Double the trouble: ATI introduces a new dual-GPU board to take on the competition

  • Here the heat sinks are more clearly shown, almost identical to the Radeon HD3870 in design, but repeated. Despite being so close in proximity we found the card ran at a comfortable temperature.

  • The cooler takes up to two PCI slots, as we’ve come to expect from all high-end boards these days. Little has changed in the cooling design from the single-GPU Radeon HD3870, except the addition of a second heat sink. One fan draws air from within the case and pushes it over the metal fins to the rear of the case where it escapes into the open. This method ensures no additional noise is created and both GPUs maintain a stable operating temperature.

  • Each GPU has its own 512MB of GDDR3 RAM made by Samsung. At the time of writing there was no plan for a GDDR4 version. ATI is touting 1GB of GDDR3 memory, but technically it’s two 512MB chunks with two separate 256-bit memory controllers.

  • At last, having lost its share of the high-end graphics card market over a year ago, ATI is finally crawling back into the game with the Radeon HD3870 X2 (featured here with Sapphire’s edition). Unable to develop a GPU capable of outperforming the competition, ATI has fallen back on a tried and tested philosophy -- double the hardware.

  • Although it’s not quite as enormous as NVIDIA’s GeForce 8800 Ultra, the HD3870 X2 is a mighty long board, measuring around 266mm. This is going to cause those with smaller cases some problems, unless you have a removable hard drive cage you’re not using, or some other space saving feature.

  • Two GPUs sit on either side of a controller with a 16 lane, PCIe 1.1 bridge. Effectively what you’re looking at is a single board Crossfire configuration. The one advantage of this is that you get Crossfire benefits such as alternate, split or tiled frame rendering.

  • As is standard, two DVI outputs are available and various breakout cables and adapters are included in the box, such as a DVI to D-Sub adapter, as well as a component cable. Like other ATI products, this card also has an HDMI adapter and the HD3870 X2 can support Display Port, another HDMI-like digital cable.

  • Each GPU sits snugly up against a copper and aluminium passive heat sink. Heat from each of the GPUs is dissipated through the fins and cooled by the fan. Also visible here is one of the two PCIe power slots that are required to run this card.

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