XFX HD 5850 1GB GDDR5 PCIe Graphics card

Packaging & Appearance

Packaging & Appearance
 
We first saw the 'X' packaging from XFX with the 4000 series of graphics cards and despite looking the business, I find the packaging excessive. I'll grant you, some may think that it is impossible to have excessive packaging but what bothers me most is that when the exterior card is removed from the box, you are left with one empty box and one much smaller box which contains the card and accessories. Were graphics cards available in your local supermarket, packaging is something that may determine which product you buy but with PC components this is not the case. That said, XFX are in a class of their own in this department and should be applauded for the extra effort they have put in to presenting the HD5850, my only hope is that this new box design does not add to the cost of the product.
 
 
box front box rear
 
Once the exterior card is removed we are left with two boxes, one which contains the goodies and the other which is empty, serving as a frame for the 'X' theme. The included accessories are what we have come to expect from XFX, 2x6 pin to Molex adaptors, installation and quick guide instruction booklets, driver CD, Crossfire bridge, a do not disturb door hanger and a free copy of Dirt2, down-loadable from steam (Dec 2009). I would have liked to have a full copy of the game included as waiting until December for Dirt2 is asking a bit much but this is levied as the first DX11 title due to be released and as such it makes sense to make use of this feature.
 
X packaging contents
 
The HD5850 is somewhat smaller than the HD5870 we reviewed previously and as such users should have no issues fitting the card in anything but the smallest of PC enclosures. Being a reference design, the only difference you will find with this card and that of other manufacturers is the stickers placed on top of the plastic cooler. Flipping the card over we see that ATI have this time not covered the static sensitive, exposed PCB with a backplate with only the GPU bracket affording any sort of protection.
 
card front card rear
 
Below you can see the difference in size with the GTX280 and the HD5850 which is easily an inch shorter, measuring 9.5 inches long. I must say I do like the red plastic inserts of the new ATI design which will make the card stand out in any windowed PC case. 
 
vs GTX280 side view
 
The inlets for the redesigned cooler are also trimmed with the same red plastic inserts, following the theme of the cards aesthetics. In contrast to the HD5870 though, this HD5850 has the 2x6 pin power ports snuggled inside one of the inlets. XFX recommend a minimum of a 500w PSU to power the card which should be plenty unless you intend on creating a fire breathing monster of a PC which will demand a larger power source.
 
The Backplate are is identical to the HD5870 in that there are 2xDVI ports, an HDMI 1.3a port and a DisplayPort. Using these ports in conjunction with one another will enable you to run three monitors at once courtesy of AMD's EyeInfinity. This will certainly appeal to gamers as one screen can stretch across three displays making for the ultimate eye popping visuals every gamers craves.
 
inlet backplate
 
Removing the cooling shroud was straightforward enough as there are no hidden clips of screws, everything is exposed and easy to get at. The main section of the cooler is a copper base attached to an aluminium fin array courtesy of heatpipe technology. The memory and VRM's transfer heat produced via thermal tape with only the exposed GPU core having the luxury of thermal paste. The contact area was very good as was the paste used so I see little reason to replace the stock gunk unless you prefer an alternative cooling method.
 
cooler card
 
Here we see the same 40nm Cypress core of the HD5870. AMD have however made a few little adjustments of the core to coincide with the HD5850's price tag. 2 of the 20 SIMD arrays along with 2 of the texture units of those SIMD arrays have been disabled. Whether this change is physical or software based remains to be seen (BIOS flash anybody?). The clockspeed of the core has also been reduced from 850MHz of the HD5870 to 750MHz on the HD5850. The same 1GB of GDDR5 Samsung memory (HC04) chips are used on the card which bodes well however, this memory is also clocked slightly lower from 1200MHz to 1000MHz (4 GBps). How these changes affect the performance I can only guess at this stage but I would wage both the core and the memory will clock to the same levels as the stock 5870 which may make up some of the lost ground.
 
GPU memory
 
The overall package of the XFX HD5850 is very hard to fault. Everything is there to get you started (that is unless you don't mind waiting until December for Dirt2). I am not so keen on the X packaging as while it looks great, upon opening you will have to be very good with Chinese puzzles to get it looking like new again should you wish to sell it on in the future. That said, with the promise of ultimate performance I see no reason why anyone would want to!
 
Before we crack on with the benchmarks, let's take a look at our test setup and overclocking results...
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Most Recent Comments

19-10-2009, 05:21:44

tinytomlogan
W3bbo takes a look at the 5850, is it better value for overclockers?

Continue Reading

19-10-2009, 05:29:15

Msm2
Link not working

19-10-2009, 05:50:36

tinytomlogan
Fixed, missed a bracket

19-10-2009, 05:57:24

FarFarAway
Damn that looks hawt

Tempting indeed, especially at that sweet-spot 200

19-10-2009, 10:51:43

Ham
Hmm, is it finally time for a worthwhile upgrade from peoples 8800GTs and GTXs.

19-10-2009, 10:55:21

nepas
after looking at that I am regretting buying a 4890 last month

19-10-2009, 11:14:13

AMDFTW
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='nepas'
after looking at that I am regretting buying a 4890 last month
i 2nd that

19-10-2009, 12:04:09

PeterStoba
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Ham'
Hmm, is it finally time for a worthwhile upgrade from peoples 8800GTs and GTXs.
Who has one of them any more? I thought everybody upgraded to the 9 series!

19-10-2009, 12:16:20

FarFarAway
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='PeterStoba'
Who has one of them any more? I thought everybody upgraded to the 9 series!
Nope, I've an 8800 GTX right here. Saw, and still see no point upgrading yet. It's going to take something pretty special for me to relinquish my GTX....

19-10-2009, 12:30:01

tinytomlogan
A pair of 4890's will still pip this baby to the post, but it is great value for money no question about that yet another red team win imho.

As far as the GT/GTX boys are concerned, if you used one of these there would be no going back

19-10-2009, 16:09:02

w3bbo
Anyone interested in 5870 & 5850 Xfire review/bench run?

19-10-2009, 16:23:34

PeterStoba
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='w3bbo'
Anyone interested in 5870 & 5850 Xfire review/bench run?
5870 / 5870 crossfire or a 5870 and 5850 in crossfire?

Interested in both!

19-10-2009, 16:29:50

tinytomlogan
5870 Cross Fire - Watch this space, full review live later in the week.

19-10-2009, 16:46:19

w3bbo
Can do a combo or 5850+5850

20-10-2009, 07:47:21

Mr. Smith
This is a nice card for the price! 100 less than the 5870 and only 10-15% less performance.

I really like the review on [H] first highest possible settings for all cards, then 'apples to apples' all cards same settings, you ever thought of doing that?

20-10-2009, 10:23:45

w3bbo
Maybe I misunderstood you m8 but we already do the highest possible settings (2560x1600 8xAA), medium settings (1920x1200 4xAA) and low settings (1600x1200 0xAA)? This is done with all cards on test. The [H] review (imo) presents the results in a really confusing way making direct comparisons difficult.

Or did you mean something different?

20-10-2009, 10:23:55

Socks
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='PeterStoba'
Who has one of them any more? I thought everybody upgraded to the 9 series!
I have 2 8800gtx's running in sli!!!

Amazing cards...

Considerring upgrading over xmas time to one or 2 of these though..

20-10-2009, 10:52:02

Rastalovich
The card has a very good performance for it's costing. Comparing it with a gt200 still feels like comparing the gt200 to a 3870 when it came out. No amount of statistics are going to judge the 58x0 series until the gt300 is about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='w3bbo'
Maybe I misunderstood you m8 but we already do the highest possible settings (2560x1600 8xAA), medium settings (1920x1200 4xAA) and low settings (1600x1200 0xAA)? This is done with all cards on test. The [H] review (imo) presents the results in a really confusing way making direct comparisons difficult.

Or did you mean something different?
Thing I like about their arrangement, although I also conceed that it's slightly confusing, is that they've made the realization of something I was banging on about last year.

The matter that a 5870 plays a game at 150fps and a 5850 does it at 130fps - in the real world - doesn't mean anything. If the 5850 can however output the same quality screens as the 5870, a 5870 isn't worth getting. This does make the assumption of games to come, but we have to face facts that Crysis isn't new and it's still being used as a bencher.

What I've pushed for for a while is that benchmarks don't mean anything over a certain point. 200fps and 150fps ? so what ? Your going to notice when ?

What they seem to be agreeing with over at [H] is that u have a threshold for fps, nominally 3x fps, and see what quality u get from the card(s). Typically showing the graphic settings that were allowed when reaching those fps.

It is almost like a reversal of traditional gaming thinking. For years previous, certainly with dx8/9, fps has almost been the be-all-and-end-all. Not much else mattered. But more recent, possibly the only thing to attribute to the Dx10 generation, the quality of play counts for that much more. Fps, certainly over 25fps, can be achieved with most mid+ range cards over the last 2 years. The nvidia or amd beat the other by 5/10% in each release - so what. What the market, imo, should be increasingly looking at is the quality of the end result.

Untypically this will involve the likes of PhysX/Havoc/Cuda/Stream, shader quality (not speed), and increasingly, imo, memory. I was amazed that a game such as GTA4, and WorldInConflict(I think it was), demonstrate in their preferences that if u have a 1G card, u can-not use the highest settings. In these examples a GTX395 with 2G will get spanked quality-wize by merely a HD4870 with a proposed 4G. Laugh at the ASUS 4G vhs cards now.

I have little doubt that a GTX380 (or whatever) will cain the arse off possibly even a 5895x2, but for me it will be the quality of the end result and not the extra 5% fps over the 150fps it gets.

[H] are almost there, but I agree it's a little confusing. A better depiction will come I'm sure.

20-10-2009, 11:14:14

Bungral
Thing is that if you get the same quality output from the cards that produce mental fps, then it is worth it as they can be kept for that much longer, just like Matt has done with his 8800GTX.

If at the time, he'd gone with a cheaper option just because it could easily handle anything at the time, then he'd not be able to play the current games at anywhere near top level with a decent size monitor.

20-10-2009, 11:27:37

Rastalovich
Nah ur thinking at a tagent.

See the bit where I mention prior to Dx10 it was mostly to do with fps or nothing.

The 8800GTX was one of those Dx10 cards. If u wanted Dx10 november 2006, there wasn't any option that could compete with it.

Arguably buying a 8800 GTX/Ultra way back then, for the supposedly outrageous price at the time, was one of the best investments in a card a person could make. In hindsight.

Others have spent more on minor benchmark fps improvements, that make no real-game differences, and with little or no quality bonus. And they buy a new one each time a generation comes out every so many months.

G80 being one revolution. The GT200 being the stepping stone. I personally wouldn't bat an eyelid if the GT300 is sold at what would seem like similarly outrageous cash, considering the tech that's supposedly involved.

You can then equally peer over at others who've had a 4870, 275, 4870x2, 295, 5870 then a 5890 and possibly giggle. 8800GTX/Ultra owners, imo, have been able to do just that.

20-10-2009, 11:49:00

Bungral
Now you're condoning spending that much money on the more expensive card as long as in hindsight it makes sense??

Post before, you said it's not worth getting a card if it's pumping out silly fps, but then you say those who bought the 8800GTX can laugh at those who upgraded each time?

Would you have it that nobody buys an expensive card AND that nobody upgrades each round of releases?

Maybe just use integrated ay

I know you're not just talking about FPS but that's what most people want. They want to be able to play their favourit game on a big monitor with as much eye candy turned on. The main thing that would stop them, would be low FPS.

20-10-2009, 12:05:04

Rastalovich
The trick I guess is catching those significant advances.

For a one-off card that is significant, I thing paying crazy cash is fair enough. It's the "oo 10 more fps" and spending another 100 that'd be the issue.

Post before, you said it's not worth getting a card if it's pumping out silly fps, but then you say those who bought the 8800GTX can laugh at those who upgraded each time?



Yeah. Prior to the 8800GTX u had.. 7950 ? or 7950x2 at best ? (whatever they were) - these were Dx9 cards.

Would you have it that nobody buys an expensive card AND that nobody upgrades each round of releases?



It'd depend on ur priorities I guess. I do notice reading threads about cards that on the one hand spending 400 on a gfxcard is fround upon, but buying a value for money 100-150 card every so many months is ok. Buying a 2nd value card for twinning, then selling the 2 to buy another value card and so on.

It's almost like getting ur graphics by installments. Either u save and spend the cash on a 1-off expensive purchase, or buy the cheaper card for lesser quality and make meger sub purchases on little increments as the months go by. When u get to ur limit, u notice another 400 is being released and ur cycle continues.

The days of pure fps were numbered after Dx9, the launch of the particular generation of consoles of quality, Dx10 saw nothing in fps terms particularly with Dx9 being the majority still.

Fps has reached it's level imo. If ur chasing fps, u'll be worried about ur gfxcard, other people's gfxcards, for a long time to come. There's nothing in it. A new card does 300fps, what does that really mean ? They like the card cos it does 300fps ? in fairness they need fps spelt out for them and read up on what it actually means to the human.

20-10-2009, 13:39:59

Bungral
I guess it does depend... The 8800GTX was a big ol jump in performance of which we haven't seen the same since. If that were to come along then it would be a solid purchase I should think.

Thing is that some people actually make the buying expensive cards but upgrading regularly work for them... I'm actually on a profit since my first 4870X2 which was swapped for 3X GTX280's which I sold and bought a GTX295 which I sent back (fooked on arrival twice) and then bought another X2.

It all depends on monitors, resolutions and how much wedge someone has spare I guess. Oh yeah and if they bench.

Before that was an 8800GT and before than a FX 5900 Ultra!!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Rastalovich'
The trick I guess is catching those significant advances.

For a one-off card that is significant, I thing paying crazy cash is fair enough. It's the "oo 10 more fps" and spending another 100 that'd be the issue.

Yeah. Prior to the 8800GTX u had.. 7950 ? or 7950x2 at best ? (whatever they were) - these were Dx9 cards.

It'd depend on ur priorities I guess. I do notice reading threads about cards that on the one hand spending 400 on a gfxcard is fround upon, but buying a value for money 100-150 card every so many months is ok. Buying a 2nd value card for twinning, then selling the 2 to buy another value card and so on.

It's almost like getting ur graphics by installments. Either u save and spend the cash on a 1-off expensive purchase, or buy the cheaper card for lesser quality and make meger sub purchases on little increments as the months go by. When u get to ur limit, u notice another 400 is being released and ur cycle continues.

The days of pure fps were numbered after Dx9, the launch of the particular generation of consoles of quality, Dx10 saw nothing in fps terms particularly with Dx9 being the majority still.

Fps has reached it's level imo. If ur chasing fps, u'll be worried about ur gfxcard, other people's gfxcards, for a long time to come. There's nothing in it. A new card does 300fps, what does that really mean ? They like the card cos it does 300fps ? in fairness they need fps spelt out for them and read up on what it actually means to the human.

21-10-2009, 08:30:44

Rastalovich
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Bungral'
I guess it does depend... The 8800GTX was a big ol jump in performance of which we haven't seen the same since.
U hit the nail on the head there.

I find it very hard to advise people atm to outlay 100s on cards when we haven't seen the next generation from the other camp.

At that point, I can ask what they're looking for.

I'd feel pretty bad advising a 5870 right now, to some1 who wants the best with a large budget, only for the GTX380 to be another big ol jump.

Some1 on the forum recently asking advice on a build.

21-10-2009, 12:01:10

w3bbo
Bye for the now imo. No matter how long you wait, there will always be something better on the horizon. There aint much a 5870 can't handle, even at high res so why bother waiting? Like you said, it's not all about FPS.

21-10-2009, 12:12:54

Rastalovich
If I advised u to buy a HD28xx, or the renamed Radeons 9xxx (that interestly nobody complained about ati doing), shortly b4 the 8800GTX/Ultra came out (which u could afford both) u wouldn't be upset ?

We're meant to be talking about a similar step up in tech listening to the incomprehensible arguments out there. And to be fair, the whitepapers are out and only 1 place I know of has linked to them.

I'd much prefer to take a more educated lean once all the cards have been played.

We're not talking about w8ing for a variation of a G8x/G9x kind of release. If that were the case, I would tend to agree. The fps would certainly be in a similar ball park and it would be a question of get what's out now.

Their next release is meant to contain types of architecture that doesn't exist at present.

21-10-2009, 12:25:29

w3bbo
Point taken but the 8800GTXwas a huge leap in performance to anything else there was around at the time. Can you honestly see the 380 being a massive leap over a 5870?

21-10-2009, 12:28:36

Rastalovich
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='w3bbo'
Point taken but the 8800GTXwas a huge leap in performance to anything else there was around at the time. Can you honestly see the 380 being a massive leap over a 5870?
You could have asked the same question in November 2006 when the architecture changed then.

I would have said no then and been wrong.

21-10-2009, 13:31:07

w3bbo
But even if the next line of GPU's from NV are faster, how long will it be before ATI release something faster still and then NV again...and again...and again. Chasing the dragon always has its risks, sometimes you get it right, sometimes not.

21-10-2009, 13:35:16

Ham
Bring back the days where when the number in front of the card went up, it was worth buying...

(eg the 6800->7800->8800)

21-10-2009, 13:37:52

w3bbo
....but then what would NVidia do with all those surplus chips?

21-10-2009, 17:52:40

FarFarAway
Eat them

21-10-2009, 17:54:10

Ham
Melt them down and make them into better ones!

21-10-2009, 20:39:00

tinytomlogan
Id love an Nvidia wall - just covered in GPU's

22-10-2009, 06:14:47

w3bbo
Fanboi!!!!

22-10-2009, 09:01:16

tinytomlogan
ATi fanboy yeah :P best place for an Nvid is on a wall..... OR folding

22-10-2009, 09:17:53

Rastalovich
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='w3bbo'
But even if the next line of GPU's from NV are faster, how long will it be before ATI release something faster still and then NV again...and again...and again. Chasing the dragon always has its risks, sometimes you get it right, sometimes not.
Took a good few releases.

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='tinytomlogan'
ATi fanboy yeah :P best place for an Nvid is on a wall..... OR folding
Or in a quality build
Reply
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