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Graphics cards Reviews
15,670 Reviews

AMD Radeon HD 6850 review

£159 inc VAT

Manufacturer: AMD

Our Rating: We rate this 4.5 out of 5

Don't be fooled by the AMD Radeon HD 6850's position on the 6800-series totem pole. It may occupy the lower end of the current pairing, but this graphics card is more than a match for the GPU it ostensibly replaces - and it gives even the beefier Radeon HD 5850 a run for its money.

Don't be fooled by the AMD Radeon HD 6850's position on the 6800-series totem pole. It may occupy the lower end of the current pairing, but this graphics card is more than a match for the GPU it ostensibly replaces - and it gives even the beefier Radeon HD 5850 a run for its money.

Priced at around £169, the AMD Radeon HD 6850 might not top the charts, but it achieves an excellent price-to-performance ratio that's sure to please frugal gamers.

Like the larger AMD Radeon HD 6870, the AMD Radeon HD 6850 is built on a new chip architecture, code-named Barts - a modified version of the Cypress chip architecture that powers the older Radeon HD 5850 and 5870 graphics cards. The new architecture cuts back on size, but still delivers performance in spades.

For a deep dive into the technical features of the Radeon HD 6800 series, be sure to check out Jason Cross's expansive overview.

Aesthetically, the AMD Radeon HD 6850 is nearly identical to (albeit a bit shorter than) the 6870. Both cards are equipped with AMD's Eyefinity Technology, which will allow you to drive as many as three displays from a single card, and they sport an array of connecters: a pair of DVI ports (one dual-link and one single-link), an HDMI port, and two mini-DisplayPort connectors (which require a pair of adapters in order to work).

On our synthetic benchmark tests, the HD 6850 thoroughly outperformed the Radeon HD 5770. Even more impressively, it doesn't lag too far behind the Radeon HD 5850, which costs a great deal more. On the Unigine Heaven benchmark, the HD 6850 consistently led the HD 5850 by 1 to 2 frames per second, thanks largely to the 6800 series' improved tessellation engine. Though synthetic benchmarks don't simulate real-world conditions, they provide a fair barometer of how competing GPUs stack up on certain parameters.

Games testing paints an even rosier picture of the 6850.It trailed the Radeon HD 5850 in performance, but not by much. The biggest gap was on Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., where the HD 5850 enjoyed an average advantage of 16 frames per second - but that's not bad with a healthy discount, and the gap shrinks once antialiasing is enabled.

Because the Radeon HD 5770 is a smaller card, it demands less power under full load: 200 watts, versus 219 watts for the HD 6850. On the other hand, the HD 6850 demands less power when idle - 102 watts, versus 105 watts for the HD 5770. And judged on overall power efficiency as gauged by performance per watt, the HD 6850 handily outscores the slower HD 5770.

See also:  Group test: what's the best graphics card?

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

See also: Group test: what's the best budget graphics card?

AMD Radeon HD 6850 Expert Verdict »

Graphics Engine: RADEON HD6850
Video Memory: 1GB GDDR5
Engine Clock: 775MHz
Memory Clock: 1000MHz (4.0Gbps)
Memory Interface: 256bit
DirectX Support: 11
Bus Standard: PCIE 2.1
Standard Display Connecors: DL-DVI-I/SL-DVI-D/HDMI/Display Port
Feature Support
OpenGL
CrossFireX Technology
ATI Stream Technology
ATI Eyefinity Technology
ATI Hypermemory Technology
VGA Output Via Adaptor
DL-DVI-I/ SL-DVI-D
DisplayPort
HDMI
TV Output/HDTV Output
HDCP Support
Maximum Resolution: VGA 2048x1536, DVI 2560x1600, DisplayPort 2560x1600, HDMI 1920x1200
215.9x111.2x38mm
Minimum System Power requirement (W): 450W
One 6-Pin PCI Express Power connector
  • Overall: We give this item 9 of 10 overall

AMD's Radeon 6850 may not lead the pack, but from a value standpoint, its price-to-performance ratio is tough to beat. And complementing its aggressive price tag is excellent gaming performance, which challenges even the impressive Radeon HD 5850. If your budget is tight but you refuse to skimp on performance, your graphics card has arrived.

  • Asus EAH 6850 DirectCU review

    Asus EAH 6850 DirectCU

    The Asus EAH6850 DirectCU is a mid-range graphics card that consumes less power and is less expensive than the Radeon HD 5850. It's got a custom cooler, too.

  • AMD Radeon HD 6870 review

    AMD Radeon HD 6870

    The AMD Radeon HD 6870 is the larger, more capable member of AMD's new 6800 series graphics card lineup. Reasonably priced, this midrange graphics card manages to outpace its closest relative - the Radeon HD 5850 - while doing minimal damage to your bank balance.

  • Asus ATI Radeon HD 5850 1GB review

    Asus ATI Radeon HD 5850 1GB

    The Asus ATI Radeon HD 5850 1GB is a mid-range graphics card aimed at gamers and 3D enthusiasts. It can be viewed as a more affordable alternative to ATI’s former top dog; the ATI Radeon HD 5870.

  • Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 review

    Sapphire Radeon HD 6850

    The Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 is an outstanding graphics card for the money.

  • HIS ATI Radeon HD 5770

    The HIS ATI HD Radeon 5770 takes much of the technology of the new 5800 series cards, but makes it available a lower price. Updated 12 August 2010.


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