ATI have been gradually falling behind in the GPU race with Nvidia seemingly in an unassailable position after the release (and re-release shall we say) of G80.
The 8800GT/GTX series really dominated the market, with the hilariously titled 'next gen' 9
series again pulling ahead of ATI.
It seems though, ATI's strategy was not to dominate Nvidia from the top down, but rather to sneak some cards onto the market that did very well on price whilst delivering very good value performance. The HD3850 was a great example of this and put the proverbial ATI cat amongst the not so happy, to be proverbial, Nvidia-shaped pidgeons.
Now ATI have announced (early we might add), that they are releasing their 'next gen'. In the labs today is the HD4850; this time Asus is kindly supplying the requisite hardware for our review.
Features and architecture
The HD4850 is loosely based on ATI's previous gen RV600 GPU, except ATI have put this gen on some rather serious steroids. Boasting a large sounding 800 shader units and with a boosted core clock to the HD3850, we start out with a great looking card on paper.
As you can see, the HD4850 fits into a nice slot between the 8800 GT and the 8800 GTS, price-wise. This means that ATI is again aiming at enthusiasts who really want that 'bang for buck' in their graphics card. It also means that the card had better do a pretty good job performance-wise as this is a very competitive price bracket.
The RV770 chip has the same shader processors as the previous generation, but ATI have bolstered these up to 800. This increases the transistor count on the HD4850 up to 956m; built using TSMC's 55nm process. ATI's awesome memory ringbus technology stays as well, pumping through the memory bandwidth. The Core clock has been upped to 625Mhz and the memory clock to 993MHz, which should also improve the pixel pushing abilities of the little card.
"Little" you say? Well take a look at some pics and you will see...