We've become all too accustomed to watching release dates go by the wayside, only to wait weeks (or even months!) until a released product appears on store shelves. These paper launches are the bane of system builders anxiously anticipating an upcoming upgrade, and major kudos goes to AMD for releasing its HD 4850 almost a full week ahead of schedule ! First run batches come equipped with GDDR3 RAM with GDDR5 expected later this year, along with all the requisite goodies (CrossFire, PCI-E 2.0, DirectX 10.1). Mail-in-rebates have already started popping up, pushing pricing down to into $170ish territory. The ahead-of-schedule release comes just one day after Nvidia announced its 9800GTX+ refresh , which the company claims will outperform the HD 4850.