Sapphire HD 4850 X2 Video Card Review
By Gabriel Torres on November 4, 2008


Introduction

Hardware Secrets Golden Award

The new Radeon HD 4850 X2 that is being launched today is simply two Radeon HD 4850 video cards in a single board working in CrossFire mode, being a cheaper option to the Radeon HD 4870 X2, which is the most expensive video card available today, and priced to compete with GeForce GTX 280. How is the performance of Radeon HD 4850 X2 compared to GeForce GTX 280 and other high-end video cards? Does it provide a good cost/benefit ratio? That is what we will see in our review.

On Radeon HD 4850 X2 each GPU has 1 GB GDDR3 memory, so the card has a total of 2 GB – most Radeon HD 4850 models have 512 MB. The clocks and specs are the same.

Two things caught our eye on Sapphire’s model. First was the fact that Sapphire decided to use its own cooler instead of using the infamous standard cooler designed by ATI/AMD, which is heavy and known to heat a lot, increasing the temperature inside your PC. This cooler uses two individual aluminum heatsinks with copper base and an aluminum cover holding the two fans. This makes the card to run cooler, to be lighter and to have a more stylish design.

The second thing was the fact that this is the first video card we’ve seen with four DVI connectors. All other X2-style video cards have only two DVI connectors, just like regular video cards. So you can install up to four video monitors directly to this video card. Keep in mind that multiple monitors only work when you are not playing games, as when the system is in CrossFire mode video is generated on only one of the connectors.

Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2
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Figure 1: Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2.

Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2
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Figure 2: Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2.

Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2
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Figure 3: Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2.

Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2
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Figure 4: Four video connectors.

Introduction (Cont’d)

This video card requires the installation of one 6-pin auxiliary power connector and one 8-pin auxiliary power connector. If your power supply doesn’t have these connectors don’t worry: the video card comes with adapters.

Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2
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Figure 5: Auxiliary power connectors.

In Figure 5, you can see the video card with its cooler removed. As you can see, it uses individual aluminum heatsinks with copper base on the GPUs and aluminum passive heatsinks on the memory chips. Also notice how this video card uses only solid aluminum capacitors, which are the best kind of electrolytic capacitor.

Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2
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Figure 6: Video card with its cooler removed.

The reviewed video card has eight 1 Gbit GDDR3 memory chips from Samsung (K4J10324QD-HJ1A) around each GPU, making its 1 GB per GPU or 2 GB total. These chips support up to 1 GHz (2 GHz DDR), so there is no margin for you to overclock the memories with them still inside their specs. Of course you can try overclocking them above their labeled maximum clock rate.

In Figure 7, you can see all accessories and CDs/DVDs that come with this video card. With the accessories that come with this card you can convert the video output to VGA, HDMI, component video and composite video, plus the DVI and S-Video connectors already present on the product.

Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2
click to enlarge
Figure 7: Accessories.

This video card comes with three games inside a DVD called “Ruby ROM 1.1”: Call of Juarez, Dungeon Runners and Stranglehold. Programs that come with this video card include CyberLink DVD Suite (PowerProducer 4, PorwerDirector 5 Express, Power2GO 5.5, Mediashow 3 and trial versions of PowerBackup 2.5, PowerDVD Copy and LabelPrint 2), Cyberlink Power DVD 7, 3DMark Vantage Full, EarthSim and GameShadow.

Now let’s compare the Radeon HD 4850 X2 specifications to the specs of all other video cards included in our comparison.

More Details

To make the comparison between Radeon HD 4850 X2 and the other video cards we included in this review easier, we compiled the table below comparing the main specs from these cards. If you want to compare the specs of the reviewed video card to any other video card not included in the table below, just take a look at our NVIDIA Chips Comparison Table and on our AMD ATI Chips Comparison Table.

GPU

Core Clock

Shader Clock

Processors

Memory Clock

Memory Interface

Memory Transfer Rate

Memory

Price

GeForce GTX 280

602 MHz

1,296 MHz

240

1,107 MHz

512-bit

141.7 GB/s

1 GB GDDR3

USD 405 - 470

GeForce GTX 260

576 MHz

1,242 MHz

192

1,000 MHz

448-bit

112 GB/s

896 MB GDDR3

USD 240 - 310

GeForce 9800 GX2

600 MHz

1,500 MHz

128

1,000 MHz

256-bit

64 GB/s

1 GB GDDR3

USD 220 - 285

GeForce 9800 GTX+

738 MHz

1,836 MHz

128

1,100 MHz

256-bit

70.4 GB/s

512 MB GDDR3

USD 190 - 210

GeForce 9800 GTX

675 MHz

1,688 MHz

128

1,100 MHz

256-bit

70.4 GB/s

512 MB GDDR3

USD 148 - 180

Palit GeForce 9800 GT 1 GB

600 MHz

1.5 GHz

112

900 MHz

256-bit

57.6 GB/s

1 GB GDDR3

USD 170

Radeon HD 4870 X2

750 MHz

750 MHz

800

900 MHz

256-bit

115.2 GB/s

1 GB GDDR5

USD 530 - 550

Radeon HD 4870

750 MHz

750 MHz

800

900 MHz

256-bit

115.2 GB/s

512 MB GDDR5

USD 290 - 310

Radeon HD 4850 X2

625 MHz

625 MHz

800

993 MHz

256-bit

63.5 GB/s

1 GB GDDR3

USD 419

Radeon HD 4850

625 MHz

625 MHz

800

993 MHz

256-bit

63.5 GB/s

512 MB GDDR3

USD 160 - 200

Radeon HD 4830

575 MHz

575 MHz

640

900 MHz

256-bit

57.6 GB/s

512 MB GDDR3

USD 130

Sapphire Atomic HD 3870 X2

857 MHz

857 MHz

320

927 MHz

256-bit

59.3 GB/s

1 GB GDDR3

Radeon HD 3870

776 MHz

776 MHz

320

1,125 MHz

256-bit

72 GB/s

512 MB GDDR4

USD 95 - 150

It is important to note that this table reflects the current prices for the listed video cards at Newegg.com, which are lower than the prices we published in other reviews, since prices tend to drop every day.

Some important observations regarding this table:

Before going to our tests let’s recap the main features from Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2.

Main Specifications

Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 main features are:

How We Tested

During our benchmarking sessions, we used the configuration listed below. Between our benchmarking sessions the only variable was the video card being tested.

Hardware Configuration

Software Configuration

Driver Versions

Software Used

Resolutions and Image Quality Settings

Since we were comparing very high-end video cards, we ran all our tests under three 16:10 widescreen high resolutions: 1680x1050, 1920x1200, and 2560x1600. We always tried to run the programs and games in two scenarios for each resolution, one with low image quality settings and then maxing out the image quality settings. The exact configuration we used will be described together with the results of each individual test.

Error Margin

We adopted a 3% error margin; thus, differences below 3% cannot be considered relevant. In other words, products with a performance difference below 3% should be considered as having similar performance.

3DMark06 Professional

3DMark06 measures Shader 3.0 (i.e., DirectX 9.0c) performance. We run this software under three 16:10 widescreen resolutions, 1680x1050, 1920x1200, and 2560x1600, first with no image quality enhancements enabled – results we call “low” on the charts and tables below –, then setting 4x anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering. See the results below.

Radeon HD 4850 X2

3DMark06 Professional 1.1.0 - 1680x1050 - LowScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X2175574.95%
Radeon HD 4850 X216729 
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2162602.88%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI162213.13%
GeForce 9800 GX2156237.08%
GeForce GTX 2801490412.25%
Radeon HD 48701421517.69%
GeForce GTX 2601370122.10%
GeForce 9800 GTX+1335525.26%
GeForce 9800 GTX1275931.12%
Radeon HD 48501184241.27%
GeForce 9800 GT1147145.84%
Radeon HD 48301089853.51%
Radeon HD 38701069456.43%

Radeon HD 4850 X2

3DMark06 Professional 1.1.0 - 1920x1200 - LowScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X2174146.87%
Radeon HD 4850 X216294 
GeForce 9800 GX2155474.80%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2154895.20%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI154865.22%
GeForce GTX 2801421514.63%
Radeon HD 48701301725.17%
GeForce GTX 2601266828.62%
GeForce 9800 GTX+1220633.49%
GeForce 9800 GTX1163140.09%
Radeon HD 48501069152.41%
GeForce 9800 GT1025358.92%
Radeon HD 4830978766.49%
Radeon HD 3870945472.35%

Radeon HD 4850 X2

3DMark06 Professional 1.1.0 - 2560x1600 - LowScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X21592012.59%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI141460.05%
Radeon HD 4850 X214140 
GeForce 9800 GX2130158.64%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X21231514.82%
GeForce GTX 2801176620.18%
Radeon HD 48701015939.19%
GeForce GTX 260989442.91%
GeForce 9800 GTX+936550.99%
GeForce 9800 GTX874361.73%
Radeon HD 4850807775.06%
GeForce 9800 GT767984.14%
Radeon HD 4830730893.49%
Radeon HD 38706823107.24%

Radeon HD 4850 X2

3DMark06 Professional 1.1.0 - 1680x1050 - HighScoreDifference
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2162608.42%
Radeon HD 4870 X2161347.58%
Radeon HD 4850 X214997 
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI139467.54%
GeForce 9800 GX2139007.89%
GeForce GTX 2801215723.36%
Radeon HD 48701106335.56%
GeForce GTX 2601061741.25%
GeForce 9800 GTX+939159.70%
GeForce 9800 GTX898166.99%
Radeon HD 4850888168.87%
Radeon HD 4830794388.81%
GeForce 9800 GT789989.86%
Radeon HD 38706915116.88%

Radeon HD 4850 X2

3DMark06 Professional 1.1.0 - 1920x1200 - HighScoreDifference
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X21548912.17%
Radeon HD 4870 X21531310.89%
Radeon HD 4850 X213809 
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI130915.48%
GeForce 9800 GX21221313.07%
GeForce GTX 2801099125.64%
Radeon HD 48701001437.90%
GeForce GTX 260945046.13%
GeForce 9800 GTX+814469.56%
Radeon HD 4850797273.22%
GeForce 9800 GTX781176.79%
Radeon HD 4830710994.25%
GeForce 9800 GT6826102.30%
Radeon HD 38706114125.86%

Radeon HD 4850 X2

3DMark06 Professional 1.1.0 - 2560x1600 - HighScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X21247914.97%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X21231513.46%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI108930.36%
Radeon HD 4850 X210854 
GeForce 9800 GX2982910.43%
GeForce GTX 280870424.70%
Radeon HD 4870755043.76%
GeForce GTX 260728548.99%
GeForce 9800 GTX+606578.96%
Radeon HD 4850589684.09%
GeForce 9800 GTX577487.98%
Radeon HD 48305213108.21%
GeForce 9800 GT5045115.14%
Radeon HD 38704319151.31%

3DMark Vantage Professional

3DMark Vantage is the latest addition to the 3DMark series, measuring Shader 4.0 (i.e., DirectX 10) performance and supporting PhysX, a programming interface developed by Ageia (now part of NVIDIA) to transfer physics calculations from the system CPU to the video card GPU in order to increase performance. Mechanical physics is the basis for calculations about the interaction of objects. For example, if you shoot, what exactly will happen to the object when the bullet hits it? Will it break? Will it move? Will the bullet bounce back? Notice that we didn’t upgrade the PhysX to the latest version, which would make the physics calculations for CPU Test 2 to be made by the GPU instead of the CPU on NVIDIA video cards (since we aren't considering CPU or 3DMark scores this change wouldn't produce any increase in our results anyway).

We ran this program at three 16:10 widescreen resolutions, 1680x1050, 1920x1200, and 2560x1600. First we used the “Performance” profile, and then we used the “Extreme” profile (basically enabling anti-aliasing at 4x, anisotropic filtering at 16x, and putting all detail settings at their maximum or “extreme” value. The combination of 2560x1600 resolution with extreme settings didn’t produce reliable results according to the program, so we aren’t going to add them here. The results being compared are the “GPU Scores” achieved by each video card.

Radeon HD 4850 X2

3DMark Vantage Professional 1.0.1 - 1680x1050 - PerformanceScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X21169745.30%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI87258.39%
Radeon HD 4850 X28050 
GeForce GTX 28076954.61%
GeForce 9800 GX2699015.16%
Radeon HD 4870619329.99%
GeForce GTX 260589836.49%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2565142.45%
Radeon HD 4850479767.81%
GeForce 9800 GTX+449978.93%
Radeon HD 4830422090.76%
GeForce 9800 GTX3805111.56%
GeForce 9800 GT3691118.10%
Radeon HD 38702977170.41%

Radeon HD 4850 X2

3DMark Vantage Professional 1.0.1 - 1920x1200 - PerformanceScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X2947249.05%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI65452.99%
Radeon HD 4850 X26355 
GeForce GTX 28061064.08%
GeForce 9800 GX2537918.14%
Radeon HD 4870488030.23%
GeForce GTX 260458238.69%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2433646.56%
Radeon HD 4850372570.60%
GeForce 9800 GTX+337088.58%
Radeon HD 4830330192.52%
GeForce 9800 GT2951115.35%
GeForce 9800 GTX2891119.82%
Radeon HD 38702269180.08%

Radeon HD 4850 X2

3DMark Vantage Professional 1.0.1 - 2560x1600 - PerformanceScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X2554232.05%
Radeon HD 4850 X24197 
GeForce GTX 280354918.26%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI348220.53%
GeForce 9800 GX2291044.23%
Radeon HD 4870272853.85%
GeForce GTX 260264058.98%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2238276.20%
Radeon HD 48502050104.73%
Radeon HD 48301837128.47%
GeForce 9800 GTX+1815131.24%
GeForce 9800 GT1638156.23%
GeForce 9800 GTX1557169.56%
Radeon HD 38701244237.38%

Radeon HD 4850 X2

3DMark Vantage Professional 1.0.1 - 1680x1050 - ExtremeScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X2840522.54%
Radeon HD 4850 X26859 
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI619510.72%
GeForce GTX 280600514.22%
GeForce 9800 GX2485841.19%
GeForce GTX 260453151.38%
Radeon HD 4870436057.32%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2356792.29%
Radeon HD 4850344599.10%
GeForce 9800 GTX+3201114.28%
Radeon HD 48302982130.01%
GeForce 9800 GT2741150.24%
GeForce 9800 GTX2703153.76%
Radeon HD 38701855269.76%

Radeon HD 4850 X2

3DMark Vantage Professional 1.0.1 - 1920x1200 - ExtremeScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X2691624.52%
Radeon HD 4850 X25554 
GeForce GTX 280473217.37%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI441525.80%
GeForce GTX 260357655.31%
GeForce 9800 GX2350858.32%
Radeon HD 4870349059.14%
Radeon HD 48502753101.74%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X22669108.09%
GeForce 9800 GTX+2399131.51%
Radeon HD 48302349136.44%
GeForce 9800 GT2136160.02%
GeForce 9800 GTX2038172.52%
Radeon HD 38701439285.96%

Call of Duty 4

Call of Duty 4 is a DirectX 9 game implementing high-dynamic range (HDR) and its own physics engine, which is used to calculate how objects interact. For example, if you shoot, what exactly will hapen to the object when the bullet hits it? Will it break? Will it move? Will the bullet bounce back? It gives a more realistic experience to the user.

We ran this program at three 16:10 widescreen resolutions, 1680x1050, 1920x1200, and 2560x1600, maxing out all image quality controls (i.e., everything was put on the maximum values on the Graphics and Texture menus). We used the game internal benchmarking feature, running a demo provided by NVIDIA called “wetwork.” We are putting this demo for downloading here if you want to run your own benchmarks. The game was updated to version 1.6. The results below are the average number of frames per second (FPS) achieved by each card.

Radeon HD 4850 X2

Call of Duty 4 - 1680x1050 - MaximumScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X2134.612.17%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI127.76.42%
Radeon HD 4850 X2120.0 
GeForce 9800 GX2106.212.99%
GeForce GTX 280105.313.96%
Radeon HD 487093.428.48%
GeForce GTX 26091.031.87%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X275.758.52%
Radeon HD 485072.465.75%
GeForce 9800 GTX+72.266.20%
GeForce 9800 GTX69.173.66%
Radeon HD 483065.882.37%
GeForce 9800 GT61.395.76%
Radeon HD 387043.0179.07%

Radeon HD 4850 X2

Call of Duty 4 - 1920x1200 - MaximumScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X2120.614.10%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI110.74.73%
Radeon HD 4850 X2105.7 
GeForce 9800 GX294.511.85%
GeForce GTX 28091.715.27%
GeForce GTX 26077.137.09%
Radeon HD 487076.438.35%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X261.372.43%
GeForce 9800 GTX+59.577.65%
Radeon HD 485059.178.85%
GeForce 9800 GTX57.783.19%
Radeon HD 483052.6100.95%
GeForce 9800 GT50.8108.07%
Radeon HD 387035.4198.59%

Radeon HD 4850 X2

Call of Duty 4 - 2560x1600 - MaximumScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X283.818.87%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI74.35.39%
Radeon HD 4850 X270.5 
GeForce 9800 GX264.88.80%
GeForce GTX 28064.88.80%
GeForce GTX 26053.531.78%
Radeon HD 487048.146.57%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X240.673.65%
GeForce 9800 GTX+39.777.58%
GeForce 9800 GTX38.384.07%
Radeon HD 485036.792.10%
Radeon HD 483033.4111.08%
GeForce 9800 GT33.3111.71%
Radeon HD 387022.4214.73%

Crysis

Crysis is a very heavy DirectX 10 game. We updated this game to version 1.2.1 and used the HOC Crysis Benchmarking Utility to help us collecting data. Since we don’t think the default demo based on the island map stresses the video card the way we want, we used the HOC core demo available with the abovementioned utility. We ran this demo under three 16:10 widescreen resolutions, 1680x1050, 1920x1200, and 2560x1600, first with image quality set to “low” and then with image quality set to “high.” Since all video cards achieved a number of frames per second below 10 at 2560x1600 with image details set to “high,” we are not including this test as the results aren’t reliable. We ran each test twice and discarded the first result, as usually the first run achieves a lower score compared to the subsequent runs since the game loses time loading files. The results below are the average number of frames per second (FPS) achieved by each card.

Radeon HD 4850 X2

Crysis 1.2.1 - 1680x1050 - LowScoreDifference
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X21258.70%
GeForce GTX 2801258.70%
Radeon HD 4870 X21204.35%
Radeon HD 4850 X2115 
Radeon HD 487010113.86%
GeForce GTX 2609916.16%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI9126.37%
GeForce 9800 GTX+9126.37%
GeForce 9800 GTX8436.90%
Radeon HD 48508436.90%
GeForce 9800 GX27553.33%
GeForce 9800 GT7553.33%
Radeon HD 48307455.41%
Radeon HD 38707161.97%

Radeon HD 4850 X2

Crysis 1.2.1 - 1920x1200 - LowScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X21193.48%
GeForce GTX 2801150.00%
Radeon HD 4850 X2115 
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X21086.48%
Radeon HD 48708436.90%
GeForce GTX 2608338.55%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI7651.32%
GeForce 9800 GTX+7651.32%
GeForce 9800 GTX6966.67%
Radeon HD 48506771.64%
GeForce 9800 GX26382.54%
GeForce 9800 GT6188.52%
Radeon HD 48306188.52%
Radeon HD 38705898.28%

Radeon HD 4850 X2

Crysis 1.2.1 - 2560x1600 - LowScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X210319.77%
GeForce GTX 2809510.47%
Radeon HD 4850 X286 
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X27121.13%
Radeon HD 48705362.26%
GeForce GTX 2605265.38%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI4975.51%
GeForce 9800 GTX+4975.51%
GeForce 9800 GTX4495.45%
Radeon HD 485043100.00%
GeForce 9800 GX242104.76%
GeForce 9800 GT39120.51%
Radeon HD 483038126.32%
Radeon HD 387035145.71%

Radeon HD 4850 X2

Crysis 1.2.1 - 1680x1050 - HighScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X25721.28%
Radeon HD 4850 X247 
GeForce GTX 2804211.90%
Radeon HD 48703727.03%
GeForce GTX 2603246.88%
GeForce 9800 GTX2962.07%
Radeon HD 48502962.07%
GeForce 9800 GTX+2962.07%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI2867.86%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X22680.77%
GeForce 9800 GX22588.00%
GeForce 9800 GT2588.00%
Radeon HD 48302588.00%
Radeon HD 387019147.37%

Radeon HD 4850 X2

Crysis 1.2.1 - 1920x1200 - HighScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X24720.51%
Radeon HD 4850 X239 
GeForce GTX 2803414.71%
Radeon HD 48703030.00%
GeForce GTX 2602650.00%
Radeon HD 48502369.57%
GeForce 9800 GTX+2369.57%
GeForce 9800 GTX2277.27%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI2185.71%
GeForce 9800 GX22185.71%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X22095.00%
GeForce 9800 GT2095.00%
Radeon HD 48302095.00%
Radeon HD 387016143.75%

Unreal Tournament 3

Unreal Tournament 3 is the latest installment from this famous first person shooter franchise, supporting DirectX 10 graphics when installed on Windows Vista with a DX10 compatible card. We upgraded Unreal Tournament 3 to version 1.2 and benchmarked it with the help of HOC UT3 benchmarking utility using the “Containment” demo, maxing out image quality settings (image quality at “high” and anisotropic filtering at x16). It is important to note that we haven’t applied the PhysX mod to this game, which would transfer PhysX processing from the CPU to the GPU on NVIDIA cards. The results below are the average number of frames per second (FPS) achieved by each card.

Radeon HD 4850 X2

Unreal Tournament 3 - 1680x1050 - MaximumScoreDifference
GeForce 9800 GTX11214.29%
GeForce 9800 GX210810.20%
GeForce GTX 2601068.16%
GeForce GTX 2801046.12%
Radeon HD 48701046.12%
GeForce 9800 GTX+1046.12%
Radeon HD 4850 X298 
Radeon HD 4850962.08%
Radeon HD 4870 X2962.08%
GeForce 9800 GT953.16%
Radeon HD 48308910.11%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X28416.67%
Radeon HD 38708318.07%

Radeon HD 4850 X2

Unreal Tournament 3 - 1920x1200 - MaximumScoreDifference
GeForce 9800 GTX10811.34%
GeForce 9800 GX21069.28%
GeForce GTX 2601036.19%
Radeon HD 4870981.03%
Radeon HD 4850 X297 
Radeon HD 4870 X2952.11%
GeForce 9800 GTX+943.19%
GeForce GTX 280916.59%
Radeon HD 4850898.99%
Radeon HD 48308218.29%
GeForce 9800 GT8021.25%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X27824.36%
Radeon HD 38707529.33%

Radeon HD 4850 X2

Unreal Tournament 3 - 2560x1600 - MaximumScoreDifference
GeForce 9800 GTX923.37%
GeForce 9800 GX2923.37%
Radeon HD 4870 X2912.25%
Radeon HD 4850 X289 
Radeon HD 48707814.10%
GeForce GTX 2607617.11%
GeForce 9800 GTX+6341.27%
GeForce GTX 2806243.55%
Radeon HD 48506048.33%
Radeon HD 48305367.92%
GeForce 9800 GT5271.15%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X25174.51%
Radeon HD 38704789.36%

Half-Life 2: Episode Two

Half-Life 2 is a popular franchise and we benchmark the video cards using Episode Two with the aid of HOC Half-Life 2 Episode Two benchmarking utility using the “HOC Demo 1” provided by this program. We ran the game in three 16:10 widescreen resolutions, 1680x1050, 1920x1200, and 2560x1600, under two scenarios. First with quality set to maximum, bilinear filtering and anti-aliasing set to x0. This configuration we are calling “low” on the charts and tables below. Then we maxed out image quality settings, enabling x16 anisotropic filtering and 16xQCS anti-aliasing. This configuration we are calling “high” on our charts and tables. We updated the game up to the June 9th 2008 patch. The results below are the average number of frames per second (FPS) achieved by each card.

Radeon HD 4850 X2

Half-Life 2: Episode Two - 1680x1050 - LowScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870170.06.25%
Radeon HD 4850164.93.06%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2160.40.25%
Radeon HD 4870 X2160.00.00%
GeForce 9800 GTX+160.00.00%
Radeon HD 4850 X2160.0 
Radeon HD 4830159.00.63%
GeForce GTX 260157.01.91%
GeForce GTX 280156.32.37%
GeForce 9800 GT156.02.56%
GeForce 9800 GTX153.84.03%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI151.05.96%
Radeon HD 3870145.79.81%
GeForce 9800 GX2136.816.96%

Radeon HD 4850 X2

Half-Life 2: Episode Two - 1920x1200 - LowScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870165.03.77%
Radeon HD 4850 X2159.0 
Radeon HD 4870 X2158.00.63%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2156.71.47%
GeForce GTX 280156.31.73%
GeForce 9800 GTX+155.02.58%
GeForce GTX 260153.03.92%
Radeon HD 4850149.86.14%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI149.06.71%
GeForce 9800 GTX146.98.24%
GeForce 9800 GT143.011.19%
Radeon HD 4830138.015.22%
GeForce 9800 GX2135.217.60%
Radeon HD 3870120.132.39%

Radeon HD 4850 X2

Half-Life 2: Episode Two - 2560x1600 - LowScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X2156.04.70%
Radeon HD 4850 X2149.0 
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI147.01.36%
GeForce GTX 280145.12.69%
GeForce 9800 GX2130.614.09%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2129.714.88%
GeForce GTX 260124.020.16%
GeForce 9800 GTX+119.025.21%
Radeon HD 4870117.027.35%
GeForce 9800 GTX107.938.09%
GeForce 9800 GT96.055.21%
Radeon HD 485093.958.68%
Radeon HD 483084.077.38%
Radeon HD 387072.8104.67%

Radeon HD 4850 X2

Half-Life 2: Episode Two - 1680x1050 - HighScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4850 X2158.0 
Radeon HD 4870 X2157.00.64%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI145.08.97%
Radeon HD 4870144.09.72%
GeForce 9800 GTX137.914.58%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2126.125.30%
GeForce 9800 GX2125.426.00%
GeForce GTX 260121.030.58%
Radeon HD 4850116.235.97%
Radeon HD 4830101.056.44%
GeForce 9800 GTX+94.068.09%
GeForce GTX 28089.376.93%
GeForce 9800 GT80.097.50%
Radeon HD 387068.3131.33%

Radeon HD 4850 X2

Half-Life 2: Episode Two - 1920x1200 - HighScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X2157.03.29%
Radeon HD 4850 X2152.0 
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI131.016.03%
Radeon HD 4870124.022.58%
GeForce 9800 GTX116.330.70%
GeForce 9800 GX2111.136.81%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X2106.542.72%
GeForce GTX 260101.050.50%
Radeon HD 485097.256.38%
Radeon HD 483085.078.82%
GeForce 9800 GTX+74.0105.41%
GeForce GTX 28070.3116.22%
GeForce 9800 GT63.0141.27%
Radeon HD 387056.8167.61%

Radeon HD 4850 X2

Half-Life 2: Episode Two - 2560x1600 - HighScoreDifference
Radeon HD 4870 X2130.020.37%
Radeon HD 4850 X2108.0 
Radeon HD 487075.044.00%
GeForce 9800 GTX71.351.47%
GeForce GTX 26061.077.05%
Radeon HD 485058.484.93%
Radeon HD 483051.0111.76%
Sapphire Atomic Radeon HD 3870 X250.6113.44%
GeForce 9800 GTX+ SLI46.0134.78%
GeForce 9800 GTX+39.0176.92%
GeForce 9800 GX237.5188.00%
GeForce 9800 GT36.0200.00%
GeForce GTX 28035.5204.23%
Radeon HD 387034.9209.46%

Conclusions

As expected, Radeon HD 4850 X2 achieved a performance level between Radeon HD 4870 and Radeon HD 4870 X2 and being faster than GeForce GTX 280. Since Radeon HD 4850 X2 and GeForce GTX 280 cost the same thing if you are saving money to buy a GTX 280 you may want to change your mind towards the new Radeon HD 4850 X2, which is today our recommendation on the very high-end segment. The only problem is, of course, price (remember that besides the cost of the video card you also need a video monitor capable of running resolutions like 1920x1200 or 2560x1600, otherwise buying a card like this doesn’t make sense). If you are an average user looking for a high-end video card with the best cost/benefit ratio, our recommendation stands with the regular Radeon HD 4850, which costs less than a half and will produce a performance that is considerable very high for most users.

Talking specifically about Sapphire’s model, we loved the fact that Sapphire decided to use its own cooler (very stylish, by the way) instead of using ATI’s reference model, which is heavy and heats a lot. We also liked the fact that this card comes with four video outputs instead of just two as usual.

You can see detailed numbers comparing Radeon HD 4850 X2 with all current high-end video cards available on the market today in the previous pages. Below we present a quick summary comparing Radeon HD 4850 X2 to the regular HD 4850, to HD 4870 and to GeForce GTX 280.

Compared to Radeon HD 4850, the new HD 4850 X2 was up to 105% faster (more than 100% is possible because the regular HD 4850 has 512 MB memory, while X2 has 2x 1 GB). The difference in performance on 3DMark06 was between 41% and 84%, on 3DMark Vantage was between 68% and 105%, on Call of Duty 4 was between 66% and 92%, on Crysis was between 37% and 100%, on Unreal Tournament 3 it was up to 48% and on Half-Life 2: Episode Two was between 36% and 85% when we maxed out image quality settings (with no image enhancements enabled, performance difference varied a lot depending on the resolution, at 1680x1050 we saw HD 4850 being actually 3% faster than X2, but X2 being 6% faster at 1920x1200; at 2560x1600 X2 was 59% faster).

Compared to Radeon HD 4870, the new Radeon HD 4850 X2 was up to 62% faster. Partial results are like this: between 18% and 44% faster on 3DMark06, between 30% and 59% faster on 3DMark Vantage, between 28% and 47% faster on Call of Duty 4, between 14% and 62% faster on Crysis and between 10% and 44% faster on Half-Life 2: Episode Two with image quality enhancements maxed out. We only saw a significant performance on Unreal Tournament 3 at 2560x1600, where Radeon HD 4850 X2 was 14% faster.

And finally compared to its main competitor, GeForce GTX 280, Radeon HD 4850 X2 was between 12% and 26% faster on 3DMark06, between 4% and 18% faster on 3DMark Vantage and between 77% and 204% faster on Half-Life 2: Episode Two with image quality enhancements maxed out (with image quality settings disabled both cards achieved the same performance). On Unreal Tournament 3 we only saw a significant performance difference at 2560x1600, where Radeon HD 4850 X2 was 43% faster.

The only time GeForce GTX 280 was faster than Radeon HD 4850 X2 was on Crysis with low image quality settings at 1680x1050 (9% faster). At 1920x1200 both cards achieved the same performance and at 2560x1600 Radeon HD 4870 X2 was 10% faster. With image quality set at “high” Radeon HD 4850 X2 was between 12% and 15% faster.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Sapphire-HD-4850-X2-Video-Card-Review/645


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