ATI Radeon HD 4850 and 4870: RV770 Has Arrived

Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: Summarizing the Radeon HD 4850's and Radeon HD 4870's performance, thankfully, is quite easy. The Radeon HD 4850 is generally faster than the GeForce 9800 GTX and right on-par with or somewhat faster than the upcoming GeForce 9800 GTX+ in most applications.  The Radeon HD 4870, however, is definitely a step up from the GeForce 9800 GTX+ and actually compares favorably to the $100 more expensive GeForce GTX 260.  In fact, the Radeon HD 4870 was able to slightly outperform the GeForce GTX 260 in a couple of tests, including ET:QW and UT3.


When the Radeon HD 2900 XT launched in may of last year, we were genuinely concerned for the future of ATI GPUs as a viable alternative to NVIDIA on the desktop. Our fears were quelled somewhat when the Radeon 3800 series arrived, and today our outlook is completely different. While they have certainly hit some major speed-bumps over the last couple of years, it is clear AMD has a lot of fight left and this latest round of ATI Radeons proves it.  At their respective price points, the Radeon HD 4850 and Radeon HD 4870 are extremely strong products.  For $199, it is very easy to recommend the Radeon HD 4850.  Its single-slot design is desirable for a  number of applications, its feature set is second to none, and performance is very good in comparison to the GeForce 9800 GTX and upcoming GTX+. At $299 the Radeon HD 4870 is a very desirable product as well, especially in light of the $399 GeForce GTX 260.  The Radeon HD 4870's feature set is also very good, its cooler is relatively quiet, and performance is top notch. And dare we say a $300 graphics card represents and excellent value, from a price point perspective?  These cards are definitely going to put significant price pressure on NVIDIA's GTX 200 series.  One drawback common to both cards though is heat. Both the Radeon HD 4850 and 4870 ran surprisingly hot, so hot that they couldn't be touched.

Expect Radeon HD 4850 cards to hit e-tail immediately with the Radeon HD 4870 to follow up in a couple of weeks. Then next quarter the R700 is due to arrive and potentially change the performance landscape at the ultra high-end. Based on what we've seen here today, we can't wait to see what R700 can do.  For now though, AMD should be commended to launching a pair of graphics cards that represent excellent values at their respective price points.

UPDATE: ETA at NewEgg on the Radeon HD 4870 appears to be between 6/30 and 7/7.

  • Great Value Propositions
  • Excellent Performance
  • SD and HD Video Quality
  • Relatively Quiet
  • GTX 280 Still Top Dog
  • 4870 a Few Weeks Away

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