Review of Gigabyte HD 4850 SilentCell 1GB PCI-Express GV-R485SL-1GI graphics card

Summary: Gigabyte sent us one of their newest cards with interesting technologies such as “Ultra Durable VGA” and their passive cooler solution “Silent Cell”.


Gigabyte GV-R485SL-1GI



A couple of weeks back, we reviewed the GV-N285OC-2GI (NVIDIA GTX 285), a card placed at the “high end” extreme of the very wide range of GPUs available in the market.  Just last week we looked at a middle segment card from Zotac, the “Zotac GTS 250 AMP! 1GB“. The time has come to look at another middle segment card, this time with a GPU from AMD ATI.

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

I am very excited to start working on this review, mainly because it features two exciting technologies which are unique to some of Gigabyte’s cards, the “Silent Cell” passive cooling technology and the “Ultra Durable VGA” (UDV) technology. Let’s take a look at the specifications:


Gigabyte GV-R485SL-1GI

GPU

RV770 (Radeon HD 4850)

Shaders

800

Speed of GPU

640MHz

Memory

1GB GDDR3

Memory speed

960MHz (1,92GHz effective)

Bus width

256bits

Cooling system

Gigabyte Silent Cell

Video connectors

HDMI
DVI-I
VGA

Compatible with HDCP

yes

Compatibility with CrossFireX

yes

Slot

16 x PCI-E

Supported technologies

DirectX 10,1, Shader Model 4,1, UVD 2, ATI Stream, ATI PowerPlay, Ultra Durable VGA




FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Gigabyte has clearly put in a little extra effort on the retail box for this card. They are flirting with us consumers with their aggressive graphics silk printed on the box. As you can see they have placed a small window on top of the front side of the box, where you can preview the Silent Cell heatsink.


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When opening the box, we found the graphics card itself secured tightly in dampening foam as you can see from the image above. The accessories are found below the white dampening foam and we were not disapointed by the bundle Gigabyte provides with this package. Aside from the graphics card, Gigabyte have included a CrossFire bridge, a power adapter for feeding double molex to PCI-E pin (6 pins), a VGA-DVI adapter, a composite video adapter and of course the manual and CDs with drivers and applications.




GIGABYTE GV-R485SL-1GI IN DETAIL

Without a doubt, the most interesting thing about this card is its “Silent Cell” heatsink. It’s based on three 3 heatpipes of pure copper. The base of the heatsink is also based on copper but the heatsink itself is made of aluminum. One curious think we noted about this heatsink was its robustness, normally these kind of heatsinks are very fragile, but the Silent Cell is quite robust.



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As you can see from the images, the heatsink covers the PCB almost completely, but it is actually only attached to the GPU chip and not the memory modules. Altogether we have 8 modules of 128MB to make the total of 1GB. The memories are Samsung 1ns, which offers a nominal frequency of up to 1GHz, although Gigabyte don’t run them at that speed which means we have a little margin for improvements.



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Another outstanding feature of this card is its PCB, which is built upon the “Ultra Durable VGA” principles. The UDV technology uses almost double the normal amount of copper, which helps better lead the electricity and also improves on the cooling and general stability of the card. On the PCB we also find the 6 pin PCI-E  power connector and the connector for CrossFire mode.



Other connectors on this card are the VGA connector, the DVI connector and the HDMI connector. These three covers all you can think of both now and for the future. Of course it’s a question of saving money but it’s my opinion that all graphics cards should come with this setup of connectors.




THE TEST EQUIPMENT

OK, enough about the specs, let’s get this test going. But first, here’s the test setup we used:


Test equipment

Processor

AMD Phenom II 920

CPU Heatsink

Cooler Master Hyper N520

Motherboard

Sapphire PC-AM2RD790 – CrossFireX PUREE

Graphics card

Gigabyte GV-R485SL-1GI (Radeon HD 4850)

Soundcard

Auzen X-Fi Forte 7.1

Memory

Kingston HyperX DDR2 1066 2x2GB T1 Series

Hard disk

Samsgung SP2504C (SATA II, 7200rmp, 8MB)

Power supply

Zalman ZM660-XT

Case

Antec Skeleton




Operating system and software

Operating system

Windows XP SP3

System drivers

BIOS R7LS422
Catalyst 9.6
DirectX 9 (March 2009)

Benchmarking software

3D Mark 06
Furmark 1.7
Lightsmark 2008

Game testing

World in Conflict: Soviet Assault
Street Fighter IV
Crysis Warhead
X3: Meeting
X3: Terran Conflict
ET Quake Wars
Officers’ Club of Revolutionary Armed Forces Cry 2
Tom Clancy´s Hawx
WEAPON 2
Weak May Cry 4
The Last Remnant

Other software

CPU-Z 1.49
GPU-Z 0.4.3


We used three different resolutions, as well as 2 different configurations, one without filters and another with filters. In all scenarios we set the graphics quality setting to max. We also overclocked the CPU to 3,5GHz (250×14) and left the memory to 1000MHz.


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Gigabyte GV-R485SL-1GI



You can view screen shots from our settings above.




BENCHMARK RESULTS


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Just to get a grip of what the above graphs actually tells us, we can compare it to the result we had in our Sapphire Radeon HD 4770 review. As you can see the HD 4770 is a clear winner in 3D Mark 06, whereas in Furmark and Lightsmark Gigabyte HD 4850 has an advantage. We will just have to see what happens in the real gaming scenarios below.




GAME TESTING PART 1


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Gigabyte GV-R485SL-1GI


In this first part of the game testing, it becomes obvious that Gigabyte GV-R485SL-1GI is superior to the HD 4770. This might also indicate that the 1GB of RAM on the Gigabyte card is more important for the performance than the GDDR5 memory on the HD 4770 card.




GAME TESTING PART 2


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The second part of the game testing includes more demanding games which really puts the card to the test. Just as we noted in the part 1, the amount of memory proves important and gives the HD 4850 a slight advantage. But overall these two cards are more or less equals in these games.



As a general conclusion we have to say that Gigabyte was right to equip the HD 4850 with 1GB of memory. In very demanding games and when using filters, the extra performance is needed. I therefore conclude that with a tighter budget, if you have to choose, then go with the Radeon HD 4850 with 1GB of memory rather than a Radeon HD 4770 with 512MB of GDDR5.





OVERCLOCKING AND COOLING

We always overclock the hardware we are given to review and this review will be no exception. As I stated above, Gigabyte has left us with some room with the memory frequency. We overclocked the GPU with 80MHz and 90MHz for the memories, reaching 720MHz and 1050MHz for the GPU and memories respectively.

 

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We used the software Furmark 1.7 to realize the temperature measurements. The temperatures were measured in idle mode and after 30 minutes of full GPU load. We also did a temperature measurement with the stock clocking of the graphics card.


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Considering that this card has no active cooling component, the above results are very good. Although the temperatures in full load are high, they are not much higher than with similar cards using active cooling components (fans).




RESULTS OF THE OVERCLOCKING IN GAMES AND BENCHMARKS

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From the graphs aboce, we can see a considerable increase of the total score, as well as improvements in the SM2 and SM3 tests. The improvements in the gaming tests are also considerable, between 2 and 3 FPS in Crysis Warhead and between 3 and 5 FPS in Far Cry 2. Numbers that really are worth the trouble of overclocking.




CONCLUSIONS

This Gigabyte card is one of the more spectacular ones we have tested. I am of course referring to the passive cooling solution which is very different from the reference cooler. In my opinion this Gigabyte card offers a good performance/price ratio and has extra potential with its overclocking abilities. But what it really comes down to is that it offers us gamers a really good performance and still, we don’t have to listen to an annoying fan struggling to cool the card. The Ultra Durable VGA system from Gigabyte wasn’t really anything I noticed, but it feels safe that this technology should prolong the life of the card.



Another conclusion of mine is that Gigabyte is really making an effort to please us consumers by throwing in a lot of useful adapters and connectors with this bundle. And the price? The cheapest I could find from a reliable source at the time of this review was around $200. This is a bit over other 4850s in the market but then again, this card has a passive cooler and some other features worth the extra dollars.

 

 

 

Strong points Weak points

General quality

No remarkable one

Connectivity

Overclocking capacities

Silent Cell and Ultra Durable VGA technologies

 

Price

 


Gigabyte GV-R485SL-1GI (Radeon HD 4850)

Packing and accessories

1,5/1,5

Quality and finishing

1,5/1,5

Performance

2,5/3

Cooling (noise and temperature)

2/2

Overclocking

0,75/1

Price

1/1

Total

9,25/10

 

The final score is 92.5 out of 100 owls, and we give the “Gigabyte HD 4850 Silent Cell” our Editor’s Choice Award.

 

 

 

TestSeek Labs Editor's Choice 2009 Award

 

 

Don’t forget to check out some alternatives over at our graphics cards category.

 

Thanks goes out to Gigabyte.

 

Author: Manuel González Fernández

Translator: Vince Emiloz Sanderson


  1. lr16s
    September 16th, 2009 at 12:56 | #1

    Thanks for this article. Very nice card !
    Is it available now and where ?

  2. b1u3j
    September 19th, 2009 at 16:41 | #2

    i’ve been looking for this card as well. it was evidently released in april of this year, but i cant find it anywhere. the only one out there currently is the GIGABYTE GV-R485MC-1GI (from 2008) which uses the older multi-core heatsink without the 2oz of copper in the pcb.

  3. lr16s
    September 21st, 2009 at 13:55 | #3

    @b1u3j

    Same conclusion as me after several research to find this model…

    The question is, does it really exist ?
    F.y.i, is asked Gigabyte for a date of launch. The answer was : no date available today (08/30/2009)

    To the author of this article: please let us know if you have any idea…

  4. September 21st, 2009 at 22:55 | #4

    I can assure you it exists:)

    check out 5 more reviews of it at TestSeek

  5. Manuel González Fernández
    September 22nd, 2009 at 02:26 | #5

    Hi guys. This graphics cards exists, sure. I didn´t talk with Gigabyte about it, but I think that it will be released at the end of this year.

  6. lr16s
    September 22nd, 2009 at 13:07 | #6

    @ Manuel González Fernández

    Please, if you can talk directly with Gigabyte, would you mind asking them what is exactly the date of launch.
    It’s impossible to have any information from them on my side !
    the only response i have, once again is \no date at the moment\ (09/22/2009)

    I think they have some issues with this model … (did you have any pb during your test ?)
    in 2010 the 4850 will be totally obsolete…

  7. lr16s
    September 28th, 2009 at 07:20 | #7

    What’s up ?

    Any idea of this silent cell card availability ????????????????

  8. Manuel González Fernández
    September 28th, 2009 at 14:01 | #8

    I´ve talked with Gigabyte, but I don´t have the answer yet. Maybe at the end of this week…

  9. lr16s
    September 29th, 2009 at 00:10 | #9

    ok; Thank’s!

  10. lr16s
    October 5th, 2009 at 07:15 | #10

    Any news ?

    I’ve just heard about the launch of new Radeon HD 5700 that will replace current 4850 and 4870 … !

    Is 4850 silent already dead ? :-(

  11. firehorse
    October 7th, 2009 at 10:12 | #11

    Hi,

    I called gigabyte UK (07 Oct 09)
    The bad news is that they said the 4850 is already dead.
    The GOOD news is they are working on a silent 5850 AND 5870 that should be ready in a few months.

    Alan

  12. lr16s@wanadoo.fr
    October 9th, 2009 at 23:51 | #12

    Thank you Firehorse.

    Why did they provide these cards for testing since june of this year ?

    Very strange marketing strategy from Gigabyte …

    I won’t wait few weeks nore months, very bad news!

  13. Manuel González Fernández
    October 10th, 2009 at 16:34 | #13

    Hi guys, at this moment i have no answer…….Sorry

  14. Manuel González Fernández
    October 14th, 2009 at 05:08 | #14

    @Manuel González Fernández

    New information. Ultra Durable VGA and Silent Cell will be released together in other Gigabyte´s products in the future.

    Bye

  15. mark
    October 29th, 2009 at 11:48 | #15

    great, fantastic..

    Uh, where do you buy it, can’t find it anywhere at this time…

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