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: The ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2 by itself isn’t that bad, but when run in CrossFireX you better keep an eye on things. Our Corsair HX620W power supply is rated for operation at 620W, but was pulling 791W when trying to run CrossFireX with the Radeon HD 4870 X2’s. Certain benchmarks like 3DMark Vantage were corrupted as the power supply just couldn’t handle the load. A quick switch over to a Cooler Master 1000W ESA power supply and the benchmarking went on without a problem. With the new power supply running more efficiently the peak power consumption on the Radeon HD 4870 X2 in CrossFireX was 755W. This is nearly 7 Amps of power draw, so if you have an older house with a number of electronics on a 15 Amp service you might be in trouble. Also it was interesting to see how different games draw different amounts of power. The CrossFireX platform didn’t scale in Crysis, but did in Call of Duty 4 as you can see from both the benchmarks and the chart above.
Final Thoughts and Conclusions:
If you want the absolute best when it comes to gaming graphics performance a pair of Radeon HD 4870 X2 cards are what you need. They are super fast graphics cards and at $549 each they aren’t priced too high compared to where other cards have launched in the past few years. AMD has done a great job with these cards and they were able to take back the performance crown with the release of these cards. NVIDIA can no longer say they have the fastest graphics card and that has to hurt with the NVIDIA NVISION gathering just a couple weeks away. NVIDIA has been pretty silent on the PR side lately though, so maybe they have something under wraps that will be able to compete with the Radeon HD 4870 X2 on either a price or performance view point.
We do have some gripes with a few things, though so hang on a second! The first thing is heat and power consumption. Right now the end of summer is near, but the temperatures are still warm. When testing these cards in SLI and CrossFire they get hot and quickly heat up a room. The Radeon HD 4870 X2 in CrossFireX was a tad loud and was gulping down between 750W to 800W depending on what power supply was being used. This puts a 7 Amp load on that specific wiring run, so if you plan on building an uber gaming system you might want to make sure your Plasma TV can run the same time your PC is turned on and gaming! With everyone going green this high power consumption level will turn a few people away, but that is not what this product is all about. This is a run what you brung type of product that has one speed, balls to wall! If you don’t like it then don’t flame it, just buy a different card! For those that want the best and are worried about the power consumption just be happy you don’t have to pay a gas guzzler tax like on exotic cars!
Having said our piece on what we didn’t like about the Radeon HD 4870 X2 we can tell you about Palit is going to do with their custom designed cards that will be coming out in roughly 3-4 weeks. Palit is cooking up an 8-layer PCB, dual fan, 3 heat-pipe monster that better components! The card we are looking at here today is the reference card, so Palit is doing their own design that should improve the noise and improve the overall cooling of the card. We can’t wait to see what Palit is planning on their card, but when it comes out you better believe we will have a review on it.
Legit Bottom Line: AMD just knocked NVIDIA off the hill with the Radeon HD 4870 X2 and now has the fastest single graphics card available on the market.