PowerColor HD 4850 PCS 2GB PCI-E


If we were asked to sum up the PowerColor HD 4850 PCS 2GB in a single word, our first choice would most definitely be "disappointing". PowerColor have taken a perfectly well balanced HD4850 and upset the scales by loading it with a totally unnecessary 2GB frame buffer. Not only this, but as a side-affect of this four fold increase in memory, the clock speed of the memory has had to be slashed by 200mhz in order to maintain stability in mass production.
As the results over the previous pages show, this doesn't bode well for the card as its performance is consistently lower than our reference HD 4850 across all benchmarks at both low and high resolutions. For any card to truly take advantage of a of a frame buffer this large it first needs to have the raw power and pixel pushing ability to run detailed games at resolutions higher than 1900x1200. This is something that the HD 4850 does not possess, and in all honesty even the HD4870 would probably have a hard time making full use of the 2GB.
The final nail in the coffin comes in the price. With a RRP expected to be around $250 the PowerColor HD 4850 PCS 2GB is on average $50 more expensive than a bog-standard 512MB version state-side, positioning the card extremely close to the HD 4870. Which, as we all know; offers greater performance and highly overclockable GDDR5, making it a MUCH better buy.
The Good
- Silent and effective "PCS" cooler.
The Mediocre
- Overclocking pretty poor.
The Bad
- Slower than the reference 512mb HD4850.
- Almost as expensive as a HD 4870.
Thanks to PowerColor for providing the HD4850 PCS for review. Discuss this review in our forums.
UPDATE 19/08/08
As part of our review procedure, all manufacturers are given the right to reply to any issues that arise or comments we make during the course of the review. PowerColor have chosen to excersize this right and have replied with the following statement:

This is an engineer sample in early stage of this model and we still try hard to make it performance well and then provide to customers the best product; based on the feedback produced by the Overclock3D review of our HD 4850 2GB, we have decided to make some alterations to the product before it enters the retail market. The card will now feature the same memory speed as a reference 4850 512MB giving it the same performance in games that do not make use of the 2GB frame buffer, and greater performance in games that do. The retail product will have higher clocked memory to get great performance with games.

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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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