For testing power consumption, we took our test system and plugged it into a Seasonic Power Angel. For idle numbers, we allowed the system to idle on the desktop for 15 minutes and took the reading. For load numbers, we measured the peak wattage used by the system while running the game World in Conflict at 1600×1200 with medium graphics quality.
Power Consumption Results: When it comes to power consumption the ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2 didn’t shock us when it consumed more power than any single graphics card combination that we have looked at recently. At full load the entire system consumed 334W , which was just higher than what the GeForce 8800 Ultra consumes. For a card that has a full TeraFLOP of processing power would you expect any less? The idle power consumption was very impressive compared to NVIDIA based graphics cards though, so keep that in mind as most computers sit at idle anyway.
The ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2 is obviously aimed at the enthusiast market and it does very well compared to other ATI and NVIDIA graphics cards. The Radeon HD 3870 X2 looks great on DirectX 10 game titles and holds it own against the GeForce 8800 Ultra, which is a card that costs nearly $200 more at $630. For just $450 the Radeon HD 3870 X2 finally forces NVIDIA to compete in the high-end video card market, so it should be safe to say that NVIDIA has some new products on the way and possible price cuts on cards that have been in the market for some time now. It took ATI years to catch up to the GeForce 8800 GTX and GeForce 8800 Ultra and while they didn’t catch up with a single GPU solution they did develop a mutli-GPU solution that can. When it comes to ease of use the Radeon HD 3870 X2 was easier to use than pair of Radeon HD 3870 graphics cards in CrossFire as nothing need to be done. Just install the cards and everything is already enabled and ready to go. Having more than one GPU on a card has been done before and it is only a matter of time before enthusiast GPU’s have multiple cores on one piece of silicon just like desktop processors.
ATI planned for the Radeon HD 3870 X2 to compete with the higher end NVIDIA cards all along and that does show through in certain areas. The use of the PCI Express 1.1 bridge chip shows that ATI wanted to cut the time to market down as they didn’t wait for the PCI Express 2.0 bridge chip when they originally designed the board. The use of one copper and one aluminum heat sink shows that weight and cost became an issue during development. The other thing that stands out is the use of GDDR3 memory ICs over GDDR4 as that too was cleary done for cost issues. ATI no doubt needed the Radeon HD 3870 X2 to come out as fast as possbile, but what if it had a newer bridge chip, all copper heat sinks and faster GDDR4 memory ICs? The Radeon HD 3870 X2 is a great graphics card at a killer price point, but there is obviously room for improvement.
Overall the ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2 was designed to perfection and has done the job it was sent out to do perfectly. NVIDIA finally has competition in the $400+ price range! When ATI releases CrossFireX drivers and a pair of these can be run together it should get really interesting, but by then I’m sure NVIDIA will have an answer on our door step.
Bottom Line: At $449 the ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2 graphics card is by far the fastest single card solution from AMD. It competes with the higher end GeForce 8800 series cards that are finally starting to show signs of aging.