Sapphire Radeon HD 3870 X2 Atomic WaterCooled preview
Since having a damn good shot at wrestling the performance crown away from NVIDIA for the first time in quite a while, ATI's dual GPU, R680-based Radeon HD 3870 X2 has had to cede that leadership once more with the introduction of their rival's far more expensive GeForce 9800 GX2 part. But, regardless of this, ATI's new flagship card still promises plentiful performance for its price point, while their latest driver release has also brought three and four-way CrossFire configurations to the fore thanks to their new CrossFireX capabilities.
We always welcome innovation from AIB partners when it comes to making their offerings based around a certain SKU more tempting, and with two GPUs on-board, the Radeon HD 3870 X2 is arguably more befitting (and indeed in need of) said innovation than most. While we've seen some interesting custom coolers from certain partners selling these boards already, Sapphire have taken things to a whole new level with the latest offering in their new 'Atomic' range of boards. Having first been seen at CeBIT in Hannover, Sapphire have given us an exciting early opportunity to play with a pre-production sample of their Radeon HD 3870 X2 Atomic WaterCooled, which provides the Radeon HD 3870 X2 with its own custom, self-contained water cooling unit, coupled with some modest overclocks at stock speeds.
So, what does water cooling do for ATI's flagship graphics offering, and how does this early sample of Sapphire's latest innovation stack up? Let's put it through its paces and find out.