The Card

Being an early introduction in the market, the Extreme AH4850 could easily be mistaken for an AMD reference card. Other than the Asus label on the fan, there is very little distinguishing the two.

Like the previous Radeon HD 3850, the new Radeon HD 4850 uses a 55nm design. Despite of this ATI has not been aggressive with the core speed, clocking it at just 625MHz. The GDDR3 memory works at a more impressive frequency (2.00GHz) on this particular model. The Radeon HD 4850 features 800 SPUs along with 40 TAUs (Texture Address Units) and 16 ROPs (Rasterization Operator Units). All in all, these are extraordinary specifications for a graphics card that costs roughly $200 (even at launch as noted in our news last week).

Compare those specifications to the Radeon HD 3850 which features 320 SPUs along with 16 TAUs (Texture Address Units) and 16 ROPs (Rasterization Operator Units). Both the new Radeon HD 4850 and the older model use a 256-bit wide memory bus, while the newer Radeon enjoys a 20% increase in memory bandwidth.

Asus is shipping their Radeon HD 4850 with Qimonda ICs on-board (HYB18H512321BF-10 parts). These GDDR3 modules are already rated for 2.0GHz operation, so we don't expect to be able to push them much further.

The EAH4850 we tested used the standard AMD reference cooler which unfortunately did not seem adequate, using a single-slot design. Its biggest advantage is that the fan is very quiet, though this eventually worked against it. At idle the card sat at 71 degrees, which is far from acceptable, and under load temperatures almost reached 90 degrees.

On the rear of the Asus Extreme AH4850 you have the standard S-Video along with dual DVI outputs. The DVI output supports a dual-link or single link interface for resolutions up to a staggering 3840x2400. There are also a number of cables supplied with the card which will help in using some of these features.

The Extreme AH4850 comes in a graphics card box that is slightly smaller than we are used to, though it still included all the typical cables and connectors. Once inside the box the user will discover a few CDs, an HDMI adapter, cables and the user’s manual. Asus has bundled the Radeon HD 4850 with a number of branded software tools: Asus Splendid, Asus GameLive Show, Asus GameReplay, Asus GameFace Messenger and Asus OnScreenDisplay (OSD).