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ATI 4850: to upgrade, or not to upgrade?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:30 am
by dragonfire
Hi all,

I bought a 4850 last year, put an Accelero S1 and a 500rpm fan on and haven't touched it since. It's dead silent, rock stable, and plays all my games flawlessly at 1920x1200.

A family member is buying a new pc and is willing to take my 4850, so I have the option of getting a new card for free. Either the 5750 or the 5770.

I'm attracted to the lower idle power and the eyefinity 3x monitor support from the 5xxx generation. However, I'm always scared of fixing something that isn't broken...

My questions are:

- Is the 5750 as stable as my 4850 has been? (are the drivers stable)

- Can I install my S1 and make 5750 silent?

Any/all advice is appreciated.


Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 12:36 pm
by flinx
The problem with EyeFinity is that if you're going to use it, you'll want a pretty heavy duty video card to begin with. The 5770 would be fine for say, WoW, but for anything else that would actually support it (i.e. new games), you'd want a 5850 minimum - preferably 5870. Considering the cost of 3 monitors, it's actually kind of silly to skimp on the video card if you're going for a multi-monitor gaming setup.

Driver wise, there are still some glitches with the 5xxx cards, but they're perfectly usable. I can't answer about the S1 and the 5750, so someone else will have to step up to the plate for that. You might have to get a single-slot card. If you can trade up from the 4850 to the 5770 that seems to be the best option though, since you gain a bit of performance as well as a colder card.

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 12:52 pm
by dragonfire
Oooh, I should have been more clear. I need 3 outputs (2 monitors and occasionally a LCD tv for watching movies). I don't think I have any games that could even take advantage of multiple monitors.

Thanks so much for the advice. I've heard about problems with the drivers, and I'm glad they haven't been an issue for you.

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 5:48 pm
by flinx
Well if you seriously need the 3 monitor output, I hope that at least one of those monitors has displayport, since otherwise you'll need to buy a $99 converter from displayport to hdmi/dvi.

Driver wise I have the following problems with my 5870:

1. GPU scaling is always activated, so if I run a game in say 1440x900, the card never outputs that. Instead it'll output 1920x1200 (native resolution for my monitor) and then scale the image based on method selected in the CCC settings. This means you can't use your display to actually do any scaling instead if you wanted to.
2. The bios of my card normally has 400/900 selected as the low power mode, but if I overclock the card using the CCC, this gets overwritten to 150/300, and I get graphics glitches on my desktop. If I run a game however the GPU usually has a high enough load it doesn't go into low power idle mode.
3. GPGPU doesn't work with anything at the moment, so if you want to accelerate say video encoding, it's a no-go.
4. WMV acceleration doesn't work either, but then it pretty much never has. It probably works for VC1 on Blu-ray, but forget it for Windows Media Player

None of these are showstopping bugs though - I'm sure #1 and #3 on that list will be fixed at some point. #2 is simple to avoid just by not overclocking the card, and I can probably change the profile for it so that low power mode doesn't get underclocked too badly. #4 is more a peeve than anything, since I have the CPU power to decode pretty much anything in existence to begin with.

Posted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 7:07 am
by dragonfire
Great points! Thanks so much.

One of my monitors is displayport capable (Dell 2408wfp), so that's fine.

You're right, the problems all sound like annoyances, but aren't show stopping. Out of curiosity, does your desktop glitch at all at stock settings?


Posted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:38 am
by zyrobs
flinx wrote:2. The bios of my card normally has 400/900 selected as the low power mode, but if I overclock the card using the CCC, this gets overwritten to 150/300, and I get graphics glitches on my desktop. If I run a game however the GPU usually has a high enough load it doesn't go into low power idle mode.
The low power mode is 150/300. 2d is 400/900, UVD is 550/something. 3d speeds are what you can set in CCC as overclock.

There is a driver bug where the cards get stuck in 400/900 mode, never lower, never higher. It has a workaround though. You should check if it's not this that makes you see 400/900 often (you may not notice it because a 5870 can run almost any game maxed out in half clockrate too).

GPGPU is there and has some working apps, but from what I hear, the main issue is that the SDK is godawful.

Posted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 10:55 am
by flinx
You're right about the driver bug, and I was wrong about the clock speed - it switches between 400/1200 and 850/1200. That's normal and "correct" behavior on my card - 157/300 doesn't really work as I get screen glitches. Some googling explains why - I have a dual-monitor setup: ... tcount=203

Some more searching reveals that this is a known problem and people have complained about it since November at least.

And no, GPGPU does not work. I tried using MediaShow Espresso for instance, and it doesn't utilize the GPU at all. I've tried other apps as well - no go. The chips are simply too new, as well as the drivers.

Posted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:15 am
by dragonfire
In case anyone is interested in the outcome, I decided to get a Sapphire VaporX 5770 that I found for sale on Newegg. Reviews indicated it would be silent, and this has essentially been my finding so far (I've had it installed for 2 days so far).

I'm happy so far, but I'll wait a few weeks before giving a full report / recommendation.

A side note, I think the most surprising thing when I replaced my 4850 was how much smaller the new card is. With a big P182 case, I never realized that the 4850 is actually build on a very long board.

Posted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 11:06 am
by Vetotat
So, how big is difference in noise between the VaporX-cooler and the 500rpm Accelero. I've got an HD4850 myself with Acc1 + 500rpm too, interested to hear your oppinion.

Posted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 12:14 pm
by Potenza
Since I have a Sapphire HD5750 Vapor-X and the difference with a HD5770 is minimal I can add some information about the general acoustics of these cards. The noise is clearly reduced compared to standard coolers. I did find it a bit noisy though. Via CCC manually lowered the rpm to 25% instead of 50%. Now the card is as good as silent.

On 50% I had 34° (idle), on 25% it's 36° (idle). Haven't tested the temps under load, but after this minor tweak I'm extremely happy with my Vapor-X.

Posted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 12:26 pm
by dragonfire
I'll echo that assessment. Under stock settings it idles at 40%, which is barely audible. Under load, I've seen it go up to 50%, which is more audible (don't let % fool you, this is around 1500rpm). Even still, it is very quiet, only audible with the case open. And no whining sound like the stock coolers, just a whooshing sound. I agree with Potenza, below 40% it is as good as silent.

I have considered manually configuring the fan speed, but I'm not entirely comfortable with a static low fan speed (at least not without more testing under load). I'd prefer a way to set idle to 25% and load to 40%, but this functionality isn't built into Catalyst Control Center. If anyone has software that lets me do this, please give a holler.

Overall, no change in the user experience from the Accelero / 500rpm fan. I still can't hear it at idle or when I play games. But I don't feel as secure of my silence as I did with the Accelero. I'm always worried that something will cause it to ramp up and it will get noisy. I'm learning to live with my fear though, and in a few weeks I'll probably have forgotten it completely. =D

Posted: Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:03 am
by dragonfire
Unfortunate update. It seems I spoke too soon. The fan has begun to emit a rattle sound that is present even at low rpm settings. It doesn't vary much with rpm, although other noises drown it out at high rpm.

Without any knowledge of such things, I suspect a bearing in the fan. I can't think of anything else that would cause this sort of noise.

It is not loud, but it is noticeable and annoying. Obviously, something has to be done. I'm considering an RMA, but I'm not sure a replacement would be any better. If this card developed a rattle in a few days, the next could easily develop a rattle in days or months, and I'd be out the cost of shipping for the RMA.

Other option is an aftermarket cooler (which is annoying since I paid extra for the Vapor-X cooler). However, I'm not sure any good coolers exist for this card. I'd consider an Accelero L2 (not sure if this will be quiet enough) or an Accelero S1 with heavy modification.

Any advice would be helpful!