AMD Radeon HD 6870 Review

By Julio Franco ยท 74 replies
Oct 21, 2010
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  1. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,224   +164

  2. princeton

    princeton TS Addict Posts: 1,676

    I read the charts wrong. Sorry :p
  3. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,713   +855

    "Nvidia had their only sweet spot with the they do not."

    I'm really not convinced of that red1776. I don't see anything in those reviews to lead me to believe that the 460 is now officially dead in the water. Again, tossing in the 6870 as a comparison to the 460 makes no sense. NewEgg has 1GB/DDR5 460's for as low as $180. The lowest priced 6870 is $70 more than that and a good XFX overclocked 6870 is over $100 more. The 6870 is really more in line with the 470 so I'm not even going down that 460 vs. 6870 comparison road.

    OK, moving on. The 6870 beats the 460 by a few frame rates (in most cases VERY few) in these reviews. But it's still more expensive, uses more power and generates more heat. To me, if I were building a new rig today, I'd view it as a toss-up. It would really boil down to what's most important to you - AMD MultiView or nVidia's PhysX and how reliable the drivers are. Historically nVidia has put out higher quality drivers and more frequently than AMD. Them's just the facts.

    As far as the adoption rate of Crossfire or SLI, yeah - I'll agree. I think up to this time it's been a niche thing for enthusiasts. But I also believe that's changing, and rapidly. Regardless of brand, when you're looking at a single GPU card selling for $500+ dollars that can be smoked by two mid-ranged cards for $400 or less, that's the road builders are going to take. And take a look at MOBO's these days. You really had to search to find SLI/Crossfire boards just 3 years ago. Now, they're mainstream and in fact are considered "must haves." Times are definitely changing in multi-video card setups.

    Lastly, as far as price drops - it'll happen. Maybe not right this minute, but it will happen. Whenever nVidia and AMD get into a head butting match where they're both pretty even, that's historically been the case.

    At an rate, again I'm pleased with these AMD releases. Keeps both AMD and nVidia honest, we as consumers aren't being screwed over by one card manufacturer holding a monopoly over the other and best of all, makes for some mind-blowing gaming experiences. :)
  4. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,224   +164

    GOOD GOD. are you guys going out of your way trying to avoid the point I was making? Or perhaps you are responding to the wrong thread. It's not about the 6850 "blowing out" the 460. It's about AMD taking away the single stronghold that Nvidia had (the 460) and not being conducive to a price war.

    NO it does not!
    look at the chart I just linked you to;
    The 1X 6850 is @ 278W system watts
    the 1x GTX 460 is @ 291 system watts CF/SLI
    The 2 x 6850 is @ 393W
    The 2x GTX 460 is @ 433W

    ...and from HotHardware...
    let me know if you need more, and think these guys are all running "flawed" tests.

    Geezus princeton, have your interpreter do a better job for you.

    @Tom 18% is a few frames?...oookkkayy
    so if 18% is a few frames (the bench you cited) what then are we calling the 6870 beating the 470 in every test but the Far Cry2?
    2) who said "dead in the water?" I said "Nvidia had a stronghold with the they do not"

    $180 + 70 = $250... Newegg has a page of 6870's for $239.00

    ...cmon guys..really?

    A "good" OC'd 460 will cost you $ 270

    So one more time:

    It's not about the 6850 "blowing out" the 460. It's about AMD taking away the single stronghold that Nvidia had (the 460) and not being conducive to a price war.
  5. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,713   +855

    Relax Red - we're all on the same side. Just having a friendly debate.

    Your point is taken on the 6850 not starting a price war, I just happen to disagree. In fact, the 460's were dropped in price literally days before the release of the 6850. Coincidence? Hardly. And I'm quite sure we haven't seen the last of the price cutting.

    Your 18% faster frame rate figure is (again) taken from the 6870, not the 6850. Let's keep the comparisons consistent - 6850 vs. 460, please. Otherwise, I can throw up GTX480 stats against the 6870. Would amount to the same thing. Otherwise, TechSpot demonstrated a 3% difference in frame-rate performance in this review.

    If you want to pay $270 for an oc'd 460, then fine. Go ahead and throw your money away. Here's a highly rated oc'd 460 for $180:

    Otherwise, NewEgg 6870 cards range from $240 to $280.

    And yes, you're right - I stand corrected. The 6870 showed itself to be 3 watts more energy efficient than the 460 card it was matched up against. That's three watts. I will stand my ground though on the heat, noise and price comparisons stated.

    Not a damn thing wrong with either make of cards, just depends on what flavor ice cream you like. ;)
  6. klepto12

    klepto12 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,115   +9

    whats funny is there is even a 6850 for as little as $179 on newegg. the 6850 and 6870 are great cards and will make nvidia drop prices. the GXT 460 is still a great car even at the $199 price point its a great card but red is trying to say that's all nvidia had and now they don't have anything since the release of the 6000 series cards. i mean come on look at the difference between the 5770 and the 6870 its a huge jump so what are we going to see from the 6970?
  7. EDO219

    EDO219 TS Rookie Posts: 212

    "Speaking of soon-to-be-extinct graphics cards, the Radeon HD 5850 costs 20% more than the 6870, while the latter is 11% faster on average."

    Just a few days ago I had ordered two Radeon HD 5850's for my new build. X_X

    Good thing newegg has a 30 day return policy.

    EDIT: Correct me if I am mistaken, but it seems the 6870 can not be in a 3-way Crossfire configuration; only a 2-way at best.
  8. Hi,

    Good review, but please correct Incorrect Info on Barts.

    HD6870 has 1GB of GDDR5 that runs a 1,050 mhz (or 4200 mhz effective). 256-bit memory bus results in 134.4 GB/sec memory bandwidth, NOT 153.6GB/s of bandwidth as noted on the 2nd page of the review.

    Also, Barts die size is 255mm2 not 230mm2. Another mistake.

    I am sure you can confirm these specs with AMD launch slides OR from GPU-Z.
  9. Ok, you also got the TMUs (texture mapping units) wrong on Barts. HD6870 has 56 of those, NOT 70 as noted in the review, while HD6850 has 48.

    Need better proof reading next time. :)
  10. Archean

    Archean TechSpot Paladin Posts: 5,690   +96

    Tom, nVidia people also happen to know that what was coming, and they moved quickly to make their product more 'appealing' and perhaps bit better choice 'price/performance' wise, but I don't think they ended up at the right price point, to remain competitive they will have to lower prices significantly again, which doesn't bode well for them anyway.
  11. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,264

    Nice refresh......that's about it.
    OK for the updaters from the HD4000 and GTX200 series (or earlier). Nobody in their right mind is likely to be trading in their HD 5850 or equivalent though.
    A couple of points...
    AMD takes a leaf out of nvidia's manual- dual card crossfire only.
    AMD and nvidia still dancing on perf/$ and market segmentation. While the fanboys reach new heights of estrogen inbalance, our two graphics companys maintain their as-you-were approach...
    From the review...
    1680 x 1050 res...
    HD 6870 ...697 frames/sec aggregate divided by $240 = 2.90 frames/$
    GTX 470...710 frames/sec aggregate divided by $240 = 2.96 frames/$
    GTX 460 1Gb...614 frames/sec aggregate divided by $170 = 3.61 frames/$
    HD 5850...621 frames/sec aggregate divided by $195 = 3.18 frames/$

    HD 6870....612 frames/sec aggregate = 2.55 frames/$
    GTX 470...589 frames/sec aggregate = 2.45 frames/$
    GTX 460...506 frames/sec aggregate = 2.98 frames/$
    HD 5850...548 frames/sec aggregate = 2.81 frames/$

    Total frames/sec per $ average for HD/HD ready resolutions (the likely resolutions for these cards' buyers)
    GTX 460...3.29 fps/$
    HD 5850...3.00 fps/$
    HD 6870...2.73 fps /$
    GTX 470.. 2.71 fps /$

    And more of the same on the multi-GPU front...

    GTX 460 SLI.............65716 frames/sec, divided by $360 = 172.9 fps/$
    HD 6870 Crossfire....64094 frames/sec, divided by $480 = 133.5 fps/$

    The short version...
    Games playable with the HD 6870 that were unplayable with the cards it is supposedly due to supplant :
    0 (Nil)
    The rest comes to hype, pricing*, availability, and game preferences.

    * I don't think, as has been mentioned, that the nvidia price cuts are somehow unsustainable. Nvidia is clearly sacrificing profit for market share and treading water at this point in time. But since nvidia carries no debt burdon, then it can afford to cut it's margins to break even (factoring in R&D, wages, distribution, marketing/SDK's, manufacturing etc.) least for this generation. The make or break for nvidia will be how the 28nm process shakes out for both them and AMD.
  12. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,961   +2,518

    So then, does this mean that if I remain unmoved by any of this, that I am not a good candidate for hormone replacement therapy?

    Or that I am a Luddite, by suggesting that the GT-460 still stands out as the best value out there?

    Or does my competence further come into in question, if I flatly state, "I doubt that I would be able to tell the difference between, 65716 frames/sec and 64094 frames/sec"?
  13. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,264

    I wouldn't let a lack of graphics forum bs (battle stress?) deter you from HRT...especially if you think you're at risk from Osteoporosis.
    No and the GTX460 still represents good performance at reasonable pricing. The monthy Steam hardware survey still shows most gaming is done at 1920x1080 or less, so in effect, any card from the HD 5770/5830/5850/GTX460 mainstream class is more than capable in a real world gaming scenario....of course, that doesn't take into account the two badly coded games in gaming history that require some extra shader horsepower -namely Crysis and Metro 2033, or of course the dire need for 8+ MSAA and every image quality box checked.
    What is of paramount importance is that the HD 6850/6870 are NEW. And, if your merchandising indoctrination has been successful, you would be well aware that NEW + HYPE = BETTER. The HD6xxx will undoubtably gain in performance as drivers become more mature. It remains to be seen if these same drivers get UVD3 working correctly with H.264 level 5.1 DXVA (as example).
    Welllllllll...thats an aggregate total of the benchmarks, of which 60583 and 58376 respectively, are artificial graphics benches (3D Vantage and Heaven v2), while a third is a score (not fps). So in point of fact the fps difference in real gaming is 18.9 per benchmark (accentuated by the bizarre framerates in Street Fighter IV, Resident Evil 5 and Far Cry 2 as well as the 460 running out of steam at 2560x1600 res.)- 11% in favour of the HD 6870 (for a 33% pricing penalty). But I'm sure you knew all of this already.

    Be sure to check back next month, when the Intel IGP, nvidia 8400 and AMD HD4200 crowd start arguing the relative merits of the HD 6980 and 6950, while proclaiming their undying devotion to branding and the issuance of graphics jihads in green and red flavours.
  14. The new 6850 CF and 6870 CF have better scaling than even Nvidia's GTX 460 SLI. Scaling is almost 1:1 in some games like BF:BC2. 460 SLI's scaling was only 85 percent in that game.
  15. ViNCiLiCiouS

    ViNCiLiCiouS TS Rookie Posts: 30

    The name scheme is still hurting. Wonder what they'll do next year when the HD 7xxx series are up for naming...

    Just got a 460 1GB (from 5770 CF) a couple of weeks ago, just my timing.

    I'm gonna go with the professional recommendations, get the 68xx only as a new system or upgrading from a *budget* card. Although I am telling everyone I know to get the 6870, which I think is a wonderful hit back at the 460.

  16. 63Jax

    63Jax TS Enthusiast Posts: 85

    i love this competition and i hate fanboysm. just changed my old gpu to an 6870, and is fast
  17. gokica

    gokica TS Rookie

    AMD failed to create proper response to the GTX460 768 MB which is the best choice if someone cares for performance vs price ratio (up to resolution 1920 X 1080) and many of them are out there. We must not forget (AMD as well) the fact that Physx although not in many titles still holds the ground for nVidia. Enthusiasts are pretty disappointed with the latest response from AMD and from the naming/renaming scheme. Instead of 6850/6870 these new cards should have been named 6750/6770 as originally planned. From an owner of single 5870 comes the satatement: if I was to buy a new card now, the chouce would come down to one the "greens"! BTW I am fond of single graphic card solutions.
  18. UT66

    UT66 TS Rookie Posts: 143

    Super cool toy, ATI, or, AMD, whatever, really my mouth is watering but hey i have a question... why do i need to play mass effect 2 at 200fps and WQHD resolution if the game was designed to run at 720P and barely 30fps? Whats the point? So yea, i think my 4770 is more than enough, and you guys ( devs) aren't even using that! So no real pc games? no buy, mkay? ( lol i know)
  19. gokica

    gokica TS Rookie

    You have a point @UT66. The hardware is way ahead comparing to the games out there and one single title with higher requirements (or lower optimization) makes the crowd crazy for powerful solutions. Actually my 5870 is not utilized to its max so I am moving down to 9800GT soon. Than I will wait for better winds in the graphics cards market until Spring.
  20. UT66

    UT66 TS Rookie Posts: 143

    The worst part? The trend is here to stay. Example? The incoming sequel of that single title with higher requirements @ crap optimization you mentioned? Guess what? is also designed around cellphone, i mean console limitations, designed to run at sub 720p, sub 30fps, sub par textures and analog aiming. Literally no turning back. BTW next gen is a Mii to for both MS and Sony? expect the same hardware with a minor bump in mhZ..., your 5870 is WAAAy ahead , trust me.
  21. gokica

    gokica TS Rookie

    Yeah, quite right. Spring will bring some refreshment in my computer not due to the needs but due to the enthusiasm of owning and testing something new. I am thinking of the GTX460 786MB for now but I have a feeling that spring may bring some better prices. I know that we need to wait until 2012 for some better titles and shift in positive direction when the consoles will evolve to their new generations.
  22. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,271   +455

    I'm personally very confused by the change in the naming scheme - I don't understand/agree why they did it. I was really hoping the 6870 was going to beat the 5870 - but that just isn't the case. I was also hoping to see a 6970 comprised of two underclocked 6870s... but now I don't really want to see that anymore. I really love the pricing of these devices though as they finally have real competition in the budget area. I promised my daughter a GTX 460 but maybe I'll check out a 6870 if a slightly lower power requirement version comes out from a third party.
  23. hamitaltintop22

    hamitaltintop22 TS Rookie Posts: 21

    I also wish that the HD 68XX were named HD 67XX. The only time this new naming scheme would be easily acceptable would be if the HD 69XX were released before the HD 68XX.
    It seems the HD 6850 stock and GTX 460 stock are competing relatively well at the $180 price point. When both are overclocked, the GTX 460 is able to slightly beat the HD 6850 overclock and have slightly equal performance to the HD 6870. However, as some who has a 2 year old Antec Earthwatts 500w psu, an overclocked gtx 460 probably consumes too much power compared to the HD 6870 for me to upgrade to.
  24. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,264

    I don't think AMD could effectively name the cards 6750/6770.
    Firstly, the are not in the budget-mainstream pricing segment that the previous 4770 and current 5770 occupy.
    Secondly, the 5770 is still being retailed, whereas the 5850/5780 have now finished their production runs, so you would have 5770 sales being negatively impacted by the perceived notion that the 6750/6770 "5770 replacement" parts are considerably faster. The other side of the coin is that AMD would suffer in PR if the perceived "5770 replacement" cards carry a substantial price increase over their predecessors.

    My question is; Why were these cards not simply called HD 6830 and HD 6850 ?
  25. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,271   +455

    That would make me feel a lot better about this DBZ.

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