So it would seem that once again, Sapphire has presented us with yet another fantastic product. It should be mentioned of course that much of the credit really goes to ATi as unlike many of Sapphire's offerings, their Radeon HD 5850 is based entirely on the reference design specified by ATi. The graphics card has proven itself as a solid performer that is more than capable of hanging in there with it's bigger brother, despite it's lower clock speeds and cut shading units. Once you factor in it's considerably lower price tag, it surely seems as though the Radeon HD 5850 is a rather appetising propos
ition indeed. The performance itself appears to be different enough (stock vs stock) to distance the two sufficiently to make the top of the line HD 5870 worthwhile for those who can afford it but for the wide majority that are big on "Bang per Buck" factor, it would seem as though the 5850 prevails.
From an ATi Crossfire perspective, the Sapphire Radeon HD 5850's scaled very well indeed. With an overall outlay of just under £400, the end result is a graphics configuration that performs a little over midway between a single HD 5870 and two HD 5870's. Given that the 5850's in Crossfire was capable of playing everything that we threw at it, we're tempted to say that the £200 saving is well worth the performance deficit. This is especially true if the money that's been saved can be put to use towards a more capable Processor, Cooling, RAM or Motherboard for your brand new gaming setup as it should be remembered that it takes more than ordinary hardware to complement today's top end graphics cards. ATi Crossfire in this particular context has also proven to be reliable and practical throughout the testing process. We'd also like to reiterate that such a graphics card configuration does not command excessive Power Supply Units and the well designed Heatsink allows for quiet operation even under load.
I think the big question for many is how much more demanding will the upcoming generation of games be, but more importantly whether the Radeon HD 5850's technical shortcomings will be more apparent under such conditions. As noted from our example of Crysis where even a 4fps decrease between graphics cards can make a reasonable difference to overall gameplay, this can just as equally hold true for future games releases that may typically operate below a 40 frames per second average. This also ties in with that mythical phrase known as "future proofing" as we should all know that preparing one's computer to withstand the test of time in terms of performance is nigh on futile. What's absolutely clear is that the Radeon HD 5850 will play pretty much anything you'd wish to throw at it and was next to no trouble at the same in Crossfire mode. For now, it doesn't appear as though these graphics cards will be brought to their knees in the immediate future and as such, we believe that the Sapphire Radeon HD 5850 (in both single and crossfire mode) is a fantastic choice of graphics card for those with performance orientated expectations as well as a tighter wallet.
- Excellent Performance for the Money
- Quiet Operation
- Shorter 9.5" Length
- Reasonable Accessory List (Inc DiRT 2 Coupon)