When we first got word of the HD 6850 and HD 6870 we thought it would be a completely new card built from the ground up, but all it is, is simply a refresh with a little higher core speed, better efficiency, and some other added features. The weird naming scheme makes you think these cards would be the higher end cards, but they seem to be merely what is going to replace the current HD 5750 and HD 5770. This is not a bad thing for AMD though, this refresh not only brings them more press, but also gives them a wide variety of DirectX 11 cards, much more than NVIDIA. For those looking for the HD 6850 to be a replacement for their HD 5850 it really is not. Hopefully you don’t get too confused by the naming scheme, it should fade with time as the 6800 series of cards are released today.
This is a card for someone who is looking to upgrade from a lower-end card or is building a new system. Keep in mind it has a configuration of 960 stream processors and 48 texture processing units. Clock speeds of 775MHz for the core and 1000Mhz (4 Gb/sec effective). This configuration is very close to the 5850 configuration.
So what is new on this card? First you get a small 50Mhz boost on the GPU (775MHz compared to 725MHz on the HD 5850). This in our testing only gave us a small boost, 3-4 FPS in most cases. Also Sapphire has put a custom shroud and cooler on the card. If you look back at page 3 of this review you can see our temperature results. Other new features include the DisplayPort 1.2 specification, HDMI 1.4a. AMD’s HD3D, and UVD 3.0. Sapphire tells us a little about UVD3.0…
“Like previous generations, the SAPPHIRE HD 6800 series has an on board hardware UVD (Unified Video decoder) – this technology is now in its third generation, considerably reducing CPU load and delivering smooth decoding of Blu-ray™ and HD DVD content for both VC-1 and H.264 codecs, as well as Mpeg files, and now introducing support for Multiple Video Coding for Blu-Ray 3D.”
So what does it all come down to? Well the Sapphire HD 6850 is in what we like to call the sweet spot for gaming. If you purchase this card you will be able to play games in high resolutions with high setting and have good results. This is what most gamers are looking for.
This card will be available today at our favorite online retailer for $179, which also puts it in that sweet spot as far as the price goes. Overall ThinkComputers gives the Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 1GB Video Card a 10 out of 10 score and our Recommended Award!
– Lots of connectors
– Great performance
– Very quiet fan and good cooling
– Nice list of feature upgrades from the 5850
– None that I found