As AMD has officially released the Radeon HD 4850 and 4870 today some more indepth reviews are rolling in. Lets take a look at some articles to see how these cards perform.
First up is a review from AnandTech, Anand concludes the Radeon HD 4850 is a great buy at $199 for the performance it delivers and says the Radeon HD 4870 performs at the level of the more expensive GeForce GTX 260. CrossFire results are a hit or miss, in some games it scales really well but in others the results aren't good. However, it seems two Radeon HD 4850 cards come close to the performance of a GeForce GTX 280 at a lower cost.
For now, the Radeon HD 4870 and 4850 are both solid values and cards we would absolutely recommend to readers looking for hardware at the $200 and $300 price points. The fact of the matter is that by NVIDIA's standards, the 4870 should be priced at $400 and the 4850 should be around $250. You can either look at it as AMD giving you a bargain or NVIDIA charging too much, either way it's healthy competition in the graphics industry once again (after far too long of a hiatus).
The biggest problem of the Radeon HD 4800 series is heat and noise:
The fans are kind of quiet most of the time, but some added noise for less system heat might be a good trade off. Even if it's load, making the rest of a system incredibly hot isn't really the right way to go as other fans will need to work harder and/or components might start to fail.
The noise level of the 4850 fan is alright, but when the 4870 spins up I tend to glance out the window to make sure a jet isn't just about to fly into the building. It's hugely loud at load, but it doesn't get there fast and it doesn't stay there long. It seems AMD favored cooling things down quick and then returning to quiet running.
Hot Hardware summarizes these cards by saying the Radeon HD 4850 is generally faster than a GeForce 9800 GTX and more or less on par with the upcoming GeForce 9800 GTX+. The Radeon HD 4870 on the other hand compares favorably to the GeForce GTX 260. The Radeon HD 4850 is available immediately but the site expects the Radeon HD 4870 won't be available in large quantities for a few more weeks. The reviewer also noticed both cards get very hot, the Radeon HD 4850 has an idle temperature of 80°C and the Radeon HD 4870 with its dual-slot cooler reached 77°C in idle. If you plan on buying these cards you better make sure your case has adequate cooling.
Last but not least is a review from The Tech Report, their conclusion is in-line with what most other sites write:
The RV770 GPU looks to be an unequivocal success on almost every front. In its most affordable form, the Radeon HD 4850 delivers higher performance overall than the GeForce 9800 GTX and redefines GPU value at the ever-popular $199 price point. Meanwhile, the RV770's most potent form is even more impressive, in my view. Onboard the Radeon HD 4870, this GPU sets a new standard for architectural efficiency—in terms of performance per die area—due to two things: a broad-reaching rearchitecting and optimization the of R600 graphics core and the astounding amount of bandwidth GDDR5 memory can transfer over a 256-bit interface. Both of these things seem to work every bit as well as advertised. In practical terms, what all of this means is that the Radeon HD 4870, a $299 product, competes closely with the GeForce GTX 260, a $399 card based on a chip twice the size.