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AMD Radeon HD 6870 & HD 6850
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by Rob Williams on October 22, 2010 in AMD-Based GPU

It’s been a long time coming, but gamers can finally relax… AMD’s Radeon HD 6800 graphics cards are finally here. They may still be built upon a 40nm process, but AMD has brought a lot to the table here. We set out to see how the HD 6850 and HD 6870 compare to their closest competition, NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 460 and GTX 470.

Unigine Heaven 2.1

While Futuremark is a well-established name where PC benchmarking is concerned, Unigine is just beginning to become exposed to people. The company’s main focus isn’t benchmarks, but rather its cross-platform game engine which it licenses out to other developers, and also its own games, such as a gorgeous post-apocalytic oil strategy game. The company’s benchmarks are simply a by-product of its game engine.

Unigine Heaven 2.1

The biggest reason that the company’s “Heaven” benchmark grew in popularity rather quickly is that both AMD and NVIDIA promoted it for its heavy use of tessellation, a key DirectX 11 feature. Like 3DMark Vantage, the benchmark here is overkill by design, so results here aren’t going to directly correlate with real gameplay. Rather, they showcase which card models can better handle both DX11 and its GPU-bogging features.

One of the major highlights of the HD 6800 series launch is that tessellation performance has been improved, but according to Unigine’s Heaven, the differences are about as small as you could get. We did see much better improvement in our regular games, though, so Unigine might not be the best measure of things.

An important thing to note is that AMD stated that its tessellation performance is best seen at lighter levels, not super-heavy like this test exhibits. It could be that at more modest levels, the cards would see a greater differential, but due to time, this is not something I could sink into.