Better late than never, AMD/ATI has done it. There is no question that the Radeon HD 3870 X2 is the fastest single card solution on the market today.
We were impressed with the capabilities of the new Radeon, particularly because once installed it was easy to forget we were working with two GPUs on-board. The 3870 X2 worked seamlessly with every game we threw at it, there were no Crossfire settings to mess with, and we could simply sit back and relax as we played.
The performance of the Radeon HD 3870 X2 is more solid than we initially expected, as it delivered very similar performance to a Crossfire Radeon HD 3870 setup. The advantage being that the Radeon HD 3870 X2 costs slightly less than a pair of Radeon HD 3870 graphics cards at ~$450, and it will work on virtually any motherboard boasting a PCI Express x16 slot.
Besides the odd crash here and there that we believe is strictly driver related, the ATI Radeon HD 3870 X2 worked well. Of course, we are hoping that all these minor stability issues are ironed out on the next Catalyst driver release. Then the only other concern we could have is that the card runs a bit hotter than we would like, dumping a lot of hot air in the case, though this is not unique to the X2 and many of today's high-end cards generate more or less the same amount of heat.
We are pleased with ATI's achievement although ironically they got here using an existing product which makes this victory a little less impressive. The way things are right now, Nvidia will probably find a way to turn things around and create a dual G92-based graphics card, which could put Nvidia out in front again.
But talking strictly about the present, in terms of value, just recently we bought two GeForce 8800 GT 512MB cards for about $460. Given the performance advantage this SLI setup had over the Radeon HD 3870 X2 in a number of tests, we must ask ourselves which setup is the better buy. Furthermore, two GeForce 8800 GT 256MB cards cost just over $400, which could make the choice even harder.
For now the Radeon HD 3870 X2 stands as the fastest single card solution out there and as a convenient alternative to both Crossfire and SLI that require two matched cards and a supporting motherboard. Let's see what Nvidia comes up with in the months ahead...