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Review: AMD's ATI Radeon HD 4850 and 4870: bloodying NVIDIA's profits

by Tarinder Sandhu on 25 June 2008, 11:56

Tags: AMD (NYSE:AMD), Sapphire, ATi Technologies (NYSE:AMD)

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qanuu

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NVIDIA rolled out its next-generation GPUs last week. The range-topping GeForce 280 is an extension of 18-month-old GeForce 8800 GTX in many ways, with additional power coming from, in the main, a brute force approach.

Make no mistake about it, folks, GeForce GTX 280 is easily the fastest single-GPU graphics card/parallel computing device in mass production.

HEXUS isn't bowled over by its performance guiles for the simple reason that at £400+, it's just too expensive to recommend. What's more, it's riding off the back of old technology, no matter how good that is. Innovate or die, and NVIDIA's done little of the former.

Now, with future mid-range cards being derived from the 1.4bn transistor monster, we can make some educated guesses on the kinds of GPUs we'll see NVIDIA release in subsequent months. They'll be a little faster than the incumbent 9-series cards, on a pound-for-pound basis, but won't offer a whole lot more, frankly.

With ATI apparently bowing out of the ultimate single-GPU performance race, deciding to focus on value through leaner, cheaper-to-produce architectures, our analysis infers that it has an opportunity to land a to-the-knees hammer blow with its new mid-range GPUs, which should liberally use the guts of the decent sub-£100 Radeon HD 3870 as a starting point.

Today sees the official launch of the 4-series of Radeon HD cards. They herald the promise of superlative performance in the mid-range space, where a large proportion of cards are bought.

We've aggregated all that's been learnt into this one article, so if you've got between £125 and £175 to spend on a graphics-card upgrade, you'd be silly not to read this review.