Review: An overclocked card with non-reference cooling
Radeon HD 4850 is a graphics card which kept a large chunk of its popularity ever since it's been launched back in June 2008. "The bang per buck" factor has been and still is excellent, and AMD followed up with the stronger HD4870. Some of you remember that many partners who've been exclusive to Nvidia have decided to include these cards in their offer as well. Mushkin, the company we know for their excellent memory, has recently joined the AMD graphics bandwagon and offers overclocked HD 4850 cards with non-reference cooling.
Radeon HD 4850 runs at reference 625MHz, with 512MB of 256-bit GDDR3 memory running at 993MHz. In order to make this card stand out a bit, Mushkin overclocked its Ultimate FX HD 4850 cards to 700MHz and 1100MHz memory. Furthermore, Mushkin decided to get rid of reference cooling, replacing it with quiet and efficient Arctic Cooling L2 Pro.
The 55nm RV770 GPU, which is the HD 4850 ticker, packs 800 stream processors and supports DirectX 10.1 with Shader Model 4.1. Compared to the previous generation, the RV770 brought 2.5x the number of stream processors, and the same goes for the 40 texture units (HD 3800 has 16).
The power hiding behind modern GPUs promises serious acceleration and application in parallel computing, and the number of stream units is an important piece of that puzzle. This is one of the main reasons why AMD doubled the number of stream processors on the new Evergreen generation.
Radeon HD 4850 uses all the stream processors RV770 has, and the only differences between it and the faster Radeon HD 5870 are the clocks and the memory used. While HD 4870 uses GDDR5 memory at 3600MHz and scores a bandwidth of 115.2GB/s, the HD 4850's GDDR3 memory at 1986MHz (effectively) will give only 63.6GB of bandwidth.
When it launched, the HD 4850 was priced between €150 and €180 in the EU whereas today you'll easily find it priced below €100. This card's performance will surely do the trick for anyone who plays games at resolutions up to 1680x1050 with maximum detail setting, or at 1920x1200 with lower detail settings.
Reference HD 4850 comes with single-slot cooling that's pretty quiet, but it might burn you if you touch it as the GPU hits up to 85 °C under a workload. Mushkin's dual-slot cooling, or Arctic Cooling L2 Pro to be precise, keeps the GPU temperatures below 60°C. The cooler is made of aluminum and plastic. Within the plastic hood, you'll find a large black fan almost 9cm in diameter. The fan speed can be controlled via the Catalyst Control Center Overdrive panel.
The cooler itself isn't in direct contact with the memory, so the memory is air-cooled only. THe memory in question is Hynix H5RS5223CFR N0C 1ns memory rated at 1GHz.
Musking did a serious PCB redesign, as the PCB is 4cm shorter, comes with non-reference Arctic Cooling L2 Pro cooling and the HDMI out, which isn't found on the reference HD 4850. If the cooler didn't feature dual-slot width, Mushkin's HD 4850 OC card would've been an HTPC-builder's dream.
Apart from the aforementioned HDMI, the card features one dual-link DVI and one VGA out, unlike on the reference card where you'll find two dual-link DVIs and one VGA out. HD 4000 comes with UVD 2.0 (Unified Video Decoder) engine which enables dual-stream decoding as well as 7.1 channel (lossless) audio.
Mushkin HD 4850 OC is powered via one 6-pin power connector, but if your PSU lacks one, you can use the adapter provided in the box. HD 4850's maximum consumption is 110W.
The card comes with Crossfire/CrossfireX support, so if your motherboard permits, you can chain up to four cards in Crossfire. The back of the card, as you can see, isn't particularly interesting. HD 4800 series cards are PCI-Express 2.0, but are of course backwards compatible with PCI-Express motherboards.
Mushkin's card comes in a beautiful wooden box, which can be put to good use elsewhere - something we can't say for cardboard boxes.