ASUS Matrix & Sapphire Toxic Radeon HD 4870, 4850

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Introduction & Specifications

When AMD launched their current generation of Radeon 4800 series graphics cards last summer, they propelled themselves back into the ring against NVIDIA, who had previously been dominating the performance game for a few product cycles. The Radeon 4800 series provided decidedly high-end performance at a comfortable mid-range price that undercut NVIDIA's offerings at the time, forcing them to scramble to compete on price. Since then AMD has fleshed out their product line-up with a plethora of high, mid and low end products, but the original 4850 and 4870 remain extremely popular.

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It's been over half a year since they were initially announced but the Radeon 4800 series of graphics cards are still very much in the limelight, although they are now relegated to the mid-range segment by the newer dual-GPU solutions from both the red and green camps. Manufacturers continue to produce new takes on the Radeon 4800 series and there is a 4800 series product aimed at every consumer segment, from low cost reference designs to premium, built-in watercooling solutions. ASUS and Sapphire are two such manufacturers and they have both recently released new 4800 series products aimed at the higher end performance segment.

ASUS recently announced a new line-up of video cards under their Republic of Gamers brand, the Matrix series. We took a look at the first available ASUS ROG Matrix series product, the
EN9800GT Matrix, two months ago. Since then ASUS has introduced several more ROG Matrix cards and we will be evaluating the new 4850 and 4870 offerings in this article.

We'll also be evaluating Sapphire's take on a pumped up non-reference 4870, which is a member of their premium Toxic line-up, that will be competing for your dollars in the same price segment as the Matrix cards. While Sapphire has had a Toxic 4870 product for several months, it only sported 512MB of onboard memory. Recently Sapphire announced an updated 1GB version of their Toxic 4870 and we'll be evaluating that today alongside the two ASUS cards.


  ASUS ROG EAH4850 Matrix
  55nm RV770 PRO
  512MB DDR3
  625MHz core clock
  1986Ghz mem clock
  Dual-slot active cooler
  2 x DVI output
  1 x S-Video/Composite

  ASUS ROG EAH4870 Matrix
  55nm RV770 XT
  512MB DDR5
  770MHz core clock
  3.68Ghz mem clock
  Dual-slot active cooler
  2 x DVI output
  1 x S-Video/Composite
    Sapphire HD 4870 1GB TOXIC
  55nm RV770 XT
  1024MB DDR5
  780Mhz core clock
  4.0Ghz mem clock
  Dual-slot active cooler
  2 x DVI output
  1 x S-Video/Composite

The ASUS ROG Matrix and the Sapphire Toxic cards use special non-reference cooler designs for improved cooling. Both series of products also offer factory overclocking. Not only do both manufacturers claim better performance over the reference design, they also claim their products can achieve this whilst producing less noise and with better thermal management. As you would expect, both series of products also come at a slight price premium over the cheaper reference design based Radeon 4800 series cards.

One thing is certain, all three cards we are evaluating today sport radically different dual-slot cooling solutions and beefed up clock and memory speeds. Read on to find out if all this metal, heatpipes and fans can deliver on the manufacturer's claims.

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