MSI R4850 Reviewgotdamojo06 - August 10, 2008
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When you first take the MSI R4850 out of the packaging, you are going to see it wrapped up securely and neatly in an anti-static package to protect the card from any electromagnetic interference it may encounter during the shipping process, and when it is first pulled out of the package. Once you get the card out of the wrapping, you will be able to take your first look at the actual card, and the beautiful cooling solution that MSI has put on the card. It has aluminum heatsink fins, and four copper heatpipes connecting the base of the cooler to the fins for maximum heat distribution. There is a large fan in the middle to help keep the temperatures low. MSI has put RAM sinks on the memory at the back of the card to keep it cool as well, since the card no longer has the full coverage cooler. On the back of the card, you are able to see exactly how secure the cooling solution is - there are four screws holding the cooler down tight against the GPU, and a push-pin solution on the RAM sinks. There are three other screws holding down a bracket to help cool other parts of the card.
Like I mentioned before, MSI has put extra cooling on parts of the card to help keep them all cool. You can see what the card looks like with the chips showing, and with them covered up by the RAM sink. The back of the card is also where you are going to be plugging in your 6-pin PCI-E power connector to power the R4850. Without this power cord connected, your system will not boot into Windows, you will receive a warning message letting you know you need to plug the power cord in.
When you get the massive heatsink/fan setup off of the card, you are able to see exactly what the card looks like naked. In the center of the card, where the RV770 GPU is located, MSI has some thermal compound on the chip itself; however, I went ahead and replaced it with some Arctic Silver 3. When cleaned up, the chip shines nice and bright.
Like all other high-end graphics cards out in today's market, MSI uses the new PCI-E 2.0 interface to transfer data to the motherboard; this is also the case with the R4850. Also, like most high-end cards on the market today, there is a way to connect two or more of them to receive an extra boost of raw power. On the ATI side of the market, there is CrossFireX. There are two slots where you can plug in two bridges per card, opening up two more cards to be added to your setup. The part of the card you will see when it is installed in your computer hosts two DVI ports, which are covered up by a protective plastic piece to prevent damage to the pins inside, as well as to prevent dust from getting inside of them. There also is an S-Video port between the DVI-out ports on the card for even more expandability.
The cooler is a very large one, which does allow the heat to be transferred and removed from the heatsink quickly and efficiently. There is a large fan in the center of the sink to help this happen. The base of the heatsink is made up of pure copper, and the heatpipes are made of pure copper as well. The fins of the heatsink are made up of aluminum to reduce the weight of the cooler, as well as to help transfer the heat off of the GPU more quickly.
Now that we have taken a look at the MSI R4850, let's take a look at the specifics of the card, and then get on to the benchmarks to see what it will take to get it to work properly.