Closer Look: MSI R4850 512M
We assume the unattractive, armored warrior on the R4850 512M box is supposed to inspire thoughts of power and domination. While the box art would probably frighten the average hobbit, we think it will just give the average human nightmares or at least remind you of your favorite The Loard of the Rings episode. All jokes aside, we are glad to see that MSI seems to keep its packaging to a relatively small size, especially with respect to this ever-greener world we live in. In addition to the card itself, MSI packs a handful of accessories in the box, including a couple quick user's guides, a DVI-to-VGA adapter, a DVI-to-HDMI adapter, an S-video-to-composite adapter, an HDTV cable and a software CD.
The included software CD contains some unique, MSI-developed software and utilities. The CD includes the following software:
- MSI Live Update Series ( Live VGA BIOS & Live VGA Driver): Automatically online download & update VGA BIOS & Drivers, reduce the risk of getting the wrong files, and never have the trouble on web site searching.
- GoodMen: Automatically release the system memory space, reduce the risk of system hang-up.
- LockBox: Instantly enter the data lock mode when you must leave your system for a while.
- WMIinfor: Automatically list the detail system configuration, it helpful for engineering service people.
- MSI VIVID: Vivid brings the easiest way to optimize graphic quality. Colorize your vision when browsing photos!!! Sharpen characters edge! Enhance contrast when playing game!
- MSI Live: Including all real time life information you need, such as Live MSI Product News, Live Daily Information, Live Personal Schedule Manager, Live Search and more.
- ThinSoft Be Twin
As far as the card design is concerned, the MSI R4850 512M doesn't differ from the ATI reference design. On the other hand, the cooler is a drastic change from the reference design. Unlike the reference 4850 cooler, the MSI R4850 512M cooler will take up an extra expansion slot in users systems. Some people will see that as a negative, but we always try to avoid using the slot near the video card anyway, for better thermal performance.
As you can see, the rather large cooler features a big fan, four beefy copper heatpipes, and a heatsink with numerous fins. With all these features, it's easy to imagine that MSI has a solid offering with this cooler. We didn't have a reference 4850 on hand for comparison, but we've seen claims that this custom cooler helps keep the GPU at least 10-20°C cooler when idle and under load than ATI's reference cooler, which is pretty impressive. In addition to cooling well, the cooler stays relatively quiet thanks that 80mm fan that doesn't have to spin as fast as a smaller fan would. To summarize, the cooler is both very effective and surprisingly quiet, just the way we like it.
The first two pictures above give you a good look at the two CrossFireX connectors found on the R4850 512M. CrossFireX technology allows you to use two 4850s simultaneously on motherboards that support the technology to boost 3D performance.
As we have come to expect from cards of this caliber, the R4850 512M requires a direct connection to the power supply, as indicated by the black, 6-pin PCI Express power connector on the edge of the board. Additionally, you'll find two DVI display output connectors and an S-video output on the other side of the card.