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Appeared on: Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Gainward HD4850 1GB Golden Sample


1. Introduction

Gainward has introduced an improved version of the generic ATI Radeon HD4850. The graphics card we have in our labs today features a faster GPU and memory and has 1GB of DDR3 memory. Before starting with our usual presentation of the card's features and specifications, let's say a few words about AMD's HD48xx series.

ATI Radeon HD 4800 Series GPUs is a "TeraScale graphics engine " according to AMD, promising to offer HD gaming and Blu-ray/HD content playback with incredible visual fidelity.

The new graphics engine combines the power of one teraFLOPS, 800 stream processors and next generation GDDR5 memory. It also supports tessellation, DirectX 10.1 and scalable ATI CrossFireX technology.

Like their predecessors, the ATI Radeon HD 4800 Series graphics cards offer optimal performance and efficiency with platform-independent intelligent power management. Regardless of platform, these graphics cards deliver the power needed during gaming while conserving energy at idle or when demand is low.

According to the system requirements, the Gainward HD4850 1GB GS needs a PCI-e based PC with one X16 lane graphics slot and a 450Watt (or greater) power supply with 75 Watt 6-pin connector. For CrossFire configurations, a 550 Watt PSU with two 6-pin connectors is recommended.

Our sample comes with a different cooling system than the generic ATI Radeon HD4850, potentially offering better conditions for overclocking. Our sample comes with a massive 700MHz core (625MHz for generic HD4850) and 1000MHz  of memory (vs 993MHz for generic HD4850) clocks. As we have mentioned, it has an 1GB memory onboard (0.8ns) with a bandwidth of 256bits.

- Retail package

Below you can see the photo of the retail package of the Gainward HD4850 1GB GS. The graphics card is available for approximately €180.

All the included box contents are well-packaged and secured. In the box you will find a printed manual, a driver's disc, a power adapter and the DSub15-to-DVI converter. No retail game is included.

The attached cooling system has a 80mm fan. Despite its big volume, it will occupy a single PCI-E slot inside the box. On the other hand, two empty slots are required in the rear panel of your PC:

The available outputs include two DVI-D ports and one analog HDTV jack. However, not such cable is included (?). Two additional slots are available on the top side of the card for connecting two cards under CrossFire X

The HD4850 series need a 6+2pin power supply work properly. In case your PSU offers 6-pin power cables, the included adapter will work for you.

For all the tests we used the latest ATI Catalyst drives (8.9). The Catalyst suite provides basic information about our sample:

 

The popular GPU-Z utility gives us some additional information. Notice that the RV770 GPU of our sample has been manufactured using the 55nm technology:

By default, the fan speed runs at 50% while the GPU temperatures are rather low, at least at idle mode.


2. Testing configuration
- PC Setup

All test were conducted with the following PC setup:

All the tests were conducted under the same testbed and of course the same version of the Catalyst drivers. Many games and applications were used in the performance evaluation procedure. FRAPS was also used to measure the FPS when needed.

DirectX 9

DirectX10


3. Testbed DirectX 9, DirectX 10
- Testbed DirectX9

For all the tests we used the default settings of3DMark05 as following:

Again we left all the default settings:

- Testbed DirectX10

We used the three built-in "Performance" and "Extreme" benchmarks in various resolutions.

We used the built-in benchmark with all the details maxed out.

We used the hocbench Crysis benchmark tool for three resolutions, 1280x1024, 1680x1050 and finally 1920x1200. We run the benchmark software with the details set at both "High" and "Very High" in order to find out at which resolution the game is playable.

 

We used the FRAMEBuffer benchmark tool for three resolutions, 1280x1024, 1680x1050 and finally 1920x1200. All the possible quality levels were set in order to get an idea of what the graphics card offer in various resolutions.

We maxed out all the visual details, including 4x AA Multisampling and of course 16x AF. We used FRAPS to record the game-in experience after recording a two minutes runout.


4. Benchmarks - FutureMark Hall Of Fame

The Futuremark benchmarks have been highly discussed between gamers and reviewers. For your information we post the results from 3DMark 05, 3DMark 06 and of course the newly released 3DMark Vantage that gives you a rough idea of what can you expect from the tested graphic cards.

The Gainward HD48501GB GS got a very high 3DMark05 score with 16432 points, just 133points less than the than the XFX 260GTX XXX edition. We should mention here that the XFX 260GTX XXX features a 640MHz core and has a memory of 896MB clocked at 1150MHz/448bits Gainward HD48501GB GS has a higher GPU clock (700MHz), a more memory (1GB) but with less bandwidth (256 bits).

At the 3D Mark 06, the difference between the two competitors is higher, while the 8800GTS 521SLI get the first place.

The 3DMark Vantage provides a clearer view about the card's performance at various resolutions. The Gainward HD4850 1GB GS performed much better than the 8800GTS and 9800GT series, while the XFX 260GTX XXX is the clear winner.


5. Benchmarks - Crysis (DirectX10)

Crysis is probably the de facto benchmark game since no currently sold card can have acceptable frame rates when very high quality settings are selected. All tested graphic cards offer acceptable frame rates at 1280x1024 with high quality settings enabled.

The XFX 260GTX is expected to have high frame rates at all resolutions and quality modes, especially when compared with previous generation cards.

The Gainward HD4850 1GB GS was rather slow in the test giving 34FPS, which is the same as with 8800GT and the 9800GT series. The XFX 260GTX XXX takes the first place with 41FPS.

The next step is to enable the "Very High Quality" settings. The impact on the performance of all the tested graphics cards is obvious. So these settings are not recommended for gameplay, but the specific test indicate the strengths of each card.

The Gainward HD4850 1GB GS shows its teeth here and gave a better performance than the 8800GT and 9800GT series.

Pushing resolutions even higher at 1680x1050 and 19200x1200 obviously makes the game unplayable. However, the Gainward HD4850 gets the second place behind the XFX 260GTX.


6. Benchmarks - - Crysis Warhead (DirectX9, DirectX10)

A new version of the famous Crysis game was recently released. While there shouldn't be any major improvements over the original Crysis engine, "Crysis Warhead" could stress our XFX 260GTX card under both DirectX9 and DirectX10 rendering modes. In all cases we didn't enable anti-aliasing since it would give a major blow in the performance.

DX9
1280x1024
1650x1050
1920x1200
Low
Average
Max
Low
Average
Max
Low
Average
Max
Performance
57,64
133,05
164,81
46,89
119,36
149,55
46,93
98,94
120,71
Mainstream
34,10
74,36
97,43
34,09
64,26
85,99
33,91
53,22
85,99
Gamer
19,88
40,20
55,29
18,36
33,02
44,26
14,74
27,46
35,71
Enthusiast
16,93
29,28
37,81
13,70
23,63
29,32
10,74
19,47
24,26

According to the tests, the Gainward HD4850 performed well in the "Performance" and "Mainstream" levels, in all the available resolutions up to 1920x1200. Setting the quality settings higher would still allow you to play but only at resolutions of 1280x 1024 or lower.

Enabling DirectX10 has an impact on the performance. Again the Mainstream level is very easy to handle even at 1920x1200, offering over 46fps on average. Higher quality settings result to significantly lower rendering performances and you need to either add a second HD4850 (CrossFire) or buy something more powerful.

DX10
1280x1024
1650x1050
1920x1200
Low
Average
Max
Low
Average
Max
Low
Average
Max
Performance
54,80
95,37
133,89
59,27
91,31
125,16
52,31
84,82
110,67
Mainstream
28,54
58,77
83,90
36,48
53,32
68,31
32,97
46,62
58,57
Gamer
1,86
34,96
46,56
14,35
29,03
36,77
11,54
24,70
30,74
Enthusiast
12,77
24,97
30,95
13,31
19,88
23,87
11,20
16,62
19,94


7. Crysis Warhead Comparison

Here we summarize the performance of three main competitors in the market of graphics cards today when they render the Crysis WarHead v1.00 game. XFX 260GT XXX, Inno3D 9800GT and the Gainward HD4850 1GB GS are put side by side.

Starting from the DirectX 9 and the resolution of 1280x1024 we see that in the "Performance" level, all graphic cards give almost the same good performance. The big differences start to appear after the "Gamer" level, with the XFX 260GT to take the lead, and the Inno3D 9800GT and the Gainward HD480 to follow with almost identical performances.

Rising up to 1680x1050, the performance differences between the three tested graphics cards are obvious. The Gainward HD4850 seems to be slightly faster after the "Mainstream" level, compared with the Inno3D 9800GT series.

Finally, the results for the 1920x1200 , confirms the linear performance of the XFX 260GTX XXX in all resolutions, while both the Inno3D 9800GT and the Gainward HD4850 are very close to each other, with the Gainward model to produce more frames per second after the Mainstream level.

The DirectX10 rendering mode seems to be tougher for all the graphics cards. At the 1280x1024, the Gainward HD4850 gives higher performance than the Inno3D 9800GT, especially in the Enthusiast mode.

Similar behavior at 1680x1050, with the the Gainward graphics card to be faster than the Inno3D 9800GT.

Finally at 1920x1200, we can see a clear victory for the Gainward HD4850 1GB GS graphic card over the Inno3D 9800GT, mostly after the Mainstream rendering mode. The XFX model is still faster as it was expected.


8. Benchmarks - Company Of Heroes v1.71 (DirectX 10)

Company Of Heroes is a popular action/strategy game with many funs around the world. The game was the first to take advantage of the DirectX10 while its game physics are impressive.

We maxed out all visual details and measured the performance of each card using the game's benchmark:

Starting from the resolution of 1280x1024, the Gainward HD4850 1GB GS had an average performance with 55.70FPS, while the Inno3D 9800GT was faster with 69.80FPS.

Things become clearer at 1680x1050, where the 9800GT and the HD4850 have exactly the same performance.

At the highest 1920x1200, the Gainward HD4850 1GB GS is faster than the 9800GT/8800GT products, even by just four (4) FPS.


9. Benchmarks - Assassins Creed (DirectX 10), Half Life 2 Episode 2 (DirectX 9)

- Assassins Creed (DirectX 10)

Assassins Creed is a new game from Ubisoft that supports the DirectX 10.1 extensions. Its graphics are highly demanding, especially when all details are maxed out. We tested the graphics cards only at the resolution of 1920x1200, since lower resolutions for the specific game are not very demanding. Using FRAPS we recorded the same fight scene and the game results presented below.

The Gainward HD4850 was very strong here and takes the lead with 53047 FPS.

 

- Half Life 2 Episode 2 (DirectX 9)

Half Life 2 is a first person shooter game that everybody has played and loved. The game at Episode 2 has several image quality improvements, especially with 4xAA and 16AF enabled.

The Gainward HD4850 1GB GS had very good performance providing more FPS than the e 9800GT/8800GT series, in all the tested resolutions.


10. Overclocking

We performed a typical trial-error testing procedure in order to see the overclocking margins of the Gainward HD4850 1GB GS, which is is already factory overclocked.

Possibly the easiest way to overclock an AMD graphics card is to use the ATI Overdrive function. The " Auto-Tune" function gives us some quick numbers:

What we got from ATI's Auto Tune function is rather limited, since it showed that the core could go up 750MHz, while Memory was increased at just 1050MHz.

It's time to use a proper software to achieve higher overclocking. You have to download the latest RivaTuner software (in our case v2.11). For safer conclusions, remember to test the stability of the graphics card for each setting by running nine (9) rounds of Crysis.

Graphics Card
Core (MHz)
Memory (MHZ)
Normal
OC
Normal
OC
Gainward HD4850 1GB GS
700
771
1000
1201

The Gainward card proved to have wide overclocking margins. We managed to push the GPU clock at 771MHz, which is 71MHz more than the the original clocking. The memory clock reached the 1201 MHz.


11. Final words

The Gainward HD4850 1GB Golden Sample is features impressive specifications that allowed us to have great expectations in terms of performance. After all, the HD48xx series have been a user favorite medium-high end product and the addition of the 512MB of memory should make the difference. The test results did not let us down, The graphics card is faster than the majority of the overclocked 8800GT/9800GT versions that are currently available in the market.

The Gainward has made a good job replacing the stock cooler that made overclocking easier and more efficient. According to our tests, we got the GPU clock was increased by 10.14% while the memory ran 20% faster.

The card will also render very well the latest game titles and the produced frame rates are high enough for playing. The relatively low FPS numbers we got with the "Company Of Heroes" game should be addressed to a driver problem.

So what we have here is a a product that performs very well out of-the-box, and has a retail price of &euros;160~180. In the table below you can see the average retail prices of the main "competitors" of the Gainward card in the mid-range market segment.

Product
Average Retail Price
Generic Nvidia 8800GT 512MB
€115
Generic Nvidia 9800GT 512MB
€120
Generic Nvidia 9800GT 1GB
€150
Generic ATI HD4850 512MB
€142
Generic ATI HD4850 1GB
€170

As you can see the Gainward HD4850 1GB is quite competitive and it would possibly cost you some additional &euros;20~40 compared to the Nvidia 8800GT/9800GT products. We believe that Gainward's solution deserves this extra cost and the performance boost you will get will probably make you agree with us.



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