Mid-range system setup
|Graphics cards||Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 512MiB||Sapphire Radeon HD 3870 512MiB||Sapphire Radeon HD 3850 512MiB||BFG GeForce 9800 GTX 512MiB||MSI GeForce 8800 GTS 512, 512MiB||Palit 8800GT 512MiB||Inno3D 9600 GT 512MiB|
|Current pricing, including VAT||TBA (£125?)
|GPU clock speed (MHz)||TBA||702||777||675||650||600||650|
|Shader clock speed (MHz)||TBA||702||777||1,688||1,625||1,500||1,625|
|Memory clock speed (MHz)||TBA||1,656||2,252||2,200||1,940||1,800||1,800|
|Memory bus width (Bits)||256|
|CPU||Intel Core 2 Q6700 LGA775 (2.66GHz, 8MiB L2 cache, quad-core)|
|Motherboard||ASUS P5K Premium Deluxe WiFi-AP (Bearlake P35)||eVGA NF68 (nForce 680i SLI)|
|Mainboard software||Intel Inf 126.96.36.1996||NVIDIA device driver 15.08|
|Memory||4GiB (2x 2GiB) DDR2-1066|
|Memory timings and speed||5-5-5-15 2T @ 1,066MHz|
|PSU||Enermax Galaxy DXX 850W||Gigabyte ODIN GT 800W|
|Monitor||Dell 24in 2405WFP - 1,920x1,200|
|Disk drive(s)||Seagate 160GiB SATAII (ST3160812AS)|
|Graphics driver||CATALYST 8.6 (press driver for HD 4850)||NVIDIA ForceWare 175.16|
|Operating system||Windows Vista Business, 64-bit|
|3D Benchmarks||Company Of Heroes: Opposing Fronts v2.103: DX9 - high
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars v1.2 (demo_00010.dem, map Valley): OpenGL - medium quality
Lost Planet: Extreme Condition v1.004 built-in benchmark: DX10 - medium quality
Crysis v1.2.1 custom-recorded benchmark: DX10 - medium quality
Futuremark 3DMark Vantage b1.0.1 - default test
NotesWe're running the Radeon HD 4850 512MiB under both our mid-range platform, detailed above, and with our high-end setup, shown on page seven.
The reason for running two platforms and comparing it against different cards lies squarely with the price.
At a guesstimated £125, the pricing is decidedly mid-range, so why should we look at against, say, a GeForce GTX 280, costing nearly four times as much? Knowing this, comparing mid-range performance, with mid-range settings, against the likes of stock-clocked GeForce 8800 GTS 512, 8800 GT, and 9600 GT makes sense, as well as adding ATI's own previous-generation HD 3870 and 3850 cards.
But the intrinsic nature of the Radeon HD 4850, which we'll go into serious detail on Wednesday, means that it punches well above its financial weight, so much so that NVIDIA's been obliged to reduce the pricing of its GeForce 9800 GTX from around $290 to $199 (£179 to £125). We'll see this price-drop rolled into etailers' catalogues at the end of next week. This is precisely why we've added the BFG card, currently etailing for around £179, to this mid-range line-up.
Our mid-range settings run the benchmarks at 1,280x1,024 (720 for Lost Planet) and 1,680x1,050, with mid-level image-quality enhancements on everything bar Company of Heroes. Our high-end platform, more for comparison's sake than financial parity, extends the resolutions to 1,920x1,200 and 2,560x1,600, with high-level I.Q to boot. A £125 card shouldn't do too well there, but HD 4850 shows promise. Remember, you can't cross-compare, say, Enemy Territory 1,680x1,050 4xAA 16xAF performance between the two setups; one runs mid-level quality and the other high-level quality settings.
Got all that?