Palit HD4850 Sonic Reviewccokeman -
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The Palit HD4850 Sonic Overclocking Edition video card is a non reference design video card. That is obvious by looking at the PCB, power circuits and large heatsink used on it. As a factory overclocked video card, its clock speeds are higher, in this case significantly higher. The clock speed is set to 685MHz in lieu of the reference 625MHz, a 60MHz improvement. This speed is roughly where many of the stock cards have hit the overclocking wall. The memory speed only sees a 7MHz increase over the 993MHz stock speed on the GDDR3 memory. As hot as the reference cooler keeps the RV770 core, the massive cooler looks to make this problem a non issue. Equipped with a dual ball bearing PWM fan, failure should be a long way down the road.
The dual slot design of the HD4850 Sonic is evident from the mounting bracket. This vented bracket helps ventilate the case by allowing air from the heatsink to be pushed out through the rear of the case. Connectivity is pretty much standard fare with two Dual Link DVI ports and an HDTV out port. The back end of the Sonic shows a little of what makes this card so special. The three phase PWM design ensures that a more efficient and stable power supply is fed to the RV770 core and GDDR3 memory. Instead of the normal 6-pin PCI-E power connector seen on the HD4850 series of video cards, the Sonic is equipped with an 8-pin PCI-E power connection. Hhhhmmmm! Looks like there is a little more in store here.
The heatsink is attached via four spring loaded screws. A copper contact plate has two heatpipes that transfer heat from the copper to the aluminum fin array. The thermal interface material is not the normal peanut butter consistancy. This card uses a thinner, more adhesive material. To remove it took some acetone and scrubbing. The memory modules and power circuits do not have any heatsinks or cooling other than the airflow coming through the heatsink. I have to wonder if this will present some issues with the overclocking of this card.
The Sonic is built using the RV770 GPU core featuring a clock speed of 685MHz. The RV770 core contains 956 million transistors using a 55nm fabrication process. The memory on the Sonic is manufactured by Samsung and is rated at 1000MHz. This is just where it is clocked at from the factory. Rated at 1000MHz, will there be any more headroom for the overclocker?
Let's get the Sonic installed and set what is has for performance.