Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 Dual Slot and Toxic 4850 Review
No graphics card in the $0-$200 space delivers better overall performance than ATI’s Radeon HD 4850. With its 800 stream processing units clocked at 625MHz, the Radeon 4850 has more than enough shading horsepower to run today’s latest games. Where the card really shines though is under high levels of AA (6xAA or more). Over the past two months we’ve conducted numerous tests at AA levels as high as 8x and found that the 4850 not only blows by cards in its price range like the GeForce 9800 GT/9800 GTX under these conditions, but its even capable of giving NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 260 a run for its money in some situations!
This is exactly the opposite of ATI’s previous generation GPUs, including the Radeon 2900 XT and Radeon 3870, who put up strong 0xAA performance, but once the AA was cranked up, stumbled horribly in comparison to the competition.
All isn’t perfect with the Radeon 4850 however. As strong a performer as it is for the price, the card has one key weakness: in bone stock form, the GPU and even the card itself generate an extraordinary amount of heat. Many enthusiasts have reported idle temps in the 70 degree Celsius range just running at the Windows desktop! As you can imagine, load temps while gaming quickly spike up from there rather quickly.
While the board and GPU are designed to run at these temperatures, it isn’t comforting to many users who prefer to have their PC and its underlying components run as cool as possible. After all, excessive heat can affect overall system stability and can eventually prematurely kill system components.
For these types of users, the reference design Radeon 4850 with its single slot cooling is simply unacceptable. The stock card just generates too much heat within the PC to be considered for use in their system. Instead these users have been eager to get their hands on an alternative Radeon 4850 card with better cooling.
Fortunately these alternative cards are beginning to hit online retailers. A few weeks ago we took a look at MSI’s R4850 512M board and found it delivered an extraordinary improvement in cooling performance over the stock 4850 reference design. Now we’re here today to showcase two of Sapphire’s Radeon 4850 cards with custom cooling, the Sapphire Toxic HD 4850 and the Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 with dual-slot cooling.
Both of these cards can be found on Newegg today with prices starting at $179.99. How do they compare to one another in terms of cooling and 3D performance, and how do they both stack up against the stock Radeon 4850 cooler? Let’s find out shall we!