Gigabyte Radeon HD 4850 1GB (GV-R485MC-1GH)Manufacturer: Gigabyte
UK Price (as reviewed): £146.75 (inc. VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $199.99 (ex. Tax)
Three years (parts and labour)
We've looked at quite a few Radeon HD 4850s ever since the card launched earlier this summer and many of them have had very good custom cooling solutions. None, however, have been passively cooled until today, as we've got Gigabyte's Radeon HD 4850 1GB, complete with its "Multi-Core" passive cooling solution.
What's more, we haven't looked at how the Radeon HD 4850 reacts to more memory because it hasn't been an official AMD product and partners haven't really pushed it at us until now. Maybe there was a reason for that, because it was as if AMD delayed the launch of the Radeon HD 4870 1GB until there were enough titles on the horizon that benefitted from the additional memory.
So without further ado, let's have a look at how the Gigabyte gets on...
Gigabyte loves to brand up the technologies it introduces on its motherboards and the same is true with its line of graphics cards as well. The GV-R485MC-1GH is no different in that respect and it's a custom designed card through and through. However, despite the massive design overhaul, the PCB remains the same length as the reference design and it still requires just the one six-pin PCI-Express power connector to operate correctly.
The card makes use of Gigabyte's Ultra Durable 2 technology, which means the design features ferrite-cored chokes, low RDS(on) MOSFETs and low ESR solid capacitors. When these are combined together, Gigabyte claims
Ultra Durable 2 helps to deliver better efficiency, less heat and a longer lifetime. However, it's not clear whether these technologies actually have a measurable impact on performance once you move away from PowerPoint and a selection of scientific equipment that my A-level physics teacher would have been impressed with – we'll be having a look at power consumption later on, though.
What we can tell you though is that the Multi-Core cooling technology works, and works very well indeed. While temperatures that approached 100°C may sound rather alarming, when you factor in that this was with absolutely no airflow within a notable distance of our test machine after several hours of Crysis
crunching, it's a testament to how good the cooling solution is.
Despite the temperatures, the card remained perfectly stable throughout this particular phase of our testing. And what made things all the more impressive was that, as soon as we introduced one 120mm fan blowing air over the heatsink's fins (simulating a side vent in a well-designed case), the temperatures dropped to well below 50°C after many hours running tests in the bit-tech
benchmarking sweatshop. We'll be looking at this in more detail later on, too.
The card comes with a slight overclock on the core, which is running up at 640MHz compared to the ATI recommended speed of 625MHz while the memory has been underclocked from 1,986MHz to 1,920MHz. At first, I'm sure this seems a little alien, but it's something that many manufacturers do when they increase the amount of memory on lower-end cards – it's a shame that Gigabyte has done it here, but I'm sure the core clock increase will make up for it in scenarios where the memory size doesn't have an impact on performance.
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In terms of a bundle, Gigabyte hasn't done anything wrong, but at the same time it hasn't pushed the boat out – some will appreciate that, while others might have expected more. There's a fairly standard array of connectors included – a DVI-to-VGA converter, a DVI-to-HDMI adapter, an S-video to composite dongle, a CrossFire connector and a six-pin power cable. It's rounded off by a manual and a driver/utility disc, which includes Gigabyte's GamerHUD software.
Gigabyte offers a three-year limited warranty in Europe, which covers parts and labour. The point of contact during the first year of ownership is the retailer, while the second and third years are covered by Gigabyte directly. If, for some reason, you are unable to get support through the retailer where you purchased the product, Gigabyte will pick up the slack in the first year as well.