MSI MR4850 512M Review
It isnít often that the arrival of one graphics card can shake up the entire industry, but thatís exactly what ATIís Radeon HD 4850 has done. While itís by no means the fastest single GPU available, the Radeon 4850 has completely shattered what youíd expect out of a $199 graphics card; the amount of performance it delivers is simply extraordinary. As a result of its introduction, GPU prices have fallen through the floor: the GeForce 9800 GTX saw its price slashed from $300 to $200 overnight, while the GeForce GTX 260 and GTX 280 have seen cuts of $150 and $200 respectively. In response to the Radeon 4850, NVIDIA has even prepped a new GeForce 9800 GTX+ SKU, and is now scrambling to move all their GPU production to TSMCís 55-nm manufacturing process in order to cut costs.
But as impressive as the Radeon 4850 is, it has one key weakness. In stock form, the card produces an extraordinary amount of heat.
Just how hot does the Radeon HD 4850 get? Some users have reported GPU temps in the 70-degree Celsius range at idle! The card itself runs just fine at these temps, but obviously no one wants to have a huge hotspot just sitting inside their PC. In addition, the effects of this over time have obviously been untested, as the Radeon HD 4850 has only been on the market for a little over a month now.
Besides dust buildup, excessive heat is one of the leading causes of most fan failures.
We saw this firsthand while benchmarking for our Radeon HD 4850/4870 Performance Preview article. We had to handle our cards with care after testing as the 4850ís copper heatsink will literally burn your finger if you touch it after a testing session. The boardís PCB gets pretty toasty as well.
Again, as we stated before, the Radeon HD 4850 seems to run fine despite these excessive temperatures. Weíve witnessed no artifacts or other graphical glitches with the card running at stock speeds over the course of our testing. But obviously there are users who would like to avoid this situation if they can. Already one user, Bretware on the Guru3D.com forums, has come up with a solution to the problem
, creating a custom profile that allows you to manually adjust the fanís RPMs to any ratio youíd like, from 0-100% speed (you donít want to hear the 4850ís fan running at 100%, trust us).
The only downside to this method is that you have to manually run the profile every time you start your computer, it isnít automatic. This is a huge hassle if youíre accustomed to dealing with fan sliders, if anything is even needed at all.
But what if you donít want to deal with the hassle of adjusting fan speeds, yet you still want good GPU cooling? Thatís where MSIís R4850 512M comes in. Rather than rely on the stock ATI heatsink/fan unit, the card has its own custom cooling. As weíre about to show you, MSIís cooler is significantly better than ATIísÖ