AMD was supposed to officially launch its Radeon HD 4800-series cards sometime next week, but after some European e-tailer jumped the gun and began to sell cards the company had no choice but to lift the NDA early on its latest-gen HD 4850 graphics cards – with the 4870 to get the lime light next week on June 25.

Coverage is already beginning to trickle in from around the web and the new card form AMD is shaping up to be a very impressive product. The 4850’s performance able was to match both the GeForce 8800 GT and the 9800 GTX in a bunch of major gaming titles, and with a price tag of $199 the card is cheap enough to be competitive in the market against Nvidia’s solutions. On the power consumption front the Radeon HD 4850 outshined Nvidia’s G92-based cards, which is what we’d expect from a smaller GPU based a 55nm fabrication process.

We'll have our own take on the Radeon HD 4850 in the coming days, but in the meantime you can read some early reviews at TweakTown (in CrossFire), PC Perspective, and techPowerUp.