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back to article AMD Radeon HD 4850 and 4870

The new AMD 'RV770' graphics chip that lies at the heart of Radeon HD 4850 and 4870 owes a great deal to the 'RV670' that we saw in HD 3850 and 3870. It uses the same 55nm fabrication process and continues to support DirectX 10.1, but the transistor count has risen from 666m to 956m. That’s a 44 per cent increase in the number …

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Pointless

What is the point of these uber powerful graphics cards when even with everything switched up to 11 Windows still looks like a shitty, badly drawn first effort at an OS. And for everyone who's about to jump in and shout "gaming", buy a PS3 you berks.

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Sapphire 4850

I actually bought a Sapphire 4850 a week ago and noticed the temperature rising quickly to 80 degrees Celsius and staying there.

The card can't actually blamed for this because it's by design: the cooler sits at 16% (~1300rpm) of its maximum speed and the maximum I saw it rising to was 27%, under high load and benchmarks.

When running benchmarks, the temperature rises to a maximum of 88 degrees. At about 85 degrees, the cooler increases speed to about 22%, at 88 rises to 27%, then as soon as the temperature goes down to 75-86 it lowers its speed acordingly.

When idle, the card sets its clocks to 500Mhz core and 750Mhz memory (from 625/993).

In an Antec Three Hundred case, I placed a 120mm Antec Tricool cooler, set at the lowest speed (1200rpm) on the side panel, which is conveniently right over the PCIe slots. With this change, the card idles at 61 degrees Celsius, so it's all good.

My main limitation now is actually the processor, a D805 at 2.66Ghz and the 2 Ghz memory at 667Mhz. In 3D Mark 2006 the card has about 5700 points, and in games it's clearly limited by the CPU (I can play at 1280x960 with highest settings and everything works fine).

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Go

@AC (pointless)

what? buy a ps3, what for? so I can hog the TV my wife wants to watch the soaps on?

are you mad?

I would like to keep my vital organs where they are thankyou very much.

I have a notebook with decent graphics, and a nice keyboard and mouse for FPS games (yeah go on try the keyboard on the ps3 I dare ya, they might have one but it sucks).

I tried UT3 on a friends ps3, I nearly threw the controller out the window!

PC's will always be great for gaming, and whats up with how windows xp or even vista looks?

they might not be the "best" os's on the planet, but they certainly aint the worst.

plus you cant get STEAM on a ps3....nuff said

and back on topic of the graphics cards.

Having being burned by ATI at least twice, (more times if you count my pc build friends) do the darn drivers work properly?

ATI Xpert@play was perfect until ATI put OPENGL on their drivers

Rage Pro/Fury etc etc (well they were well suited to windows ME!) so drivers still garbage.

Radeons. hmmm lots of praise but I was busy with Nvidia after a nice spell with voodoo by then.

Got a notebook 2 years ago with an x1400 in it, because the Geforce 7600 was delayed and i was impaitient! :)

the drivers from Acer were garbage, used 3rd party omega drivers just to get half decent performance out of it, had to switch between drivers to get various games to work.

Nvidia still wins on the fact that everything works, never mind about the speed, (which is fine on my 8800m Gtx :)

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Linux Driver?

Was going to put an Nvida 8800GT in my new system but these look kind of nice. Anyone know when theres likeely to be a Linux driver around for them?

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Paris Hilton

@Pointless

Hmm, nicely argued point of view :)

I do have a PS3. It makes a decent BluRay/media centre. I also play games. Sadly, nothing on a PS3 interests me in that department. But several PC games do. And lo! I have a PC to play them.

Useful review, thanks.

Paris, as she probably runs hot too

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Dead Vulture

Graphs

Good review I just have one problem with it. Could you please put less examples into the graphs. Theres so many comparisions and some are so similar in colour you cant tell what your comparing against! Remember a graph is supposed to display the information more easily.

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Ash

@Pointless

I like to be able to upgrade my system when required, not buy a whole new system and junk the old one.

I like backwards compatibility.

I like being able to use my system for more than just gaming and watching movies.

I like playing games which aren't available for the PS3, Xbox, Wii, or other console.

Good effort on the flame, though. A couple more runs through the Twat-O-Tron and you'll be set.

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Crysis benchmarks look strange

How can an 8800GT beat a GTX 280? And why are the 4850 and 4870 getting much better scores than the GTX 280? Every review I've seen has it the other way around (although not by much).

Also, I think AMD deserves a round of applause. They have produced a chip that normal gamers can afford, and that you dont need a nuclear power plant to run. These are fast, powerful cards, available for what yesteryear's crappy midrange used to sell. In fact, I think even those using Nvidia cards, such as the venerable 8800GT, should thank AMD for putting competitive pressure on Nvidia to lower its prices. GTX260 and 280 card prices have recently been cut by 25%, solely because of AMD!

So, even though Phenom leaves much to be desired, lets hope AMD sticks around.

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Joe

@pointless

What a pointless comment. Windows for gaming? FPS? Far Cry 2 etc? Why should we all jump on the PS3 bandwagon?

Why even comment to the article if you've no interest in PC gaming? F00lboy.

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Stop

@Pointless AC

Gaming. Possibly a little bit of 3D accelleration on some fancy 3D desktops and the like but mainly gaming.

And not all of us like PS3s, you berkshire hunt *wonders how far he can get with the derivation before the mods start to block messages*. Some of us like Xbox 360s, most like Wiis (Far more than like the PS3, in fact, if sales speak for anything) and some of us love gaming on the PC.

For a start, we've got Stereoscope- and while this is a minority thing it'll only get more prominent as the movies get more and more common (and most 3D games work with it pretty well too). Playing Stereo at high resolution with everything jacked up to full needs a rather meaty graphics card.

We've got the tinkering aspect of it- you can have far, far more fun with the hardware and software with a PC than you can if you're using a bland old store-bought console.

We've got awesome games

You can play games on a PC without having to buy a console

You can make a PC better and better at gaming while spending relatively little each month as opposed to paying once and watching it go out of date.

With PCs you actually get to use the latest technology rather than what was pretty much the latest when the console was released

And Vista hardly looks bad. I mean it's not the worlds greatest OS but it's far from the world's ugliest.

Anyway, what do you think would be the driver for consoles to get better if there wasn't a PC market sat out here driving our tech further and further forwards?

Oh aye- and the PC can be made vastly more powerful as well as silent.

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Paris Hilton

PS3?

Erm, that would be because of all the quality, high-res titles on PS3 such as Crysis then? or the multitude of RTS's for PS3 like Company of Heroes, Supreme Commander, C&C3 Tiberium wars....

Nothing against the PS3, but PC gaming is a genre unto itself, and to be able to deliver quality games at 1900x1200 res, a 4850/4870 or nvidia equivalent card is needed to truly enjoy games as they're meant to be.

Paris, cos she's been known to be a little hot to the touch!

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Only 160 watts

Only 160 Watts, I read.

My power monitor shows 135W used - for PC + monitor + printer + speakers

(Pentium 3.2GHz with a graphics card so old it won't even run Quake 2)

An extra 160W would make my office pretty warm in Summer

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LJ
Paris Hilton

Pointless, for a different reason

Surely this review itself is pointless? The 4850 and 4870 aren't priced to compete against the GTX280 - they're aimed squarely at the GTX260, which you point out in the review. So where's the sense in reeling off masses of benchmark numbers which don't include the GTX260 at all?

Paris, because even she makes sense in some situations.

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Linux

Re: Linux Driver?

Aye, AMD are supposed to be putting out specs for the AMD cards but there's no official word from them about WHAT is being done with them, nor what features of what cards are going to be available for the linux developers to make use of.

The website is US only and no contact point.

So I bought an NVidia card, despite being pissed off at them for doing a 3Dfx (throwing horsepower at the problem rather than take the time and spend the effort making a GOOD product better). Oddly enough, this seems to be what ATI are now doing under AMD: spend an effort to make the current silicon cope better rather than just throw more real-estate at it and pass the cost of this on to the punter.

If only they'd gotten their arse in gear on properly supporting linux, they'd have made a sale, even though this card is about £50 more than I'm spending on the NVidia replacement.

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Crossfire?

does it work yet? cos I can't get it working proeprly on my 3850s.

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Coat

But...

... does it run Crysis?

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Anonymous Coward

I agree with pointless.

Surely there's only one spec.

Onboard HDCP compliant, 1080p output, plus sound, through a single HDMI cable.

Why would anyone want anything else? Noone I know can see in higher resolution, and what could be better sound than your 2 million pound stereo tv.

As for VGA, DVI svhs, svideo and all the other stupid sh*t, they should all be scrapped now, and just get it over with.

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@AC

What would be better than stereo sound? That would be surround. Dimwit.

Now, about these cards. I have a passively cooled 8800GT, is there a passive version of the 4850 or 4870, I don't want something sounding like a helicopter sat next to my tv when all it's running is a basic desktop. Are ATI doing one of those hybrid graphics solutions with the build in graphics on the motherboard, or is that just nvidia at the moment?

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Linux

Linux Ati drivers are available

The official drivers have been improving by leaps and bounds in the last year, in some areas they completely trounce the Nvidia linux drivers for features, performance and image quality. They claim support for the 4800 series so give them a look. The odd bug still exists, but it's no worse than the Nvidia drivers which break something new with each release.

The open source drivers are still a way behind the official versions and unless your beliefs preclude you from using closed source drivers then I'd just use the Catalyst proprietary driver (fglrx). They are releasing a new version monthly right now and 8.7 (7th month of 2008 in case you wondered where the version number comes from) has just been released.

http://www2.ati.com/drivers/linux/catalyst_87_linux.html

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b

crysis, er, results?

an "88000GT" (er 8800GT?) beats a 9800GTX?

were you drinking during this test?!

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Flame

@Steve & AC

@ Steve: "What would be better than stereo sound? That would be surround."

That's a matter of opinion. If you like speakers set in all four corners of your room plus a few more scattered about for the sake of it, plus a flappy sub to make everything sound like wet farts then yes, I suppose surround *is* better... IMHO.

@ AC: "what could be better sound than your 2 million pound stereo tv."

blech. only for the terminally lazy.

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Flame

So much power

I'm really concerned about the last diagram about power consumption. Does it really mean that these cards use about 300W even when I'm in Windows Desktop and the card basically idles?

I'm thinking about changing my graphics card but my PC is on 24/7 and after my X800 XT (70Wats under heavy usage) this would mean a lot on my electricity bill!

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Anonymous Coward

Letting it cool down?

Pah, this is what oven mitts were made for.

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Silver badge

Regarding Crossfire

There is one situation, and one situation only, where Crossfire/SLI come into their own. Big displays. Really big displays. I'm running at 3840x1024, with two 7900GTXs (I'll upgrade before too long). In an ordinary machine, the difference between one card and two isn't worth the money. However, on a really big screen, having 1GB of memory instead of 512MB means something, and HL2: Episode 2 will run at full res on this machine, no worries. It sure as hell wouldn't with just the one card!

I would love to buy a 4870HD (or, as is far more likely, two), but this motherboard is all nVidia chipsets, so I'd need a new system core first.

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ZM
Dead Vulture

@Pointless

Wow... a PS3 fanboi, hey?

/golfclap

I'm not even going to go into it, since so many people already did. I'd just be beating a dead ... vulture?

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Crysis?

Come on guys, everyone knows that Crysis is not an accurate Benchmark. It has been dropped from tests on a number of occasions.

Im waiting for anyone to do a fanless 4850 for xFire

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Flame

And another thing...

Can't understand folks' bleating about the PowerPlay thing. There are so many folk giving it "ooh once again ATi screws us with the drivers, this is a joke, I'm sticking with nVidia at least the drivers work"

1) nVidia are just as bad if not worse for feature support in early drivers - look at the 7800GX2 fiasco.

2) If you want to spend more money on a card that will do the same job and consume more power then go ahead and quit whining

3) Er, wait a few weeks?

The only way I can see the "ZOMG the drivurz are skrewd and now I have to w8 a hole month" argument making any sense is if you're a spoilt kid buying into the latest architecture every time. Even then they don't come out often enough to make much sense out of such pissy bitchy whining.

PS: I'm not an ATi fanboy (until a few weeks ago I was poised to buy a 9800GTX) but I am a big fan of not having to filter out pissy whiny moans whilst reading comments on a mature IT news site.

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Dead Vulture

EPIC FAIL!

What were you thinking when you made those graphs?

They tell you nothing, NOTHING I tell you!

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