ATI Radeon HD 4850: Smarter by Design?

Power Consumption

With 956 million transistors compared to 666 million for the RV670 (Radeon HD 3850/70) — both engraved at 55 nm — let’s see the variations in power consumption at the power supply (which includes, just as a reminder, the power consumption of the entire computer and the 20% lost by the power supply).

Radeon HD 4850

Consumption at idle has increased significantly, which is not a pleasant surprise – a total increase of 22 W (approximately 18 W attributable to the graphics card) for the same usage level (more or less nil), which is pretty disappointing, especially since it puts the 4850 back behind the GeForce GTX 200 for consumption at idle, which is a highly appreciated strong point of existing AMD cards. At idle, the frequencies of the 4850 drop from 625 MHz (GPU) and 1000 MHz (memory) to 500 MHz and 750 MHz, which is a much less aggressive throttle-back than on the GT200.

On the other hand, under load, running Test Drive Unlimited, the increase compared to the 3870 was no more than 12 W for a performance that was 26% better in this specific case, which is very good (and that’s despite the slight overclocking of the Asus test board, remember). Note also that the consumption peak we measured for the card (still running Fillrate Tester) was only 270 W.

But admittedly, again the 9800 GTX + did as well, and that cancels out AMD’s advantage. Note that the G92’s change to a 55 µm process does result in a slight reduction in power consumption, both at idle and under load (up to 8 W), which is predictable given the very slight increase in frequency. We should also underline the fact that in this specific test case (Test Drive Unlimited at 2560x1600), the 9800 GTX +’s performance/watts ratio was 11% better than the HD 4850’s.

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  • Neog2
    Wow $200 in Best Buy for a HD 4850,
    $450 in Best Buy for a GTX 260.
    And the 4850 is pretty close to the 280.

    Ouu the 4870 is going to give Nvidia a run for there money
    for the first time in a while.
  • Sarcastic
    Good stuff now we just need some 4870 benchies!
  • Prodromaki
    Oced Asus and 4850 instead of 4870 + too many games based on engines favoring nVidia...

    P.S. +1000 -> 2222
  • randomizer
    Florian you put a 1920×1077 image on the Crysis page! :lol:
  • For Mass Effect the Engine limits the Maximum framerate to 62FPS. You can change this in the BIOENGINE.INI file (in the Documents\BioWare\Mass Effect\Config\ folder on Vista) by changing the value:

    MaxSmoothedFrameRate=62 in the Engine.GameEngine section
  • puterpoweruser
    I can't believe it took nVidia coming out with a new card again to have tom's make a review finally of the 4850.

    "it was unavailable due to the sloppy handling of this launch"
    Seriously? AMD can't control if their retail partners screwed the pooch on the release date, because they were so anxious to get people this great product. They made sure the product was readily available well before the launch date.

    They should be praised for not having a paper launch, not told that it was a sloppy launch, very poor form saying that.

    Hell i went to best buy and bought 2 4850's on sunday, when the cards weren't even supposed to be available yet, the guy told me "they have been in stock for over a month in the back, they aren't supposed to be available yet but i can get two for you." Were the AMD police supposed to come and smack best buy on it's hand and keep me from giving them profits?

    Sorry if i'm ranting, just put the blame where it belongs.
  • Malovane
    No offense, Fedy Abi-Chahla and Florian Charpentier, and thanks for the hard work, but I think the article should be revised a bit. First off, this should be a review of graphics cards.. not a burned out overclocked Asus motherboard. If you attribute your 4850 test crashing due to your motherboard.. why throw in results of 0 across the board for the 4850? You just corrupted your data and made the final fps averages meaningless, which is the thing people were generally interested in. Secondly, why in the world are you including tests that don't fit the definition of "playable" on any card in your test lineup (Crysis 2560x1600). It just throws off averages, as people aren't going to run this game at 7fps! If there's no card in the lineup that gets close to 30fps in a certain test, just move on! Save it for the quad crossfire or triple sli tests or something. You're giving high weights to resolutions that only a fraction of a percentage point of dedicated gamers can utilize (and those wouldn't bother with a single GPU). Lastly, please get those annoying gigantonormous screenies out of the review. It makes the review look like it was done by kindergarteners.
  • puterpoweruser
    I didn't finish reading the whole article yet but was the driver hotfix and the current 8.6 driver applied to the 4850?? It improved performance and stability greatly as i saw, it make the actual clock speed the card is set it run nicely and gives it great overhead to overclock through the CCC
  • draxssab
    Who wants the Radeon 4800 full revew? (including the 4870, that do better than the GTX 280 in some games!)

    http://www.hardware.fr/articles/725-8/dossier-amd-radeon-hd-4870-4850.html

    In french, but the graphs talk by themselves. Ho, and if you want a short translation = impressive and incredibly more efficient than Nvidia (if you compare the size of the GPU, yes it's A LOT more efficient)
  • spaztic7
    These reviews are getting better! Although I have seen many benchmarks and tests of the 4850 before this, I still love seeing how the 48x0 line is doing against the green machine! Anandtech.com has a kill 4870 review!
  • Haiku214
    The downside is the 4850 GPU temp! Makes me rethink about buying one...
  • GlItCh017
    Great read, I've read up on the 4870 on Anandtech as well and it's pretty much the same deal with completely dominating the new Nvidia cards. Performing like a GTX 280 at $100 cheaper. I love the amount of games benchmarked results can vary so much from game to game especially with CF and SLI. Good read!
  • homerdog
    This is quite the turnaround for ATI and we haven't even seen R700 yet. Good times!
  • dragoncyber
    I'm still waiting to see how the 4870X2 scales in crosfire before I make any decisions. My 8800 GT SLI setup is still beating out the GTX280 and scales better than CrossFire currently. Hopefully by the time the 4870X2 comes out ATI will have fixed the drivers and scaled the crossifre better for more games. What we all know is that obviously the 4870x2 will outperform the GTX280, we must then wait and see if Nvidia goes 260X2 or 280X2 to stay on top of the graphics King of the Hill game.

    The next couple of months are going to be interesting.
  • techtre2003
    extremetech.com has numbers up for the 4870.
  • mikeinbc
    Absolutely BIAS REVIEW!

    The review uses OLD DRIVERS for the ATI cards & gets worse from there.

    The drivers used for Nvidia's cards> ForceWare 177.34 beta. Release Date: June 15, 2008
    The drivers used for HD4850> Catalyst 8.22 Release Date: July 17, 2006!!!
  • Ogdin
    HardwareCanucks has a detailed 4870 review also.
  • Sceptrix
    Oh I see. Because the motherboard can't run GRID, the 4850 gets a score of zero in graphics tests. That makes perfect sense. After all, anyone using this GPU MUST have the same mobo.
  • Florian Charpentier
    mikeinbc > How can you believe that a 2 year-old driver can support a new generation GPU? The 8.22 beta driver was simply the only driver available that supported the 4850 at the time of review. It is more something like a Catalyst 8.7 beta.

    Malovane > Unfortunately we needed to review Crysis in 25*16 in order to be able to calculate the average framerates of each board with each resolution, including the 25*16 that is playable on most games. And to show that no board can currently run Crysis in 25*16.

    "If you attribute your 4850 test crashing due to your motherboard.. why throw in results of 0 across the board for the 4850?" > No, I attribute the crashing to the Asus Radeon 4850 TOP that we reviewed.
  • Florian Charpentier
    By the way, as I explained again in the review, I didn't include the 0 score of the 4850 with GRID in the sum-up benchmarks.
  • geok1ng
    Please keep giving more results at 2560x1600. I decided to buy my 30 inches because finally a sub US$300 card was getting decents framerates at 25x16 resolutions with the 8800GT, and now the buying decision for upgraders out there are based on 25x16 tests mostly : i wont spend money on a new card to raise my framerates from 40 to 150 at 25x16, but i will spend money to raise from 10fps to 35fps.

    top questions today for any gamer:

    1- Can my card run game X ( Crysis, Age of Conan, Spore, WoW)on my LCD native resolution? Or should i get a new card ?

    2-Can my card run this game in a new monitor at 19x12 or 25x16? Or will i need a new card for this? Should i change motherboard as well to get SLI/Crossfire?

    since the cheaper 19x12 LCDs are costing less than top VGAs solutions and sub$200 VGAs can run 19x12 0xAA well enough it is clear that SLI/Crossfire and over $300 cards are geared toward 25x16 gamers! anyone who ever gamed at 25x16 will choose to remain at 25x16 even without AA playing at 30fps than go back to 19x12 or 16x10 for 8xAA/60fps sake only!

    If you have anything at 3850/8800gt512MB power and is playing at or below 19x12 the worthy upgrade is on a new monitor, not a new VGA!

    I cant imagine a 19x12 or 16x10 gamer with an 8800gt spending money on a new VGA only to get over 30fps+AA when this setup allows 19x12 0xAA gaming!

    My Apple 30" is on market since 2005, and i am not planning on moving over 2560x1600 anytime before 2012, IF display port gets us over 25x16 until there, since 2005 people moved from 6600GTs to x1950pros to 8800GTs to 4850s spending money that could have gone to bigger, better monitors instead.
  • septagent
    MalovaneNo offense, Fedy Abi-Chahla and Florian Charpentier, and thanks for the hard work, but I think the article should be revised a bit. First off, this should be a review of graphics cards.. not a burned out overclocked Asus motherboard. If you attribute your 4850 test crashing due to your motherboard.. why throw in results of 0 across the board for the 4850? You just corrupted your data and made the final fps averages meaningless, which is the thing people were generally interested in. Secondly, why in the world are you including tests that don't fit the definition of "playable" on any card in your test lineup (Crysis 2560x1600). It just throws off averages, as people aren't going to run this game at 7fps! If there's no card in the lineup that gets close to 30fps in a certain test, just move on! Save it for the quad crossfire or triple sli tests or something. You're giving high weights to resolutions that only a fraction of a percentage point of dedicated gamers can utilize (and those wouldn't bother with a single GPU). Lastly, please get those annoying gigantonormous screenies out of the review. It makes the review look like it was done by kindergarteners.



    They used high resolutions on games like Crysis because we asked them to. A very recent review included current gen top of the line graphics cards and they benchmarked them on old games, where the framerates are phenomenal and unnoticable to the human eye. When you benchmark a game on the border of playable vs non-playable. It makes all the difference to a gamer. I don't know what charts you were looking at, but i saw the cards averaging around 30 fps on those Crysis benches for most cases. Why argue with that?

    It was a good review, with a lot of detailed information on the cards that you can't seem to get anywhere else. More than just one or two tests to compare the newest cards, it included cards that most of us are likely to have with cards that we likely want to get. It gives a good idea of what you can expect to gain by an upgrade, and a good idea of which card to choose once you do.


    SceptrixOh I see. Because the motherboard can't run GRID, the 4850 gets a score of zero in graphics tests. That makes perfect sense. After all, anyone using this GPU MUST have the same mobo.



    I believe the author was refering to the video card's PCB when he mentioned the "board" couldn't run the game. It was more an issue of it being overclocked and not yet quite stable than an issue of the mobo.
  • TheGreatGrapeApe
    Thanx for the hard work.

    Just a criticism (of course, isn't that why most people 'comment') , it would be nice in the future if you could include some of the UVD HD-acceleration features and tests. It's not the main focus for many people and these cards, but it does player a larger part for many, especially with the improved upscaling feature for HD content. Thanx.
  • TheGreatGrapeApe
    puterpoweruserWere the AMD police supposed to come and smack best buy on it's hand and keep me from giving them profits? Sorry if i'm ranting, just put the blame where it belongs.


    Sure, that's what they do to reviewers who are forced to sign NDAs and can't post information they know months in advance. That AMD monkeyed around with the launched, delaying it, then moving it up again, all while making people try to respect legal NDAs is AMD's fault, and that's where it belongs.

    This is no different than when LARS first complained about this in a THG article years ago when nVidia wanted to sneak in a launch product last minute and only let them test for a few hours.
    Changing the launch schedule at the last minute is in the IHV's control and no one else's. They may be reacting to external forces, however leaks of other information never gave people carte blanche to break their NDAs in the past, why should they think it's any different this time around and that people would have anticipated that?

    Some people are satisfied with Bungholiomarks as a 'review' other people want more detail than that, and it's obvious by the number of FULL reviews out now, that this launch was totally boched with only some info being allowed out early, but no quality reviews being allowed until today.