Sapphire 4850x2 2GB PCIe Graphics Card
Well, what can I say that the benchmarks haven't already shown. Blistering performance coupled with cool running and swish looks are the order of the day for the Sapphire 4850x2. With a competitive price tag, Nvidia have a lot to worry about as this card beats it's current flagship model with relative ease without being too much more expensive.
As usual, ATI and more specifically in this case Sapphire, have some driver issues to iron out. Failing to run Vantage, Crysis and GRID without throwing up a load of glitches and texture anomalies is not acceptable. I do get the feeling that this model was rushed out despite its huge delays in production, in anticipation of Nvidia's GTX295. While the product performs amazingly in some titles, it falls flat on its face in others. Hopefully, this will be sorted with future driver revisions (for which you will have to rely on Sapphire for).
Overclocking is good for a dual card of this nature and cooling is very good, even when under load. This however, comes at a cost and is perhaps the cards biggest deficit. The noise this card produces is crazy. It will hum away happily when idle but when you fire up something a little more demanding than your favourite Internet browser, the 4850x2's fans wind up to such a speed as to disrupt the space/time continuum and reports have been heard of dogs howling across the other side of the planet due to the incandescent whine of the 4850x2. Well, of course it's not quite that bad but believe me it is loud, louder than almost every card on the market today.
Consideration should also be made to the price, at £332.67 (Ebuyer), it is not far from 4870x2 territory and with the 4850x2's bigger brother having mature drivers with most of it's issues now ironed out, it would be hard for me to recommend the 4850x2 over that. The Nvidia GTX280 simply sails through everything we threw at it with no issues at all apart from it being quite considerably slower than the 4850x2 in some of the benchmarks we ran today. So where does that leave the 4850x2?
Driver issues aside, it nestles quite comfortably between the 4870x2 and the GTX280. If it were my money, for raw performance, I would save that little more and get the 4870x2. For trouble free gaming then single card setups are still king and this is where the GTX280 still reigns supreme. If the 4850x2 was a little lower in price, say sub £300, matching the GTX280 and the drivers a little more mature then I would not hesitate to award the 4850x2 our coveted gamers choice award. As it stands, with it's inflated price and driver issues, it will have to be content with the performance award.
- No working drivers included (Download from Sapphire)
- The noise
Thanks to Sapphire for providing the 4850x2 for today's review. Discuss in our forums.