ATI Radeon HD 4850: Smarter by Design?


Despite this botched launch, where the Radeon HD 4850 was available even before the press had information about it and the 4870 is still not available, there’s no denying that the 4850 is a very good card. Its performance is only 19% below the GeForce 260 GTX’ and is overall on a par with the GeForce 9800 GTX +, while beating out the 3870 X2! Note that those figures are influenced by the slight factory overclocking of the Asus model tested for this article, but on the other hand they’re adversely affected by the absence of Race Driver: GRID due to the problems we had with our sample card.

Still, the 4850 is already available at a price even lower than expected: $200! Nvidia should be the first to be surprised by that, while their decision to send us a GeForce 9800 GTX + a month before its availability (thus causing a big drop in the GeForce 9800 GTX’ price with some stores are starting to offer it for $199 ), won’t be enough. The GeForce 9800 GTX +, though not uninteresting (since it uses Nvidia’s first 55 µm GPU, with a frequency increased by 9% and a slight drop in power consumption and temperature), only represents a slight improvement in performance compared to the 9800 GTX and it costs more (it’s expected to retail in the neighborhood of $230, with the 9800 GTX’ price dropping a little more in the meantime), and above all it’s not yet available. As of now, in any event, it doesn’t seem to be worth the additional wait, prior to publication of our results of the high-end Radeon HD 4870.

AMD Radeon HD 4850

A too-hasty launch, but a card with a red-hot performance/price ratio despite its use of a reworked architecture, now optimized and extremely effective at this price level. Despite its advance in presenting the GeForce 9800 GTX +, Nvidia has been bested for performance/price ratio and at this price level.

  • Pros
  • Cons
  • Optimized and corrected RV670 architecturePerformance on a par or slightly better than the GeForce 9800 GTX +Antialiasing often performs better than GeForce
  • Higher power use and temperature at idle

+ AWARD: The Tom’s Hardware Recommended Buy Award, given to a product that provides the best bang for the buck.

Award Selection

  • 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!)

    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! has a kill 4870 review!