Sapphire 4850x2 2GB PCIe Graphics Card
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:
CPU: Intel Nehalem i7 920 Skt1366 2.66GHz
Motherboard: Asus P6T Deluxe 'OC Palm'
Memory: 3x2GB Corsair Dominator DDR3 1600mhz @ 8-8-8-24
HD : Hitachi Deskstar 7k160 7200rpm 80GB
GPU: ATI 4850x2 / Nvidia GTX280
Graphics Drivers: Cat 4.12 / GeForce 180.60
PSU: Gigabyte ODIN 1200w
To guarantee a broad range of results, the following benchmark utilities were used:
• Cinebench 10
• 3DMark 05
• 3DMark 06
• 3DMark Vantage
• Far Cry 2
• Company of Heroes
• Race drive: GRID
• Call of Duty IV
• Unreal Tournament III
• Quake IV
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 Crysis.
As you can see above, the 4850x2 uses a lot more power than the GTX280 when idle but power usage evened out when both cards were put under load. The GTX however still appears to be the more greener of the two but bear in mind the ATI has two cores to the green teams one and it becomes clear who has the more power efficient setup.
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.
Coming from a 3870x2 which was scorching at the best of times, I was surprised to see that the Sapphire 4850x2 ran as cool as it did. That said, with the fan set to auto the noise this thing makes is diabolical. It is easily the noisiest GPU in modern terms and is only beaten by the old 5800Ultra in terms of noise. Be sure to grab a decent set of headphones to drown out the whooshing of air.
Touching the card while under load it felt quite cool thanks to the aluminium frame. Only the VRM sink on the back of the card appeared to be hot. Surprisingly, little heat was being expelled via the rear of the card in contrast to the GTX280 which would serve as a good replacement for a household radiator.
Overclocking the Sapphire 4850x2 was very easy using the Catalyst Control Centre. However, the GPU and memory clocks were still being recorded incorrectly so I used the latest edition of GPU-Z to clarify the overclock and sure enough, the overclocked settings had been applied.
A meagre 75mhz was applied to the core but I am certain that they could be pushed further as 700mhz was the maximum overclock CCC overdrive would allow us to apply on the GPU. We managed to nudge the memory a further 182mhz past stock before the card started to show signs of instability in 3DMark 06 with some textures being corrupt and some tearing apparent. The downside to the overclocking however was that with additional overclocks comes additional heat and as previously mentioned the fan speeds up to such an extent that it would be unbearable for day to day use without the use of headphones.
Let's move on to our suite of benchmarks where we pitch it up against Nvidia's finest, the GTX280...