AMD Radeon HD 6870 benchmark performance

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KitGuru is old in the tooth and likes naming conventions which don’t change. With the launch of the Radeon HD 6000 series, AMD has altered its naming strategy. The high end cards will now be the 6900 series (due November) and the 6800 cards that we’re looking at today, will actually be sold for less than £200 each, including VAT (we’re guessing that’s under $250 for our American readers). How much can any gamer get from a graphic card that costs so little?

It seems like only yesterday that nVidia released its first Fermi products to a universally lukewarm reception. Against the subsequent series of lacklustre launches that followed, the GTX460 stood out like a giant. A genuine classic card by anyone’s standard. High performance, competitive pricing and an overclocking potential that made everything around it pale in comparison. AMD has finally moved to try and counter this threat with the Radeon HD 6800 series cards.

Before we get into the details of precisely which cards have been tested, we also want to highlight how difficult our final evaluation has been made by the huge price changes we’ve seen over the past 5 days. Cards like EVGA’s GTX460 FTW have dropped from £205 to £175, ahead of the Radeon HD 6800 series launch. In turn, it seems that AMD had some last minute price moves up its corporate sleeve. Tricky, but we’ve rolled with it – testing first and then making the value decisions right at the end – once we knew precisely what the final pricing will be.

Today we are looking at two boards from AMD’s biggest partner – Sapphire. We will be getting up close and personal with both their HD6870 and HD6850 products, seeing how they can hold up against the mighty GTX460 in various flavours.

Firstly we need to address the naming conventions, because many people are already scratching their heads in bewilderment. The HD6870, for instance, isn’t a direct replacement for the HD5870 – AMD’s goal was to deliver similar levels of performance from the HD6870 but at a much lower price.

The HD5870 first hit the market at £350, while the HD6870 will cost less than £195 … an incredible achievement if the new AMD hardware can go head to head with the giant killing GTX460 – the source of this pricing war.

The ‘Barts’ codenamed products are aimed at the sub $250 market, while the forthcoming ‘Cayman’ and ‘Antilles’ are higher end and significantly more expensive.

Sapphire HD6870
Sapphire HD6850
Core Clock Speed
900mhz
775mhz
Stream Processors
1120
960
ROPs
32
32
Frame Buffer
1GB GDDR5
1GB GDDR5
Compute Power
2.0 TFLOPs
1.5 TFLOPs
Memory Width/Speed
256bit, 4.2GBPS
256bit, 4.0 GBPS
Idle/Load Board Power
19W/151W
19W/127W
Power Connectors
Dual 6 Pin
Single 6 Pin
Display Outputs
2xDVI + 2x mDP + 1 HDMI
2xDVI + 2x mDP + 1 HDMI
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AMD Radeon HD 6870 benchmark performance, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating
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  • paul

    Interesting times ahead over the next year. I seriously dont know how they are giong to get much more power out of the new range. I would guess they will need to do more with power management too

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  • tech head

    They need to work on tesselation. the GTX460 is basically delivering the same tesselation performance as a high end 5870 right now. so I can see a huge focus on this.

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  • Trev Mang

    Yeah it has to be a focus on tesselation , its their real weakness right now compared to nvidia.

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  • Eric K

    even though I know this article will get some stick from people. its interesting guess work really and it stirs debate. I would say this wont be that far out.

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  • death dealer

    Well going on the past. 3dmark vantage scores are generally slightly below dual card high end configurations of the generation before, so id say this would be close to accurate.

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  • Eriol

    These are mostly just bad assumptions with nothing to back them up. While ATIs next gen gpus will come Q4, there’s no performance data available. Intels’ tic-tacs has nothing to do with ATI gpus and you won’t be seeing 28nm gpus until next summer at the earliest. The next gen gpus were meant to be done on 32nm, but that was cancelled, and it obviously changed plans, so basically we get a new 40nm gen that’s somewhat late considering.

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  • James

    1, Whom do we imagine will be making a 28nm part? There are no fabs with a 28nm mass production node ready for high end GPU parts this year.
    2. Northern Islands has been cancelled, Southern Islands is now the codename series for next generation of AMD ATI Radeon cards.
    3. Work on the design began far longer ago than the tape-out of Evergreen and Cypress. The lead time on these designs is at least 18-24months before tape-out.
    4. ATI’s GPU ‘tock’ team are working with the CPU guys on Fusion. That’s why Evergreen was an incremental improvement of the Terascale SP design in the RV770, and not a brand new architecture. Southern Islands is the same – incremental, with a boost in ‘uncore’ – which can mean boosts in Tessellation performance (not that it means anything outside of benchmarks).

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  • Aberkae

    Double performance of 5870? thats not likely, a next gen of gpus never gives double performance from previous gen. maybe 50% over 5870 (6870) in vantage or 20-30% over gtx 480 but i think more like 15-20% sounds reasonable. Don’t forget boys and girls gtx 485 is coming soon (q3 2010) because its a 40nm chip the performance can only come from better clock speeds, power efficiency, drivers, cooling, and improved engineering

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  • Tres Bien

    Funny :) Never ceases to amaze me how many people take these weekend discussion topics on KG ;’seriously’ and then proceed to slander the whole site. saw rage3d posted about it and some guy was saying how crap everything is here. He clearly never read the 44 page HQV 2.0 benchmark analysis or the power supply article posted a few days ago. (amongst other things). seems its really easy on the net to just take an opinion without any basis for it and then continue slandering something :)

    Good read this btw, will be interesting to see atis new range of graphics cards, I think tesselation will become a big part of future games, as its such a strong aspect of DX11

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  • P1n3apqlExpr3ss

    Considering current gens are generally more or less twice as fast as the previous generation of cards as death dealer said, 5000 gives twice the performance as 4000, eg 5870 2x~ 4870 more or less. If this is set to be more then just a refresh then that will be true, if theyve just been lazy and not really done much more then a refresh in all this time then probably more like ~1.3x time current performance

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  • jay

    Interesting conjecture, and I’m not going to discount it, let’s face it Nvidia and AMD are simply not going to tell us what their strategies are and I’m sure all of the noted factors are very well noted by both teams.

    I can’t call it from a technology stand point, although I’m a self confessed Nvidia fan, but I won’t let that colour my view.

    It would be interesting if you did a follow up article on the state of play in with 28nm fabrication. Do AMD have the edge here with global foundries? We’ve seen Nvidia struggle with the 40 nm process, would AMD be faced with the same challenges or do they have an edge in tape out technologies and testing. That I’d be interested to read.

    It will, in any event, be very interesting, and I’m waiting until after the summer and those cold dark evenings for a PC rebuild and cheaper cards.

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  • faith

    @James: Great questions ! Let us try and respond…

    1) TSMC completed work on Fab 12 in January this year. They have 28nm capability and, when they opened the Fab, announced that they expected production runs to begin Q4 2010. KitGuru says that a high-end 6000 series part in only likely to move to 28nm IF one of the simpler 5000-series parts moves first. So if there’s an announcement at the next quarterly briefing, we’ll all know for sure!
    (For reference, check Anton Shilov’s article on Xbit back on 20th Jan 2010)

    2) Not sure where your info comes from. We believe that Northern Islands is this year’s respin and a full update will happen around 12-18 months later. Please reveal your sauces ;)

    3) We said that a lot of work happens in parallel. However, you can make changes to the final performance characteristics IF your opponent has already launched all of its key SKUs. That’s a big advantage for AMD. They KNOW where the nVidia products are. Remember, the GTS450, 440, 430 and 420 parts have not launched yet, while the high end parts are already several versions of the silicon down the line. If Fermi had launched in the Sep-Dec time frame, then the GTX460 etc would have been the respins. They are not respins now. They have become v1 launch silicon. Which means the respin for nVidia could be a lot further away. If that makes sense.

    4) Possible, but not what we meant. What’s we’re saying is that Intel uses a Tick-Tock as a concept and we feel it’s unlikely for AMD to move a new product (6870) to a new process at the same time. We might be wrong, of course, and we’ll take our lumps if we are. But we believe a smaller product will ‘Tick’ its way to 28nm ahead of 6870.

    @Aberkae: What’s your guess ?

    @PineappleExpress: Wise words from down under methinks :)

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  • technogiant

    No not going to happen this way AMD would not take the risk.

    Not now that Nvidia has essentially closed the gap with the GF104 chip and forthcoming GF106 and 108 chips. Nvidia has retaken the $200 mark and with the possibility of a higher power GF104 chip using all 8 SM’s not just the 7 used on the current gtx460 and dual GF104 cards Nvidia is set to sweep across the board.

    Both Ati and Nvidia were stung by the 40nm yield issues, ATi will now be looking for a dead certainty to counter Nvidias latest releases and will not risk its now required performance boost on a 28nm process which isn’t even in being yet particularly when they would also be making a new architecture on it without trialing it with a mid range gpu first(just like the mistake Nvidia made with Fermi on the 40nm process).

    No Southern Islands on 40nm will be released in Q4 and we will probably see a mid range Southern Island card released in H1 2011 using 28nm process very much like they did with the 4770 on the 40nm process.

    How long the Southern Island range will last is another question, it was only a back up plan used becasue of the cancellation of 32nm by the fabs, I don’t think Ati will wait a year from Southern Islands release to release Northern Islands and as soon as they are happy with the 28nm process it will be out , they don’t want to give Nvidia any breathing space just to stretch out the life cycle of Southern Islands which after all was just a back up plan.

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  • P1n3apqlExpr3ss

    http://www.fudzilla.com/graphics/graphics/radeon-hd-6000-is-a-minor-improvement

    Fudzilla just posted this, so im guessing were looking at more minor improvements. Such as the uncore part as stated on wiki which improves tessellation performance as someone said above. Which probably means something like 1.3 times evergreen. So im guessing its the phenom x6 to the phenom x4 (without extra cores), just little things like improved process and stuff like that to improve efficency

    Also read a comment saying that northern islands has been cancelled, its hasnt been cancelled, only delayed due to glofo/TSMC cancelling its 32nm process and jumping straight to 28nm. So ATI is using southern islands as a filler until northern islands comes around next year. Dunno if anyone else said this didnt read all the comments…

    Hopefully southern islands will be good, and create ALOT of competition with GF104 as im looking to get my new build some time around the holiday season

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  • http://nonblog.nonillian.com EVOXSNES

    I think the majority of it will end when we have real life simulation of environments and all the in betweens on our screen.

    But with the release of Kinect, Wii, Move etc and their successors… you have to wonder if we’ll ever reach the end of the on screen gaming potential as the battle between mouse, keyboard, controller and the hands free experience intensifies.

    The transition from whats traditional and the alternatives offered by the consoles may prevent us from reaching the pinnacle of gaming on screen more than any hardware or software bottleneck. \

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  • kdawg

    so let me get this straight they did a benchmark on the 6870 3-6 months before its release date? seems fabricated to me.

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  • http://www.kitguru.net Zardon

    Thats why its called a ‘prediction’. You can hardly fabricate a prediction. its guesswork and the reasons why surrounding it.

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  • Daimler

    Haha)) According to the leaked benchmarks of HD6870 (here: http://we.pcinlife.com/thread-1500103-1-1.html ) Your predictions were pretty damn close! 6870 GPU Score in Performance benchmark: 24056.

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  • SiliconDoc

    kitguru prediction ? WRONG ! bench has been leaked !

    GTX480 score heaven 2.1 = 970

    ATI6718 score heaven 2.1 = 912

    LOL – the truth is out there !

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  • SiliconDoc

    I realize some may not like the former post so here are the links !

    http://www.geeks3d.com/20100525/quick-test-unigine-heaven-2-1-gtx-480-vs-gtx-470-vs-hd-5870-in-opengl-4-0-and-direct3d-11-in-extreme-tessellation/

    http://futuremark.yougamers.com/forum/showthread.php?t=133775

    Read it and weep waiters !

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  • Daimler

    SiliconDoc
    The prediction of “performance” score of HD6870 in 3DMark Vantage by KitGuru is almost correct! Only of course – If leaked benchmarks are true.
    And considering the leaked Heaven 2.1 score – the GTX480 (at stock clock) with the same settings actually scores less then leaked 6870 – somewhere around 750 points. Check this: http://tof.canardpc.com/view/186b5b87-44ec-4000-b8a2-31789867a501.jpg

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  • SiliconDoc

    Ah yes, the anonymous photo shopped pic job with the low 480 score, rofl. The 480 users already busted that ruse.

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  • Daimler

    SiliconDoc
    I do not own GTX480, so the score could be photoshopped. But after some searching done on internet – I’m sure that stock GTX480 (without overclock) at 1920×1200 4xAA and extreme tesselation scores LOWER THAN 900 points in Heaven 2.1 (a screenshot here in the end of the page (GTX480 Possibly OVERCLOCKED): http://we.pcinlife.com/thread-1500103-3-1.html). So It’s weaker than 6870 in tesselation according to the leaked tests.
    Personally I still hardly believe leaked info, because the increase is so huge it would need some massive arhitecture improvements. Just can’t wait to see the official release to make things clear.

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  • SiliconDoc

    The thank you Daimler, more canned links that link the link I linked in th relinked links.
    I already went to ORB and looked up GTX480 scores and saw X15,000+ not uncommon – beating the 11,000+ leaked for 6000 – in xtreme with 1 480 card….
    So anyway…
    People tell me with a straight internet face the 480 is only 10% faster than the 5870, the 470 is the same as 5850, the 5830 matches the 460, the 5770 beats the 260 and 275 and matches the 285, and on and on and on.
    What I’ve been doing for a couple years now is immediately downgrading whatever gigantic full tier lie the ati fans spew as “their take”, a full tier.
    To copy the greatest spew heard over and over again for years already (it seems) ” THEY HAVE HAD 8 MONTHS to release and that late it had better be a card that can beat the Nvidia 480 !!!!” ( imagine a raging face and screeching anger).
    Can it do Physx and play Cuda ? (not Crysis)

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  • Daimler

    SiliconDoc
    I’m not an ATI fan. I’m technology fan. But you are obviously an nVidia fanboy and thats a shame. :(
    As for xtreme benchmark score in Vantage – make sure you looked not at total score, but GPU Score ONLY! Because Total Score is affected by CPU and Use of PhysX in CPU Tests. Stock clocked GTX480 would never 15,000 mark in GPU Score.

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