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 Call of Duty 4 at 1280×1024 with high graphics quality.
Power Consumption Results: Looking at total system power consumption levels it is clear that AMD no longer has the lead in energy efficiency. The GeForce GTX 280 has impressive power savings features as you can tell above. The HIS Radeon HD 4870 uses GDDR5 that is supposed to save energy, so they must have had to really increase the core voltage to reach 750MHz. Both the Radeon HD 4850 and HD 4870 use a little more power than we want to see. In CrossFire the Radeon HD 4870 test system used nearly 475W while just playing Call of Duty 4 and was putting out some series heat with both cards running above 80C! Since it is summer here in St. Louis it quickly heated up our test room!
The ATI Radeon HD 4870 graphics card looks to be a great card for gamers and performed better than many of the cards that we tested it against. At $299 the Radeon HD 4870 is priced $70 above the just released GeForce 9800 GTX+ and performs better in the bulk of games we tested it on. Both the Radeon HD 4850 and Radeon HD 4870 are solid performing cards and that was shown even more when we ran CrossFire for the very first time. In CrossFire the Radeon HD 4000 series performed very well and the scores in Call of Duty 4 were very impressive.
The only negatives on the Radeon HD 4870 and Radeon HD 4850 graphics cards are the power consumption and heat levels. This is the tell tale sign of excessive leakage (anyone else thinking about the Prescott days?) and while it doesn’t impact performance it makes things hot. We had high hopes for the dual-slot cooler on the Radeon HD 4870, but at 83C under load it didn’t seem to take the edge off.
Pricing on the Radeon HD 4870 is at $299 and that will put some pressure on the GeForce GTX 260, which lists for $399. We didn’t have a chance to include that video card in the charts today, but we already have one on the test bench and will have it up next week.
AMD has done a great job attacking the mainstream market since the launch of the Radeon HD 3850 and 3870 video cards and seems to have done it again with the Radeon HD 4850 and 4870. These cards are the real deal and the drivers are looking pretty solid and we are using beta CATALYST 8.7, so that should say something.
Legit Bottom Line: The ATI Radeon HD 4870 graphics card brings a new level of performance to AMD and CrossFire performance is great, but can someone do something about the temperatures and power consumption?