Gigabyte HD4850 GV-R485-512H-B Review
Reviewed by: Makaveli
Reviewed on: August 4, 2008
With all of the new graphics cards emerging, consumers are looking for the one video card that is the best bang-for-the-buck. When ATI's Radeon HD 3800 series came out last year, the cards definitely had premium performance at a non-premium price. The 3800 series sent shock waves through the enthusiast community because the unparalleled performance was available for an awfully low price. Just recently, ATI released its new Radeon HD 4800 series and there has been a lot of hype surrounding these cards. Can ATI repeat the magic of the 3800 series? Let's take a look at the 4850, which is the current entry-level video card to the 4800 series. The particular graphics card that we'll be taking a look at today is manufactured by Gigabyte. Will this card live up to the hype and be the absolute best bang-for-the-buck on the market right now? How will it compare to some of the other 4850s? Let's dig in and find out!
Over the years, Gigabyte has built a reputation as having some of the highest quality products that are always reliable and can be pushed quite far while overclocking. How far will this card be able to handle being overclocked? Will the headroom be better than some of its other competitors? Join me as I find out if Gigabyte has pumped out yet another winner to add to the company's trophy case.
The Gigabyte HD 4850 comes packaged in a glossy and very reflective box that features a woman in the future suited up for battle. The glowing colors of pink, purple, and white that are behind her make her stand out. On the back of the box you'll find an example of what the ATI Avivo video and display engine does. You'll also find the specifications of the card in multiple languages. Upon opening the box, you'll find the Gigabyte 4850 is securely held in place by foam and is wrapped in anti-static plastic. The accessories are in the compartment above the video card while the manual and driver CD are resting on top of the card.
Included with the Gigabyte HD 4850 is a manual, driver CD, a DVI to HDMI adapter, a DVI to D-Sub adapter, a Crossfire connector, a Molex 4-pin to PCI-E 6-pin power converter, and an HDTV breakout cable.
Now that we've got the card unpacked, let's get a closer look at the Gigabyte HD 4850 on its own!
The Gigabyte HD 4850 is actually a pretty small card that sports a very thin heatsink and fan unit. It's been a while since I've had a video card that doesn't take up multiple PCI slots for cooling. The stock core clock for this GPU is 625MHz, while the 512MB of GDDR3 memory is set at a cool 990MHz. It'll be exciting to see just how far this card can be pushed.
This card's heatsink has red see-thru plastic covering it and half of the red plastic is painted purple and features the company's logo on it. The back side of the Gigabyte HD4850 has an X shaped bracket that holds the reference design heatsink against the core.
This card runs on a RV770 core manufactured using a 55nm process and features 512MB of GDDR3 memory made by Qimonda.
The Gigabyte HD 4850 features two DVI ports and one HD-Out port. I like how Gigabyte now ships most of the company's video cards with little plastic caps covering up these ports because it ensures that the ports are free of any debris or shipping damage. Take a look at the heatsink on the back of the card with the copper poles. Pretty unique, huh? This card is powered by one 6-pin PCI-E cable.
The Gigabyte HD 4850 supports CrossfireX, so that's just what you'll find hiding under the blue cap near the output ports in the front of the card. You can use the included Crossfire bridge to connect multiple 4850s together to get unparalleled performance.
Now that we've taken a closer look at the card, let's insert the driver CD and get this Gigabyte HD 4850 up and running!
To properly install the drivers and programs, insert the included CD into your optical drive. The menu that pops up right when you insert the disc features the woman on the box of the card as well as six different options. You can install DirectX 9, the display driver, Yahoo! Companion toolbar, browse the CD, view the readme file, or exit the disc with these buttons. For me, the first step is to install the display drivers first. Be sure you check ATI's website for the latest display drivers so that you have the latest technology installed for your card. The "Readme" button opens up a Notebook .txt file with an abundance of information about how to install the card and get it working properly. The Yahoo! Companion Toolbar installs extremely quickly and just pops up a message saying "Yahoo! Toolbar install OK!!" and it's as simple as that. By browsing the CD, you'll see the different folders that house the information that is located on the CD.
Now let's install the display driver by following the onscreen instructions. You can customize what is installed, including whether or not you want a trial for the World of Warcraft online game on your machine. After you install the Catalyst Control Center, you'll need to reboot your computer to implement the changes.
It's now time to look into the Catalyst Control Center to see what kind of options it houses.
The Catalyst Control Center is where you can view and alter almost all of the settings for the card. Let's take a quick look at some of the key parts.
Information Center: This is where you can view a lot of information regarding the software and hardware that are associated with the video card, like the current driver version installed.
Digital Panel: Here you can alter HDTV settings, AVIVO color settings, LCD Overdrive, and view your monitor's information.
3D: In this tab you'll be able to change your visual settings such as Anisotropic Filtering, Anti-Aliasing, color schemes and set your card for performance or quality.
VIVO Video & ATI Overdrive: As pictured on the back of the box, ATI's AVIVO can be used to change the color settings for better viewing. ATI Overdrive is the overclocking utility where we'll push the Gigabyte HD 4850 to the limit.
The Catalyst Control Center is obviously very useful, so now that we've observed what it has to offer, let's check out the specifications and features of this particular 4850.
|Memory Clock||990 MHz|
Yes (Using DVI-to-HDMI adaptor)
|Connectors||2 x dual-link DVI-I 1 x S-Video Out
|Bus Technology||PCI Express 2.0|
|Form Factor||Single Slot Design
|Power Connectors||1 x 6-pin|
- Powered by ATI Radeon HD 4850
- 256-bit Memory interface
- DirectX 10.1 and Shader Model 4.1 support
- PCI Express 2.0 support
- On-Chip HDCP
- ATI CrossFireX multi-GPU support for highly scalable performance
- Up to 24x Custom Filter Anti-Aliasing
- 55nm Process Technology
- Built-in HDMI and 7.1 surround audio
- ATI AVIVO HD Video and Display technology
- Unified Video Decoder 2 (UVD) for Blu-ray and HD DVD
In order to test the Gigabyte HD 4850, I will be running it through a gauntlet of video benchmarks and recording the average frames per second to get a good idea about where this card is at. I will compare this card to a few other popular video cards as well as another HD 4850 to see where this Gigabyte 4850 stands among the competition. All of the cards will be set to bone stock frequencies and voltages, except for the EVGA GTX 260 FTW which is a factory overclocked card. All of the cards were tested with the latest drivers available at the time of this review.
- Processor: Intel Q9450 Core 2 Quad 333x8
- Motherboard: Gigabyte X48-DQ6
- Memory: Mushkin XP2 Redline 8000 2 x 2GB 5-5-5-12
- Video Card(s): Gigabyte HD 4850 w/ Catalyst 8.7
- Power Supply: Mushkin 800 watt Modular power supply
- Hard Drive: Seagate 750GB SATA
- Optical Drive: Sony Dual Layer Burner
- OS: Windows Vista Ultimate Edition
Comparison Video Cards:
- PowerColor HD 4850
- Asus EN9800 GTX
- XFX 9600GT
- Sapphire HD3870
- Asus 8800 GT
- XFX GTX 280
- EVGA GTX 260 FTW
- Gigabyte HD 4850 675/1075MHz
This card was a bit tough to overclock because the temperatures held it back. I was able to get the card from the stock GPU clock speed of 625MHz all the way up to 675MHz. The memory went up from the stock frequency of 990MHz up to 1075MHz. Overall, that's a pretty good overclock, especially since this card was overclocked 35MHz more on the GPU and 30MHz more on the memory than the PowerColor HD 4850 that it's competing against. With an aftermarket cooler, I'm sure this card would be able to go much higher than what I got it at.
- Knights of the Sea
- Call of Duty 4
- World in Conflict
- Call of Juarez
- Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts
- 3DMark 06 Professional
Crysis has been out for quite some time now. In that time, there has yet to be a single or multi GPU setup that can fully showcase the graphics performance of the game. How will the Gigabyte HD 4850 fare? The Crysis single player demo includes both CPU and GPU benchmarks to test the performance of your processor and video card.
- Anti-Aliasing: x2
- Advanced settings to medium
The Gigabyte and Powercolor were bang on.
PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a new DX10 title that features its own proprietary graphics engine currently in development. The game is a combination of Real Time Strategy and Simulation. You have the ability to control the entire crew or just a single member. Play as the German, Russian or Allied navies, and prove your mettle on the open seas.
- Anti-Aliasing: x0
- Image Quality: High
- DirectX Version: 10
- All resolutions: 60Hz
It was a closer battle between the Gigabyte 4850 and the PowerColor 4850 in this game. The Gigabyte 4850 only lost, on average, by a single frame per second in each benchmark.
BioShock is one of the creepier games out in the wild. The building of a perfect utopian society underwater gone horribly wrong. Its inhabitants driven mad with the introduction of tonics and genetic modifications. Now, Rapture is just a shadow of its former glory, with little girls looting the dead of what little they have left, while being shadowed by guardians known as "Big Daddys." It is a demanding game that will make your hardware scream for mercy. This First Person Shooter allows for an infinite number of weapons and modifications to provide a unique experience each time it is played. The environment, as well as the story line, will wrap you up for hours on end.
- All settings to maximum
- V-Sync: Off
The Gigabyte 4850 kept closing the gap between it and the PowerColor 4850 as the resolutions grew.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is the successor to the Call of Duty crown. This iteration of the game is fought in many of the world's hot spots with modern armaments and firepower. You can play as either a US Marine or British SAS trooper. Since this game does not feature an in-game test, I will run through a section of the game and measure average FPS using Fraps 2.9.3.
- Anti-Aliasing: x4
- Anisotropic Filtering: Max
- Texture Quality: Extra
- All settings max
The Gigabyte HD 4850 pulled out the victory in the final three resolutions! It's definitely been a bloodbath so far!
World in Conflict is a newly released DX10, Real Time Strategy game that simulates the all-out war the world hopes never comes. The difference in this RTS game is that it is not the typical "generate wealth and build" type of game. Instead, you advance by conquering your foe.
- Anti-Aliasing: x0
- Anisotropic Filtering: x16
- Graphic Detail: Very High
The results were definitely pretty even across the board.
Call of Juarez is a DX10, first-person shooter set in the Wild West of the late 1800's. The game is inspired, in part, by the movies of the Wild West genre of the seventies and eighties. The game can be played in both single player and multiplayer modes. The game focuses on realistic graphics and gameplay designed to take advantage of the latest video cards on the market.
- Details: High
- Shadowmap Size: 2048x2048
- Shadow Quality: Normal
- Anti-Aliasing: MSAA x4
Both of the 4850s tied in three of the four resolutions, but the Gigabyte 4850 pulled out the victory in the final resolution by one frame.
Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts is the latest chapter in the Company of Heroes series. The scene is WWII. The mission is Operation Market Garden, the first allied attempt to break into the Third Reich. Play as the British or Germans. This Real Time Strategy game is brought to us by Relic Entertainment.
- Anti-Aliasing: x8
- All other settings to maximum
The Gigabyte 4850 took first place over the PowerColor 4850 in half of the resolutions while tying it in the other half.
3DMark06 is one of those benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest breaks out. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.
- SM2.0 Graphics Tests: GT1- Return to Proxycon, GT2- Firefly Forest
- CPU Tests: Cpu1- Red Valley, CPU2- Red Valley
- HDR/SM3.0 Graphics Tests: HDR1- Canyon Flight, HDR2- Deep Freeze
Wow, look how close the 4850s are! The overclocked Gigabyte 4850 performs quite well though.
The Gigabyte HD 4850 is just your average Radeon HD 4850 with the exception of its overclocking headroom. The card performed almost exactly the same as the competing 4850. When I overclocked the card, I wasn't expecting it to go far since the temperatures were quite high as it was (the card was idle at 70 degrees Celsius!), but this Gigabyte 4850 still pumped out some pretty good clock speeds. I was able to raise the core GPU clock of 625MHz up to 675MHz and the memory from 990MHz to 1075MHz, but I couldn't go any further due to temperatures because they were approaching almost 90 degrees Celsius! With an aftermarket heatsink and fan, I have no doubt in my mind that this card can be pushed even more because it's hard to overclock with a video card that idles at 70C without any aftermarket parts. However, a 50MHz increase on the GPU clock speed is good headroom if you ask me. If you look back at our first 4850 review, you'll notice that this Gigabyte HD 4850 was overclocked twice as much as that card. Also, I was pleased to see how slim this card is because a lot of cards that have been released lately have taken up multiple PCI slots for cooling purposes. If you're looking for a video card that performs well in today's hottest games but doesn't break the bank, the Gigabyte HD 4850 is the graphics card for you. It supports DirectX 10.1, Shader Model 4.1, HDMI, CrossfireX, has onboard HDCP, and runs on a fast 55nm chip, all while leaving a good amount of overclocking headroom.
- Slim card
- Overclocking headroom
- CrossfireX support
- Onboard HDCP
- 55nm technology
- HDMI 7.1 surround sound support
- Par performance
- Hot chip