partner competition drop prices.
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Pre-empting ATI’s new cards, Nvidia has dropped the pricing of the GTX 470 1,280MB
through the floor, with these cards, launched in March at well over £300, now selling for well under £200 for a stock clocked model. While that sounds like awesome value, the HD 6870 1GB and GTX 470 1,280MB performed very similarly across our benchmarks with perhaps the GTX 470 1,280MB edging it thanks to its superior anti-aliased performance in Battlefield: Bad Company 2
However, the GTX 470 1,280MB has some rather serious flaws; firstly its gargantuan power consumption, a full 95W more than the HD 6870 1GB and, secondly, it’s ferociously hot running and noisy cooler. These were major flaws when we first looked at the card back in March and they won’t go away unless you opt for a more expensive custom cooled model such as Zotac’s GTX 470 Amp! Edition
. In comparison the HD 6870 1GB is easy on both the electricity bill and the ears, whilst competing closely with the GTX 470 1,280MB on performance and pricing.
In comparison to the HD 5850 1GB, the card the HD 6870 1GB replaces at the £200 price point, the benefits are enough to justify the new line of cards. Across the benchmarks the jump in performance is around ten per cent, which seems to have become the de-facto leap in performance between graphics card generations. While ten per cent over a year doesn’t sound like much, it’s about the same increase offered by the GTX 480 1.5GB
over the HD 5870 1GB
earlier this year. The days of new architectures offering huge performance improvements seems to have passed.
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While the pricing and performance of the HD 6870 1GB is fair then, we do have some concerns over the congestion of the graphics market. With the launch of the HD 6870 1GB and HD 6850 1GB, ATI now has five separate cards in the £100-£200 price range; the HD 5770 1GB
, HD 5830 1GB
, HD 6850 1GB, HD 5850 1GB and HD 6870 1GB. Add Nvidia’s four competing cards into the mix and you have nine graphics cards scrapping for this lucrative market; great for pricing, but very confusing for customers.
Nevertheless, the HD 6870 1GB fits neatly into the ATI range of cards and at a starting price point of £200 and with partners preparing to sell for prices rumoured to be as low £180 it's good value too. We’d certainly plump for the HD 6870 1GB over the GTX 470 1,280MB despite the latter's slightly superior performance, thanks in majority to the HD 6870 1GB’s lower power consumption and un-intrusive non-nuclear cooler. While it’s not the performance revolution some may have been hoping for/expecting, the HD 6870 1GB knocks the performance up a notch, with the minimum of fuss at a fair price.
ATI Radeon HD 6870 1GB