Diamond Radeon HD4850

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MP3 SOUND RECORDINGS

The recording begins with the ambient noise of the test room. Please set your playback volume so that the ambient noise is almost inaudible, then don't adjust the volume control again. For best results, save the sound file to your own PC, then listen.

VGA test system with Diamond Radeon HD 4850 (at 21%/18 dBA and 44%/27 dBA @ 1m)
The MP3 is broken into four second sections beginning with the ambient in the room (14 dBA), followed by the VGA test system without a video card installed (17 dBA), and then idle and load with the video card installed.

Reference Comparatives

VGA test system with Palit HD 3870 (at 30%/21 dBA, 40%/22 dBA, and 50%/26 dBA @1m)


FINAL THOUGHTS

Gaming: This is not our forté, so for an overall sense of how well the HD 4850 performs in games, check out the reviews at X-bit Labs, Anandtech, techPowerUp, and HardwareCanucks. The general consensus is that the HD 4850 is a great value in the $200 level, defeating the 9800GTX by a slim margin most of the time. It represents a sizable increase in performance compared to the HD 3870 or Geforce 8800GT, and is capable of playing most games smoothly at 1680x1050 or lower with high image quality settings. It can also make less demanding games playable at 1920x1200 and higher.

Video Playback: Video playback was good, but UVD 2 is not any more efficient than the original UVD, at least in terms if CPU utilization/efficiency.

Cooling: The stock cooler is very quiet when the card is idle, and as an unfortunate consequence, the idle GPU temperature is very high. In fact it is almost as high as the temperature during load, when the fan is spinning rapidly and producing an exorbitant amount of noise. ATI cut it a little close in the cooling department — it should have been equipped with a dual slot cooler like the HD 3870/4870.

Power Consumption: By our estimates, the HD 4850 requires approximately 50W when idle and up to 101W when stressed to the limit. 50W is incredibly high for a graphics card, especially if all its doing is rendering the Windows XP desktop. As most graphics cards lay idle in 2D mode for the majority of operation, this is very wasteful — an entire system with well-selected components can easily use less than 50W when idle. Hopefully this is not a permanent disadvantage — our theory is that PowerPlay isn't fully properly configured in the current batch of beta drivers, and that once we have official Catalysts to work with, this figure will drop substantially.

Overall, the HD 4850 is a very strong gaming card, and as such is hot and power hungry. Once the games are turned off its only efficient as an energy leech, sapping far too much power than is necessary, at least for the moment. The reference cooler is a bare minimum solution that is just good enough to cool the GPU properly. It is however, just poor enough to annoy users with fan noise required to cool the card when it is put through its paces. We highly recommend it be replaced; HardwareCanucks installed an Accelero S1 on the HD 4850 and it ran much cooler passively than the stock cooler — it is our top choice.

Diamond Radeon HD 4850

PROS

* Good high definition playback
* Fan very quiet when idle
* Excellent 3D performance
* HDMI functionality

CONS

* Heatsink barely adequate
* Fan too loud on load
* High idle power consumption?
* Drivers not quite ready?

Our thanks to Diamond Multimedia for the video card sample.

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Articles of Related Interest
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Xigmatek Battle-Axe: First Direct-Touch Heatpipe VGA Cooler
Asus EN9600GT Silent Edition Graphics Card
ATI HD 3850 & HD 3870: Improved Acoustics & Power Efficiency
Arctic Cooling Accelero S1 VGA Cooler
Updated VGA Card/Cooler Test Platform

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