ASUS Radeon EAH 4850 Matrix
Before we get started discussing the software that makes the ASUS Matrix cards so intriguing, weíre going to start by going over the easier topic, which in this case is actually the hardware itself.
ASUS Republic of Gamers EAH 4850 Matrix
The EAH 4850 Matrix is ASUSí answer to enthusiasts who have been craving a Radeon 4850 card with top-notch cooling. Unlike their previous Radeon 4850 cards, which have either relied on ATIís stock heatsink/fan unit or more traditional Orb-style coolers, the EAH 4850 Matrix features a dual-slot cooler with heatpipe cooling. More specifically, ASUS employs three separate heatpipes on the EAH 4850 Matrix.
The first two heatpipes can easily be seen when the card is viewed from above. As you can see, the middle heatpipe is located directly behind the ASUS logo and is the shortest heatpipe used on the card, while the first heatpipe is placed left of this heatpipe running as far as the second CrossFire connector on the graphics card, just behind the DVIs. The third heatpipe is absolutely massive, running from the GPU, up the ďSĒ in the ASUS logo, and then all the way around the back of the cardís fan; it nearly encircles the fan completely, coming to a rest just above the boardís memory modules. You can see this heatipe more clearly in these images:
All three heatpipes are composed of nickel-plated aluminum, while a copper base plate rests directly above the RV770 GPU to further aid in cooling. A long dual-slot aluminum heatsink is then used to keep the heatpipes cool.
A blower style fan is used to supply fresh air to the graphics card. Here we should note that the fan doesnít actually exhaust hot air outside your case. Because the cooler isnít completely enclosed, most of the air from the fan actually exits along the sides and top of the cooler, only a little bit of air actually manages to exhaust out the back of the card.
ASUS refers to the cooler as a ďHybridĒ cooler. This refers to its ability to run in 2D mode with the fan shut off completely. The fan will then crank back up when the card hits a certain temperature, or you load up a 3D application. Of course, in order for all this magic to happen you will need to install ASUSí iTracker utility which weíll be describing in more depth on page 4.
The dual-slot cooler isnít the only custom part of the 4850 Matrix graphics card. ASUS also employs their own unique board design that actually sports a cleaner board layout than ATIís reference board. The card also has a beefed up power delivery subsystem, with ASUS devoting 4-phase power to the GPU, and 2 power phases for the cardís memory. This 4+2 power design is the most robust weíve seen on a Radeon 4850 card: ATIís reference design features 2-phase power circuitry.
Moving around to the back plate of the 4850 Matrix we can see dual DVIs and a TV-out. Youíll also see that one DVI output is colored yellow, while a second one is the traditional white. Whatís the yellow connector for? ASUS recommends this connector be used with the bundled HDMI adapter, which is also colored yellow to make it easy to remember. The downside though to this DVI is that itís a single-link DVI output. This means when the card is hooked up to a high-end 30Ē monitor your max res is limited to 1280x800. Fortunately, the other DVI is dual-link.
Normally the Radeon 4850 ships with two dual-link DVIs.
By default, the card runs at the stock ATI reference speed of 625MHz on the graphics core, while the cardís memory is clocked at 993MHz. Technically, thatís 6MHz slower on the memory than other Radeon 4850 boards weíve tested. As weíll describe on page 4 however ASUS does provide an OCíed profile that clocks the card up to 660MHz, but youíll have to load their software in order to get it.
Hardware accessories bundled with the EAH 4850 Matrix include a DVI adapter, an HDMI adapter, component video cable, power adapter, and CrossFire connector. Neither Matrix card ships with a game bundle.