Gainward GeForce GTS 250 / XFX Radeon HD 4850 XXX

15. Overclocking/Thermal PerformanceOn Last Page


Conclusion

Gainward GeForce GTS 250 1 GB

The GTS 250 was subject to a barrage of negative press in the run up to its launch with a lot of rumours circulating that it was just a re-badged 9800GTX+. Whilst it does share the same core with the older part (and for that matter the 8800GTS) there are quite a few significant changes which improve the card. Firstly there is the reduction in size of the PCB which makes it better suited to small form factor PC’s or media systems. There is also a reduced power requirement which allows this card to run off a single PCIe power connector.

The GTS 250 also benefits from an additional 512Mb of memory which allows the card to perform better at higher resolutions or in the case of GTA4, allows the user to add extra detail.

Another aspect of the product we found impressive were the temperatures, especially when in 2D mode. 34c is very low by today’s standards and will help reduce overall system temperatures and as a result increase the lifespan of other components.

What we are all interested in though is the performance of the card, and how it fits into a market where we have some impressive products such as the XFX 4850 XXX. The GTS 250 performs at a level similar to an enhanced 4850 in many cases although it does tend to perform better in very demanding games, such as Lost Planet and at higher resolutions.

Of course we also have the benefits on an Nvidia card of CUDA and PhysX. For some time now we have been enjoying PhysX and as Mirrors Edge shows the technology can really improve the gaming experience. In terms of CUDA we have seen some great use of the functionality such as Badaboom which allows us to significantly reduce video encoding time. In addition to this we now have a hugely useful piece of software, CoreAVC, which allows us to play high definition MKV files without issue, regardless of the CPU installed in the system, all thanks to CUDA.

Summary
A very impressive mainstream card which performs well in gaming tests but also enhances the overall computing experience through the use of CUDA. We have yet to receive confirmed pricing on the Gainward 250 GTS but we have been informed that the release price should be around the £140-150 mark.

Prices to be confirmed
Prices to be confirmed

 

XFX Radeon 4850 XXX 512Mb

This is the third XFX Radeon that we have tested and it is without doubt the most impressive. It has a great looking colour scheme between the red DVIs and black PCB and the cooler looks good when compared to the standard ATI design. It is not just all about looks though as the thermal performance under load is exceptional, especially considering the low noise levels.

Gaming performance of the 4850 XXX is also very good and the card is able to keep pace with the more expensive GTS 250 and in some cases even manages to exceed it.

Another strong point for this product (and all recent Radeons) is the ability to function as a media card. Whether it is the excellent Blu-Ray acceleration or the ability to output video and 7.1 audio via HDMI consumers will not be disappointed… the icing on the cake would be if ATI can get MKV acceleration working (as Nvidia have).

Summary
The clock speeds on this XXX model are not quite as high as we would have liked them to be but performance is very good and the value aspect of the product is hard to beat. Additionally when we started testing these cards the retail price of the XFX 4850 XXX was around the £150 price point. In the last week it has dropped by £25 to £125 which is a significant saving. XFX also informed us that they are releasing a 1gb version of the card for the same price as the £140-150 250 GTS which should be slightly more competitive due to having an extra 512mb of ram onboard.

£125 inc vat from Dabs
$170 from Newegg

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