Sapphire Radeon 6850 1GB
The major point to glean here is that the 6850 technically isn’t a successor to the 5850; we saw the performance is almost identical. The rationale should become more apparent as AMD releases more models, but the 5850 was more of a premium gaming card, whereas the 6850 is actually more of a lower-end gaming card in this new generation of AMD cards. This will undoubtedly leave consumers rather confused, but despite the baffling choice of nomenclature, we’re hopeful it will pay dividends in the near future.
There are some other appealing new features brought into the mix, notably 3D and tessellation, though these really do appeal to a very small niche market at this point in time. Our gaming results showed a bit of a mixed bag overall, as the 6850 runs very well and Sapphire has done a great job with the heatsink, temperatures, and noise, not to mention it’s all contained in a rather small-sized card that’s power frugal. These are excellent benefits, even though this card is not a gaming monster; but it’s not designed to be.
Against the GTX 460, the 6850 stumbles in a few games, so there’s some consideration there, plus the lack of PhysX and CUDA obviously can be a factor, particularly if you’re into Folding @ Home. Where things get really interesting is regarding price. Nvidia has announced considerable price reductions in the GTX 460 and 470 cards, in an apparent effort to deflect attention from this AMD launch. Regardless of the motive, the reality is that consumers are always looking for great value. The 6850 is set to launch around $180, while a GTX 460 1GB will be about $200 ($170 after rebate). So the price difference is rather minimal, only $20 or so. The question then becomes what does each card bring to the table? It depends on your preference, but with these price reductions from the Nvidia camp, the decision just got a whole lot more difficult.
We do have some information and questions left unanswered today. Due to extremely tight timelines (we actually received two cards just today!), we were unable to fully explore the overclocking performance increases, and particularly how the 6850 stacks up against the 5850 and GTX 460 when pushed to their limits. There’s also the question of Crossfire and SLI comparisons, and as more cards arrive in the lab we’re hoping to explore that more fully.
So there may be some debate as to how the 6850 will fully drop into the marketplace when all the dust settles. We’re not entirely sure, to be honest. Time will soon tell. But we do know that this Sapphire 6850 is a very attractive model, running rather cool and quiet, and packing quite a bit of gaming horsepower under the hood for a very good price. With essentially the same performance of the 5850, the 6850 brings some new features into the mix in what looks to be a great start to the new AMD lineup.
Sapphire Radeon 6850 1GB