The HIS HD 4850 IceQ 4 TurboX is HIS' take on the ATI Radeon HD 4850 Toxic Edition, with improved specifications.
The standard ATI Radeon HD 4850 was first launched five months ago, but within weeks Sapphire had unveiled an improved version - the Toxic Edition - that built considerably on the basic 4850.
In the Toxic, the default core clock speed was upped from 625MHz to 675MHz, while the memory clock speed had jumped from 993MHz (1,986MHz DDR effective), to 1,100MHz (2,200MHz effective).
These increased speeds were partly the result of Sapphire replacing the basic cooling system on the reference card with a sophisticated Zalman cooler. Not only did the latter do a better job of cooling (allowing them to run at higher speeds), but its quiet operation importantly meant less noise.
The Toxic Edition of the Sapphire is hard to come by now, but HIS has released its own take on the original 4850. Using the IceQ designation (reserved for HIS' best versions of its cards), this HIS HD 4850 IceQ 4 TurboX improves on even those specifications of the Sapphire Toxic - increasing the core speed from 675MHz to 685MHz - while the cooling system works beautifully using a sophisticated mix of heatpipes, enhanced and isolated heatsinks, and a dual-slot design that efficiently channels hot air out of the case.
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HIS HD 4850 IceQ 4 TurboX: HD 4850 reloaded
The 4850, in its own right, is a very decent graphics chip. Its 800 stream processors and 256bit memory interface allow for good frame rates, and ATI's support for DirectX 10.1 continues to be an improvement over nVIDIA's DirectX 10.0, even if only a theoretical one - few games take advantage of the extra techniques offered by 10.1. A healthy 512MB of GDDR3 as provided with the HIS HD 4850 IceQ 4 TurboX.
The card has two DVI ports as standard, and an HDMI adaptor is included should you want to tap into the 4850's 1080p capabilities. A longer warranty would be nice but otherwise HIS has done a good job with the HIS HD 4850 IceQ 4 TurboX.
On performance, the IceQ is, unsurprisingly, the fastest version of the 4850 we've seen yet. Admittedly, the difference between this and the Sapphire Toxic Edition is never more than 2fps (frames per second). This, then, means that the 4870 remains about 10-15 percent faster, although that card does cost 33 percent more. The 4850 is already the best balance of price and power in the £150 category. The HIS overshoots this price by just £2 but remains an excellent card for those who want good frame rates without a high asking price.