Maximum PC Staff Jul 23, 2009

PowerColor Radeon HD 4850

At A Glance


Complete array of outputs. Great price/performance ratio. Quiet enough for home-theater setup.


Falls just short of our minimum performance requirements.

A solid value, especially for a home-theater PC

Whereas AMD’s Radeon HD 4830 resembles a Radeon 4870 after a partial lobotomy, the Radeon HD 4850 that sits between these two cards comes with a full complement of 800 stream processors. But don’t make the mistake of thinking you can overclock a 4850 board to achieve the same performance as one based on the 4870: The latter uses GDDR5 memory while the former is limited to GDDR3.

We never thought we'd give even a qualified recommendation to a $130 videocard, but we can give this one a thumbs-up.

PowerColor nudged this card’s core clock speed a wee bit to 635MHz (10MHz above stock), but left its 512MB of memory running at a stock 993MHz. Here again, PowerColor attached a decidedly non-stock cooler to the GPU and memory, though it proved to be quieter than the larger fan on its Radeon HD 4830 board. In addition to a dual-link DVI port, PowerColor provides both an HDMI port and a DisplayPort connector on the mounting bracket—the only card in this roundup to offer such a complete array of outputs.

Delivering higher benchmark results at a street price that’s $20 lower than EVGA’s GeForce 9800 GT, PowerColor’s implementation of the Radeon HD 4850 delivers an excellent price/performance ratio. The card falls just short of our minimum performance requirements for Far Cry 2 and Crysis, but it turned in a great performance with CoD 4. Its quiet nature and native HDMI support render it worthy of consideration for a home theater.

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PowerColor Radeon HD 4850

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