Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 x2
Less than twice the fun.
- Four DVI ports, 2GB of GDDR3 memory, superior cooling, improved 256-bit memory bus
- Prohibitively expensive, bulky dimensions, pipped at the post by NVIDIA’s GTX 280 card.
If you're a firm believer in the 'behemoth GPU', Sapphire's Radeon HD 4850 x2 will do little to sway your opinion. While it performed solidly enough in our benchmarks, it failed to match NVIDIA's single-GPU GTX 280 offering. Nevertheless, it remains a good option for any self-respecting Radeon fan with a penchant for monitors.
Price$ 793.00 (AUD)
In recent years, AMD has distanced itself from the high-performance single-GPU market in favour of cheaper, share-loading solutions. Much to the chagrin of 3-D traditionalists and hardcore gamers, its latest top-of-the-range offerings have all adopted a ‘dual core’ approach, with multiple GPUs crammed onto a single graphics card.
As you can probably guess from its name, the Radeon HD 4850 x2 is the latest addition to this contentious family, following in the footsteps of the Radeon HD3870 X2 and ATI Radeon HD 4870 x2. In theory, it combines the power of two ATI Radeon HD 4850s for a significant boost in speed and performance, though we did experience some mixed results during our benchmarks. With that being said, it will still provide the required grunt for modern 3-D gaming, and it comes with some nifty onboard features, including four DVI ports.
Like the costlier Radeon HD 4870 X2, the Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 x2 features two RV770 graphics processors on a single printed circuit board. For those out of the Radeon loop, RV770 is the foundation chip in ATI’s new generation of Series 4000 GPUs. Some of the improvements it offers over the previous chipset include a substantial increase in stream processors (up from 320 to 800), UVD2 support (which provides advanced Blu-ray/high-definition functionality) and a wider 256-bit memory bus. The HD 4850 version, released in June, comes with a memory clock speed of 1986MHz (effective), a core clock speed of 625MHz and between 512MB and 1GB of GDDR3 memory (depending on the model).
With its ‘double or nothing’ approach, the HD 4850 x2 boasts twice the specifications of its single-GPU cousin — that’s 1600 stream processors, two 256-bit memory processors and a whopping 2GB of GDDR3 memory (the core and memory clock speeds remain unchanged). It essentially uses ATI's CrossFire technology to render 3-D applications, with both GPUs sharing whatever processing tasks are thrown their way. On paper at least, this translates to faster rendering times and increased frame rates in games.
In terms of design, the HD 4850 x2 is an intimidating beast of a card, with dimensions that exceed everything else on the market. This could pose a problem for people with cramped cases, especially if they plan to set up a CrossfireX configuration. Curiously, the card requires both a six pin and an eight pin PCI connector to run, which puts it in the same league as the beefier HD 4870 x2. While this provides the card with up to 225 Watts of power, it also adds to the clutter — something this plus-sized card could do without.
For cooling, the HD 4850 x2 sports a sizeable heat sink connected to a pair of smart looking fans (one for each RV770 core). When the card was under load, we found the fans were slightly louder that we’re used to, though they shouldn’t be too distracting (provided you keep your speakers' volume at a respectable level). On the plus side, we found the card to be significantly cooler than the HD 4850 and HD 4870, which both suffered from potential overheating issues. You can also manually adjust the fans' speed (and racket) via ATI’s Catalyst Control tool.
As mentioned, the HD 4850 x2 also sports four DVI ports, which is twice the number of a typical card. This is great news for any monitor fetishists our there, who can attach up to four displays to their PC using just one card. Presumably, if you elect to set up a CrossFire configuration with two HD 4850 x2s, this can be extended to a frankly ridiculous eight monitors. All of these outputs can be converted to HDMI (complete with integrated HD 7.1 Audio) via a bundled adapter.
So what about those all-important gaming benchmarks? Unfortunately, this is the one area where the HD 4850 x2 failed to wholly impress. We tested the card on a Vista 32-bit machine equipped with 1GB of DDR2 RAM, a 750GB Barracuda ES hard drive and a 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Quad CPU. While it performed solidly enough, we were expecting a little more oomph from such a decked-out card. The NVIDIA-based Asus ENGTX280 TOP (HTDP/1G/A) (RRP: $699) managed to trump it in the majority of our tests. This probably says something about the advantages of single-GPU configurations, but we’ll leave that discussion for another time.
When we ran 3DMark 06, the Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 x2 received a score of 11,618. While this isn’t an awful result, the ENGTX280 TOP managed to beat it by 1107 marks, which is a pretty significant margin. In our DirectX 10 Crysis demo, the Sapphire card chugged along at 18.24 frames per second. This was much slower than the GTX card, which averaged a phenomenal 37.32fps. (To be fair, Crysis has never been particularly kind to Radeon cards, which is why ATI neglects to include the game in most of its in-house benchmarks.)
In the DX10 game Call of Juarez, the HD 4850 x2 came out on top, averaging an impressive 69.9fps (compared to 50.9fps on the ENGTX280 TOP). However, the good news ended when we ran the game Lost Planet: Extreme Conditions, with the ENGTX280 TOP’s average of 97.5fps smashing the HD 4850 x2’s 72.5fps.
With an RRP of $793, the HD 4850 x2 is far from cheap. In fact, it would be more cost-effective to fit your PC with two Radeon HD 4850 cards, though this will naturally require a CrossFire-capable motherboard and also takes up more room.
Join the newsletter!
Samsung QLED 8K TV
Apple iMac Pro
Ballistix Sport AT
Bang and Olufsen Beoplay A9 Speaker
Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB 3000
Cartier Calibre de Cartier Diver Watch
Toys for Boys
Nix Pro Colour Sensor
ESET Internet Security
Tivoli PAL BT
ESET Cyber Security Pro for Mac
Osmo Coding Awbie Game
ESET Smart Security Premium
Little Bits DROID Inventor Kit
Oregon Pro WMR500 Weather Station
Ikea RIGGAD work lamp with wireless charging
Naztech Xtra Drive Mini + 256GB microSD Card
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker
SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3
TimeFlip Magnet Simple Time Tracking Device
Need to buy a gift for somebody who loves technology but you can’t afford the big ticket items?
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Oppo R17 Pro review: Oppo's thriftiest flagship yet drives a hard bargain
- 2 Nokia 7.1 review: A modest and modern mid-tier option
- 3 Tenda Nova MW6 review: A gateway drug for mesh Wi-Fi
- 4 Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: Expensive, but probably the best phone you can buy right now
- 5 Apple iPhone XS review: Astonishment at a price
Latest News Articles
- Intel's 10nm architecture will arrive in 2019
- AMD launch Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition
- AMD introduces 12nm Radeon RX 590 GPU
- Razer introduces the BlackWidow Lite
- PAX AUS 2018: HyperX branch into membrane keyboards with Alloy Core RGB
PCW Evaluation Team
Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications
I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)
It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!
The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.
I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.
If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.
- PC World 2018 Editor's Choice Awards
- Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: Full, in-depth, Australian review
- Razer Phone 2 review: One for the fans
- Everything you need to know about Smart TVs
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?