It seems like just yesterday that the 8 series nVidia cards were hitting the shelves, and just last night that ATi's 3 series answered those cards. Those power hungry, gigantic cards from nVidia put up groundbreaking numbers, and ATi's products were quite the close second. The more reasonable of us consumers went out and bought just one card, be it a nice 8800GT(S)(X) or a soundly priced 3870 or 3850. Logical as we were back then, we somehow naively predicted that, when the time to upgrade was upon us, the choice would be clear: we would just grab a matching card, and whip out our ribbon bridges. SLI, Crossfire, CrossfireX even, they were all eligible choices in those good days.
Well, we hardly had the chance to enjoy our GeForces and our Radeons before more cards came out! And, as it turns out, the choice really isn't that clear. This time, ATi has really stepped it up, and brought us cards that not only represent the ATi name well (I'm not going to call them AMD. Shut up.), but they also come damn cheap. 200 bucks for a 4850 is a great deal and so is just 300 for a 4870! Who says the economy is bad?
With the 3870s and the 4850s so closely matching in price, suddenly buying a second 3870 doesn't seem like such a good idea. You can buy a 3870 for under $140.00 and have two 3870s in Crossfire (or a 3870 and a 3850 in CrossfireX depending on what you did back in the day). Alternatively, you can sell your 3870 and probably pull in a solid $90, and then buy a 4850, netting $100 and saving yourself the electricity bill of having two cards at the same time. Naturally, we have a problem with using just one card when we could so easily have two, but it really is the performance that counts.
We have been testing here at OCIA.net with a wonderful VisionTek HD 3870 card for some time now and recently acquired another and set it up in Crossfire. Today, we're here to post up a refreshed look at some benchmarks comparing just one HD 3870 to two of these marvelous monsters. Hopefully, this will make this month's decision process a lot easier.