Sapphire Radeon HD4850 Toxic
Conclusion on Linux Benchmarks
With the release of the Catalyst 8.8 driver for Linux, I am seeing the optimizations I spoke of in my review of the Sapphire Radeon HD4850. AMD engineers initially told me that the HD4850 had not been optimized for Linux in the 8.7 driver. Now, however, there's a different story to be told. Performance has been increased, and now I'm seeing a level playing ground between nVidia and ATI cards.
Granted, the Catalyst drivers have not yet been open sourced, the performance granted by the new release is very much a welcome change. Opening up better performance from videocards in Linux is one step closer to having Linux recognized as a valid gaming platform. Of course, one might wonder how scary it would be if the next iteration of the XBox was running Linux by default.
Thermal Performance and Sound
One of the things that pestered me most about Sapphire's stock Radeon HD4850 was the thermal performance and sound generated by the fan. Before upgrading the firmware, the card ran at a sweltering 77°C; under load before updating the firmware. After updating the firmware, cooling performance significantly increased, but the sound still seemed to be a slight issue.
Such is not the case with the Radeon HD4850 Toxic, which the Catalyst Control Center reports to run at 40°C at idle, and a mere 52°C under full load. These are quite spectacular temperatures to be sporting with an overclocked card that does tend to run hot. Although despite these temperatures, I don't recommend touching the card or RAM heatsinks, as they still carry a decent amount of heat.
The addition of the Zalman GPU cooler is not only a great move for cooling, but also for sound. In the entire time this card was installed in my system, I could be never tell it was running. The only sounds I could distinguish were that of my power supply and CPU fan.
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