VisionTek 4850 1GB B2 Review

RHKCommander959 - 2009-07-24 15:57:20 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: RHKCommander959   
Reviewed on: August 26, 2009
Price: $124.99


The majority of the market for video cards revolves around the midrange selection as not everyone can afford the cream of the crop. The high-end cards from the major competitors, Nvidia and ATI, are the GTX285, GTX295, 4870x2, 4890, and so on. They all battle for the best frames possible in graphic intense applications, while the midrange cards just aim to get the job done. The video card reviewed today is the VisionTek 4850 with 1GB of GDDR3 running at 950MHz. The RV770 core is clocked in at 625MHz with 800 pixel shaders. This card is very similar to the 4870, by sharing the same core minus the speed, and having lower memory bandwidth from the GDDR3 rather than GDDR5. Performance wise, the 4850 and 4870 are in different classes; the 4850 will likely compete with the GTS250/9800GTX cards. Floating around on the net were false rumors that VisionTek had planned on filing for bankruptcy - VisionTek has not filed for bankruptcy and intends to stick around.

Closer Look:

The package for the VisionTek video card was sealed in a bag to keep the contents clean and protect the box. The front has a large sticker placed on it, giving key information about the video card, such as PCIe bus, 1GB memory and that it is the 4850 model. The model number is at the bottom of the sticker, but the VisionTek website currently doesn't list the card. The box art is simple with a flame in the bottom corner of the front, a large B2 logo and ATI RADEON logos posted all over the place. The box is very small.










The back of the box is clean, with more ATI Radeon logos and a small VisionTek logo in the corner. The sides are the same as the rest of the box, with a B2 logo to the right of the VisionTek logo.



The ends of the box have a small V logo, for the VisionTek brand, and another for the ATI Radeon status of this card. People should have a real easy time figuring out that there's an ATI card inside this box. Opening the flap reveals a cardboard box tightly fit inside.



After pulling it out, opening the cardboard box reveals a red bubble wrap bag protecting the video card, which sits above the included peripherals.



Underneath the video card you will find a driver disk, manual, DVI to HDMI adapter, VGA adapter, and Molex to 6-pin PCI Express power adapter. These are the bare necessities that should get most users up and running quickly.



Let's take a peek at the card!

Closer Look:

The VisionTek 4850 1GB B2 is powered by a 55nm production RV770 core, with 800 pixel shader processors, 16 ROPS, and 1GB of Qimonda GDDR3 memory rated for 1000MHz operation. The card comes with an Arctic Cooling heat sink, the Accelero L2, a small lightweight and quiet aluminum heat sink. The fan motor hub has a V sticker for the VisionTek company logo. The memory that runs parallel to the PCI Express slot is cooled by five notches cut into the heat sink to allow some airflow to them, while the rest of the memory sits under the fins nicely. The card has DVI, VGA, and HDMI connectors, so most setups will be easily installed. Personally I prefer a pair of DVI ports to a DVI and VGA as a simple and cheap adapter, which this card came with, can downgrade the image to VGA, while also allowing the card to provide two DVI ports for multi-monitor setups. The PCB is red, as is common with ATI graphics cards, and the memory does not have much to cool it down, save some airflow, so memory overclocking will definitely be limited. The back side of the card is clean, with four screws and two push-pins used to mount the two heat sinks. Three small holes are available to mount heat sinks to the memory. With some modifications this card should do really well.














Connectivity isn't a problem with this 4850, except for users that want dual DVI, or that use component out. The power circuitry of the VisionTek 4850 is cooled by a large orange heat sink that is held in place by two push-pins. Nice capacitors and chokes are dotted around the heat sink. Next to it is the 6-pin PCI Express power plug - this card uses so little energy that it only requires one supplementary power cable rather than two like the high-end cards. Just as with most ATI cards, this card has two CrossFire connections for CrossFireX with any other compatible ATI card.



To cool this video card, VisionTek uses the Arctic Cooling Accelero L2 heat sink to cool the core and blow air across the memory ICs. The fan runs off of 12V and 0.15A, and runs extremely quietly. The fan snaps onto the heat sink with two clips. The heat sink itself is simple aluminum with two sets of holes for mounting to various video cards.



With the cooler removed, the core is exposed. A shim is installed around the core to protect it and the small resistors around it. This definitely helps people who replace the stock cooler by helping protect the core from cracking accidentally. The Qimonda memory is under clocked 50MHz to 950MHz, probably because of stability issues from heat, since they have no cooling at all save for the faint airflow from the fan.



Let's move on.

Closer Look:

The VisionTek B2 video card comes with a driver disk that has ATI Catalyst 9.3 drivers on it. ATI is currently up to 9.7, which I downloaded to use with the card though the 'Check for driver update' button. Using AutoRun also gave the option for installing the drivers and reading documentation. Installation begins with choosing the default language, which starts with English.














Continuing on, users are given a choice of where to install the drivers. The default path is:  “c:\program files\ati technologies”. Users can also choose Express or Custom installation if they do not want to mess around with the installation. Using the Express installation allows the program to automatically configure itself to the defaults.



With the drivers installed, the main page gives general help to users, including driver updates, customer service, feedback, AMD's website, and [email protected] information. Clicking the tab up at the top left allows the other options to be opened.



The first option has controls for the desktop and monitor options, even for separate monitor setups. The resolution, rotation, refresh rate, and color quality can all be controlled.



Next, the color balance can be adjusted for the best possible output. Brightness and contrast can also be adjusted. Screen detection setup allows automatic or manual detection for both monitors and TVs.



3D performance can be changed for either performance, quality, or a mix between both with a slider. The next page can be used to change video output quality.



The last page is ATI Overdrive, ATI's program to overclock the video card. Fan speed cannot be changed, just the GPU core and memory speeds. The program can also Auto-Tune, and test the stability of the overclock.



With the drivers installed the card is ready to test!


VisionTek 4850 B2
1024MB GDDR3
Core Frequency
Memory Frequency
Memory Bus
Max. Resolution
2560 x 1600
Crossfire Ready
Dual-Link DVI, HDTV, VGA






All information courtesy of [email protected]:[email protected]6



Testing the VisionTek 4850 is done by installing it in my i7 test setup and then running the card through a battery of synthetic and real-world tests and settings. The processor is overclocked to 3GHz and several resolutions are used, generally 1280x1024, 1680x1050, and 1920x1200, with highe-end cards also going up to 2560x1600. PhysX is disabled on the Nvidia cards in the 3DMark Vantage test. The video card is then overclocked with, the fan set to 100%, and then benchmarked again. The results of both the stock and overclocked settings are then compared to similar level cards.


Comparison Video Cards:



Overclocked settings:

Going into the overclocking, I didn't hold out too much hope for this videocard. The silent heat sink worked very well and the core didn't really get very hot. Although the fan uses only two wires, I was able to adjust fan speed with RivaTuner, which made the fan lightly audible, but only dropped the temperatures a few degrees at best. The memory was underclocked, as it is rated for 1000MHz operation, likely due to the lack of enough cooling for stable operation at stock speed. In overclocking both I went for both the highest settings I could achieve without artifacts, approximately 690MHz and 1000MHz on the core and memory speeds respectively, about a 50MHz overclock on each. A few MHz more on either resulted in artifacts, although the GPU temperature was very reasonable. With a volt mod and some memory heat sinks this card would probably overclock very well, with a very small investment.



Video benchmarks:



Far Cry 2:

Featuring a new game engine named Dunia, this game looks to be another one to stress your video card. Built specially for Far Cry 2, this engine allows for real-time effects and damage. This next generation first-person shooter comes to us from Ubisoft, surprisingly not from Crytek. The game is set in a war-torn region of Africa, where there is a non-existent central government along with the chaos that surrounds this type of social environment. If you have seen the movie Blood Diamond, you know the setting. Ubisoft puts the main storyline of the game into focus with these statements:  "Caught between two rival factions in war-torn Africa, you are sent to take out 'The Jackal,' a mysterious character who has rekindled the conflict between the warlords, jeopardizing thousands of lives. In order to fulfill your mission you will have to play the factions against each other, identify and exploit their weaknesses, and neutralize their superior numbers and firepower with surprise, subversion, cunning and, of course, brute force." In this Far Cry game, you don't have the beautiful water, but instead the beauty and harshness of the African continent to contend with. Most games give you a set area that can be played through, while Ubisoft has given the gamer the equivalent of 50km2 of the vast African continent to explore while in pursuit of your goals. The settings used are just a few steps below the maximum in-game settings, and offer a good blend of performance vs visual quality.









At stock the 4850 was hanging out at the bottom of the FPS crowd, with a minor overclock however, it was the second fastest performer in Far Cry 2.


Crysis: Warhead is a standalone expansion pack situated in time with the storyline of the original Crysis. As Sergeant "Psycho" Sykes, you have a secret mission to accomplish on the far side of the island. Along the way there are EMP blasts and aliens to contend with, as you hunt down the KPA chief. This game uses an enhanced version of the CryEngine 2.













Crysis: Warhead preferred the 4850s, with 800 shader processors over the 640 of the 4770's. At stock, the VisionTek 4850 was pushing ahead of the GTS250 and 9800GTX+, and came in second again to the 4870.


BioShock is one of the creepier games you can play. It is set in a perfect utopian society undersea, gone horribly wrong. It's inhabitants have been driven mad with the introduction of tonics and genetic modifications. Now Rapture is just a shadow of it's 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 storyline, will wrap you up for hours on end.


Video Settings:













Bioshock prefers the 4850 over the 4770 again, with the Nvidia cards and 4870 performing the best here. Overclocked, the 4850 caught up to near similar performance.


Activision's Call of Duty: World at War goes right back to the bread and butter of the franchise:  WWII FPS action. In this rendition, you start off in the South Pacific and move through a series of missions that flip back and forth between the Russian front and the island hopping advance toward the Imperial Japanese homeland. Included is a mission on Peliliu Island, arguably one of the more difficult and costly battles in the Pacific theater. The gameplay in single player mode is rather short, but the game makes up for this shortcoming with online gameplay. If you thought COD4 looked nice, this game will amaze you with the graphics maxed out while playing at high resolutions. I will use Fraps to measure a section of gameplay in the Semper Fi map on Makin Island to compare performance of these video cards.














Again, the 4850 fights with the Nvidia cards. At resolutions higher than 1280x1024, the performance is nearly identical with both the 4770s and 4850s.


In Dead Space, as part of the crew of the USG Kellion, you are headed on a mission to repair a ship in distress. Things go from bad to worse, starting with the crash landing of the seemingly silent and "dead" ship, the USG Ishimuru. Offering a non-traditional, over-the-shoulder viewing angle, the game gets right into the action as soon as the ventilation systems are activated. From there things get worse with the appearance of the Necromorphs. Survival now becomes a primary concern for the main character, Isaac Clarke. Survive, and you may find the loved one that was aboard the Ishimuru.















Performance between the VisionTek 4850 and 4770s is very similar in Dead Space. The Palit scored surprisingly lower than the VisionTek.


Fallout 3 takes place after a nuclear holocaust that nearly wipes out civilization and leaves the world in an irradiated mess. The fallout shelter you are born in is called Vault 101, and is situated in the Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia areas. The premise of the game is that the Vault has been sealed for 200 years, and now your father has opened it and escaped without a trace. The Overseer believes you are involved, so you must escape as well into the wasteland that was once our nation's capital. I find myself looking for landmarks, since I am familiar with the streets of Washington DC.














Here the story doesn't unfold until using the two higheest resolutions. The 4770s just cant keep up with the rest, while performance is very similar at 1920x1200 for all of the cards, minus the more powerful 4870.


Left 4 Dead is a new release from Valve that leaves you as part of a group of survivors in a world where an infection has rapidly turned the populace into a zombie horde. Your goal is to make it to a rescue point, all the while fighting what seems like overwhelming odds. Along the way there are safe houses where you can replenish your weapons and health. The movie "I Am Legend" comes to mind to set the stage for this game. But unlike the movie, there are four characters, not just a lone gun and his faithful companion. The horde is not at all like the typical slow walking, foot shuffling zombies. These zombies are quick and work with a pack mentality. You have but one job - survival!














As the resolution increased, the performance gap narrowed, and at the largest resolution the overclocked 4850 took second place again.


3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest begins. 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.













The 4770s did the worst in 3DMark06, while the Nvidia camp and 4870 cleaned up. Overclocking gave a decent boost to the score of the VisionTek card.


Featuring all-new game tests, 3DMark Vantage is for use with Vista-based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU Test Two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. Entry begins at 1024x768, progressing to Extreme at 1920x1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.














Surprisingly, the 4850s and 4770s score very similarly until the more intense settings are enabled. After the Entry test, the GTS250 ceded all its efforts, and at Extreme, the overclocked 4850 tied with the 4870! In the three higheest settings the 4850 placed second, or tied for first. Not too bad for a mid-range card!


Overall, the VisionTek 4850 1GB B2 performed decently, although overclocking potential is limited. The core ran cool thanks to the Accelero L2, and the power circuits even had a small heat sink. This video card is easily installed into most systems with its wide array of connections:  HDMI, VGA and DVI.

The VisionTek B2 video card has a basic package, but for a midrange card it is adequate, and nothing really stands out as lacking. For more performance it would be nice to have small heat sinks to wick away heat from the memory modules. The heat sink and fan assembly is tall enough that the card takes up two slots. Unfortunately, no CrossFire cables were included.

The card has some nice features to it, like the solid state capacitors. The heat sink runs very quietly and kept the GPU core temperature cool, even after hours of testing. A case with good airflow is needed though, since the card does not exhaust to the exterior like some other designs; with poor airflow heat will build up in the case. For this level of card there aren't any noticeable cons that stick out.