XFX ATI 4000 Series Round Up Page: 1

 

 

 

Introduction

In times gone by, if XFX were a stick of rock and you cut them in half, no doubt they would once have had Nvidia written through the middle. Times however, change and with the ever increasing competition in the GPU market. XFX have decided to sell cards from a company who are traditionally a major rival, ATI. Despite making business sense, it is still somewhat of a surprise that XFX, such a pillar of strength for Nvidia have decided to sell cards of Nvidia's most hated rival - ATI. While XFX's market share is certainly not the highest, the XFX brand is very popular among enthusiasts, due in part to the overclocked editions XFX are synominous with.

"JUDAS!" scream Nvidia. Well not quite. XFX still intend on selling Nvidia GPU's and with Nvidia's GPU market share of standalone GPU's being around the 60% mark who can blame them. What XFX are attempting to do is tap into the 40% or thereabouts remaining. XFX are still adament that their partnership with Nvidia is as strong as it ever was and now they have the marketing power to meet the demands of the enthuiast regardless of your preference to the red or green team.

This collaboration has produced a new range of graphics cards and the ones I will be looking at today are the overclocked XXX editions of the budget 4850, the 4870, the latest release 4890 and the stock clocked but mighty 4870x2. I will also be calculating these card's cost per frame to evaluate how much bang-per-buck you get for your cash.

One has to wonder what XFX can possibly bring to the table that isn't already there but as we have seen with the flagship single GPU card, the XFX4890XXX (reviewed in full here), XFX know a thing or too about what the end user wants: Supreme packaging, useful accessories and perhaps most importantly, overclocked editions backed up with 5 star support. So then. let's hope this is the case with their new ATI range of GPU's. Can XFX deliver? I think it's time we found out.

Specifications

The following specifications were taken directly from the XFX specification page.

 HD 4850 XXXHD 4870 XXXHD 4890 XXXHD 4870x2
Bus TypePCI-E 2.0PCI-E 2.0PCI-E 2.0PCI-E 2.0
PerformanceXXXXXXXXXStandard
GPU Clock MHz625 MHz775MHz875MHz750MHz
Stream Processors8008008001600
Memory Interface Bus (bit)256256256512
Memory TypeDDR3DDR5DDR5DDR5
Memory Size (MB)512102410242048
Memory Clock (MHz)1990MHz3800MHz3900MHz3600MHz
DirectX10.110.110.110.1
Output HDCP Capable1111
Max Resolution Analog Horizontal2048204820482048
Max Resolution Analog Vertical1536153615361536
Max Resolution Digital Hoizontal2560256025602560
Max Resolution Digital Vertical1600160016001600
ROHSYESYESYESYES
Dimensions (Imperial)9 x 4.376 x 1.59.5 x 4.376 x 1.59.5 x 4.376 x 3.810.5 x 4.376 x 1.5
Dimensions (Metric)23 x 11 x 3.824.1 x 11 x 3.824.1 x 11 x 3.826.7 x 11.2 x 3.8
ProfileDouble SlotDouble SlotDouble SlotDouble Slot
ATI Radeon HyperMemory™YESYESYESYES
ATI Radeon CrossFireX™ TechnologyYESYESYESYES
ATI Radeon PowerPlay™YESYESYESYES
ATI Radeon Stream TechnologyYESYESYESYES

Let's sit back now and take a brief look at what each card offers in terms of packaging and appearance...

 



XFX ATI 4000 Series Round Up Page: 2

Packaging & Appearance

A far cry from the green packaging of old, the XFX ATI packaging is typical of what you would expect of a card from the 'red side' to look like, red and black. The HD4850 packaging is very compact in size, being little longer in length than the card itself. The main emblem on the front is reminiscent of a World War two mine look set to explode with the identification of the card set underneath the expectant detonation. With 'just' 512MB of memory it will be interesting if this lack of memory has an effect on the cards performance against the other 1GB and 2GB cards we have on test today.

The rear of the box shows off the graphics cards key features which include 1 teraFLOP of GPU power, DX10.1 compatibility and CrossfireX capability to name a few.
 

front box back box

The left side of the box describes some of the features unique to ATI such as ATI Avivo which allows HD gaming, video and photos to be exploited along with universal connectivity to TV's. HDMI with 7.1 surround is also available with this card. The opposite side informs us of the power requirements which are 450W with a 75Watt PCIe 6-pin connector or a recommended 550Watt PSU with 2x 6-pin PCIe connectors. Those astute among you will notice that this card is the XXX edition meaning it's overclocked past the stock speed. The only indication that this is such a card is a XXX sticker placed across one side. The remainder of the box is exactly the same as the stock 4850 512MB card.

side` side 2

Opening the small box, we are presented by a compartmentalized design with the removable top section containing the accessories and the bottom part, the card itself. The accessories included are what you would expect to see with both DVI/VGA and DVI/HDMI adapters available. A quick start and full installation guide are also included should you be unsure of how to install the device. XFX have also thoughtfully included a 6 pin PCIe-Molex dongle ensuring that even if your PSU does not meet the PCIe specification then you might still be in luck should it be able to provide enough amperage over Molex connectors.

inner box accessories

Rather than go with the tried and tested (and for the most part noisy) stock ATI cooler, XFX have designed their own branded plastic top, covering an aluminium heatsink. While the design is very boxy in appearance and a little cheap to the touch, the cooler should ensure that it doesn't matter which colour scheme your PC has, this card won't look out of place. Great, for those who care about such things but for those that don't, rest assured it also appears to be quieter than the stock cooler.

card top card bottom

The rear of the card has red DVI ports which are a nice addition and a break away from the plain old white ones we're used to seeing. Shame then, that nobody will see them unless the have a fetish for looking at the rear of your PC. The fan seems to be a standard affair found on ATI and Nvidia cards, drawing air in from the top and the exhausting to the rear.

card rear card fan

The XFX HD4850XXX only requires a single PCIe 6-pin cable which is neatly hidden at the far end of the GPU. Personally I prefer this location rather than being on the cards side as it makes for much easier cable routing and a tidier PC but I digress. The card is also Crossfire X compatible allowing you to fit three cards together vie the Crossfire tabs.

PCIe 6 PCIe

Again, the sides of the card a very unobtrusive in appearance. Nobody could accuse the card of being a trend setter as it is very discreet by design, something we are not used to seeing at OC3D on an ATI card but anything has to be better than cheap looking green PCB's and stickered heatsink covers. The card is distinctive yet understated, perhaps more 'grown-up' one might say than some we have seen in the past.

PCI slot card side

All in all, not a bad looking card and the package, while not exactly ground breaking nor the best we have come across, it is certainly more than adequate. I was hoping that XFX would be using a similar style packaging technique that they use with their Nvidia cards as they are very well packed and leaders in this department but alas ATI fans will have to settle for a little less.

Let's take a look at the HD4870XXX...



XFX ATI 4000 Series Round Up Page: 3

Packaging & Appearance

Much the same as the HD4850's packaging, the HD4870's box is small in stature. This time we get a spiked Ice hockey mask greeting us on the front with a flame riddled backdrop. The rear of the box displays the main features of the card including 800 Stream processors power 1GB of GDDR5 and CrossfireX capability.
 

box front box rear

Like the 4850 before, this card's also a XXX pre-overclocked edition of the HD4870 resulting in clockspeeds of 775MHz on the core with a memory speed of a 3800MHz (effective).  This time, the power supply unit required to power this card is bumped up a notch to 500w with XFX recommending a 600Watt PSU with four PCIe slots if you intend on running this card in tandem with another.

side 1 side 2

Removing the outer sleeve we come to a plain black box, no aliens, no monsters or indeed scantly clad Elvin warriors are anywhere to be seen - how strange for an ATI package? The interior of this understated box is again a neat compartmentalized affair with the accessories, guides and driver CD's separated from the main unit.

inner box compartment

In typical XFX fashion, we find that no stone is left unturned when we come to the accessories with not one but two guides, a driver/software CD, HDMI and DVI adapters, 2x dual Molex adapters, a TV-out cable and a Crossfire bridge. XFX also include a novelty Do Not Disturb door hanger - useful or not it still brings a smile to my face.

open box accessories

The 'Jason' theme is carried onto the card with the hockey mask once more making an appearance. The cooler is a stock ATI affair though with XFX simply placing their own branding on the card. XFX have however, chosen to use a black PCB for this ATI card which is much more attractive than the red PCB used by some manufacturers of ATI cards. The stock cooler is held onto the card by a number of screws with the copper baseplate held in place by a small backplate.

card front card rear

Akin to the HD4850XXX, the 4870XXX also features the signature red DVI ports at the business end of the card along with a TV out port. The 4870XXX needs a little more power than it's stablemate though if the two PCIe 6-pin power ports are anything to go by.

dvi pcie

The stock red cooler is beginning to look a little dated now and is pretty much indistinguishable from any other ATI cooler. While it may be effective, it is certainly not quiet, especially when the card is placed under any load for any period of time.

side 1 side 2

Thankfully the card's cooling is effective enough that the fan never hit 100% in my testing but I had to see how loud the fan was at 100%, something I do not plan on doing in the future as my ears bled for a few days afterwards. OK, maybe that was a slight exaggeration, make that just one or two days! After such a time listening to the fans at full tilt your ear drums will likely have deteriorated so much that adding another card or two in Crossfire X configuration won't make any difference but the old lady at the end of the street won't thank you for it nor will the pack of dogs howling outside your door. Who cares though, there's nothing more sexy than a couple (or more) cards working in tandem (except maybe for Heather Locklear in a PVC cat suit writhing around on a plastic sheet holding a bottle of baby oil - but that's another story all together!).

fan crossfire

So then, nothing really outstanding in the aesthetics department being a standard cooler, understated (but still stylish) box and a noisy fan. A black PCB can only go so far in making up for a lack of imagination but the card still looks better than a lot of ATI offerings on the market today.

Let's see how the XFX 4890 fairs...



XFX ATI 4000 Series Round Up Page: 4

Packaging & Appearance

This is perhaps the first time I have come across such a box design, if indeed you can call it a box. The X shape is very striking to look at and the box design must surely have been developed from a master or Origami as getting an X shape like this must take some doing. The outer design is very appealing being gunmetal Grey and red with fake screws holding the package together.

The front of the box displays the bare essentials such as product name and 1GB of DDR5/ATI CrossfireX technology emblems. Nowhere on the box that I could see though were the usual XXX stickers, something that will no doubt be rectified for retail versions. Flipping the box over we get a more in depth specification list as well as XFX advising you to register the product to take advantage of their industry leading 5-Star Support program.
  

box front box rear
 
Here's where things went a little awry. Opening the box, without tearing the nicely designed sleeve eventually got the better of me so after 5 minutes of head scratching and a few expletives, I gave up and just tore into it. While it's all very well designing a nice looking box, it just felt wrong tearing it open like that. I guess it's the Yorkshire man in me that thinks about the resale value before even using the item at hand. Once I made a few strategic tears, I did figure out that it was possible to open it up without tearing but alas the moment had passed and my patience had dwindled.

box side box inner

So here we have another interesting design, the 'box through a box' perpendicular style, again forming an X. This time, it was much easier to get into the contents with one box sliding out from another. The lower box, contained 2 section with the upper section containing the accessories, user guides and the lower compartment holding the graphics card itself.
 
box open accessory box
 

The accessories are both complete and comprehensive. Two user guides were provided along with a support CD. Sadly the support CD didn't have any drivers on it, instead it simply guides you to the XFX website. While this is a good prompt to use the latest available drivers, I can only hope that the drivers are available on launch as the most recent CAT 9.3's were not compatible. Finishing off the accessory list were a DVI/VGA adapter, an HDMI adapter, 2x6-pin to dual Molex connectors, a crossfire bridge, the included HAWX game and a novelty 'do not disturb' sign.

 
accessories manual
 

Finally we get to see the card in all its glory. Being based on a reference design, XFX have not fixed what isn't broken and so simply added there own branding to the plastic cooler top. In fact the more eagle-eyed among you may well notice the original sticker can just be seen around the edges. The rear of the card is a mass of SMD's and screws with a small backplate holding the copper triple heat piped cooler to the GPU.
 
card front card rear
 
The connectivity of the card is a standard dual slot affair with 2xDVI ports and a TV out port. I would have liked to have seen colour coded DVI ports as with some of the XFX Nvidia cards but that's a minor issue that can easily be rectified in future releases. At the power end of the card we see that ATI have managed to stick to the 2x6-pin PCIe power ports rather replacing a 6 pin with a more powerful 8-pin ensuring that users of older PSU's can still take advantage of this card.

dvi pcie
 
The card has two Crossfire tabs ensuring the card is CrossfireX compatible (something we will put to the test in a later review). On the back of the card is a multitude of SMD's and power/fault indication LEDs (red). In the centre of the card is a small backplate held down by four spring loaded screws.

crossfire side 2

Despite the 'interesting' (read frustrating) box design, the 4890XXX certainly looks the part. I would have preferred a different cooler design as this, once again, is very loud when at full tilt. For whatever reason XFX also opted to use the standard red PCB design. There is very little to distinguish the XFX version from any other version on the market, even though this card is a XXX version.

Let's take a look at the HD4870x2...



XFX ATI 4000 Series Round Up Page: 5

Packaging & Appearance

Once again, the front of the box is dominated with the mask from Friday the13th fame. This time however, the box is twice the size of the XFX 4850 and 4870XXX cards we looked at earlier. I still think the XFX emblem looks out of place, being green and while I appreciate it's just a company logo a change of colour to red would be more apt for their ATI branding. Flipping the box over, we see that XFX are keen to promote their 5-star support service should you take the time to register the product.
 

box front box rear

Removing the outer sleeve, we once again come to a plain black box containing both the accessories and the graphics card. The accessory list is once again complete with everything you could want from GPU connectivity. A DVI/VGA adapter, HDMI adapter, TV out and PCIe 6-pin to dual Molex adapter along with a driver CD and user guides.

inner box accesories

XFX, while traditionally hailing from the green side have missed a trick by using the same green cardboard padding used in their Nvidia range. Again, I would prefer to have seen red instead of lime green which could well upset some avid ATI fan boys as no self respecting fan boy would have green anywhere, let alone on the packaging of their beloved ATI GPU's. Nevertheless, XFX have seen fit to use this padding from the Nvidia parts bin. Thankfully, the card is this time held securely in place by sponge ensuring the card reaches the end user in perfect condition.

card box card front

The card yet again uses the standard designed cooler but instead of the translucent red we have a stylish black affair which only serves to add to the domineering appearance of the card. A matching black backplate is also used to prevent the card from bowing under the heavy coolers weight with the two chrome GPU backplates hinting of the dual GPU power hidden inside.

 card rear card side

The cooler fan is effective in operation but again, fairly loud when placed under load. Potential buyers should note that this card requires an 8-pin PCIe cable as well as a 6 Pin PCIe cable to operate as designed and with no 8 pin adapter included it is therefore imperative that your PSU supports this feature.

 card rear card fan

The rear of the card this time has plain black DVI ports and a single TV-output . HD compatibility is afforded via the supplied HDMI adapter and the 7.1 surround capability of the card can hopefully drown out the noise of the fan. Be aware though that this card is not exactly the ideal choice for a media centre despite it's connectivity. It's a monolith of a card and consideration should be given to this fact as it will not fit in a lot of cases so please check before buying.

 DVI fan

The 4870x2 has been the top performing card for so long now with only the GTX295 surpassing it and even then by a small margin. It is still the flagship card from ATI and coupled with XFX packaging and support it, priced below the GTX295 it is still proving very popular with enthusiasts who are looking for a card that can perform at the highest level. Can it prove best bang per buck though, considering how well the 4870 performs it certainly has it's work cut out.

Let's see if the pre-overclocked cards have anything left to offer in terms of speed as I try to overclock them even further with our test setup...



XFX ATI 4000 Series Round Up Page: 6

 

 

 

Test Setup

To ensure that all reviews on Overclock3D are fair, consistent and unbiased, a standard set of hardware and software is used whenever possible during the comparative testing of two or more products. The configurations used in this review can be seen below:
 

i7 Rig

CPU: Intel Nehalem i7 920 Skt1366 2.66GHz (@3.8 Ghz)
Motherboard: Gigabyte EX58-UD5
Memory: 3x2GB Corsair DDR3 1600mhz @ 8-8-8-24
HD : Hitachi Deskstar 7k160 7200rpm 80GB
GPU:XFX HD4850 XXX. XFX HD4870 XXX, XFX HD4890 XXX, XFX HD4870x2
Graphics Drivers: Supplied by Asus
PSU: Gigabyte ODIN 1200w
 
During the testing of the setups above, special care was taken to ensure that the BIOS settings used matched whenever possible. A fresh install of Windows Vista was also used before the benchmarking began, with a full defrag of the hard drive once all the drivers and software were installed, preventing any possible performance issues due to leftover drivers from the previous motherboard installations. For the 3DMark and gaming tests a single card configuration was used.

To guarantee a broad range of results, the following benchmark utilities were used:
 
3D / Rendering Benchmarks
• 3DMark 05
• 3DMark 06
• 3DMark Vantage

3D Games
• Crysis
• Far Cry 2
• Oblivion

• Race drive: GRID
• Call of Duty IV
• Unreal Tournament III

Power Consumption

Power consumption was measured at the socket using a plug-in mains power and energy monitor. Because of this, the readings below are of the total system, not just the GPU. Idle readings were taken after 5 minutes in Windows. Load readings were taken during a run of Furmark.

 
 
As expected, the 4870x2 is by far the most power hungry of the bunch consuming almost 100 Watts more than the other cards on test. This however is hardly surprising considering there is twice the memory and 2 GPU's on board. The budget 4850 will neither dent the wallet on original purchase nor will it cost a fortune to run being the lowest consumer on test today.
 
 
Temperatures

Temperatures were taken at the factory clocked speed during idle in Windows and after 10 minutes of running Furmark with settings maxed out (2560x1600 8xMSAA). Ambient temperatures were taken with a household thermometer. As we use an open test bench setup consideration should be given to the fact that the temperatures would likely increase further in a closed case environment.
 
 
Being a dual GPU setup, the 4870x2 was easily the hottest card on test but surprisingly was not the loudest with the fan not spinning up too much that it became reminiscent of a vacuum cleaner. The 4850 was again the best performer on test being much cooler and therefore much quieter than it's stable mates.
 
 
Overclocking
 
I overclocked the cards using the Catalyst Control Panel which was maxed out with every ATI card I tried for this review.
 
Here are the results I gained:
 
XFX 4850 XXX
 
4850 Stock Stock
 
Although the card is pre-overclocked from 625/2000 to 650/2100, the XFX4850XXX still managed to overclock even further to a startling 700Mhz on the core and 2400MHz on the memory. As an added bonus there was very little added heat as a result of the overclocking.  
 
 
XFX 4870XXX
 
4870 stock 4870 OC
 
Because the 4870XXX is already clocked to a blistering 775/1900 on the core and memory respectively, there were little gains allowed by the CCC. Still, the sliders easily maxed out and allowed a respectable overclock of 790/2200MHz increasing the cards performance further than it's pre-overclocked state.
 
 
XFX 4890XXX
 
stock OVerclock
 
The rumours of the 4890 being an excellent overclocking card were certainly correct. The card easily overclock to the Golden 1Ghz on the GPU core, the first card at OC3D to do so. The memory also ran to a mesmerizing 2400MHz making this the highest clocked card we have tested thus far at OC3D.
 
 
XFX4870x2
 
stock1 overcl
 
Again, the 4870X2 managed to easily max out the CCC's overdrive option allowing the card to reach it's full potential, or at least the maximum CCC would allow. A measly 50MHz was attained on the core and 100(200)MHz on the memory. For some bizarre reason GPU-Z would not pick up the extra overclocks but it was confirmed working by both GPU-Z and the mild increase in it's frames per second during the runs of COD 4.
 
The affects the overclocks I attained from the above cards can be seen in the Call of Duty IV benchmarks I ran below:
 

With all of the cards overclocking extremely well you have to wonder why ATI do not increase the relative thresholds of the Catalyst Control Centre. I am confident all of the cards would overclock further but save using Rivatuner or another external application, this is not possible with the current CAT 9.3 drivers with the included CCC and overdrive option. Still, this is a 'n00b' friendly option and will certainly cut down on the amount of RMA's though overheating, burnt out cards because of over zealous overclocking.

After returning the cards back to their stock state I then proceeded to run our standard set of graphics tests to evaluate the performance against on another. I also compared the cards on a 'Cost Per Frame' basis to better help prospective buyers to see how much they are getting for their money (calculated with UK Sterling - prices correct at the time of writing).

Let's see how the cards got on...



XFX ATI 4000 Series Round Up Page: 7


3DMark is a popular synthetic gaming benchmark used by many gamers and overclockers to gauge the performance of their PC's. All 3DMark runs were performed a total of 5 times, with the highest and lowest results being removed and an average calculated from the remaining 3 results.
 
 
 

 
Results Analysis

No surprise here with the HD4870X2 taking the lead in everything we threw at it. Interesting there is not double the performance of the 4870 despite the card having 4870 cores and double the memory. The HD4850XXX performed very well until the resolution and image quality was increased. The 4870X2 certainly showed it's prowess at the maximum resolutions, perhaps best exemplified in 3DMark 05 scoring over 8000 marks more than it's closest rival the HD4890XXX, which in turn outpaced it's forbear, the HD4870XXX.

Let's see if this transfers over to our real world gaming benchmarks. 



XFX ATI 4000 Series Round Up Page: 8

 
Unreal Tournament 3 is the highly anticipated game from Epic Games and Midway. The game uses the latest Unreal engine, which combines fast gameplay along with high quality textures and lighting effects. All benchmarks were performed using UTbench with a fly-by of the DM-BioHazard map. As usual, all benchmarks were performed 5 times, with the highest and lowest results being removed and an average calculated from the remaining three.
 
 
 
 
GRID
 
Race Driver: Grid is a visually taxing game that presents a challenge to any graphics system. Results were recorded using FRAPS to log the average FPS over a 2 minute race. To ensure consistency, the same track, car and general path of travel was used in each of the 5 benchmark runs for each graphics card, with an average FPS being calculated from the median three results.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Call of Duty 4 is a stunning DirectX 9.0c based game that really looks awesome and has a very full feature set. With lots of advanced lighting, smoke and water effects, the game has excellent explosions along with fast game play. Using the in-built Call Of Duty features, a 10-minute long game play demo was recorded and replayed on each of the GPU's using the /timedemo command a total of 5 times. The highest and lowest FPS results were then removed, with an average being calculated from the remaining 3 results.
 
 
 
Results Analysis

The aging UTIII was certainly no match for any of the cards on test today with playability allowed at even the highest resolution and image quality. Much the same could be said regarding GRID but the blistering performance of the 4870X2 was not enough to make it the best bang per buck. For the 4870x2 to make monetary sense you will need to look to COD4 which had the 4870x2 by far the fastest card on test and also the best bang per buck despite it's £330 asking price.

Let's move on..

 



XFX ATI 4000 Series Round Up Page: 9

 
Crysis is without doubt one of the most visually stunning and hardware-challenging games to date. By using CrysisBench - a tool developed independently of Crysis - we performed a total of 5 timedemo benchmarks using a GPU-intensive pre-recorded demo. To ensure the most accurate results, the highest and lowest benchmark scores were then removed and an average calculated from the remaining three.

 
 
 
 
 

Oblivion from Bethseda is now an 'old' game by today's standards, but is still one of the most visually taxing games out there. The benchmark was run in the wilderness with all settings set to the maximum possible. Bloom was used in preference to HDR. The test was run five times with the average FPS then being deduced.

 

 
 


Ubisoft has developed a new engine specifically for Far Cry 2, called Dunia, meaning "world", "earth" or "living" in Parsi. The engine takes advantage of multi-core processors as well as multiple processors and supports DirectX 9 as well as DirectX 10. Running the Far Cry 2 benchmark tool the test was run 5 times with the highest and lowest scores being omitted and the average calculated from the remaining 3.
 
 
 
Results Analysis
 
Crysis was just about playable at 1690x1050 with the 4850XXX but increasing the resolution and IQ to the max resulted in a slide show effect which sadly had a very negative effect on the cost per frame. With all cards around the £10 per frame per Crysis it really does become cringe worthy the more you think about it. All cards performed better in Oblivion with the 4850XXX proving a sensible purchase should you not wish to game at the highest resolution. The 4870XXX was the most expensive card in terms of CPF at the highest resolution and was beaten by both FPS and CPF by it's stablemate the 4890XXX. Far Cry 2 was much the same story with the 4850 struggling at high resolutions and the 4870x2 dominating with the 4890 and 4870's heading bringing up the rear respectively.
 
Let's move on to the conclusion...

 



XFX ATI 4000 Series Round Up Page: 10

 

ConclusionXFX red

Leaping onto the ATI bandwagon after being such a huge representative of Nvidia may be seen by some as a bad move but their is no doubting that XFX know a thing or two about graphics cards. The benefits of having XFX in partnership with ATI are plain to see with the XXX overclocked range out in full force. Sure the cards overclock to this level easily anyway but having the card pre clocked means you do not have to be troubled with the catalyst control centre's Overdrive or other overclocking utility allowing even the most inept enthusiast to gains those valuable extra frames per second.

All of the cards on show today were well packaged if somewhat a little less appealing as the Nvidia counterparts. No games or software is included with any of the cards apart from the recently released 4890XXX which is a little disappointing considering the cards are not priced any lower than the majority of their competitors.

The 4800 series have proved themselves time and again to be very popular among enthusiasts thanks to the awesome performance they provide along with very good cost/performance ratio. But which one should you choose? The 4850 is certainly a very good card but it is left wanting at extreme resolutions. The 4870 was one of the most popular cards of 2008 thanks to it hitting the sweet spot of bang per buck but even though this card is a XXX version it now makes little sense to buy when you compare it to the new kid on the block, the 4890XXX. This card can perform at all levels, comes in a somewhat interesting (if frustrating) package and can overclock to supreme speeds with ease. Then we come to the mighty 4870x2. Despite it now being dethroned by the GTX295, the 4870x2 is still a fantastic card. Costing £330 one would think this card would be found lacking when it comes to bang per buck but due to it's extra ordinary performance it can hold its own against much cheaper cards.

Whatever your  requirement, one thing is for sure, XFX have a GPU that can cater for every taste be it budget, performance or power consumption and now with an allegiance to ATI as well as Nvidia, XFX have given the end user the choice of their preferred manufacturer.

 

 The Good
- Extreme performance of the HD4870x2
- Price of the 4850XXX
- Included game of the 4890XXX

The Medicore
- Stock ATI cooler is becoming tiresome
- Packaging not to the same standard of Nvidia

The Poor
- Noisy fans
 

XFX HD4850XXX

 

 

XFX HD4870XXX

 

 

XFX HD4890XXX

 

 

XFX HD4870x2

 

Thanks to XFX for providing all of the card on test today. Discuss in our forums.