PowerColor HD 4850 PCS 2GB PCI-E

Test Setup & Overclocking

Test Setup
Having already explored the performance of the HD4850 in several of our previous GPU reviews, today we are going to be concentrating on a head-to-head comparison of the PowerColor HD 4850 PCS 2GB vs a stock AMD HD 4850 512mb card. As mentioned previously the PowerColor is already at a disadvantage in terms of memory clock speed, but can it make up for this with a full 1.5GB of additional frame buffer? The following table shows the test system used during the benchmarking of both cards:
System Specs
The following list of games has also been chosen to test each of the cards on a number of popular game engines. Each game will be run at varying quality and AF settings at both low and high resolutions.
Quake Wars
1280x1024 / High / 4xAA
1600x1200 / High / 4xAA
1920x1200 / High / 4xAA

Unreal Tournament III
1280x1024 / DX10 / High
1600x1200 / DX10 / High
1920x1200 / DX10 / High

Call of Duty 4
1280x1024 / Max / 4xAA / 4xAF
1600x1200 / Max / 4xAA / 4xAF
1920x1200 / Max / 4xAA / 4xAF

1280x1024 / Max / 4xAA
1600x1200 / Max / 4xAA
1920x1200 / Max / 4xAA

1280x1024 / DX10 / High / 0xAA / 0xAF
1600x1200 / DX10 / High / 0xAA / 0xAF
1920x1200 / DX10 / High / 0xAA / 0xAF
1280x1024 / DX10 / High / 4xAA
1600x1200 / DX10 / High / 4xAA
1920x1200 / DX10 / High / 4xAA
Using only the the ATI Overdrive™ facility built into the driver control panel, the maximum overclock we were able to obtain from the HD4850 PCS was 680mhz on the core and 1040mhz on the memory. The Overdrive facility did actually attempt to overclock the card higher than this using the "Auto-Tune" option, but unfortunately these settings proved to be unstable when attempting to run 3DMark Vantage.
HD4850 Overclocked
The reasoning behind this poor result is more than likely due to the 2GB frame buffer. This is much like adding additional DDR memory to your system, or switching a 1GB memory module out for a 2GB one.  While you may gain the benefit of extra system memory, the margin for overclocking is often reduced. Never-the-less this is quite a poor result from the 4850, especially considering it's "PCS" cooling system.
Now let's get on to the benchmarks...
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Most Recent Comments

16-08-2008, 07:58:39

Nice review mate. Why oh why did they have to go and do that? I would have preferred some software (3DM06 etc) than extra memory that handicaps a card.Quote

16-08-2008, 12:19:40

What a shameQuote

16-08-2008, 13:40:02

...any word on the Powercolor HD 4870 PCS+ tho? clocked up to 800MHz on the core and with a Zerotherm cooler...OCuk have it for £182ish at the moment but I've seen no reviews anywhere yet.

Also Asus have the EAH4870 TOP with stock cooler but 815MHz core....

I've seen a few reviews of the overclocked 4850s but if i'm dropping money i'll pay the extra for a 4870 or GTX 280 (depending on the 55nm version getting good reviews and not being eye-wateringly pricey). Want consistency too much to go for a dual GPU option when the biggest monitor i'm ever likely to have is a 24" Quote

16-08-2008, 14:17:55

Originally Posted by name='gdawg304'
...any word on the Powercolor HD 4870 PCS+ tho? clocked up to 800MHz on the core and with a Zerotherm cooler...OCuk have it for £182ish at the moment but I've seen no reviews anywhere yet.
Don't really have any plans to review it at the moment, but if we get a break in the schedule I'll consider it. One thing I will say though is the Zerotherm/PCS cooler on the HD4850 does an extremely good job of keeping it cool. Quote

16-08-2008, 14:25:13

Ah well - that's a shame. Thought the pre-OC'd 4870 would be a hot one to review considering the fuss over the standard card....I shall have to keep my eyes open I guess!

(Not to mention comparing non-standard cooling given the issues in reviews over the temps on the stock cooler). Still - there are only so many hours in the day for reviewing!

The one on the 4870 is a different design than the 4850 so I wonder how they compare.Quote

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