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Graphics cards Reviews
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AMD ATI Palit HD 4850 review

From around £130 inc VAT

Manufacturer: AMD

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

AMD's plan for the AMD ATI Palit HD 4850? Create an easily scalable GPU that can stack up on a single card, so if you need more horsepower, you have an affordable upgrade path.

AMD's plan for the AMD ATI Palit HD 4850? Create an easily scalable GPU that can stack up on a single card, so if you need more horsepower, you have an affordable upgrade path.

The battle beyond the graphics

Both GPU makers continue pursuing a card that does more than just paint a pretty picture. By releasing its CUDA SDK (software developers' kit), nVidia achieved a good head start in tasking the GPU with nongraphical tasks. That means it can promote this balanced computing model.

The general idea: you shouldn't need to blow money on a top-notch CPU when you can partner a midlevel one with a good graphics card. The results in some tests right now are fascinating - encoding video files at a pace at least twice as fast, or just being able to manipulate photos (and 3D images) faster.

Don't count out AMD. The company can now pull off many of the same tasks with some of the same programs. One telling example: Adobe was on hand at both nVidia and AMD demos to show how its new version of Photoshop will work better thanks to GPU acceleration.

While spokespeople are unable to say which graphics platform works better, the program at least provides one potential apples-to-apples test down the road. For now, the best shot for a fair comparison will be the full AMD-friendly client for the distributed-computing software called folding@home, when it's ready. That way, we can see how the software behaves on nVidia, AMD, and CPU-bound tests. Until then, it's a lopsided battle in nVidia's favour.

Then there's physics. nVidia may heavily tout the £250-plus GTX 200's built-in physics processors, but we're not yet seeing many developers using PhysX (that'll change soon, though). On the other end of the spectrum, AMD hedges its bets with partnerships. AMD has been talking about its GPU doing more than just graphics for ages, and recently the company announced that it is working with Havok's physics engine.

Is it just us, or is it interesting that the Intel-acquired physics software maker is now in bed with the other big CPU maker as well? Combine that with the fact that nVidia makes a strong case for not buying top-end CPUs and we're seeing a potential royal rumble brewing: do both Intel and AMD see nVidia as a common foe? But we digress.

NEXT PAGE: down to testing: the numbers game > >

See also:

Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 review


  1. AMD ATI Palit HD 4850 review
  2. The battle beyond the graphics
  3. The numbers game
  4. AMD vs nVidia, in the Test Centre

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AMD ATI Palit HD 4850 Expert Verdict »

800 stream processing cores (identical to the ATI Radeon HD 4870)
stock GPU core clock speed of 625MHz
512 MB of GDDR3 memory rated at 2 gigabits/second
single-slot PCI Express 2.0 configuration with a maximum board power of 110 watts
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

AMD manages to score solid hits with the AMD ATI Palit HD 4850, but ultimately the contest with nVidia is still too close to call. And so the fight goes yet another round.

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