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Appeared on: Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Gainward Rampage700 2048MB GS


1. Features

Gainward has released a high-end overclockable graphics card based on AMD's RV770 GPU, the 4870 X2 series. This is probably the most expensive and powerful graphics card you can buy right now since it offers 2.4 teraFLOPS of graphics power, 1600 stream processors and has 2 GB of GDDR5 memory on board.

The 4870 X2 graphics card features dual TeraScale graphics engines that work in tandem to deliver high frame rates, putting the power of graphics ‘supercomputing’ in the hands of extreme gamers. The card also dynamically conserves energy at idle or when demand is low. ATI CrossFireX technology with quad GPU support in dual mode offers even more processing power for demanding gamers.

Key Features

The Gainward Rampage700 2GB GS is an "improved" version of the HD4870 X2 offering increased core/memory clocks that should give an additional performance boost. Gainward calls it "the fastest graphics card ever" and we have not many reasons not to believe it. With all these in mind, our expectations from this card are very high even in demanding game titles such as Crysis.

The specifications of the card indicate that both the core/memory frequencies are set 50MHz higher than the "stock" 4870X2 versions. Gainward has also added many outputs on the board including a DisplayPort, DVI (Dual-link DVI, support up to 2560x1600), HDMI and VGA (D-sub 15) connectors, with the HDMI capable to output content at full high-definition (1080p).

- Retail package

The Gainward Rampage700 2GB GS Golden Sample retails for ~€530, making it a product for enthusiasts and hard-core gamers.

Inside the box everything is well-packaged and secured. We find a printed manual, a drivers disc, a molex-to-pci-e adapter, a DVI-to-HDMI adapter and a CrossfireX connector, in case you wish to add another HD4870 X2 graphics card.

The Gainward Rampage700 2048MB GS is equipped with two 80mm fans, that cover the massive heatsinks. Notice that the height of the graphics card enough to occupy at least three empty slots at the back side of your PC case.

The other side of the card is covered by a big plate that used to dissipate the produced heat. A big warning sticker suggests you not to touch the cards' hot surface after some time of operation.

The available ports include a D-Sub 15, a DVI-D, an HDMI, and finally DisplayPort :

ATI CrossFire X is possible by using the corresponding slots at the top of the card.

The Gainward Rampage700 2GB GS requires at least 6-pinpower jacks to work properly. In fact it needs one 8-pin and one 6-pin cable. In case your power supply doe not have such cables, the included adapter do the job. In addition, make sure that you have at least a 600Watt PSU before buying such an energy hungry graphics card.

For our tests, we used the ATI Catalyst drivers (8.11). In the meantime, ATI released the latest pack of drivers (8.12) that was also installed to confirm and update the test results where it was necessary.

The core of each GPU runs at 750MHz and the the memory at 950MHz.

GPU-Z provides us with more information about the Gainward Rampage700 2048MB GS series:

By default, the fan speed runs at 34% when the the GPU temperature is around 57 degrees Celsius. Note that the AMD Overdrive utility allows you to manually set the fan speed

GPU-Z give us more details about the temperatures and voltages:


2. Test setup
- Setup

All the test were conducted in the following PC:

All the tests were conducted under the same testbed and of course the same version of the Catalyst drivers. Many games and applications were used in the performance evaluation procedure. FRAPS was also used to measure the FPS when needed.

DirectX 9

DirectX10


3. Benchmark settings
- Testbed DirectX9

For all the tests we used the default settings of 3DMark05 as following:

Again we left all the default settings:

- Testbed DirectX10

We used the three built-in "Performance" and "Extreme" benchmarks in various resolutions.

We used the build-in benchmark with all details maxed out.

We used the hocbench Crysis benchmark tool for three resolutions, 1280x1024, 1680x1050 and finally 1920x1200. We run the benchmark software with the details set at both "High" and "Very High" in order to find out at which resolution the game is playable.

We used the FRAMEBuffer benchmark tool for three resolutions, 1280x1024, 1680x1050 and finally 1920x1200. All the possible quality levels were set in order to get an idea of what the graphics card offer in various resolutions.

We used the the built-in benchmarking utility and maxed out all the visual details, under both DX9/DX10 settings and up to 16x AA/16x AF.


4. FutureMark Hall Of Fame

The Futuremark benchmarks have been highly discussed between gamers and reviewers. For your information we post the results of the 3DMark 05, 3DMark 06 and of course the newly released 3DMark Vantage that gives you a rough idea of what can you expect from the tested graphics cards.

The Gainward Rampage700 2048MB GS got the highest 3DMark 05 with 17416 points, overpassing any other graphics card we have tested.

In the 3DMark 06 benchmark, the Gainward Rampage700 2048MB GS still leads the race with 14260 points.

The 3DMark Vantage provides a clearer view about the card's performance at various resolutions, starting from 1280x1024 and up to 1920x1200. The Gainward Rampage700 2048GS has a clear advantage here and and performs better than any other card in all the resolutions. Truth or not, we will find out in the the following pages where we test all graphics cards with real life games.


5. Crysis v1.2.1 (DirecX9/10)

Possibly the most demanding game title currently available, Crysis, stresses out the majority of the graphics cards.

In our tests, all the models gave acceptable frame rates at 1280x1024 with high quality settings enabled. Surprisingly, the Gainward Rampage700 2GB GS had an average performance at 1280x1024. The card gave just 38FPS, matching the performance of the HD4870 1GB GS:

We proceed by enabling the very high quality settings. Here is where the Gainward Rampage700 GS starts to shine. It managed to give 32FPS, while the next best performer gave 21FPS (Nvidia 260GTX). Note that Crysis is adequately playable at 32FPS.

Pushing the resolutions even higher at 1680x1050 and 1900x1200, we see that Crysis game is still playable with 27FPS and 29FPS respectively. The rest of the cards could not compete with the Gainward Rambage GS in these resolutions:


6. Crysis WarHead (DirecX9/10)

A new version of the popular Crysis game was recently released. "Crysis Warhead" offers many visual improvements in both the DirectX9 and DirectX10 rendering modes. Below you can see the results we got in all the possible resolutions with anti-aliasing disabled.

DX9
1280x1024
1680x1050
1920x1200
Low
Average
Low
Average
Low
Average
Performance
48,89
131,27
42,04
129,48
45,65
128,45
Mainstream
33,42
69,08
30,75
65,68
31,80
64,62
Gamer
20,79
46,74
18,61
43,80
12,00
41,65
Enthusiast
15,83
40,91
15,29
37,29
11,34
34,07

The test results show that the Gainward Rampage 700 2048GS performed well even at the Enthusiast level. The lowest FPS was reported at 1920x1200 (11.34), but the average FPS was pretty good:

Enabling DirectX10 has a impact on the performance. Again, the lowest FPS was affected but the card is able to offer 30FPS on average even at the Enthusiast level.

DX10
1280x1024
1680x1050
1920x1200
Low
Average
Low
Average
Low
Average
Performance
56,50
92,00
56,63
85,73
48,55
87,56
Mainstream
31,81
50,41
29,53
47,21
28,24
46,98
Gamer
10,24
37,44
6,66
34,49
5,78
34,78
Enthusiast
11,85
32,67
6,96
30,89
5,00
29,77


7. Crysis Warhead Comparison

Let's see now how the Gainward Rampage700 2048MB GS performs compared to other graphics cards in the Crysis WarHead game.

While we expected to see a significantly better performance from the Gainward Rampage700 2048MB GS, the result showed that the Nvidia 260GTX and the HD4870 products are quite competitive and actually the dual-GPU Rampage 700 2048MB GS is faster only in the Enthusiast level, at 1280x1024.

At1680x1050, the Rampage 700 2048MB GS is faster that the rest after the Gamer level:

At 1920x1200 the Gainward Rampage700 2048MB GS is faster than the other two graphic cards:

We proceed with the DirectX10 rendering mode. At the 1280x1024, we are seeing a major drop in the performance of the Gainward Rampage700 2048MB GS, which is actually even slower than the HD4870 series:

Climbing to the 1680x1050, again we see the same behavior. It seems that the graphics drivers should be optimized for the Rampage 7000 2048MB GS in order to perform better than the single-GPU cards:

Finally, at the highest resolution of 1920x1200, the Gainward Rampage700 2048MB GS was faster as soon as we enabled the Gamer and Enthusiast Levels:


8. Company Of Heroes v1.71 (DirectX 10)

Company Of Heroes is a popular action/strategy game that was the first to take advantage of the DirectX10.

We maxed out all visual details we measured the performance of each card using the built-in benchmark.

At 1280x1024, the Gainward Rampage700 2048MB GS had an average performance with 57.90FPS, while other Nvidia graphics cards were significantly faster.

It seems that as the resolutions rise, the Gainward Rampage700 2048MB GS performs better. At 1680x1050, the card gave 58.20FPS:

At 1920x1200, the Gainward Rampage700 2048GS gave 58.40 FPS. The single-GPU XFX 260GTX was faster again, allowing us to believe that either the Company Of Heroes benchmark is not working properly with the specific Gainward card or that the Catalyst drivers have not been optimized for this game:


9. Far Cry 2 (DirectX 9/10)

Far Cry 2 is one of the hottest game titles right now. The game supports both DirectX 9 and DirectX10 and its graphics engine is much lighter than the one Crysis uses. As a result, all graphics cards are expected to perform very well, even at 1920x1200 with 16xAA/16xAF enabled.

We start with the resolution of 1280x1024. The Gainward Rampage700 2GB GS was the fastest card in the test no matter the quality settings we set:

We got a similar performance at 1680x1050, where the Gainward Rampage700 2GB GS was faster than its competitors even with Ultra high quality mode enabled:

The Gainward Rampage700 2GB GS graphics solution was also very strong at 1920x1200:

A pretty good performance even under the DirectX10 tests. The Gainward Rampage700 2GB GS is almost 10FPS faster than the XFX 260GTX XXX with the quality settings maxed out. There is no real comparison with the HD4870 series.


10. Half Life 2 Episode 2 (DirectX 9)

Half Life 2 is a first person shooter game that everybody has played and loved. The game at Episode 2 has several image quality improvements.

The Gainward Rampage700 GS 2048MB GS has very good performance but still, it is slower than the XFX 260GTX XXX in the lower resolutions:

And actually the Rampage700 graphics card is the top performer in resolutions of 1920x1200+.


11. Overclocking

Let's now find out the overclocking limits of the Rampage card by using a trial-error testing procedure. The easiest way to overclock is by using the ATI Overdrive function.

The "Auto tune" function gave us some quick numbers:

What we got from ATI's Auto Tune function is rather limited, since the core was set at 755MHz only, just 5MHz higher than the nominal frequency. The memory was also increased by just 10MHz (960MHz).

We manually set the GPU clock at 800MHz and left the memory clock at 960MHz. The system was stable although we did not see any actual gain in the performance.


12. Final thoughts

The Gainward Rampage700 2048MB Golden Sample is one of the fastest graphics cards available today and it is addressed to all those who need the best possible 3D graphics performance from a single card.

Actually the solution is powered by two GPUs and could theoretically give you two times the performance you have with a single card. In fact, compared with the HD4870 series we got a 30-40% performance gain, which is still very good. On the other hand, compared with the Nvidia 260GTX series - which is also very fast - Gainward's solution was just 10 FPS faster in most cases and only at the higher resolutions.

Of course, the card showed its teeth with Crysis especially when the quality settings were set to the highest levels and at 1920x1200. It's massive processing power was enough to cope with the demanding graphics.

We did not have the chance to test the card in resolutions higher than 1920x1200, but judging from the available results, we can suspect that the Gainward Rampage700 2048MB Golden Sample would give a higher performance gains.

 

Since the graphics card produces produces tons of heat, the installed cooling system is huge, meaning that the card is high enough to occupy three empty slots at the back of your PC case.

The card is slightly overclockable, which means that you should not expect any major improvement in the performance.

Let's now have a look to the retail prices:

Product
Retail Price
Generic Nvidia 8800GT 512MB
~ €105
Generic Nvidia 9800GT 512MB
~ €112
Generic Nvidia 9800GT 1GB
~ €138
Generic ATI HD4850 512MB
~ €135
Generic ATI HD4850 1GB
~ €160
Generic ATI HD4870 512MB
~ €190
Generic ATI HD4870 1GB
~ €243o
Generic Nvidia 260GTX
~ €235
Generic Nvidia 280GTX
~ €350
Generic ATI HD4870 X2
~ €430
Gainward Rampage700 2048GS
~ €515

The Gainward Rampage700 2048GS costs around €500~530 (online prices). That's almost €70~100 more than a generic 4870X2 graphics card. In addition, it's approximately two (x2) times the price of an Nvidia 260GTX - which will probably faster than the 4870X2 series in SLI mode. We assume that the Nvidia 280GTX would be close to the Gainward model in terms of performance (we haven't tested it..), while it costs significantly less.

So it comes to what you really want from a graphics card and how much you are willing to spend. The Gainward Rampage700 2048MB GS is a pricey graphics card with top notch performance in most games, especially at resolutions of 1920x1200+.

Future ATI Catalyst drivers may further improve the performance so we are curious to see how the upcoming games and driver packs can affect the lifespan of the HD4870 X2 series. If your Xmas budget is high enough, adding a second Rampage700 2048MB GS graphics card would also be a a good idea .. Probably this would rock at resolutions of 2560+ provided that your monitor supports it :-)



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