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Radeon HD 4850: Adding More GPU Power

Can Your Old Athlon 64 Still Game?
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At the time testing began for this article, the 8800 GS was such a bargain and therefore a great option for putting into an aging system that didn’t deserve a very expensive GPU. Its biggest weakness was in our 1600x1200 4x FSAA testing.

In the mean time, AMD released the HD 4850 and brought a new level of performance to sub-$200 cards. This card is way more capable of handling high resolutions and levels of FSAA. Given the attractive pricing and the fact that our 8800 GS was often unable to handle our most demanding test settings, we decided to put in an HD 4850 and get another look at how well our three CPUs would keep up with it. At low resolutions, we would expect our slower CPUs to hold this card back even more than the 8800 GS did, so we concentrated on just the highest resolution previously tested. We put the 8800 GS results in for comparison, but keep in mind the performance of the 8800 GS had significantly dropped off in some of these tests.

Unlike the 8800GS, the HD 4850 was easily capable of 1600x1200 with 4x FSAA. We see slight CPU scaling by clock speed.

In Far Cry, we see our two video cards held back by our slower two CPUs and offering about the same performance. But notice, when paired with the X2 5600+, the HD 4850 is able to breathe and distance itself from the 8800GS.

These settings were unplayable with the 8800 GS, but were no problem for the HD 4850. We see similar CPU scaling here that we saw at low resolution with the 8800 GS.

We were pretty much all GPU limited with the 8800 GS once we reached these settings, but the HD 4850 has enough power to once again show just how important the CPU is in both of these areas of Oblivion. Without a doubt the X2 5600+ wins here, while the single-core CPU is unable to average 30 FPS in either test.

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