AMD Radeon HD 6850 - great value graphics

AMD Radeon HD 6850 - great value graphics

Repositioned to the mid-range, it's the best-value mainstream card on the market

Price: $249
> Pricing info

AMD's latest aims for high-end performance at a very appealing mainstream price

The ATI Radeon HD 5850 was a high-end part that debuted at around $350. Despite winning awards, AMD believes it was something of an aberration, too expensive for most consumers despite its excellent benchmark results. Thus, at just $249, the new HD 6850 marks a return to the all-important “sweet spot”.

It’s not just cheaper than last year’s model; it also features a redesigned and optimised architecture. The main change concerns the arrangement of stream processors. While the HD 5800 cards had a single complex processor with four simple “slave” shaders, AMD has done away with slave shaders entirely and instead packaged a quartet of complex cores together.

While this means the HD 6850 has only 960 stream processors compared to the 1600 of the HD 5850, each quartet can handle more complex tasks in a more efficient manner. It’s a change that AMD hopes will allow its cards to do more with less.

The rest of the HD 6850 is conventional, with 1.7 billion transistors – 400 million fewer than the HD 5850 – and a 775MHz core clock. One gigabyte of GDDR5 RAM runs at 1000MHz, and there’s a 256-bit memory bus.

These refinements made for some interesting results in our Crysis benchmarks. An average of 33fps in our 1920 x 1080 Very High benchmark is four frames faster than the Nvidia’s 1GB GeForce GTX 460; that gap remained when we activated 4x anti-aliasing, with a score of 29fps just about playable.

The HD 6850 scored 35fps in our High quality test at a higher resolution of 2560 x 1600, although that was the limit; when we loaded the same test at Crysis’ highest settings, the HD 6850 struggled to a score of 21fps.

Its Nvidia rivals were slightly ahead in our DiRT 2 tests, however. The GTX 460 ran through our maximum-quality benchmark at 1920 x 1080 at more than 60fps, with the HD 6850 returning 53fps.

There’s little to worry about when it comes to heat and power consumption, either. A maximum temperature of 83 degrees isn’t too high, and a peak power draw of 248W in our test rig is significantly lower than Nvidia’s equivalents.

The final piece of AMD’s mid-range puzzle is the price, and it’s the card’s greatest strength. At $249 the HD 6850 costs around the same price yet faster in most tests than the 1GB GTX 460. And when compared to AMD’s own HD 6870, the small loss in frame rates is easily made up for by the price saving of nearly $80. It’s a little unusual in that the HD 6850 is slower than its predecessor, but the price means it’s undoubtedly the finest mid-range card available.


This article originally appeared at

Source: Copyright © PC Pro, Dennis Publishing

See more about:  amd  |  radeon  |  hd  |  6850

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Comments: 10
28 October 2010
This article has adjusted it's price to the Australian equivilant right?

Comment made about the PC Authority article:
AMD Radeon HD 6850 - great value graphics?
AMD's latest aims for high-end performance at a very appealing mainstream price

What do you think? Join the discussion.
20 February 2011
I feel that the HD 6850 is great value for its placement & price. Things are really hotting up in the graphics world= keep an eye on this space. More to come from AMD Im sure :)
17 January 2012
Currently the best bang for the buck when it comes to gaming. Runs cool and the ability to support up to 3 monitors with a single card is amazing. Also, unlike the GTX 460, only requires one 6-pin power. Not too noisy either. Can run some modern games on ultra at 55-60fps. Definitely recommend to anyone looking to buy on soon.
17 February 2012
i paid 380 for a XFX black edition 5850.. and now the cooler/fan is playing up on it. only had it for 2 years, if this card dont last me another year or two im gonna be headin 2 the ACC about it. If u ask me u know what they are .. rip off merchants using cheap parts.
18 February 2012
The go-for card for Hackintoshes.
21 February 2012
Our in house Mac guy recommends HD6870 for Hac's.

Still well priced and a screamer.

I have one in my i7 W7 PC for video editing.
21 February 2012
For video editing you're probably better off with an nVidia card to take advantage of CUDA. But I guess that depends on what software you're using.

Personally I'm running a 6850 at home. Got it for a steal at around $120.

22 February 2012
You're right, the Cuda cards have slightly better performance on Adobe CS family, however we've had stability issues, so stayed away from them.

22 February 2012
Also CUDA support is really spotty and like with the i7 chip may be counter productive for overall productivity.
28 February 2012
This card went into two recent PC build and has been performing flawlessly so far. Temps range from 37-42 celsius when running a graphic intense game like LotRO on ultra settings at 1920x1080 res. Able to run all the games in my library at that resolution and max settings without dropping below 60fps (if vSync is disabled it is able to put out ridiculous numbers; in Path of Exile [Beta] it is able to run at 150fps on max settings, while my old radeon could barely achieve 30 on reduced settings).
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