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Sapphire HD4850 1G (Radeon HD 4850 1,024 MB)

Mainstream Graphics Card Roundup

To see all photos in our gallery for this card, click on the image.

For our tests, Sapphire shipped us a narrow-profile card with a reference cooler that is only one slot wide. Despite its compact form factor, the board's cooler did a good job in managing temperatures for 2D operation (it ran at 59 °C/138.2 °F, while under heavy load the temperature climbed to 80 °C/176 °F). At idle, this card is fairly quiet at 36.7 dB(A). But under a constant workload, it’s clearly audible at 50.4 dB(A).

Clock rates for the Sapphire model follow ATI's reference card closely, too. Its GPU runs at 625 MHz, while graphics RAM runs at 993 MHz. And in 2D mode, the GPU clocks down to 500 MHz. The graphics chip supports DirectX 10.1 with Shader 4.1, and its circuit board is 9.25"(23.5 cm) long. As far as overall performance is concerned, the Radeon HD 4850 trails a little behind the GeForce GTS 250.

This model includes 1,024 MB of graphics RAM instead of the more common 512 MB frame buffer. In Fallout 3, for example, with 1920x1200 resolution and anti-aliasing (AA) enabled, this boosts frame rates by about three frames per second (FPS). In Far Cry 2, the improvement is greater (at 1920x1200 resolution with 4x AA, frame rates rose by around 6 FPS). With 8x AA, the additional graphics RAM makes a huge difference. While the ATI reference card with 512 MB clocks a dismal 9.6 FPS, this Sapphire card produces a respectable 23.3 FPS instead. In other benchmarks in our test suite, however, we didn’t see other noticeable differences.

Sapphire outdoes itself in the retail package contents. In the box you’ll find bundled copies of PowerDVD, 3DMark Vantage Advanced Edition, DVD Suite v5 with Cyberlink applications, an eye-popping ATI demo, and a driver CD. Not only do you get an HDMI adapter, you also get an HDMI cable, a component video splitter, power adapters, and a CrossFire connector as well.

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