Gigabyte Radeon HD 4850 1GB Passive Review

by Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig     |     April 14, 2009

Gigabyte Radeon HD 4850 1GB Passive Review

Manufacturer Product Page: GIGABYTE GV-R485MC-1GI
Product Number: GV-R485MC-1GI
TechWiki Info: Gigabyte Radeon HD 4850 1GB
Availability: Now
Warranty: 3 Years
Price: Click here to compare prices

We all know the HD 4850 as the little brother of the faster HD 4870 and the distant sibling of the new HD 4890 but while ATI’s lineup has been expanding, the runt of the RV770 litter has been maturing. While reference-based versions of the HD 4850 still exist and remain quite popular, ATI has been pushing their board partners to come up with new and innovative ways of marketing the HD 4850. Some companies left well enough alone and continue to sell a lone HD 4850 512MB SKU but many others have given the design a frontal lobotomy. We now have HD 4850 cards which are pre-overclocked or sport non-reference cooling designs or even incorporate a custom PCB for up to 1GB worth of memory. Some even incorporate a little of everything and really push the limits. It is one of these more extreme cards we will be looking at today.

They say variety is the spice of life and companies like Gigabyte with their HD 4850 1GB have taken that saying to heart. While releasing stock cards is fine and dandy, in order to get people talking about your product you need to find something for them to talk about, something that stands out. In the past Gigabyte rested on their laurels, seemingly content to ply their trade in the mom and pop shops with rebadged reference cards but lately, things have really changed. Not only does the GV-R485MC-1GI sport slightly increased clocks and a 1GB framebuffer but it is also equipped with a passive cooling system. As you will see as the review goes on, the boys over at Gigabyte have really stepped up to the plate with their take on the HD 4850 and have produced a card to be proud of.

If there is one thing we would like to mention from the getgo it is the fact that there is precious little information available about this particular graphics card. While pricing seems to be well within our expectations (between $10 to $20 USD more than the reference versions), trying to find accurate specifications for it is a lesson in futility. Unfortunately, Gigabyte’s site has every bit of information you could possibly need…except the clock speeds the vast majority of us will be looking for when choosing whether or not to buy this card. While we will go into a little more detail about actual speeds within the review, their omission from Gigabyte’s site is puzzling.

Where these custom cards are usually granted limited edition status, it seems that the GV-R485MC-1GI is widely available from Canadian retailers for about $210CAD. That price should definitely cause quite a few silent PC enthusiasts to sit up and take notice. On the other hand, Gigabyte’s 3 warranty is pretty much in line with other ATI partners but pales in comparison to XFX’s Lifetime Warranty even if 3 years is longer than the majority of you will keep this card.

From the outside looking in, Gigabyte’s HD 4850 1GB seems to offer quite a bit in a relatively inexpensive package. Can it deliver? Let’s find out.


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