Sapphire HD4850 Review

gotdamojo06 - 2008-06-24 16:59:31 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: gotdamojo06   
Reviewed on: June 25, 2008
Price: $194.99


Are you looking for a new video card to add to your new build or maybe it's about time to upgrade your GPU again? Have you been waiting for something new to hit the market, see what ATI is going to launch to put up a fight against nVidia? Well now is the time. Sapphire recently launched the HD4850 video card built around the ATI RV770 GPU that takes advantage of the 55nm manufacturing process. There has been much hype about this card throughout the online computer forums, I wonder if the wait is going to pay off. I am extremely curious to see how the Sapphire HD4850 is going to compare when it comes to other cards that are out on the market, especially thinking back to when the HD3850 was released and how the card did.  

Closer Look:  

From the first look at the Sapphire HD4850 package, you are going to begin to want this card, this is because of the sheer design of the package. There are a ton of badges on the front of the Sapphire HD4850's package, including ATI Radeon Maximum Graphics badge, ATI CrossFire X, and Microsoft Windows Vista. There is also a large picture of Ruby, ATI's mascot, however she is in a different position, she looks to be praying; maybe praying to the ATI Gods? There are a list of some of the main features to the Sapphire HD4850 at the bottom edge of the package as well as a large oval badge letting you know that there is 512MB of GDDR3 installed on the card. There is also a new slogan in the middle of the package, saying "Prepare to Dominate...." implying that the HD4850 is going to perform extremely well. When you take a look at the back, you are able to see nice long list of the main features of the Sapphire HD4850. Ruby is also on the back of the package, however this time she has a sword, like she is about to go into battle. On the right hand side, there is a Product Highlights paragraph describing the HD4850. One one of the ends, you are going to find a System Requirements list, which says " need one ATI CrossFireX Bridge Interconnect cable per board are required" meaning there needs to be two CrossFireX bridges installed.  











When you open up the packaging for the Sapphire HD4850, you are going to find a brown box that is holding everything in place as well as keeping it protected and when opened up, you will find more protection; not only is the HD4850 wrapped in an anti-static bag, it is also wrapped up in a thick foam piece to keep it from being damaged during the shipping process. Under the foam is where you are going to find all of the included accessories. There is also a nice user manual to help you with the installation of your new Sapphire HD4850.



The included accessories are, one S-Video out converter, one DVI to Analog dongle, one DVI to HDMI dongle, a 4-pin molex to PCI-E power cable, a S video to RCA cable, one CrossFireX bridge, one 2GB Sapphire USB card, and a bunch of CDs. The included CDs are 3DMark06, Power DVD, DVD Suite, Ruby ROM Volume 1.1, and the Sapphire Driver installation CD.




Now that we know what the packaging for the Sapphire HD4850 looks like, I know that I am ready to take a look at the actual video card and see what it looks like.

Closer Look:  


When you get the HD4850 pulled out of the packaging, you are able to see that Sapphire decided to wrap it in an anti-static wrap to keep the video card safe from any mishaps that could possibly happen during the shipping process. When you pull the Sapphire HD4850 out of the anti-static bag, you are able to take the first look at the ATI version of next generation computer graphics. Sapphire decided to use a single slot cooling design with a cooler that looks very similar to the stock cooler for their HD3850. The memory is covered up by a good sized copper heatsink at the rear to keep them cooled as well as the GPU that is covered by the heatsink/fan setup.















When you flip the Sapphire HD4850 over and take a look at the back of the card, you are able to see exactly how the cooler is attached to the GPU and how secure the backing plate for the large heatsink/fan setup is.



As with all new video cards that are out on the market, there is some way for you to connect two or more video cards together to increase your video performance. With ATI based video cards, we use the CrossFire/CrossFireX technology. These connections are at the top of the card and look something like the connections at the bottom the the card. The Sapphire HD4850 uses a PCI-E 2.0 x16 Electrical port to get part of its power as well as transfer the data. At the back of the card is the 6 pin PCI-E power connector so that the HD4850 will be able to get all of the power that it requires to operate. The Sapphire HD4850 comes with dual DVI ports and as well as a single S-Video connection.



Now that we have taken a look at the Sapphire HD4850, 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.



The first step in getting the Sapphire HD4850 to work properly is to place the CD in the optical drive and wait for the software to start up so that we will be able to begin installing it. The drivers that came with the Catalyst Control Center are the version 8.503. However there are already more up to dated versions of Catalyst out, version 8.6 which are the drivers that I will be using.  


The first screen that you come to is the welcome screen where you are supposed to select which language you wish to install in, obviously I will be using English. When you click the next button, you are able to decide if you wish to install the drivers or uninstall them. This screen will make it easier if you need to uninstall an older version and start over with fresh drivers. The following screen is where you are able to choose if you wish to install the drivers in the "Express" option or the "Custom" option. The express option is the one that will install the most common chosen features, while with the custom option you are able to install the features you want. I will choose the custom option to show you what features you can install, which are on the next screen. Check the options you wish to install and click the next button at the bottom.














There is an End User License Agreement that you must accept before you are able to begin the installation. After the installation is complete you will be prompted with the finished screen.  



Now that we have the software installed on the computer, its time to open it up and take a look at how it is setup and configure the system to use the HD4850 properly and effectively.


The next step in configuring the Sapphire HD4850 is to open up the Catalyst Control Center; using this application, you will be able to control just every setting that is able to be changed on the video card. When you first start it up, you will have an option to choose if you want to use the Basic view or the Advanced view of the Catalyst Control Center. I chose to use the Advanced view, this will allow you to change more settings. When you go to click the next button, a popup will show up letting you know that if you want to change back to the basic view at a later time, you will be able to do so. After you accept the popup, Catalyst Control Center will start up and start on the Welcome screen, this is where you are able to view and use useful online links that will take to to an update checker, allow you to contact customer support, join ATI's Folding At Home team, as well as other things. Under the Information Center tab, you will be able to view both hardware as well as software information about the graphical end of your computer. This can come in handy if you needed to know which installation of Catalyst Control Center and what drivers you currently have installed.

















The next tab that I want to take a look at is the Display Manager tab, this is where you are going to be able to see how many displays you have connected to your computer as well as what they are going to display. Not only are you able to choose what they are going to be able to display, you are able to change what the resolution for each display will be set at, what the refresh rate is going to be, and if you want the color quality to be 32 bit or 16 bit. The next tab that on the agenda is the Digital Panel, the first page that I want to look at under here is the Avivo Color page, here you are able to change the hue, saturation and the temperature of the color that is going to be displayed. Under the Attributes page, you are going to be able to see different information about the displays that are connected to the HD4850 such as the maximum resolution the display is able to use. You are also able to enable GPU scaling and set the options for that here. The final page under the Digital Panel is called HDTV Support, this is where you are able to chose the different HD formats to use when a HDTV is connected to your HD4850.




The final section of the Catalyst Control Center that I want to look at is the ATI Overdrive page. This page is locked after you first install the program and the drivers. When you unlock this page, you are unlocking the ability to overclock your video card's core and memory clockspeeds. You are able to use a slider bar to select what the settings are you wish to use as far as the clock speeds go, there is a maximum of 1200MHz for the memory and 700MHz for the core. You are also able to use an Auto Tune feature that will do the overclocking and testing for stability for you. There are two gauges on the side that show you your GPU temperature and your GPU activity.




Fabrication Process
Graphics Clock
625 MHz
Memory Clock 993 MHz / 1985MHz effective
Memory Interface 256-bit
Memory Size
Memory Type
400 MHz
Stream Processors
HDCP Support
HDMI Support
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





I am very interested and excited to see how the new Sapphire HD4850 using the new GPU from ATI will compare when it is tested using a few different video benchmarks to measure the performance that the software is able to get when using the HD4850. I will be putting the Sapphire HD4850 up against a few different video cards that are out on the market, including the PowerColor HD4850. All of the settings will be set at stock settings for all of the cards, I will be overclocking the HD4850 to the maximum level that I will be able to do so that I can compare the difference in performance due to the overclocking process and see how beneficial it is to overclock all components in your system.  


Comparison Video Cards:



Overclocked settings:

When it cames to overclocking the Sapphire HD4850, I used a piece of software called AMD GPU Clock Tool. During the overclocking process, the temperatures did not go up more than a few degrees, however after those few degrees, the final temperature was between 82 to 86 degrees.  



  1. Crysis
  2. Knights of the Sea
  3. BioShock
  4. Call of Duty 4
  5. World in Conflict
  6. Call of Juarez
  7. Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts
  8. 3DMark 06 Professional


Crysis is a new addition to the gaming benchmark suite used at This game is one of the most anticipated and system intensive games to be released to the gaming community. The Crysis single player demo includes both CPU and GPU benchmarks to test the performance of your processor and video card.

















The Sapphire HD4850 was able to keep up with the other performers when it came down to it in the Crysis benchmark. I was very surprised to see that when the Sapphire HD4850 was overclocked, it was able to outperform the XFX GTX 280 by just a few frames per second in the middle range resolutions.


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.


Video Settings:














It seems that the HD4850 seemed to cap out at 48 FPS. The Sapphire HD4850 did very well when it was compared to the other cards, so much that at the 1920 x 1200 resolution, it took first place when it was overclocked and tied for first place at stock settings.


BioShock is one of the newest games on the market. 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.


Video Settings:















When it came down to it in the BioShock benchmarking test, the Sapphire HD4850 was not able to reclaim the lead over the XFX GTX 280, however did come close when it was overclocked and while it was at stock speeds. The card flew over the other cards in both the lower and higher resolutions, excluding the XFX GTX 280.


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.


Video Settings:















The Sapphire HD4850 was unable to perform as well as the GTX 280 in the Call of Duty 4 benchmarking run. However, it was able to beat out just about every other card that it was put up against here.


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.


Video Settings:
















A close second place when it came down to it during the World in Conflict benchmarking, I was dissappointed to see that the Sapphire 4850 did not triumph in this test.


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.


Video Settings:















The Sapphire HD4850 held its own again in the Call of Juarez benchmarking test, especially when it was overclocked, coming in first place in the 1680x1050 and 1920x1200 tests and only being beaten by the GTX 280 in the 1280x1024 test by a mere two frames per second.


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.


Video Settings:















In the Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts benchmarking, it was a close race between the GTX 280 and the HD4850 at first. But when the resolutions kept increasing, the Sapphire HD4850 seem to fall behind at higher resolutions.


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.

















When it came down to it in the 3DMark06 Benchmark, the Sapphire HD4850 stayed up there with the big dogs such as the 9800 and the GTX 280. I was surprised to see how well the card did when the resolutions kept getting larger and larger. There was only a 2000 point difference between the lowest and the highest resolutions tested.


The Sapphire HD4850 utilizes ATI's design of its newest core using a 55nm manufacturing technology, the RV770 using 512MB of GDDR3 memory. I had expected to see some great numbers from the new card, however what I saw was way beyond what I expected. The stock benchmarking scores of the HD4850 beat the 9800 a few times and got beat a few times by it. However, once the Sapphire HD4850's core was overclocked to 670MHz and the memory was pushed all the way up to 1100MHz, it was able to compete with the competition's newest card, the GTX 280. When the card was overclocked, unlike the PowerColor HD4850, the temperatures of the GPU were sitting around 82-86 degrees Celsius under load, while these temperatures are not very good and are quite high, I felt that they were safe enough for me to be able to run some benchmarks. The single slot cooling solution is both a good thing as well as a bad thing; while it saves space inside the case it also is not going to be able to cool the card quite as well as a dual slot cooling solution. I would not be running the card at these speeds with the stock cooling solution. If you are a gamer, you know how hard it is to keep getting great frame rates while taking advantage of the high game settings that are out there. I would suggest picking up and trying a Sapphire HD4850; especially at the price, you should be able to pick up a few of them to get the best scores you possibly can.