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Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 X2 2GB
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by Rob Williams on January 7, 2009 in AMD-Based GPU

If you game at ultra-high resolutions and want to know where the best bang for the buck can be found in graphics cards, look no further than Sapphire’s dual-GPU HD 4850 X2. At $300, it’s priced-right and offers incredible performance regardless of whether you prefer high anti-aliasing settings or resolutions.

Half-Life 2: Episode Two

The original Half-Life 2 might have first seen the light of day close to four years ago, but it’s still arguably one of the greatest-looking games ever seen on the PC. Follow-up versions, including Episode One and Episode Two, do well to put the Source Engine upgrades to full use. While playing, it’s hard to believe that the game is based on a four+ year old engine, but it still looks great and runs well on almost any GPU purchased over the past few years.

Like Call of Duty 4, Half-Life 2: Episode Two runs well on modest hardware, but a recent mid-range graphics card is recommended if you wish to play at higher than 1680×1050 or would like to top out the available options, including anti-aliasing and very high texture settings.

This game benefits from both the CPU and GPU, and the skies the limit. In order to fully top out the available settings and run the highest resolution possible, you need a very fast GPU or GPUs along with a fast processor. Though the in-game options go much higher, we run our tests with 4xAA and 8xAF to allow the game to remain playable on the smaller mid-range cards.

Results with HL2 are far tighter than any other game we test with, and it becomes the CPU that’s the bottleneck, not the GPU. Valve does a great job of making sure all of their Source-based games run well on most video cards, luckily for gamers.

Graphics Card
Best Playable
Avg. FPS
Sapphire HD 4850 X2 2GB
2560×1600, Max Detail, 8xAA, 16xAF
84.026 FPS
Palit HD 4870 X2 2GB
2560×1600, Max Detail, 8xAA, 16xAF
81.418 FPS
Palit GTX 280 1GB
2560×1600, Max Detail, 8xAA, 16xAF
61.437 FPS
Palit HD 4870 512MB Sonic
2560×1600, Max Detail, 8xAA, 16xAF
60.413 FPS
Palit HD 4870 512MB
2560×1600, Max Detail, 8xAA, 16xAF
56.572 FPS
Palit 9800 GX2 1GB
2560×1600, Max Detail, 4xAA, 8xAF
89.596 FPS
ASUS 9800 GTX 512MB
2560×1600, Max Detail, 4xAA, 8xAF
51.272 FPS
ASUS HD 4850 512MB
2560×1600, Max Detail, 4xAA, 8xAF
48.142 FPS
Gigabyte 9600 GT 512MB
2560×1600, Max Detail, 0xAA, 8xAF
52.297 FPS

Thanks to ATI’s 8.12 Catalyst drivers, which improved performance all-around, the HD 4850 X2 out-performed its bigger brother. That changes when the HD 4870 X2 is tested with the same drivers, but we were unable to deliver those results for this article due to time-constraints.


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