A lot has happened since the dual-GPU Radeon HD 3870 X2 was launched last January, though not so much on ATI's front. Since that time Nvidia got quite busy releasing new products that include the GeForce 9600 GT, 9800 GX2, and the 9800 GTX.
While the 9600 GT was hardly a threat to the Radeon X2 at the time, the 9800 GX2 most certainly was. In fact, the GeForce 9800 GX2 swiftly dethroned the 3870 X2, giving back the performance crown to Nvidia. Then the less costly GeForce 9800 GTX was able to match the performance of the 3870 X2 in a select few titles. It did not ended on top, but at roughly $300 it did give the Radeon a fair fight in terms of value.
A typical Radeon HD 3870 X2 will set you back ~$400 making it considerably more expensive, while remaining cheaper than the GeForce 9800 GX2 for about the same margin.
Today we are reviewing no ordinary Radeon HD 3870 X2 graphics card, as we take a look at the Visiontek Radeon HD 3870 X2 Overclocked Edition. This is quite possibly the most impressive 3870 X2 graphics card available today, with the only possible exception being the ASUS version we reviewed a few months back. Like the ASUS, this Visiontek card aims at offering a greatly improved cooling solution, quad DVI-outputs, along with some factory overclocking to top it all off.
As you should know by now, the Radeon HD 3870 X2 is in essence two Radeon HD 3870 GPUs stuck together on the same PCB. This has already been proven to work quite well in terms of performance, but there's always the heat output concern.
While the ATI reference cooling does a reasonable job of keeping the 3870 X2 cool, we have often found load temperatures exceeding 80 degrees. This may be typical of todays high-end graphics cards, but it does limit the overclocking headroom.
Before we move on to check out this graphics card in more detail, we would like to follow up on a few issues that we had when initially testing the Radeon HD 3870 X2.
But the brilliant part about the new Radeon design is that it doesn't rely on drivers or a specific chipset to work (using the two GPUs in a single board). That said, we have still found the current crop of drivers (Catalyst 8.1 and 8.45 beta) to be a little immature. While for the most part the system was stable during testing, every now and then we would encounter a random crash which did not appear to be specific to any game. Whether this is a problem related to drivers running on Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit or not, we are unsure at this point.
The Visiontek Radeon HD 3870 X2 was tested using the official Catalyst 8.4 drivers for Windows Vista 64-bit and thankfully the stability issues we faced when testing a similar card back in January are now gone. After running our typical line-up of benchtests and having played countless games with the card, we are satisfied to report this is solid product that shouldn't present gamers with any problems despite its rare dual-GPU nature.