HIS Radeon HD 5850 1GB GDDR5 Graphics Card Page: 1

Introduction 

Like any year, the run up to Christmas is a rather long winded one with mass shopping commencing from as early as October end. From here on, regardless of whether or not we’re in any form of economic downturn it’s a matter of flocking to shopping centres nationwide for a session of credit card violation. Let’s not forget the time and effort involved in organizing Christmas dinner for your nearest and dearest. Inevitably that big day comes and within a blink of an eye it’s all over.

So how was Christmas day for you? I’m sure that many had a fantastic time with friends and family, making the most of their presence. Some might be particularly ecstatic over the gifts that they received…while some less so. Perhaps you were one of few that were painfully sniveling at the contents of your gift from Father Christmas. It must be said that it’s the thought that counts when it comes to any gift and that calling the North Pole for a RMA number is nothing short of ungrateful. But what if you paid for your own gift to find that it won’t be with you in time for Christmas? Does anyone see where I’m going with this? The Radeon HD 5800 series stock shortage strikes again…

Okay, I’ll gladly conceit that the stock shortage of Radeon HD 5850 and 5870 graphics cards has not been as bad as previously. Infact, for the last couple of weeks it has been quite possible to locate and purchase one of these high end wonders. That is, so long as you’re willing to pay the premium. A number of retailers (most recently Aria) had listed Christmas special offers, which resulted in select 5850 and 5870 graphics cards being sold at their September 09 Retail Prices of £200 and £304 respectively, but in very limited quantities. For most of the part however, the typical in stock prices are nearer £250 and £350 regardless of brand, however factory overclocked graphics cards have further price gouging applied.

There have been rumours that TSMC have greatly improved 40nm yields for Cypress cores and that we will soon see higher quantities of HD 5800 series graphics cards in circulation.

“In a world where people pay a high price to play with the best…Something had to change.”

Too right something has to change! One can only hope that this recently uploaded video on AMD’s official youtube channel is a sign of more stock and price drops.   I shall put an end to my rant by finally introducing the product on review for today. Today we’ll be reviewing the HIS Radeon HD 5850 1GB Graphics card. 

Name
HIS Radeon HD 5850
HIS Radeon HD 5870
Core Name Cypress Cypress
Core Frequency 725MHz 850MHz
Stream Processors
1440 1600
Memory Frequency 4000MHz (1000MHz x 4) 4800MHz (1200MHz x 4)
Memory Interface 256bit 256bit
ROP Count 32 32
TMU Count 72 80
Original Retail Price £199.99 £299.99


The Radeon HD 5850's technical specs alone suggest that it should be a very capable graphics card. Although rudely castrated by ATi from 1600 stream processors to 1440, it's Core and Memory frequencies are similar and should be a fairly simple overclock to and perhaps past 5870 frequencies. At it's original retail price, it touts better value for money than it's bigger brother.  



HIS Radeon HD 5850 1GB GDDR5 Graphics Card Page: 2
Packaging and Initial Impressions
 
HIS boxes tend to appear quite minimalistic, touting their brand name or web address depending on the side of the box on a dark grey background. The packaging felt sturdy and capable of taking some abuse without damaging it's contents.
 
 
 
The first thing you'll see it's the Radeon HD 5850's accessories, which include a driver disc, manual, two molex to PCI-Express adapters and a Crossfire bridge. Underneath you will find the graphics card in anti static wrap.
 
 
 
 
Here lies the Radeon HD 5850 in all it's glory. Yes it is another reference card using the same PCB, Memory ICs, Heatsink, Fan and Shroud. It is however a very good design and very quiet too so why change it? The HD 5850 is slightly shorter than it's faster brother and requires two 6 pin PCI-Express power leads rather than 1 x 6 pin and 1 x 8 pin.
 
 
 
The four main outputs are two DVI, one HDMI and one displayport. Remember that you can only use three of four ports at any one time and if you plan on using ATi Eyefinity for triple monitor support and wish to get the maximum resolution out of your monitors, an Active Displayport adapter will be required if none of the monitors support displayport.
 
 
 
The graphics card functioned as it should from out of the box and was as quiet as it's other branded counterparts.
 
Let's move on to the testing phase.


HIS Radeon HD 5850 1GB GDDR5 Graphics Card Page: 3
Testbed
 
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition @ 3.94GHz
4GB Corsair XMS3 DDR3 @ 1333MHz
Gigabyte MA770T UD3P Motherboard F4 BIOS
Asus Radeon HD 5850 1GB GDDR5 Graphics Card
Samsung Spinpoint F1 320GB SATA II HDD
LG 22x DVD+/-RW SATA
Arctic Freezer 64 Pro CPU Cooler
Windows Vista Home Premium

Temperatures & Overclocking
 
Our testing involved running Furmark's Stability Test and running the benchmark until the temperatures had levelled out. Given Furmark's intensive nature, this didn't take much time...
 
 
Unsurprisingly, the HIS Radeon HD 5850 was very quiet throughout our testing. The target load temperature, like other branded cards we've tested is 80*c, which it reached and held with a fan duty speed of just 33%.
 
Our overclocking endeavours were limited to ATi's Catalyst Control Centre utility, which allowed us to reach speeds of 775MHz on the Core and 1125MHz on memory. The utility does not permit a higher overclock (no doubt to distance the 5850 from it's faster sibling) but we believe that other utilities will see the graphics card to much higher frequencies.
 
Enough chit chat. It's time for some games testing.
 
 


HIS Radeon HD 5850 1GB GDDR5 Graphics Card Page: 4
 Futuremark 3DMark06
 
As Futuremark's previous gaming benchmark application, it is getting a little old but remains to be a reliable means of testing a graphics card's capability
 
 
Futuremark 3DMark Vantage
 
3DMark Vantage is Futuremark's flagship gaming oriented benchmark at present and is considered to be a demanding one at that. Our tests were carried out under the "Performance" prefix.
 
 
Crysis Warhead
 
Crysis Warhead is without a doubt one hard nut to crack, especially at higher resolutions and a dash of Anti Aliasing and Anisotrophic Filtering. Given it's level of GPU dependancy, this is an ideal playground for our Asus Radeon HD 5850.
 
 
Here we see the graphics card achieving unpleasantly low frame rates during areas of explosions in this particular area. It was fairly playable however a lower resolution or lower quality settings is the only solution for 30+ fps.
 
Far Cry 2
 
 
Far Cry 2, a slightly older hit but based on a fairly demanding engine also has a fair level of GPU dependancy at least particularly so at higher resolutions. This particular game features a fabulous benchmarking tool, which loops an intensive Far Cry 2 scene and gatherers minimum, maximum and average framerates accordingly. This allows for a more accurate comparison from one test item to another. As mentioned, we have set all Quality Settings to the highest possible within the tool.
 
 
Far Cry 2 has little trouble with this graphics card even in high detail.
 
Microsoft Flight Simulator X
 
 Flight Simulator X remains to be a terribly demanding game for it's age. Known for being very demanding on the CPU but also requiring a level of GPU power in the process, we thought it'd be interesting to see how it faired.
 
 
CPU dependancies aside, the Radeon HD 5850 plays this game very well. Certain graphics cards are known to have problems with Anti Aliasing with this game, however we didn't seem to have a problem at all with our testbed.
 
Call of Duty 4
 
Call of Duty 4 is another popular hit however even with all of the eye candy set to full and the image quality raised up high, it doesn't particularly hurt today's latest and greatest.
 
 
 
 Call of Duty 4 is simply blown away with out testbed. This game should even run well with ATi Eyefinity triple screen resolutions.


HIS Radeon HD 5850 1GB GDDR5 Graphics Card Page: 5
Conclusion
 
 
And there we have it. Another impressive set of results from another Radeon HD 5850 graphics card. Like the others, we were able to achieve the maximum overclock permitted by the ATi Catalyst Control Centre as well. For those who wish to buy a HIS branded product, we can confirm that it performs no worse than it's rivals, is backed by a two year warranty and has an identical accessory list to other brands, including a Steam DiRT 2 Voucher.
 
You will however be hard pressed to find a HIS Radeon HD 5850 in the UK as we were not able to find one available at any major retailer's website. This is made worse by the fact that the retailers that have actually listed the HIS version of the graphics card have priced it annoyingly high at around the £250 mark. While this does not bode well for HIS, it is not that big a deal for the consumer for the simple matter of fact is that (factory overclocked cards excluded) there is nothing that  distinguishes any Radeon HD 5850 from another. I realise that I have mentioned this already throughout the review and hammered the same point down in our Asus Radeon HD 5850 review but frankly, if one wants a Radeon HD 5850 as soon as possible, then brand will not be of any concern. If however, you do find a HIS Radeon HD 5850 graphics card at a bargain price then I have no quarms in recommending it. Nice work HIS.
 
The Good
 
- Excellent Performance
- Low Noise
- ATi 5 Series Feature Set
 
The Mediocre
 
- Price
 
The Bad
 
- None