We've been hugely impressed by the Radeon HD 4850 graphics card thanks to the balance it strikes between price and performance, and we firmly believe that, at £125, it's damn good value. Gigabyte GV-R485MC-1GH Gigabyte's GV-R485MC-1GH: double-slot design... Pretty much our only reservation with the reference HD 4850 centres …
Better passive cooling on a HD4850
Contrary to your suggestion, it is not impossible to get very good passive cooling on a HD4850. Gigabyte could, for example, have sourced a decent passive cooler like the Arctic Cooling Accelero S1 instead of designing their own rubbish one.
I installed an S1 on a stock Radeon card and subjectively it seems to run pretty cool, but these guys have actually run the tests: http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/hardware-canucks-reviews/8299-sapphire-radeon-hd4850-512mb-graphics-card-review-24.html
Not everyone will fancy voiding their warranty by doing it themselves, so it would be nice if a company would do it for us instead of going down the bespoke route...
Why why why
Although it's a magnificent feat of engineering, I can't help but be scared by the temps this thing throws out. Unless you have very good airflow in the case it seems that it'll burn out within a week - especially as it'll be summer soon which will make the situation worse!
The fact the reviewer had to beef up the case fans rather defeats the point - why not just have a fan directly on the card?
Are those "idle"power figures for real?
This is probably the first graphics card review I've looked at for about a decade, so feel free to laugh at my naivety, but isn't there something quite stunningly broken at a design level if your card uses 140W when doing nothing and less than twice that when running full tilt?
Even hard-core gamers must spend a significant amount of time doing stuff like surfing and email, at which time their graphics card's power budget *ought* to be in single figures, not three. A GPU's workload is embarrassingly parallel. Can't they switch off function units, nanosleep, or wind down the clock rate? All this sort of thing has been standard fare on CPUs for donkeys years, and a CPU's workload is much less forgiving.
one of those cards
that is destined/designed to pop about a week after the warranty runs out.......just like my last ATI card :(
If you record music using microphones then this is definitely not pointless. What is pointless is installing thousands of pounds worth of sound-proofing and room isolating hardware, thousands of pounds worth of microphones and properly insulated cabling, air conditioning through ducts so there is no noise in the studio then having your Digital Audio Workstation humming away like a it's accelerating up the M1.
Noise in PCs comes from the PSU fan, the chip fan, the case fan and the graphics chipset fan. Anything to reduce this noise is a boon. Now music software doesn't need a massively powerful graphics card so the card itself would be unlikely to be overly taxed running Cubase or ProTools or whatever software you use. If there was a way to underclock it then so much the better.
Other than this niche market I can't really think of anyone else in desperate need of a silent graphics card though.
"Other than this niche market I can't really think of anyone else in desperate need of a silent graphics card though."
"multimedia centre" PC? I mean, the one you might use to play DVD , BluRay and HD-DVD , stream music from , play some games and browse Internet on your plasma TV ?
The power figures are for the whole system apart from the display, and not just the graphics card
Points of order
1) An Accelero S1 gives better cooling, much better than the crap stock cooler, so contrary to what this review says it is eminently possible to passively cool a 4850 with great benefit both to temperatures and noise.
2) As others have said there are plenty reasons to want a silent graphics card, even aside from the fact that stock graphics coolers are frequently the loudest part of any moderately powerful system. Some of us like our PC's to be as quiet as possible regardless of their application. If you can tolerate noisy components then lucky you - some of us can't.
3) Gigabyte probably slowed the RAM down on this card because they haven't bothered cooling it properly, and the RAM on 4850s under load gets very hot indeed.
The article says "we firmly believe that, at £125, it's damn good value." But the header says the suggested price is £150 and Online Price from £162.15
It would be far more relevant if the author gave his opinion of those prices.
They are quite good
I have two Gigabyte 7900GT passively cooled cards in my gaming rig right now and they have been happily churning out pixels for a couple years now. Gigabyte's system for passive cooling works quite well on those and I would assume would be even better now. The temps do stay down nicely and get even better if you have better than adequate air flow in an around the case. I have done a slight bit of overclocking however I've found I can't go overboard with it since these are passively cooled cards and getting core temps to far out of line can result in rapid over heating under load.
I wouldn't go for these personally as I'm not a fan of ATI based cards but that's just my preference.
The 'damn good value at £125' comment refers to a reference Radeon HD 4850
The verdict and review deal with the passively cooled Gigabyte
I've an old NVidia 7600 fanless that will do that for you, and more, on two monitors -- installing that in a DAW is a pointless waste of power for the uses you state...
The heat should be vented **out** of the case and **not into** the case!