Introduction

XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB

Over the past few years, we have had opportunity to review a number of products from XFX. My first XFX video card review was the 7900 GTX XXX Edition. A lot has changed in the 3 years since, and while it is not really news now, it is still worth mentioning that after years offering exclusively NVIDIA video cards, XFX started offering products from ATI this year. *Insert applause here.*

One of their first products is what we are reviewing today, the XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB. Just by the name, you can tell that it is not just another reference card due to the amount of memory. The HD 4850 originally launched with just 512MB in June of last year. Packed with more memory, this extremely capable performer now has the frame buffer to keep up with much more expensive video cards. At just $124.99 shipped, this is one great bang for the buck graphics card.

The XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB is a dual slot card, featuring a jet-black shroud over its heat sink and fan. You can clearly see the letters “XFX” on the shroud. I really prefer this over stickers that most cards have.

XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB

As far as power is concerned, only a single 6-pin PCI-e power cable is required. It is recommended that a 450 Watt or greater power supply is used in the system. If you plan to run a pair of these in CrossFire, that moves the recommendation to 550 Watts.

XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB

XFX adds a little flair to their DVI ports with some red accent. I have found this handy in low light situations, while crawling under my desk to hook up the monitor! Both of the DVI ports are dual link, each of which can run up to 2560x1600 in resolution. The outputs are HDCP capable. There is also an S-Video style connector for RGB out in case you wanted to use component cables to hook to your HDTV.

XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB

On the back of the card we see that the PCB is flat black, which I think is a nice touch.

Bundle and Test Setup

XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB

I have not been able to figure out if XFX is trying to save money/going green using these small boxes, but it is a welcome change. I don’t know about you but I pack away all of the boxes that my hardware comes in, so taking up less space keeps me from drawing the ire of the little woman. The artwork on the box is very nice and clearly shows what model the card is. We can also see a label showing how much memory is on the card which is nearly as important as the model in some cases!

XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB

Our bundle consists of just a few things, a DVI-VGA adapter, RGB HDTV plug, and a molex to PCI-e adapter. The manual and driver CD follow the black theme here, and we also see a “Do not disturb, I’m gaming!” door hanger.

Test System

Diamond HD 4870 1GB

 

Intel Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

Intel Core i7 920

Motherboard

ASUS P6T Deluxe OC Palm

Memory

Kingston HyperX DDR3

Video Card

XFX Radeon HD 4850

Hard Drive

Western Digital Raptor 150GB

Cooling

Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme

Power Supply

Corsair HX620

Operating System

Windows Vista Ultimate 64-Bit

Our system was set up with a fresh install of Vista Ultimate 64 with SP1. All the latest chipset drivers were used for the motherboard, while CATALYST 9.8 was used for ATI video cards.

To ensure that we are getting very high performance, our i7 920 is overclocked to a full 4GHz (200x20). Memory is run at 1600MHz with 8-8-8-21 timings.

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Batman Arkham Asylum. Benchmark

Batman Arkham Asylum

Batman: Arkham Asylum is an action-adventure stealth video game based on DC Comics' Batman for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows. It was developed by Rocksteady Studios and published by Eidos Interactive in conjunction with Warner Bros.

For our testing we set everything as high as it would go, except for Physx and NVIDIA AA.

XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB
XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB

As you can see here, all 3 cards are topping out around 62fps, which is what the game is limited to without tweaking the configuration.

XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB

At 2560x1600 we can see that the XFX 4850 1GB falls behind the higher clocked 4870 and 4890. 30fps is still playable on this game but if you are planning to run this resolution you will probably want something a little faster.

Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood

Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood. Benchmark

Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood

Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood is a Western themed first-person shooter video game. Developed by Techland and published by Ubisoft, it is a prequel to Call of Juarez that debuted in 2006 on PC and 2007.

XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB

All of the in game settings were set to their highest. There is no option for AA so if you plan to use it, it will need to be set from your video card control panel.

XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB

Performance for all of our cards, including the XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB was great here.

XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB

Again, even at extreme resolutions, the XFX 4850 1GB was able to maintain a playable framerate.

Resident Evil 5

Resident Evil 5

Resident Evil 5

Resident Evil 5 is a survival horror video game developed and published by Capcom. Resident Evil 5 features similar gameplay to Resident Evil 4, with context-sensitive controls and dynamic cut scenes also making a return. The player can control Chris Redfield or Sheva Alomar in a similar fashion to Leon S. Kennedy in Resident Evil 4, with the same over-the-shoulder perspective.

XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB

All in game settings were set to their maximum. We used 2xAA for all of our performance tests in Resident Evil 5.

XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB

Resident Evil 5 uses an engine that we will be seeing a lot in the future in games from Capcom. Things look great for the XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB here, maintaining a solid 60fps throughout our benchmark.

Darkest of Days

Darkest of Days

Darkest of Days

Darkest of Days is an upcoming first-person shooter video game developed by 8monkey Labs and published by Phantom EFX. It will be released in North America and Europe on September 8, 2009 for Microsoft Windows and the Xbox 360.

We set in game settings to Best Quality and enabled 2xAA.

XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB

The XFX Radeon 4850 1GB is flying through Darkest of Days at this resolution.

XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB

With the resolution cranked all the way up, our XFX 4850 1GB starts to fall behind, no doubt due to its slower core and memory speed. At an average of nearly 37fps it is still playable but has a few slow downs here and there.

3DMark Vantage

3DMark Vantage

3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware. 3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.

The Extreme settings were used for testing, so a resolution of 1920x1200 was used.

XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB

In the overall score, the XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB is once again at the bottom of the pack. Though normally that would be considered bad, this is a very good score for a single video card costing just $124.99! Keep in mind that this is the "Extreme" setting and brings each of our video cards to a crawl.

XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB

The GPU score gives you a slightly clearer picture of how much the GPU affects the total score. Again, for a card costing so little, the XFX 4850 1GB is putting out some great results.

Overclocking and Power Consumption

XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB

Knowing that the XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB is simply a lower binned 4870, we knew that we would be in for a treat when it came time to overclock our card. Our XFX sample did not leave us disappointed!

Initially I chose to use ATI Overdrive in the CATALYST Control Center. We quickly reached the maximum allowed 700MHz core speed in the Control Center. Knowing our card had more in it, we gave RivaTuner a shot. The results are stellar, a full 800MHz on the core which is a 175MHz improvement over the default 625MHz. The memory also went up quite well, topping out at 1056MHz. I believe that more could be had from this card if you can get more power to it, it seems to be limited by having just a single PCI-e power cable.

Power Consumption

XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB

With the CPU overclocked we were using a bit more power at idle than would be used at stock settings. The XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB is the most "green" of our three cards. Based on gaming performance, we see no surprises here as all three cards are based upon the same design, with the clock speeds dictating the power consumption. As the saying goes, you have to pay to play!

Conclusion

XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB

In our performance testing the XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB was up against some stiff competition, namely it’s faster and more expensive 4000 series brothers. To say that the 4850 1GB is a bad card would be incorrect. At just $124.99 it is an extremely capable gaming card and the best bang for the buck in our testing today. A few years ago, buying a sub $150 video card meant that you had to keep the resolution low and turn down or off certain in-game features in order to get playable results. That is not the case today, the XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB is able to play the latest games with all the eye candy on, though the compromise will be keeping it 1680x1050 or lower in most cases.

While it is not a card for someone with an extremely high resolution display, it is great for anyone looking to play today’s games without breaking the bank. This is an extremely impressive card! Adding more to the value, the XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB is HDCP capable, meaning it can be used to watch Blu-ray movies and other high definition content with an HDCP capable monitor!

One of the strong points of the XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB video card is that it overclocks very well! The extra clock speed attained in overclocking can go a long way to making an "almost playable with those settings" game playable.

The heat sink and fan on our card are a terrific combination. It does not spin up like crazy when the system is initially powered on and it runs fast enough to keep things cool, but is quiet enough to use in even a very quiet system, such as an HTPC.

If you are in the market for a good looking card that overclocks well, plays today's latest games with all the eye candy on, and do it all without spending too much money, you can't get much better than the XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB. With it's low power consumption, low heat output, and short length, it could find its way into a few HTPC's as well!

One final thing to keep in mind is the XFX "Double Lifetime Warranty." This warranty covers you and the person that you might sell the card to, against any defects or failures. All that is needed is to register the card when you get it. This actually adds a bit more value to the card over another brand in the event that you do decide to sell it.

Legit Bottom Line: XFX is officially a force when it comes to video card offerings and is now further establishing itself with graphics cards from AMD. The XFX Radeon HD 4850 1GB is an incredible value that offers great gaming performance for anyone on a budget.