AMD Radeon 6870 & 6850 Review - Benchmarking

Submitted by skipclarke on 22 October, 2010 - 17:22

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System Specs

The Radeon HD 5870 and 5850 benchmarks were done on the 10.8 drivers, on 16:10 1920x1200 monitors. The Radeon HD 6870 and 6850 benchmarks were done on the beta drivers provided by AMD, and on 16:9 1920x1080 monitors. Historical analysis shows us that the slightly lower resolution on the 16:9 panels can give a few fps, but the numbers here are still highly comparable.

  • Windows 7
  • EVGA X58 Tri-SLI Motherboard
  • Intel i7 920 at 4x2.67GHz
  • 12GB G.Skill DDR3 RAM
  • 2x Samsung 320GB T-Series HDD (one for the OS and games; one for swap file and FRAPS)
  • LG Super Multi Blu (HD-DVD/Blu-Ray Player)
  • Onboard audio
  • Corsair HX1000
  • My Open PC Doma Pro PCI Case
  • Logitch K340 Keyboard & Performance MX Mouse
  • Ergotech Heavy Duty Triple Desk Stand
  • 5x Dell U2211H IPS 16:9 1920x1080 Displays

My test rig remains unchanged, except for a new case. For easier testing, I recently migrated to the Doma Pro PCI test bench from My Open PC (review on that coming soon).

Hardware Tested

I only have AMD hardware tested for comparison in this review. This is not for lack of wanting to test NVIDIA hardware in Surround, but NVIDIA has not yet decided to support the WSGF with hardware for review and benchmarking. Considering that the WSGF is a hobby that just supports itself, I cannot justify spending the money needed to test NVIDIA cards.

Most of my time is spent working on the site (or other projects), and much of my "play time" is spent benchmarking. Cards would basically only be used for testing, and I cannot reconcile purchasing cards that would only be used for testing. It's simply not a good ROI.

Resolutions Tested

I tested both 1600x900 and 1920x1080 in widescreen, as well as 4800x900 and 5760x1080 in 3x1-L Eyefinity. Additionally I tested in 5400x1920 and 4500x1600 for 5x1-P Eyefinity. This allows for comparison between panels in the 20" and 22" range, as well as performance improvements from dialing back the resolution on notch.

Games Tested

My game selection has only had slight modification since my last round of review. I have dropped Batman: Arkham Asylum from the line-up. In testing the new GPU and driver, performance exploded at 5760x1080 - to an unexplainable manner. Previously, 1GB AMD cards crawled at this resolution with 4xAA enabled in the Catalyst Control panel. With the new driver, performance rose to levels seen with 0xAA. This made me wonder if Batman is not picking up the AA setting in the new driver.

Additionally I realized that while the game is Hor+, the demo is Vert-. This goes against our mandates for testings as fewer objects and geometry are actually shown on the screen in Eyefinity. I have replaced the Batman benchmark with the benchmark from the Just Cause 2 Demo.

Finally I dropped the HL2 titles from the line-up. The "HOC Bench" benchmark tool for Episode 2 is no longer functioning, and both Ep.2 and Lost Cost post extremely high scores at all resolutions on even middle range cards from the 5000-series. They are no longer indicitive of a real "test".

  • Battle Forge
  • DiRT 2
  • Far Cry 2
  • HAWX
  • Just Cause 2
  • Heaven Benchmark v1
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Call of Pripyat Benchmark Tool

As always, all games are tested at max settings (unless otherwise noted), with 4xAA and 16xAF enabled.

Future Testing

I need to make additional updates to the benchmark suite, and will do so for the Radeon HD 6900 series. I will be replacing Heaven v1 with the new Heaven v2 benchmark. Additionally, I am looking to add additional benchmarks such as AvP and Mafia II.

I will also be re-benchmarking the higher end cards in the 5000-series on the newer drivers and on the 16:9 1920x1080 panels. This will ensure completely accurate comparisons.