Sales in the high end graphics card sector make up a small percentage of Nvidia and ATI sales figures, but to the enthusiast population they are an indication of a companies technical prowess, reputations are made and broken by success or failure with every revision.
It would be fair to state that ATI have not really been competing with Nvidia since the X1950XT and this has been a real disappointment for many people, including myself. Today you could say this is all histrionics and we can debate as to why both the 2900 series and 3870 series have not come to market in a configuration which challenged the GeForce 8800 GTX or Ultra. Sure, there are aspects of the 2000 and 3000 series products which make them attractive at various price points but for the neutral enthusiast gamer ATI hardware has seen better days.
ATI’s answer to this situation is the product we are reviewing today, the Radeon HD 3870 X2 which utilises two 3870 GPUs on a single PCB. Dual GPU products designed for single slot motherboards are nothing new and in the past we have reviewed several. The 7950 GX2 which was a great success, The 2600 XT Quad offered a unique alternative to every other 2600, and finally there was the X1950 Pro Dual which was oversized and really just did not work... which was just as well as it never made it to retail in significant numbers.
So we are not entering uncharted waters, however the question is, can ATI make the 3870 X2 the same success as the 7950 GX2 was for Nvidia?