HIS and Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 Face Off - HotHardware

HIS and Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 Face Off

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In what we are sure is a completely unintentional coincidence, the Sapphire Toxic HD 4850 ships in a smaller black box adorned by what almost appears to be the Silver Surfer -- a character seen in the last Fantastic Four movie. 

 

Inscribed underneath are the words, "Legends Never Die" apparently referring to the level of success that Sapphire has had with the Toxic series, with some specs listed below including 512 MB of GDDR3 memory, factory-overclocked speeds, and cooling provided by Zalman's VF900 HSF.  Furthermore, decals placed on the front of the box point out the software in the bundle, including Cyberlink's PowerDVD v7 and DVD Suite v5, Futuremark's latest benchmark: 3DMark Vantage Advanced, and a disc called Ruby Rom which contained demos of John Woo's Stranglehold and Call of Juarez as well as a few wallpapers and screensavers.  The rest of the bundle mirrors HIS for the most part, with HDMI and VGA adapters, 6-pin power cable, and a CrossFire bridge cable with an extra S-Video to component video conversion cable thrown in for good measure.

       

Although a majority of Radeon cards used to come with a red PCB, both of today's units ship on green-blue boards instead.  While this might have been less noticeable with the HIS version due to the oversized IceQ4 cooler, on Sapphire's Toxic HD 4850 the color scheme is quite prevalent, with matching blue heatsinks placed over the memory and MOSFETs.  Rather than large, bulky heatsinks, the ones used here are all isolated from one another and rely on airflow from the fan directly above it for cooling. 

        
       

If there's one company you can point out that produces some of the better performing, yet quieter operating coolers, it would have to be Zalman, and we find that Sapphire has tapped their resources here as well.  Zalman's copper-based VF900 rises directly off of the surface of the GPU, using two heatpipes that curl away and form the circular shape that you see above.  Heat is dissipated by the air pushed from the central fan over the copper fins surrounding the heatpipes.  Unlike other designs, including HIS' IceQ4, this heat is simply radiated out into the chassis rather than expelled out the back, so proper airflow mechanics within the case are a must.  Even without a plastic channel to funnel the air, however, the size of the VF900 make this a dual-slot solution as well.

        

Normal operation of the Radeon HD 4850 alone wouldn't warrant the use of a more exotic cooler, but Sapphire's Toxic cards go one better and raise the core speed from the reference speed of 625 MHz to 675 MHz.  Memory speeds also get a nice boost from default speeds of 993 MHz to 1100 MHz.

       

Beyond the Zalman cooler and blue heatsinks, the rest of the card consists of a mostly standard layout.  Twin CrossFire connectors are placed towards the front end of the board and a single 6-pin power connector lies at the other end.  Output consists of dual-DVI connectors with a single S-Video port placed in between.

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As I've said so many times that it bores even me:  The only thing turning some of us off to ATI is the poor performance of their drivers under Linux.  If their cards, today, performed with the same respective performance under Linux as they do under Windows, I would buy one for my next system.

I can't really blame them for not concentrating on this small marketspace; I can only say that this small marketspace recognizes their concentration.

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Uh you people do realize you can get overclocked 9800gtx+'s cheaper than the 4850s you reviewed. Neither of those 4850s are below 200 bucks, and what is an even more slap in the face, the Asus ultimate 9800GT is between the GTX and the GTX+ performance wise and it sells for $149. Im glad to see the HIS cooler, and if i got ATI i would go for them specifically because of that, but for another $40 you could have a stock 4870.

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