Now that AMD has found its way back on top, in the graphics sphere at least, it's NVIDIA's turn to go for the jugular. And it's NVIDIA's flagship GTX 280 that AMD is seeking to bury with this exclusive Sapphire release, the long-awaited 4850x2
We're not big fans of multi-GPU graphics technology here on ye olde TechRadar. Whether you're talking SLI from NVIDIA or AMD's Crossfire, multi-GPU graphics solutions promise much but typically conspire to disappoint. Can the 4870 X2 change things?
My head's all in a whirl, the graphics market is changing afore my very eyes. In the ﬁnal days of the big DX9 cards, all the competition between the red and green camps was about the high-end. It was assumed that if a company bags the high-performance crown, then that would have a trickle-down effect on the rest of its range, urging punters to hurl their cash behind the top team in the low and mid-range sectors too. Now, with NVIDIA having the top end sewn up that's it, right?
Just how much are you willing to pay to have the fastest graphics card? That's always been a tricky question for PC gaming enthusiasts. But with the release of ATI's latest performance graphics chipset, the Radeon HD 4870, it's become a real conundrum. That's because AMD's graphics subsidiary has given up chasing the outright 3D performance crown. It is no longer even trying to create the fastest single GPU on the planet. Instead it has shifted its focus towards efficiency and value for money. As we discovered last week with our first look at the entry level member of the Radeon HD 4800 series, the 4850, ATI has done a stunning job. The 4850 is yours for a piffling £125 but delivers more performance than the fastest single-GPU graphics card available just a few months ago. Say hello to the 4870
Going under the new moniker of 'Atomic', rather than the Toxic title that Sapphire's first X1950 wet-ware was sold under, the Asus EN9800 GX2 Quad SLI is a new revision of AMD's standard reference 3870x2. So how does it fare against it's warmer brethren? Actually, it's not much different.
Recently, NVIDIA has gone into manufacturing overdrive, releasing a slew of new graphics cards in a bid to bury the competition. We’ve seen the excellent 8800GT arrive, quickly followed by weaker iterations of the same card at lower prices.
Whatever happened to that 1950s science-fiction dream of computers as huge cabinets stacked wall-to-wall, with thousands of blinking lights and adjustable dials? All those optimistic scientists would probably be quite depressed to see what computers have become: mostly dull-grey, metal boxes with a monitor, keyboard and mouse. Asus is obviously planning to set the record straight with the EAH3850 OCGear.
In theory, the only difference between this cheapo Radeon HD 3850 board and the highfalutin’ HD 3870 card from Sapphire is clockspeeds. They both share 320 stream shaders, 16 texture and render output units, 256-bit bus and 512MB of memory.
Unlike the AMD cards, not all the NVIDIA GPUs here feature the same basic specification. So, does the cut-down architecture of this Asus-made GeForce 8800 GS scupper its ability to compete with comparably priced Radeon HD 3850 boards?
If there’s something to be said for keeping things simple and concentrating on the basics, then this Asus board makes its case loud and clear. It sticks entirely with NVIDIA’s reference design for GeForce 8800GT cards. The result is a total domination of our performance tests. Natch.
What a difference 256MB of video memory makes. A year or so ago, we would have confidently recommended that 256MB of memory was plenty for monitors that max out below 1,920x1,200. Today, that logic has been lobbed out of the window.
There's going to be a lot of PCs sold with low-end 8500GT cards in, which we've already established aren't very good for gaming. Rather than add-in another 100 pound-plus board, though, is SLI a good upgrade route?
It's really not PNY's fault, but unfortunately it has the dubious honour of being an un-boosted 8600GTS. Against other cards of a similar ilk it is eminently comparable: in other words, it's not pricey for a GeForce 8600GTS
To be fair, we're not really looking at the 8500 card as a potential upgrade for a hardcore games system. Unless you're content playing your favourite games at 800 x 600 without any image quality settings on there's no way this will ever cut the mustard
What DX10 cards lack in performance, they make up for in stunning DX9 credentials, at least at the high-end. The midrange is another story - after a thorough examination of the other cards on offer at its price point, I'm not impressed
Unless you're an avid gamer, you've probably missed the fact that Nvidia currently finds itself in something of a unique position. Its G80 family is the only one to offer support for Microsoft's DirectX 10.