Force3D Radeon HD 4850
High-end gaming at mid-range prices
- Excellent results from a mid-range graphics card, 110 Watts peak power consumption, attractive price point
- Idle temperature tipped 80 degrees
When it comes to bang for your buck, the Radeon HD 4850 is currently the best graphics card on the market. This Force3D version is just as good as the ATI reference board. If you're a stickler for value, you won't be disappointed.
When it comes to 3-D gaming, ATI is finally beginning to retake ground from the all-conquering NVIDIA. With its recent dual-GPU boards getting the thumbs-up from gamers (Radeon HD3870 X2, EAH3870 X2 1GB etc.), and an aggressive pricing strategy that has left its competitor reeling, many punters are predicting a return to ATI market dominance. Whatever the outcome, it's definitely good news for consumers, with high-end graphics cards now shipping at mainstream prices. This brings us rather neatly to the ATI Radeon HD 4850: currently the most powerful mid-range graphics card on the market.
So what's new about the Radeon 4800 series of graphics cards? Despite being largely based on the previous R600 architecture, the new chip comes with a range of improvements that provide substantial performance-boosts in gaming. The most significant change is the number of stream processors, which has leapt to 800 (ATI's previous chip had a mere 320). The board's transistor count has also increased from 666 million to 965 million, while the number of texture units has more than doubled from 16 to 40. The mid-range HD 4850 version comes with a core GPU clock speed of 625 MHz, a memory data rate of 2.0 Gbps, 512 MB of GDDR3 memory at 993MHz (1986 MHz effective) and a 256-bit memory bus. It also benefits from an improved maths processing rate (one TeraFLOPs, rather than 0.497).
The other day, we reviewed AMD's reference board design, which this Force3D version is basically identical to. Force3D is a new name in the graphics card industry; in fact, until now we had never heard of them (its parent company, Inno3D, may be more familiar). At present, Altech Australia is tossing up whether or not to release the card over here, but with US prices expected to fall below $170, it should be quite affordable regardless.
If you're a tree-hugging greenie (which in today's world you should be), then the HD 4850's power consumption will bring a smile to your face. During peak usage, the card is rated at a mere 110 Watts; but boy, does it get hot! Despite the valiant efforts of the single slot copper fan sink, our card reached temperatures in excess of 80 degrees — and that was while idle. Overclockers may therefore need to think about additional cooling options before they attempt to max out the clock speeds.
For connectivity, the board comes with the usual range of HDTV outputs, plus two DVI connectors with dual-link support — a plus for high-def screen setups (a DVI-to-HDMI adaptor is also included in the sales package). The built-in audio system on the RV770 has also been upgraded to include 7.1 channel HD audio.
In our benchmarks, the Force3D HD 4850 comfortably trumped NVIDIA's 9800 GTX, which was previously the most powerful single-GPU graphics card on the market. Although the GTX returned a slightly better result in 3D Mark 2006 (12,074 versus 11,918) the Radeon came out on top in our gaming tests. When we ran the game F.E.A.R. with maxed-out settings, the HD 4850 averaged a respectable 93fps (frames per second). When using the same test-bed, the Gigabyte GeForce 9800 GTX (GV-NX98X512H-B) returned a result of 80fps — a difference of 13 frames per second. In our Half-Life 2 performance test, the Radeon card delivered an average 167.9fps. Again, this was slightly better than the GTX, which averaged 162fps. Lost Planet: Extreme Condition also impressed us with an average frame rate of 66fps (compared to 59.0fps with the GTX).
Things were slightly less rosy in our DirectX 10 gaming tests, but the results were still very impressive for a mid-range graphics card. Our first DX10 test was the infamously demanding Crysis, which we ran with maximum settings enabled at a resolution of 1920x1200. This returned an average frame rate of just 16.7fps. On the other hand, the DX10 version of Lost Planet: Extreme Conditions averaged a very playable 27fps, while Call of Juarez zipped along at 42.4fps. While none of these results will wow hardcore gamers, the cost-to-performance ratio remains incredibly solid. Indeed, for the same price as a high-end graphics card, you could combine two or even three of these babies in a CrossfireX arrangement for a massive boost in performance.
The Radeon HD 4850 also supports DirectX 10.1: a DX10 API update which, in theory, provides incremental enhancements to compatible games. At present, the real-world benefits of DirectX10.1 are barely measurable, but it's a good investment to have for the future.
(There is no Australian pricing available yet; the Force3D Radeon HD 4850 retails for $US199 in the US.)
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Huawei Mate 9
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Acer Swift 7
Google Daydream VR headset
Lexar® Portable SSD
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Surface Pro 4
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
- 2 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 3 Fetch TV Mighty review: Better than Foxtel
- 4 Fetch TV Mini review: Make your TV a smart TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review
Latest News Articles
- PC prices will continue to go up due to shortage of components
- Radeon Vega vs. GeForce GTX 1080 Ti? AMD, Nvidia announce dueling events at GDC 2017
- Toshiba's in chaos, but not quitting PCs -- yet
- Intel's 8th-gen 'Coffee Lake' chips reuse 14nm process as other Core CPUs ease into new tech
- Intel researches tech to prepare for a future beyond today's PCs
GGG Evaluation Team
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
- Horizon Zero Dawn review
- How to quit Pokemon Go (or to start enjoying it again)
- Japan's pop culture, anime-friendly, J-Pop shrine, Kanda Myojin
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- CCLevel 1/2 SAP Support AnalystACT
- CCSAP Consultant - SAP Native HANA to DesignWA
- FTDynamics AX Functional ConsultantACT
- CCUser ResearcherNSW
- TPSenior Test AnalystQLD
- CCBPM DeveloperVIC
- FTMonitoring Tools Support l NimSoft , SMARTS, ehealth, TivoliNSW
- FTSenior Full Stack .Net Developer - Internet of ThingsNSW
- TPIT Project Manager - Office relocationVIC
- CCAgile CoachNSW
- CCSenior Business Analyst - AgileQLD
- FTBusiness Development Executive - Queensland Public SectorQLD
- TPIT Project Officer - TMRQLD
- TPMobile DeveloperWA
- CCIntegration DeveloperNSW
- CCTechnical Business Analyst - Infrastructure - VirtualizationNSW
- FTSenior Network AdministratorNSW
- FTSnr SOC Security Coordinator - Perm - North Ryde areaNSW
- FTDevelopment Manager - SaaSQLD
- FTSenior Solution ArchitectSA
- FTFull stack Developer - Senior (Java or C# and AngularJS) x 3QLD
- FTSecurity Engineer - Permanent - IT Services - SydneyNSW
- CCProject SpecialistVIC
- FTSenior Software Engineer - JavaQLD
- FTScrum MasterQLD