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Radeon HD 4850 Vs. GeForce GTS 250: Non-Reference Battle

The Asus EAH4850 MT: Software

As far as software bundling goes, the EAH4850 MT sample we tested was not adorned with all of the retail trimmings. The promotional shots of the bundle, with which the card will be shipped, revealed a video cable, a Molex-to-PCIe converter cable, a DVI-to-HDMI dongle, a DVI-to-VGA dongle, and a CrossFire connector. It looks like Asus will not include any games with the EAH 4850 MT, but there will be a couple of CDs with drivers and proprietary utilities for the card.

Speaking of software utilities, Asus has made a little program for the Matrix card series that it calls "iTracker." This little application is really the heart and soul of what sets the Asus 4850 Matrix apart from the pack.

The iTracker app offers fantastic utility, assuming you wrap your head around the confusing user interface. I can’t understand why any software developer would assume the user should automatically know they're supposed to click a tiny (and almost invisible) grey triangle to access the most important settings. Maybe it’s just me and I was having an off day, but I will admit that only after I made it over that hump that things got a lot easier.

The iTracker has three main categories: Profile, Information, and Configuration. Of the three, Profile is the most important and powerful as it allows you to enable a pre-defined profile of both 2D and 3D GPU and memory clock speeds, GPU and memory voltages, and fan modes, including four tiers of cooling fan speeds to kick in at different GPU temperatures. Of course, the most interesting profile is "User Defined,” which gives the user direct control over these goodies and the flexibility of defining up to three unique sub-profiles.

The information category is interesting and displays all sorts of information from the basic clock speeds and temperatures to fan speeds, voltages, and even power draw. Frankly, I wish this program worked with every video card out there.

The Configuration category is where you can set alarms if temperatures, voltages, or even fan speed goes into territory with which you’re not comfortable. It also shows information about the card, such as which BIOS it’s using. Good stuff.

Of course, the real fun with iTracker comes when you overclock with it. But we’ll dig into overclocking a little later, so for now let’s take a closer look at the Gigabyte GV-N250ZL-1GI.