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 looked pretty good across the board. It consumes less power than any of the GeForce 880 series cards at both idle and load, which is impressive to say the least. When a pair of Radeon HD 3870 graphics cards are run Crossfire, the load results are just shy of what a GeForce 8800 Ultra is putting out and is less than just a single Radeon HD 2900XT. The Radeon HD 3870 is also impressive at idle as the entire system was running at 111W. When it comes to power consumption, ATI has done it right.
The ATI Radeon HD 3870 was a solid performer in all of the benchmarks we tested and was able to run all the DirectX 10 game titles we threw at it with no problems at all. The CrossFire drivers still need some help on certain games, but hopefully that will clear up in the next couple driver releases. The Radeon HD 3870 was hands down a faster card than a Radeon HD 3850, but you’ll pay for the extra performance. The Radeon HD 3870 can be found for $229 with a rebate, while the Radeon HD 3850 can be picked up for $169 without a rebate. Is the Radeon HD 3870 worth the extra $60? It really depends on how much you have to spend to be honest. In Call of Duty 4, there was just a 2 frame per second (6%) difference noted between the cards and in Crysis, there was a 5 frame per second (14%) performance difference. These are two of the hottest game titles this holiday season, so is 6-14% performance improvement in those game titles worth the extra 35% in price? In other games like Bioshock and World in Conflict we noted 30% and 42% performance increases, so it really depends on which games you play. It’s a tough call to be honest, but luckily those shopping for a $169 card are usually in a different price range than $229-$249.
AMD has come up with a great series with the ATI Radeon HD 3850 and Radeon HD 3870 graphics card and with their low prices it leaves the door open to CrossFire and CrossFireX upgrades down the road. Pictured below are four Radeon HD 3870’s running in CrossFireX.
Bottom Line: The ATI Radeon HD 3870 offers serious performance for $229 and is significantly faster than the ATI Radeon HD 3850 and is even able to compete with some of the GeForce 8 series cards.