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Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 In CrossfireX

Sapphire has strapped two of our much loved HD 4850 cores onto a single PCB. Disaster or genius? - Let's check it out.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Tue, Nov 4 2008 11:00 PM CST   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 91%Manufacturer: Sapphire

Introduction


Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 In CrossfireX



The HD 4850 X2 is one of those really weird releases. The original word was that the card would launch alongside the HD 4870 X2; clearly it didn't. Word came through that the card was delayed for a week or two, but after that time was up the talk of the card faded.

Move forward to November and we finally have the release of the card. What's interesting about the HD 4850 X2 is that the decision to build the card is completely up to the partner who has to make it themselves.

For that reason, the only company to currently have a HD 4850 X2 floating around on the world wide interweb is from Sapphire. So with that said, let's take the time to have a look at the package Sapphire has put together before we have a closer look at the card and get into the benchmarks.

The Package




Just after we received our sample, Sapphire let us know that they had decided to change the box design. While the original box followed the black design we saw in the HD 4870 series of cards, the new box follows a brighter blue one which can be seen below.

Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 In CrossfireX


Across the top of the box we can see some logos which include 4x display support, dual VPU power along with some ATI ones. Across the bottom we have the model name along with some of the main features including Direct X 10.1, PCI-E Version 2.0, Dual VPU technology and more. In the middle of the box we have mention of how much memory the card comes with and also the model again as well as a motto and picture.

Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 In CrossfireX


Moving inside, we have the typical user manual along with a number of CDs which includes 3DMark Vantage, Ruby ROB, PowerDVD, Power DVD Suite and a driver CD.

Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 In CrossfireX


As far as cables go, we have two molex convertors, one to an 8-pin the other to a 6-pin and we also have a Crossfire bridge, S-Video to RCA connector, component out dongle, DVI to VGA connector and a single DVI to HDMI connector.

The Card




With the package out of the way, it's time to have a look at the card itself. Since there is no reference design, Sapphire has been able to do what they want with the cooler. Pulling the card out of the box, it's nice to see a dual fan design.

Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 In CrossfireX


We all know that as great as the HD 4850 is, the biggest problem with it is the huge amount of heat coming off the back of the card with the single slot cooler. We can see to the right of the cooler we have the model again along with the Sapphire logo.

Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 In CrossfireX


Looking around the card, there isn't anything too unexpected. Like any high-end card, we have two power connectors located at the back; in this case a single 6-pin and single 8-pin one.

Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 In CrossfireX


Towards the front of the card also features a single Crossfire connector; this gives us the ability to place two of these cards together like the HD 4870 X2 to give us a maximum of four HD 4850 cores.

Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 In CrossfireX


It doesn't come as any surprise that the card is dual slot, but what's interesting is the fact that Sapphire has not only decided to have two DVI connectors on the card, but include an additional two. Alongside these we also have a single TV-Out connector located towards the bottom of the card.


Specifications

As far as specifications go, there isn't anything we didn't expect to see. The HD 4850 X2 is literally two HD 4850s on a single PCB; clocks are the same between the single and dual GPU cards with a 625MHz core and 1986MHz memory clock.

We have the same 256-bit memory interface, but the card is doubled with it, being advertised as 512-bit. The HD 4850 X2 from Sapphire is going to be available in two versions, a 1GB model and the 2GB model we have with us today.

Test System Setup and 3DMark06


Test System Setup

Processor(s): Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 @ 3GHz (333MHz x 9)
Cooling: Corsair Nautilus500 (Supplied by Corsair) with Arctic Cooling MX-2 Thermal Compound (Supplied by Arctic Cooling)
Motherboard(s): GIGABYTE X48-DQ6 (Supplied by GIGABYTE)
Memory: 2 X 1GB Kingston PC6400 DDR-2 3-3-3-10 (KHX6400D2ULK2/2G) (Supplied by Kingston)
Hard Disk(s): Seagate 250GB 7200RPM SATA-2 7200.10 (Supplied by Seagate)
Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2, Windows Vista SP1
Drivers: NVIDIA ForceWare 177.79, Catalyst 8.9 and Catalyst 8.11 (Press Version) for HD 4850 X2


With not only a single HD 4850 X2 on hand, but two, we will be seeing how the cards go against the single GPU HD 4870 while also comparing it against the older dual GPU NVIDIA offering, the 9800 GX2 as well as the current NVIDIA top dog, the GTX 280.


3DMark06

Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/
Buy It Here





3DMark06 is the worldwide standard in advanced 3D game performance benchmarking. A fundamental tool for every company in the PC industry as well as PC users and gamers, 3DMark06 uses advanced real-time 3D game workloads to measure PC performance using a suite of DirectX 9 3D graphics tests, CPU tests, and 3D feature tests.

3DMark06 tests include all new HDR/SM3.0 graphics tests, SM2.0 graphics tests, AI and physics driven single and multiple cores or processor CPU tests and a collection of comprehensive feature tests to reliably measure next generation gaming performance today.


Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 In CrossfireX


Straight away we can see the HD 4850 X2 takes out top honors with it coming out in front. Adding the second card into the mix does increase performance slightly, but it's clear we're hitting a CPU limitation at this point.

Benchmarks - 3DMark Vantage


3DMark Vantage

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmarkvantage/
Buy It Here




3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware.

3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.


Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 In CrossfireX


Getting a bit more intensive, we can see the HD 4850 X2 again takes out top spot. Adding a second card into the mix does yield better gains than what 3DMark06 demonstrated, with the best gains being seen in the Extreme test.

Benchmarks - PT Boats: Knights of the Sea


PT Boats: Knights of the Sea

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Developer Homepage: http://en.akella.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.pt-boats.net/





PT Boats: Knights of the Sea is a naval action simulator that places gamers in charge of a mosquito fleet of the Allied Forces, Russia or Germany during the height of World War II.

Using the latest Direct X 10 technology PT Boards - Knights of the Sea manages to apply a lot of stress to the components of today which in turn gives us quite an intensive benchmark.


Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 In CrossfireX


Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 In CrossfireX


Looking at PT Boats, we see that it again favors the NVIDIA offerings. We also see adding a second card into the equation does very little for performance.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10


CINEBENCH R10

Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10
Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/
Product Homepage: http://www.maxon.net




CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performace capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based).


Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 In CrossfireX


Looking at Open GL performance, we can see that the HD 4850 X2 comes out ahead of the single HD 4870. Adding a second card increases performance again slightly; in this case, though, we do see the NVIDIA offering come out ahead.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict


World in Conflict

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.massive.se
Product Homepage: http://www.worldinconflict.com





World in Conflict is a real-time strategy video game by Massive Entertainment and to be published by Sierra Entertainment for Windows (DX9 and DX10) and the Xbox 360.

The game is set in 1989 where economic troubles cripple the Soviet Union and threaten to dissolve it. However, the title pursues a "what if" scenario where, in this case, the Soviet Union does not collapse and instead pursues a course of war to remain in power. It is an intensive new game is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards and we use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.


Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 In CrossfireX


Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 In CrossfireX


Under WIC we see the HD 4850 X2 perform very well with it sitting very close to the GTX 280. Unfortunately adding a second card to the equation adds very little extra performance with the gains really only being seen at the highest resolution.

Benchmarks - Crysis


Crysis

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.2.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Custom time demo
Developer Homepage: http://www.crytek.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.ea.com/crysis/
Buy It Here





From the makers of Far Cry, Crysis offers FPS fans the best-looking, most highly-evolving gameplay, requiring the player to use adaptive tactics and total customization of weapons and armor to survive in dynamic, hostile environments including Zero-G.

Real time editing, bump mapping, dynamic lights, network system, integrated physics system, shaders, shadows and a dynamic music system are just some of the state of-the-art features the CryENGINE 2 offers. The CryENGINE 2 comes complete with all of its internal tools and also includes the CryENGINE 2 Sandbox world editing system.


Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 In CrossfireX


Under Crysis we can see the HD 4850s and GTX 280 sit very close to each other. We continue to see adding a third and fourth core into the mix is doing very little for extra performance.

Benchmarks - Unreal Tournament 3


Unreal Tournament 3

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used:
Developer Homepage: http://www.epicgames.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.unrealtournament3.com/
Buy It Here





Following the formulae that made Unreal Tournament so great the third installment to the series has hit us recently with better than ever graphics. The games uses the latest Unreal Engine which like most modern day games when maxed out puts the pressure on our lineup of graphics cards.


Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 In CrossfireX


At the lower resolution we see most of the cards sit very close to each other. As we climb up the resolution table we see the HD 4850 X2 pull ahead, especially at 2560 x 1600.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF


High Quality AA and AF

Our high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.


3DMark06

Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 In CrossfireX


Adding AA and AF into the mix, we see the HD 4850 X2s perform extremely well when compared to the other cards we have here today.


World In Conflict

Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 In CrossfireX


Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 In CrossfireX


Under these intensive settings we can see adding a second HD 4850 X2 into the mix yields some very impressive increases, managing to beat out every card we have here.

Benchmarks - 3DMark06 - XP


3DMark06

Version and / or Patch Used: Build 110
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/
Buy It Here





3DMark06 is the worldwide standard in advanced 3D game performance benchmarking. A fundamental tool for every company in the PC industry as well as PC users and gamers, 3DMark06 uses advanced real-time 3D game workloads to measure PC performance using a suite of DirectX 9 3D graphics tests, CPU tests, and 3D feature tests.

3DMark06 tests include all new HDR/SM3.0 graphics tests, SM2.0 graphics tests, AI and physics driven single and multiple cores or processor CPU tests and a collection of comprehensive feature tests to reliably measure next generation gaming performance today.


Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 In CrossfireX


Under 3DMark06 under XP we see the HD 4850 X2 in CrossfireX outperform everything we have here. A single card does sit at the back of the pack, though.

Benchmarks - CINEBENCH R10 - XP


CINEBENCH R10

Version and / or Patch Used: Release 10
Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/
Product Homepage: http://www.maxon.net




CINEBENCH is a real-world test suite that assesses your computer's performace capabilities. MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.

MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based).


Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 In CrossfireX


CINEBENCH shows the two configurations very close to each other; they do manage to beat out everything out, though.

Benchmarks - World in Conflict - XP


World in Conflict

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.5
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.massive.se
Product Homepage: http://www.worldinconflict.com




World in Conflict is a real-time strategy video game by Massive Entertainment and to be published by Sierra Entertainment for Windows (DX9 and DX10) and the Xbox 360.

The game is set in 1989 where economic troubles cripple the Soviet Union and threaten to dissolve it. However, the title pursues a "what if" scenario where, in this case, the Soviet Union does not collapse and instead pursues a course of war to remain in power. It is an intensive new game is sure to put plenty of stress on even the latest graphics cards and we use the built-in benchmarking for our testing.

Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 In CrossfireX


Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 In CrossfireX


Under WIC and Windows XP we can see adding a second HD 4850 X2 into the mix adds some good gains at the higher resolution.

Benchmarks - Unreal Tournament 3 - XP


Unreal Tournament 3

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used:
Developer Homepage: http://www.epicgames.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.unrealtournament3.com/
Buy It Here





Following the formulae that made Unreal Tournament so great the third installment to the series has hit us recently with better than ever graphics. The games uses the latest Unreal Engine which like most modern day games when maxed out puts the pressure on our lineup of graphics cards.


Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 In CrossfireX


We can see adding a second card into the mix does yield some performance increases, but not as impressive as some of our other tests.

Temperature & Sound Tests


Temperature Tests



With the TES 1326 Infrared Thermometer literally in hand we found ourselves getting real-world temperatures from the products we test at load (3D clock speeds).

There are two places we pull temperature from - the back of the card directly behind the core and if the card is dual slot and has an exhaust point we also pull a temperate from there, as seen in the picture.


Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 In CrossfireX


It's clear the cooling configuration that Sapphire has opted for is doing a good job with temperatures on all cores; looking very impressive.


Sound Tests



Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.

After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).


Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 In CrossfireX


Noise levels are a bit higher than we're used to, but it's nothing we would be too worried about.

Power Consumption Tests






Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).

There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.

The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a 7,200RPM SATA-II single hard drive is used without CD ROM or many cooling fans.

So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.


Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 In CrossfireX


It doesn't come as any real surprise that some serious power is used at load and idle, especially when we add two. With that said, though, it's not the 700+ wattage usage we've seen from HD 4870 X2s in a CrossfireX configuration.

Final Thoughts




It doesn't come as any real surprise that the HD 4850 X2 is a winner. The whole HD 4800 series from ATI has been impressive and we didn't think this card was going to be any different. It's great to see that Sapphire has jumped straight onto the HD 4850 X2 bandwagon, but what's going to be interesting now is which other companies will release a card with the dual HD 4850 configuration.

The other thing we have to wonder is what Sapphire is going to do now. Will we see a Toxic version, something with higher clocks or maybe watercooling? - No doubt Sapphire has something up their sleeve, but at the moment we haven't heard anything.

While it will be interesting to see what's coming, at the moment we have to concentrate on getting the card we have here onto the market. Unlike most graphics card releases these days, the HD 4850 X2 isn't really available. Hopefully we will see stock show up in the next few weeks. With only one partner at the moment, it might take a little longer than usual for the card to hit the market.

Having a closer look at performance, it doesn't come as any real surprise that adding a second card into the mix doesn't bring the largest performance gains. While we've seen good improvements over the past few months with a four GPU configuration, it doesn't offer the same value as going from one GPU to two.

The HD 4850 X2 helps add another price bracket into the market, but what's going to be so interesting now is how NVIDIA will respond. They have been quiet since AMD/ATI released the HD 4870 X2, which took the performance crown.

Sapphire has done a good job with the card here today; performance is good, cooling is excellent and a nice bundle is offered. All we need now is the card to hit the market and we have another winner of a card based on the HD 4800 series GPU.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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