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piotke 3rd October 2008 10:47

HIS Radeon HD 4850 IceQ 4 TurboX graphics card
We like the HIS Radeon HD 4850 IceQ 4 TurboX, we like it a lot in fact. It combines one of, if not the best third party cooling solutions we've tested with a healthy factory overclock and a custom-designed PCB that builds upon the reference design's power circuitry in particular. As you know, we're not particularly impressed with the stock cooler on the Radeon HD 4850 – it's not that it is a bad design, per se, it just doesn't do a good enough job of keeping the card cool without being a little on the noisy side. Without a doubt then, if you're in the market for a Radeon HD 4850, we'd recommend looking at one with an after market cooling solution.

The one thing we haven't really touched upon until now is the card's price – in the UK, it will set you back around £135 including VAT. Sapphire's Radeon HD 4850 Toxic Edition graphics card, which features the Zalman VF900 dual heatpipe GPU cooler, shot up in price soon after we reviewed it but it has since settled back down again. We've found it on sale for around the same price as the HIS Radeon HD 4850 IceQ 4 TurboX but in this case we think the HIS product is better equipped for the enthusiast – the IceQ 4 cooler is just overall a better design in our opinion.

So, on the face of it, the HIS Radeon HD 4850 Ice Q 4 TurboX is pretty good value for money considering what you get, but we'd like to see it a little cheaper, even if it's only by about five to ten pounds. You see, Powercolor's Radeon HD 4850 PCS+ is available for just over £120—albeit without a bundle—and that also has a pretty good third party cooling solution. But it's again not as good as the IceQ 4 cooler on this card from HIS.

Ultimately, if you're looking at a Radeon HD 4850 and the heat generated by the stock cooler is a concern of yours, it's going to come down to what's most important to you. You could spend £120 on a card that doesn't come with a bundle, but features a pretty good (and very quiet) cooling solution, or you could opt for the HIS Radeon HD 4850 IceQ 4 TurboX at £135.

The latter features what we think is a better all round cooling solution, because not only is it at least as quiet as the PCS+ cooler, but it also blows heat generated by the card out the back of your case – that's something you can't say about either Powercolor's or Sapphire's custom-cooled cards. What's more, the IceQ 4 TurboX comes bundled up in a retail box unlike the Powercolor and to some that's an attraction. The question is whether it's worth an extra £15 for all of this and that's debatable in the grand scheme of things.

Alternatively, you can go it alone and buy one of the cheaper stock-cooled Radeon HD 4850s and an after market cooler like Akasa's AK-VC03, which retails for around £17.50. The total cost would come to around £120, including VAT, but it means potentially voiding your warranty. What HIS really needs to do is make this option an unattractive one, but right now it just doesn't seem to be that way.

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