PowerColor PCS+ 5850 Review
Published: 11th June 2010 | Source: PowerColor | Price: £249.99 |
Wrapping up a card such as this is one of the easier jobs. After all I certainly don't have to go over the details of a ATI HD5850 again because by now you all know it's probably the best value single card for good gaming at sensible resolutions.
The main question is, if you are in the market for a 5850 series ATI card, should you send your money to PowerColor?
Starting with the performance it is clear that the extra 35MHz over and above a reference design card does actually make a difference in both our synthetic and real-world tests. Dirt 2 in particular absolutely loved the PCS+ and Crysis Warhead showed nice gains throughout the frame range.
Perhaps more importantly is how well the card overclocks even further. Whilst not hitting the 1GHz mark that we've seen from some 5850 variants, nonetheless the PowerColor PCS+ definitely responds well to bump in the GPU core speed. Even better is the ability of the GDDR5 RAM to run faster than stock too, enabling the whole card to run faster rather than suffer from the "only as good as its weakest link" thing.
Of course extra performance is undesirable if it requires much faster, and therefore louder, fans to keep the temperatures in check. Although the reference design isn't poor by any means, everything can be improved upon. Most third-party coolers focus on providing a large fan directly over the heat-sink. The PowerColor solution takes all the best elements of the reference design (enclosed shroud to ensure the hot air exhausts out the back, quiet operation) and maximises them. A much larger GPU heat-sink replete with heat-pipes that helps keep GPU temperatures down, whilst also having enough surface area to keep the memory and power cool too. Best of all it does this very quietly, allowing the card to not deafen you while it makes your eyes widen.
The best part about this PowerColor PCS+ 5850 though is, relative to competitors models, the price. At around £240 it's not much more expensive than a reference 5850, and yet offers so much more. We often see manufacturers specialist cards having a price to match, but not PowerColor. When their products are this good we wonder why we haven't had more of them pass through our testing lab, and I certainly look forward to their next piece of hardware for review.
To have good performance, a fabulous cooler and a sensible price, the PowerColor PCS+ 5850 1GB is absolutely worthy of the OC3D Gamers Choice award.