The HIS Radeon HD 4850 IceQ 4 TurboX comes with a respectable factory overclock, but we were keen to see if there was more to come from this card given what we've seen so far. The cooling solution appears to be very efficient while also relatively silent and power consumption for this particular chip was even lower than the stock-clocked Radeon HD 4850.
We set about overclocking the card with our usual set of tools; we used RivaTuner v2.11 to adjust and monitor the card's clock speeds and then tested the card's stability using Crysis
. Frequencies were increased from the card's stock speeds using 5MHz increments - a loop of our Crysis
tests was run in between each clock speed increase to verify the card's stability.
It allows us to check not just for visual artifacting, but also for signs of clock throttling, where a clock speed increase results in either the same or lower performance than the previous results obtained.
As a quick reminder, the HIS Radeon HD 4850 IceQ 4 TurboX runs at 685MHz core and 2,200MHz (effective) memory. After a few hours of overclocking, the card was still going - we'd gone past the 725MHz and 740MHz core clocks that we'd achieved on the Sapphire and Powercolor cards fitted with third party cooling solutions and the card was still going. At one point we thought we might hit over 800MHz, but then the fun unfortunately came to an abrupt end at 765MHz core and 2,420MHz (effective) on the memory.
These increases represent a 12 percent increase in core speed and a 10 percent memory bandwidth enhancement over the card's stock speeds. Don't forget that the card already
carries a 10 percent factory overclock (in round terms) over the reference design, which makes these increases all the more impressive.
Obviously, due to the nature and complexity of manufacturing a GPU with almost a billion transistors inside it, there are going to be some chip-to-chip differences in operating temperature, power consumption and overclockability as well, so all we can do here is give you an idea of how well this particular graphics card performs in these areas.
We like the HIS Radeon HD 4850 IceQ 4 TurboX, we like it a lot in fact. It combines one of, if not the best third party cooling solutions we've tested with a healthy factory overclock and a custom-designed PCB that builds upon the reference design's power circuitry in particular. As you know, we're not particularly impressed with the stock cooler on the Radeon HD 4850 – it's not that it is a bad design, per se, it just doesn't do a good enough job of keeping the card cool without being a little on the noisy side. Without a doubt then, if you're in the market for a Radeon HD 4850, we'd recommend looking at one with an after market cooling solution.
The one thing we haven't really touched upon until now is the card's price – in the UK, it will set you back around £135 including VAT
. Sapphire's Radeon HD 4850 Toxic Edition graphics card, which features the Zalman VF900 dual heatpipe GPU cooler, shot up in price soon after we reviewed it but it has since settled back down again. We've found it on sale for around the same price
as the HIS Radeon HD 4850 IceQ 4 TurboX but in this case we think the HIS product is better equipped for the enthusiast – the IceQ 4 cooler is just overall a better design in our opinion.
So, on the face of it, the HIS Radeon HD 4850 Ice Q 4 TurboX is pretty good value for money considering what you get, but we'd like to see it a little
cheaper, even if it's only by about five to ten pounds. You see, Powercolor's Radeon HD 4850 PCS+
is available for just over £120—albeit without a bundle—and that also has a pretty good third party cooling solution. But it's again not as good as the IceQ 4 cooler on this card from HIS.
Ultimately, if you're looking at a Radeon HD 4850 and the heat generated by the stock cooler is a concern of yours, it's going to come down to what's most important to you. You could spend £120 on a card that doesn't come with a bundle, but features a pretty good (and very quiet) cooling solution, or you could opt for the HIS Radeon HD 4850 IceQ 4 TurboX at £135.
The latter features what we think is a better all round cooling solution, because not only is it at least as quiet as the PCS+ cooler, but it also blows heat generated by the card out the back of your case – that's something you can't say about either Powercolor's or Sapphire's custom-cooled cards. What's more, the IceQ 4 TurboX comes bundled up in a retail box unlike the Powercolor and to some that's an attraction. The question is whether it's worth an extra £15 for all of this and that's debatable in the grand scheme of things.
Alternatively, you can go it alone
and buy one of the cheaper stock-cooled Radeon HD 4850s and an after market cooler like Akasa's AK-VC03
, which retails for around £17.50
. The total cost would come to around £120, including VAT, but it means potentially voiding your warranty. What HIS really needs to do is make this option an unattractive one, but right now it just doesn't seem to be that way.
What do these scores mean?