HIS Radeon HD 5850 Turbo Review Page: 1

Introduction

 

Since the release of the nVidia's new GeForce GTX 470 and 480 graphics cards, it has become all too apparent that after a 7 month long reign, ATi's performance crown is under threat. While ATi work towards developing a refreshed or all new graphics card, Add in Board partners have been doing their part to ensure that their products remain competitive against other AIBs and also the new nVidia lineup. Price allowing, increased default frequencies, all new cooling solutions and more substantial accessory sets can make all the difference. This is why today, we'll be continuing our assessment of the HIS Radeon HD 5800 Turbo series lineup with their rendition of the popular HD 5850 graphics card.

 

HIS have a long standing reputation for producing fabulous customised graphics cards, offering some of the fastest, coolest and most quiet solutions around. We hope that the HIS Radeon HD 5850 iCooler V Turbo has what it takes to live up to the brand's reputation!

 

Specifications

 

This particular version of the Radeon HD 5850 boasts higher core and memory frequencies over default specification and as the name suggests, it also implements an updated cooling solution.

 Radeon HD 5850 1GBHIS Radeon HD 5850 1GB iCooler V Turbo
Stream Processors14401440
GPU Frequency725MHz765MHz
Memory Frequency

 

4000MHz (effective)


4500MHz (effective)
Memory Interface256bit


256bit

Direct X1111

Maximum Monitor

33
Current Price~£239~£259

 

Once again it's all too apparent that even in the month of May, the Radeon HD 5800 series production shortage has not been solved. Combined with less than favourable exchange rates, you will find reference HD 5850's for no less than £240. With that in mind, the extra £20 premium for HIS' iCooler V Turbo version may not be all that bad... so long as it delivers as promised. Will it? Well there's only one way to find out!



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Packaging & Initial Impressions


The HIS Radeon HD 5850 iCooler V Turbo arrived with a fairly obvious theme; CoD Modern Warfare 2. For a limited time, the Radeon HD 5850 will ship with the popular Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 first person shooter to further entice you.

HIS Radeon HD 5850 Turbo 1GB GDDR5     HIS Radeon HD 5850 Turbo 1GB GDDR5

Opening the MW2 themed box reveals a plain and rather typical HIS decorated box. Concealed inside, the first thing you'll see are the graphics card's accessories.

HIS Radeon HD 5850 Turbo 1GB GDDR5    

HIS Radeon HD 5850 Turbo 1GB GDDR5

The accessory set isn't exactly huge but it's more than enough to get by. Included you will find a Driver CD, Manual, CrossfireX bridge, DVI->VGA adapter and two double molex to PCI-Express adapters. I for one would be concerned if users out there intend on using graphics cards such as these with such antiquated graphics card.



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The Graphics Card


Let's have a closer look at the HD 5850 iCooler V Turbo shall we?

    

HIS have retained the basic PCB design of the Radeon HD 5850. The graphics card is of the same length as the reference version and sports the same video output configuration of two DVI, one HDMI and one Displayport. Again, like the reference design, there are two PCI-Express 6pin sockets.

HIS Radeon HD 5850 Turbo 1GB GDDR5    

Much like the reference design, the iCooler V Turbo is fully covered in a double height plastic shroud. HIS have done away with the blower fan and replaced it with a conventional 92mm fan. Naturally such a rearrangement must have resulted in much more substantial changes under the hood.

HIS Radeon HD 5850 Turbo 1GB GDDR5     HIS Radeon HD 5850 Turbo 1GB GDDR5

Substantial changes indeed. Underneath the shroud we found a redesigned heatsink. Interestingly, HIS' implementation doesn't incorporate the use of heatpipes at all however it does utilise a copper base and a high density fin arrangement. The cooler itself appeared to make satisfactory contact with the core and memory.

HIS Radeon HD 5850 Turbo 1GB GDDR5     HIS Radeon HD 5850 Turbo 1GB GDDR5

On the next page we'll examine just how competent the updated cooling solution is.



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Testbed

AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition
Asus ROG Crossfire IV Formula Motherboard
4GB Corsair XMS3 PC3-12800 RAM
HIS Radeon HD 5850 1GB GDDR5 Graphics Card
Samsung Spinpoint F1 320GB SATA II Hard Disk Drive
Samsung 22x DVD+/-RW SATA
Arctic Freezer 64 Pro CPU Cooler
BeQuiet! Dark Power 750W 80PLUS PSU
Windows 7 Home Premium x64

Temperatures

As you can imagine, temperature should be a major strength for this Radeon HD 5850. After 30 minutes of idle testing we ran the Furmark stability test to ascertain the maximum core temperature of the graphics card. The test was undertaken with both automatic fan control and a fixed duty speed of 50%.


First of all, I'd like to point out how impressive these results are. After an extensive period of GPU load, the GPU had peaked at a consistent 64c without breaking a sweat. More to the point, the fan operated no faster than 45% of it's maximum rotation speed. Manually increasing the fan speed to 50% allowed for a 5c improvement in temperatures however a more noticeable motor noise was observed.

Overclocking

We were pleasantly surprised by the HD 5850's maximum core frequency. Slowly but steadily we were able to reach a frequency of 965MHz before it locked up in true checkerboard fashion. After some rolling back and stability testing we eventually found ourselves with a maximum stable frequency of 942MHz.


Our memory overclock was less impressive... Failure was achieved at a paltry 1175MHz and occasional memory related artifacts were observed at 1150MHz. Hence, our maximum stable memory frequency stands at it's nominal frequency of 1125MHz.



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Synthetic Benchmarks

3DMark06

Futuremark's 3DMark06 is a means of testing a system's capability as a gaming machine. It has aged a little, however remains to be an excellent benchmark for all round 3D testing.

The HIS Radeon HD 5850's mild factory overclock has resulted in a very subtle gain in GPU and Overall Scores. By comparison our 177MHz Core Overclock resulted in a more substantial gain.

3DMark Vantage

3DMark Vantage is Futuremarks 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.

3DMark Vantage by comparison is a much more demanding and GPU dependent benchmark. Here, a ~4% lead was determined between the reference and factory overclocked graphics cards. Meanwhile, the "OC3D" overclocked HD 5870 sits proudly in HD 5870 territory.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Recently Unigine produced the fantastic Heaven Benchmark. Based around a ficticious floating village the benchmark makes full use of the Direct X 11 API, most notably with the implementation of Hardware Tesselation. We ran the benchmark with tesselation set to normal and Anti Aliasing/Anisotrophic Filterising applied to 4x/8x in the Catalyst Control Center.

What's quite clear is that even today's higher range graphics cards begin to struggle where Direct X 11, Tesselation, AA/AF and high resolutions are combined. All things considered however, HIS' rendition of the HD 5850 boasted a 2fps gain in average framerate terms over the reference card. A further four frames per second were squeezed out by us however minimum framerates remained low.



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Crysis Warhead

Crysis Warhead is without a doubt one hard nut to crack, especially at higher resolutions and a dash of Anti Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering.

It never ceases to amaze as to how GPU dependent Crysis Warhead is. At 1920x1200, we observed a disproportionate framerate increase from our overclock to 942MHz on the 5850's Core. This is a significant finding as it has greatly minimised any stuttering and to the eye, the game play was considerably more fluid in densely populated areas.

DiRT2

DiRT2 is a very recent race driving game, known for it's Direct X 11 support. Let's crank up the settings and give it a whirl...

Contrary to the performance increase observed in Crysis, DiRT2 wasn't particularly interested in what the higher clock frequencies had to offer. While maximum and average framerates had risen slightly, our minimum framerate of 46fps was maintained.

Call of Duty - Modern Warfare 2

Modern Warfare 2 is among the most popular games available at present. With plenty of explosions and densely (polygon) populated maps, it should prove to be an interesting test for our setup.

Across all three clock speed configurations, there are clear performance increases. Given the high framerates however, you will struggle to notice any difference. For what it's worth, the results are a testament of the Radeon HD 5850's capabilities.

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.

Fully aware of the nature of FSX, it comes to no surprise that the graphics card at all three frequencies operate no differently. As we observed with the same test setup in our Crosshair IV Formula review, only the processor can make a difference to framerates in this scenario.

Left 4 Dead

Left 4 Dead is a very popular hit and should be an interesting choice to take our testbed for a spin. Let's see how well it performs.

Even at 1920x1200, there is little to see here as the framerates are well above the threshold where you might begin to observe stuttering.

With our suite of synthetic benchmarks and games complete, let's conclude shall we?



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Conclusion

All in all, we were very impressed by the Radeon HD 5850 iCooler V Turbo. Based on a proven performer, HIS were able to make subtle but noticeable improvements by means of the uprated cooling solution and higher core/memory frequencies. While the updated clocks of 765MHz and 4500MHz made a rather small difference in the grand scheme of things, we feel the cooler alone is worth the £20 premium. Just to reiterate, HIS' cooling solution operated 16c cooler than the Reference Heatsink and without an increase in noise to boot. Once you factor in the graphics card's two year warranty, the inclusion of CoD Modern Warfare 2 and the convenience of the product being in plentiful stock at e-tailers, it seems like an excellent proposition to us.

Our only reservation is that the Radeon HD 5870 can be found for as little as £50 more. We feel that many individuals would rather invest a little more to go towards the faster HD 5870. After all, the latter already sports higher core/memory frequencies but most importantly, 160 more Stream Processors. That said, £50 is not a small amount of money to part with and on that basis, it's still a sufficient enough price gap to make the HIS Radeon HD 5850 iCooler V Turbo a strong contender in today's GPU market. Excellent work, HIS.

The Good
- Excellent Core Overclock
- Quiet Cooling Solution
- Cool Operation
- Inclusion of Modern Warfare 2

The Mediocre
- Memory was near enough at it's limits

The Bad
- None 

We would like to thank HIS for the sample today, you can discuss our findings in the forums.