Feature Articles

AMD Radeon HD 6870 & HD 6850 - Northern Islands Ahoy!

By Kenny Yeo - 22 Oct 2010

Dawn of War 2, Battlefield Bad Company 2 & Hawx 2 Results

Dawn of War 2, Battlefield Bad Company 2 & Hawx 2 Results

Dawn of War 2 is usually a very tightly contested affair and this time round wasn’t any different. At a resolution of 1280 x 800, all cards racked up nearly the same frame rates, but as we increased the resolution, and especially at 1920 x 1200, it was apparent which were the quicker cards. At this resolution, the new Radeon HD 6870 is certainly admirable, easily beating the 1GB GeForce GTX 460 by a massive 30%. It even outperformed the GeForce GTX 470.

The less powerful ASUS EAH6850 DirectCU was less impressive, but it still managed to post an easy win over the 768MB GeForce GTX 460, and even the GeForce GTX 285.

Sure, NVIDIA could argue that Dawn of War 2 isn’t a fair comparison since AMD/ATI cards by default demote the FP16 render targets to R11G11B10 render targets, which are half the size and less accurate. We have investigated this claim earlier, and while it does affect performance, the fact is that the difference in graphics quality is so small that they are negligible and hence it makes sense for AMD to take this route as a means of offering more performance. 

Tessellation was something that the old Radeon 5000 series cards weren’t very good at when compared to their NVIDIA rivals, and with the enhanced tessellation unit, AMD will be hoping that their new cards will be able to bring the fight to NVIDIA. On Bad Company 2, the Radeon HD 6870 was about 8% quicker than the 1GB GeForce GTX 460, whereas the ASUS EAH6850 DirectCU was a smidge faster than the 768MB GeForce GTX 460.

Haxw 2 is beautiful game with vast, sprawling landscapes. For some some reason, we couldn’t enable tessellation on our copy, so we took to running the game at maximum settings with 4x anti-aliasing to see how the cards would perform.

Despite the intensive settings, the cards managed well above 100fps, and here the Radeon HD 6870 suffered its only defeat against the 1GB GeForce GTX 460, as it was about 10% slower overall. The ASUS EAH6850 suffered the same fate too, losing out by around 12% to the 768MB GeForce GTX 460.

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