Last year, around November 2007, I decide to do major upgrade for my ancient PC which use Athlon XP 2500+, 512 MB Rams and ATI Radeon 9600XT. I bought Core 2 Duo, 2 GB Rams and GeForce 8600GTS. However, I merely dissapoint when my new PC (at that moment) can’t play latest game at highest setting @ 1440×900 resoultion. Even Need For Speed Prostreet can’t be maxed out. I was about…wtf. RM700 for GeForce 8600 GTS still not enough to run 2007 games at maximum setting..duh.
I stilll remember, when I bought ATI Radeon 9600XT (RM700 too), I can play all games (at that time) at maximum setting. I used to think that middle end 3D card will do fine for current games but they are not future proof, but 8600 GTS make me felt wasted.
Last month, I decide to buy ATI Radeon 4850 (Gigabyte with Zalman HSF) @ RM 575.00 only. A solid RM125.00 cheaper than my normal budget for 3D card. However, this card seriously make me smile all day long (even now actually). I can play any games (Crysis, FarCry2, Undercover, Grid etc etc….simply said…all games that I can throw to it) with maximum setting at 1440×900 resoultion. No problem at all. I still amaze how good this sub RM600 card could do and now I really appreciate DX10 and Games for Windows logo.
So, if you have RM500-600 to be spend on graphics card, look no more. ATI Radeon 4850 could be your best bet. I could say, it pawn GeForce 9800 GTX with ease. However, GeForce 9800 GTX+ could beat 4850 at certain games but GTX+ price already above RM750 for most brand.
I notice that, ATI Radeon perform very well in games which heavily utilize pixel shader (water effect for exampel) but GeForce card perform really good in heavy texture games. For example, most benchmark show 4850 could beat 9800 GTX+ in Crysis but 9800 GTX+ beat 4850 in Unreal Tournament 3.
Even though, with my old C2D processor and rather slow DDR2800 RAMs, I still able to play UT3 at maximum setting and maximum resolution for my 19 inch LCD monitor with ease.
Note : Some forumers complain that their 4850 could become really hot, touching 70 degree celcius. However, my Gigabyte Radeon 4850 with Zalman Fan, idle temperature normally 52 degree and barely touch 60 degree (heavy load).
I kinda love the supplied Gamers HUD which allow me to turbo boost (it actually 10% frequency overclock) with a touch of button. Under light load, it will automatically trigger 2D mode which will lower GPU running freq, thus consume less energy resulting less heat. Pretty nice for average consumer. (ATI also provide OverDrive function in their driver to manually overclock this card).
Drawback : Zalman fan a little bit noisy for certain people. With my previous 8600GTS, I can’t hear any fan noise when my PC turn on. In fact, I need to check PowerON LED to ensure my PC is switch ON of OFF. But now, with 4850 with Zalman Fan inside my LianLi Alu casing, I could hear its noise and need no more to stare that red powerON LED 😀
Final Word : I am not willing to do and publish a number of benchmark result as you could fine those result in trizillion of pages on Google. However, as my personal experience, I seriously satisfy with my purchase on this card. I have hard time to choose either 4670, 9600GT, 4830, 9800GTX, 4850 or 9800GTX+. I did a lot of homework for this purchase (as I don’t have tonne of cash to spend for a 3d card anually) and I found it worth every single cent. 4670 will cost around RM350 but the performance is somewhere 60% of 4850. Even 9600GT could pawn it. 4830 price is somewhere RM100 cheaper than 4850 but the performance penalty is more than that. 9800GTX+ at certain gain beat 4850 roughly at 10% but, the price different doesn’t justify…so in the end, I bought 4850.