ASUS Radeon EAH 4850 Matrix/EAH 4870 Matrix Review
For years now the TOP (Top Overclocking Performance) line of ASUS video cards were the best the company offered. All of ASUSí TOP cards are designed to deliver the very best performance the company can muster for a given GPU. To accomplish this, TOP boards are highly overclocked, running at speeds that are higher than other ASUS cards, and often among the fastest available overall.
If they have one weakness however itís cooling. In order to bring their TOP cards to market as quickly as possible, ASUS often employs the same reference design and cooling unit used by ATI and NVIDIA. Physically no changes are made to the hardware, with the card basically shipping with a tweaked BIOS offering higher than stock clock speeds. This obviously isnít as big of a deal for their GeForce boards, as NVIDIAís reference cooler for most of their GPUs is quite good, but ATIís stock coolers tend to run on the hot side, particularly in the case of the Radeon 4800 series. (Weíve written numerous times in the past about the 4850ís tendency to idle in the 60 degree range.)
Fortunately ASUS will then go back later and add the heatpipes and passively cooled Silent cards that enthusiasts tend to look for when upgrading. These are the cards you want if stock cooling just isnít good enough for you. After all, you can easily OC the board on your own anyway.
In the past year however ASUS has taken their game to the next level, bringing their Republic of Gamers series from exclusively motherboards and notebooks to their latest graphics cards as well.
In case you didnít know, ASUS Republic of Gamers line have brought us some excellent products, including the Striker and Rampage Extreme series of motherboards, as well as ASUSí G1/G2 and G50 series notebooks. All of these products have incorporated numerous noteworthy features -- the Rampage Extreme boards are known for their LCD POST screens, Supreme FX audio, and radical cooling, while the latest G50 notebooks ship with GeForce 9800M graphics, dual 7200RPM hard drives running RAID 0, and their sharp displays -- so what has the Republic of Gamers team concocted for graphics? Enter the Matrix series of graphics cards.
So whatís the Matrix claim to fame? In addition to providing the ability to adjust the graphics core and memory speeds (something all cards are capable of actually) how does GPU and memory voltage adjustment sound!?
As any CPU overclocker can tell you, voltage adjustment is a critically important feature to have when overclocking the processor. Without it, your max OC is limited by several hundred MHz in the case of the latest Core 2 processors. Unfortunately, most video cards lack the ability to adjust voltages. Modders have gotten around this by soldering resistors to each other (some volt mods can also be accomplished with a pencil), but this requires a steady soldering iron hand, and obviously will void your cardís warranty.
With their Matrix series of video cards, ASUS provides limited volt modding without having to void your cardís warranty. This helps you push your card further when OCíing! ASUS also equips their Matrix boards with custom coolers that include heatpipe cooling.
Up for review today are ASUSí two newest Matrix cards, the Republic of Gamers EAH 4850 Matrix and the EAH 4870 Matrix. Letís take a closer look at the cardís shall we?