The Asus Radeon HD 5850 has proven itself to be a stunning graphics card, offering performance that is very close to the range topping HD 5870 but with a more pleasant price tag. It should be noted that it sports many of the HD 5870's perks such as ATi Eyefinity Technology, sub 30W power consumption during idle operation and relatively low noise. When you finally factor in that the graphics card was capable of overclocking to the same speeds as the Radeon HD 5870 and is over an inch shorter allowing for compatability in smaller cases, it seems like a great purchase.
Asus haven't done all that much to separate their product from the rest from a "hard product" point of view, but then again neither has anyone else. Like a number of other brands, Asus have thrown in a coupon of the upcoming DirectX 11 compliant race driving game, DiRT 2 and has a fairly standard accessory list. The only real Asus exclusive extras was the SmartDoctor Overclocking tool, which in all fairness allowed us to overclock past the realms of ATi Overdrive but sadly we were unable to adjust the graphics card's operational voltage. Asus as a brand does stand out from an aftersales support point of view by offering 3 years of warranty on their graphics cards, which is higher than the likes of HIS, Gigabyte, XFX, Sapphire and VTX that offer either 1 or 2 years instead. As it is not uncommon for graphics cards to fail, this could be considered to be a strong plus point for opting for the Asus Radeon HD 5850 over other brands.
So the overall verdict? If you're in the market for a graphics card around the £200 mark, then take a long hard look at the Asus Radeon HD 5850...but good look trying to find one. Given the stock shortage of these graphics cards, you will have to join a preorder queue in order to buy one. Patience is the key but you should be prepared to wait for a certain amount of time that could be measurable in weeks to get your hands on one and this is regardless of the brand. In all honesty, today's circumstances are such that if you really want a Radeon HD 5800 series graphics card, then you should purchase whatever is available at the time for the cheapest price. With a lack of supply and an influx of demand will inevitably see further price increases. As the prices of these graphics cards creep higher and higher, it gets to a point where the product is no longer worth it. Some graphics card brand prices will rise more or less than each other and because of this, it's tough to recommend any particular brand of Radeon HD 5850 over another, especially when you strip away accessories, duration of warranty and any decorations they are all exactly the same.
Without starting another rant over stock shortage, I must stress that the Asus Radeon HD 5850 1GB is an excellent product and is unlikely to disappoint. Given a sensible retail price, I would have no quarms in recommending it as a future graphics card purchase. Well done Asus.
- Solid Performance
- Overclocked to HD 5870 frequencies
- Excellent Packaging
- Three Year Warranty
- Voltage Adjustment in SmartDoctor not operative
All at OC3D would Like to Asus for supplying a Radeon HD 5850 for review. You can discuss further in our forums.