ASUS EAH6850 DirectCU OC Edition Review

ccokeman - 2010-10-26 17:32:33 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: November 25, 2010
Price: $199

Introduction:

The HD 6850 from AMD and its partners has been shown to deliver performance that falls just under the level of its older cousins the HD 58XX series for a nice price discount. The factory overclocked versions of the HD 6850 have been pouring out of the doors of AMD's partners. You have cards that look like reference cards with big clocks all the way up to cards that are complete redesigns of AMD's handiwork. That is what I have for you today in the form of the latest HD 6850 to roll out of ASUS's doors. The EAH6850 DirectCU. This card comes factory overclocked with speeds of 790Mhz on the core and 1000Mhz on the memory in a bid to compete with the latest factory overclocked GTX 460 cards from NVIDIA. The EAH6850 DirectCU gets its name from the enhanced cooling solution used to keep this card from overheating. Namely, a dual heat pipe cooler that utilizes Heatpipe Direct Contact technology to get the heat from the GPU into the heat sink assembly and dissipated into the airflow around the card as quickly as possible. This cooling solution is said to be 20% more efficient than the reference-based cooling solution. Hmm, equipped with better cooling and an improved build process - let's see how well the EAH6850 performs against the competition.

Closer Look:

The front panel of the box is designed to deliver a big visual impact when you see it on the store shelves with the medieval theme on the front. Just under the ASUS name branding are their slogans "Inspiring Innovation" and "Persistent Perfection". This card features ASUS Voltage Tweak option that allows you to increase the voltage to the card using the ASUS SmartDoctor overclocking suite to increase performance. In this case, the claim is 50% faster. Underneath, you have the list of technologies and build attributes that the EAH6850 DirectCU is equipped with and able to use including AMD's Eyefinity technology, HDMI 1.4a interface and 1GB of GDDR5 memory. The rear of the package illustrates the benefits of the DirectCU cooling solutions design, the connectivity options that deviate slightly from the reference design and the mention of the Voltage Tweak technology for up to 50% faster performance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The inner packaging consists of a black box with the ASUS logo embossed in gold. Inside this box the black and gold theme is continued on all of the containers inside. On the right you have the power adapter, DVI adapter and Crossfire bridge connection. In the center box is the driver disk, manual and a disk wallet to hold your game or music disks. Underneath and encased in dense foam is the EAH6850 DIrectCU video card in all its glory.

 

 

 

ASUS is always generous when it comes to the accessory bundle by making sure the consumer has all the tools to make the hardware work to its fullest. The contents included are the driver disk, manual, setup guide, disk wallet, Crossfire bridge connection, DVI to VGA adapter and a dual four pin molex to six pin PCIe power adapter.

 

Let's dig a little deeper and see what else separates the EAH6850 from the norm.

Closer Look:

The first look you get of the EAH6850 DirectCU from ASUS tells you it's not simply a reference design video card with a sticker slapped on to show who holds the warranty liabilities. Nope, this is an ASUS design that is a step away from the reference mold in both scale and configuration. First off, the EAH6850 comes in at just under ten inches in length and uses a large ASUS designed heat sink equipped with two 8mm heat pipes that make direct contact with the GPU core. The other item that stands out is the support bracket that runs down the spine of the card. This addition helps keep the card from from bending when larger heat sinks (such as the one this card is equipped with) are installed preventing possible stress cracks and broken circuit traces. Couple that with a jet black PCB and you have a card that looks great and has an industrial feel to it that should integrate into many of the industrial looking cases that are popular now such as the HAF932 from Cooler Master.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The EAH6850 DirectCU deviates from the standard reference design connectivity by using a single full size DisplayPort 1.2 connection, a single HDMI 1.4a port, a single Dual Link capable DVI port and a Single Link DVI connection that can be used for a VGA connection with the supplied adapter. Even with the deviation from the reference design connectivity, you have the ability to run Eyefinity from just this single card using the correct set of adapters. The back end of the card is wide open allowing the heat sink to breathe and exhaust the hot air out into the chassis. Not the ideal solution, but with proper chassis airflow, increased case component temperatures from card can can be overcome.

 

 

The less than $200 price point is not the realm of the high-end enthusiast so AMD chose to only allow a two card configuration on the HD 6800 series. This is evident by the use of only a single Crossfire bridge connection on the EAH6850 DirectCU. That should not be an issue though as the performance scaling is pretty incredible now when using these cards in Crossfire mode. Performance wise, it should come in just under or equal to the HD 5970 based on its performance against the HD 5850. For additional power, the EAH6850 is equipped with a single six pin PCIe connection.

 

 

Across the spine of the card is a stiffening bracket that helps keep the card from getting a bad case of the bends. This means you can be sure that a larger heat sink will not cause issues with stress cracking of the PCB. Coupled with ASUS GPU guard technology, should mean that whatever you use for a cooling solution (from the stock supplied cooler to some of the the totally insane coolers out on the market) you should be fine and not have to worry about the card. ASUS has used its EMI shield technology to make sure that any stray EMI emissions do not impact the clarity of the signal being output to the display device. The technology used by ASUS is said to reduce EMI emission levels by 66%.

 

 

By pulling off the heat sink we can take a look at the card and inspect the heat sink itself. One thing I noticed right away after looking at several other HD 6850 video cards was the lack of additional cooling on the power circuitry. I have to wonder if this will impact the clock speeds I am ultimately able to achieve. I also have to wonder if this is an oversight and this sample was a Monday or Friday edition being that every one of the HD 6850 video cards I have tested had this area cooled. What you do notice is that the heat sink is mounted far enough from the I/O panel that the thermal energy dissipated by the DirectCU heat sink will be dispersed into the chassis. The TIM used on the card is a thermal pad that is more than difficult to remove but does adequately seal the gap between the heat sink base and the GPU core. Most people will never pull this cooling solution off but this is what you get. When asked why they use this kind of solution it comes down to getting the right amount of material in place versus having to much TIM applied. A prime example of where more is not really a better idea!

 

 

The heat sink used on the EAH6850 DirectCU is a Heat pipe Direct Contact design. This technology has proven itself time and again when implemented and built properly. By this I mean that the heat pipes are level with the aluminum supporting structure not sitting below the level of the structure as is almost always the case. The base appears to be flat on this implementation with a good solid contact patch. The two 8mm copper heat pipes as well as the aluminum base carry the thermal load up to the fin array to be dispersed by the airflow from the fan. While the heat sink overall looks fairly stout you really only have two small fin arrays that will be dissipating most of the thermal load.

 

 

The fan used is a 75MM PWM fan that blows down through the heat sink. Flipping it over I was expecting to find some information on the fan but was greeted with a blank slate. When ramped up it is audible but not what I would consider a banshee type wail but a smooth hum. A nice improvement over the reference blower style fans.

 

 

The EAH6850 is built using the Barts core GPU from AMD. This 40nm revision of the Cypress architecture is 255mm² in size and contains 1.7 billion transistors so as an engineering exercise when you have a smaller die you have a more efficient die that gives almost similar performance to its older relatives, the HD 5800 series. The Barts core used on the EAH6850 houses 960 streaming multiprocessors. 48 texture units, 32 ROP units and 1GB of GDDR5 memory running through a 256bit memory interface. The GDDR5 1250MHz rated memory used on this card comes from Hynix and carries part number H5G01H24AFR-T2C. ASUS uses their GPU Guard technology to help increase structural rigidity of their video cards from 211 to 238% over their competitor's designs. One of the elements of this technology is evident by looking at the corners of the GPU. They use a process that injects glue under the corners of the GPU to stiffen it so that you do not crack it with the loads of an aftermarket cooler.

 

 

Now that the EAH6850 has been dissected and you know about the card, it's time to see how this card performs with its higher than stock clock speeds and if the DirectCU cooling solution can carry the load.

Specifications:

Graphics Engine
ATI Radeon HD 6850
Bus Standard
PCI Express 2.1
Video Memory
DDR5 1G
Effective Memory Bandwidth
256-bit
Engine Clock
790 MHz
Memory Clock
4000 MHz ( 1000 MHz DDR5 )
RAMDAC
400MHz
Memory Interface
256-bit
CRT Max Resolution
2048 x 1536
DVI Max Resolution
2560 x 1600
D-Sub Output
Yes x 1 (via DVI to D-Sub adaptor x 1 )
DVI Output
Yes x 1 (DVI-I), Yes x 1 (DVI-D)
HDMI Output
Yes x 1
DisplayPort
Yes
HDCP Support
Yes
Adaptor/Cable bundled
1 x DVI to D-Sub adaptor
1 x CrossFire cable
1 x Power cable
Software Bundled
ASUS Utilities & Driver
ASUS Features
DirectCu Series
Note
The card size is 10.24” x 4.84” inch

 

Features:

Asus Innovations:

GPU Features:

 

 

All information courtesy of ASUS @ http://usa.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=CEnS52z7Xuuce0Xp

Testing:

Testing the ASUS EAH6850 DirectCU Overclock Edition video card will consist of running it and a suite of comparison cards through the OverclockersClub.com suite of games and synthetic benchmarks. This will test the performance against many popular competitors. Comparisons will be made to cards of equal and greater capabilities to show where it falls on the performance ladder. The games used are some of today's newest and most popular titles to give you an idea of how the cards perform relative to each other.

The system specifications will remain the same throughout the testing. No adjustment will be made to the respective control panels during the testing with the exception of the 3DMark Vantage testing where PhysX will be disabled in the NVIDIA control panel. I will test the card at stock speeds, then overclocked in order to see how much additional performance is available and to determine if it can run with the current fastest single GPU cards on the market. The drivers used in this test will be the 10.10 Catalyst drivers for AMD and the 260.89 Forceware drivers from NVIDIA for all cards save the GTX 580. Tests will be conducted at both stock and overclocked settings to gauge performance when an increase in clock speed is applied. There is a change in how our graphs are now setup with the card being tested highlighted in RED for AMD Radeon products and GREEN for NVIDIA based video cards. As our tests are very comprehensive, we hope this makes it a little bit easier to pick them out of the crowd. The cards are placed in order from highest to lowest performing.

 

Comparison Video Cards:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocking the EAH6850 DirectCU Overclock Edition video card was accomplished using ASUS's own Smart Doctor software to increase the clock speeds on both the memory and Barts core. When the HD 6800 series came out initially there were no utilities to increase the voltage to the card to allow for a higher level of overclocking. Then we got to see a utility from Sapphire and MSI's afterburner finally allowed voltage tuning on these cards. With those utilities the voltage levels you can set are limited to 1.30 volts. ASUS has allowed the use of up to 1.35v so you can gain the highest possible overclock as long as the cooling holds out. The factory clock speed of this card is 790Mhz on the 40nm core and 1000MHz on the GDDR5 memory, a 15MHz bump on the core and 50MHz bump on the memory before I even touched the clock speeds. Knowing where the last few HD 6850 cards I have tested reached in terms of clock speed gave me a good indication of where this one might fall so I went straight for 1000Mhz on the core and 1200Mhz on the memory with the voltage bumped to 1.275. Unfortunately I just could not persuade it to finish at this speed and continued to test and tweak until the card could pass the most difficult runs through Crysis Warhead and and Unigine. I found that 983/1184Mhz at 1.265 was the most stable combination of clock speed and voltage that was able to complete the entire test suite without failure or corruption of the video imaging. I feel there is more in the card based on ASUS's forward thinking designs but the cooling starts to get overwhelmed when really pushing the voltage to the core. By dropping the voltage and clock speeds down 10 to 15Mhz from the ragged edge will allow you to get a measurable increase in performance while still keeping the card cool for a long lifespan. The overclocks that I was able to reach measure out at 190Mhz on the core and 184Mhz on the memory or just shy of 25% on the core and 18% on the memory. Both of these increases are well worth the effort to gain some additional performance.

 

Maximum Clock Speeds:

MSI's Kombuster utility was used to test stability and to put a constant load on the GPU for the purposes of testing maximum power draw and temperatures. The stability test was used to find a range of settings that are stable through a 15 minute run at 1920 x 1200 8xAA. The reported clock speeds are those that proved stable over a 15 minute test at 1920 x 1200, 8x AA and the run through the benchmarks suite.

   

 

  1. Far Cry 2
  2. Metro 2033
  3. Crysis Warhead
  4. Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2
  5. Just Cause 2
  6. Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.1
  7. Batman: Arkham Asylum
  8. Resident Evil 5
  9. 3DMark 06 Professional
  10. 3DMark Vantage
  1. Temperature
  2. Power Consumption

Featuring a new game engine named Dunia, this game looks to be another one to stress your video card. Built especially for Far Cry 2, this engine allows for real time effects and damage. This next generation first person shooter comes to us from Ubisoft surprisingly - not from Crytek. The game is set in a war-torn region of Africa where there is a non-existent central government and the chaos that surrounds this type of social environment. If you have seen the movie Blood Diamond, you know the setting. Ubisoft puts the main storyline of the game into focus with these statements: "Caught between two rival factions in war-torn Africa, you are sent to take out "The Jackal," a mysterious character who has rekindled the conflict between the warlords, jeopardizing thousands of lives. In order to fulfill your mission you will have to play the factions against each other, identify and exploit their weaknesses, and neutralize their superior numbers and firepower with surprise, subversion, cunning and, of course, brute force." In this version of the game, you don't have the beautiful water, but instead the beauty and harshness of the African continent to contend with. Most games give you a set area that can be played through, while Ubisoft has given the gamer the equivalent of 50 square kilometers of the vast African continent to explore while in pursuit of your goals. The settings used are just a few steps below the maximum in-game settings and offer a good blend of performance vs. visual quality.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

The EAH6850 delivers performance on par with or better than the HD5850 and GTX 465 in Far Cry 2 when the cards are run at their default clock speeds. Overclocking brings an additional level of performance.

Testing:

Part first person shooter, part survival horror, Metro 2033 is based on the novel of the same name, written by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. You play as Artyom in a post-apocalyptic Moscow, where you'll spend most of your time traversing the metro system, with occasional trips to the surface. Despite the dark atmosphere and bleak future for mankind, the visuals are anything but bleak. Powered by the 4A Engine, with support for DirectX 11, NVIDIA Physx and NVIDIA 3D Vision, the tunnels are extremely varied - in your travels, you'll come across human outposts, bandit settlements, and even half-eaten corpses. Ensuring you feel all the tension, there is no map and no health meter. Get lost without enough gas mask filters and adrenaline shots and you may soon wind up as one of those half-eaten corpses - chewed up by some horrifying manner of irradiated beast that hides in the shadows just waiting for some hapless soul to wander by.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

The EAH6850 performs as expected throughout this test. Its factory overclock allows it to have an edge over the reference clocked HD 6850 and the factory overclocked HD 5850 Toxic.

Testing:

Crysis Warhead is a standalone expansion pack situated in time with the story line of the original Crysis. As Sergeant "Psycho" Sykes, you have a secret mission to accomplish on the far side of the island. Along the way there are EMP blasts and aliens to contend with, as you hunt down the KPA chief. This game uses an enhanced version of the CryEngine 2.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

Depending on the resolution, the EAH6850 is ahead of the HD 5850 and GTX 465. In some cases performance is better than the GTX 460 FTW.

Testing:

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is the latest iteration of the venerable first person shooter series, Call of Duty. Despite its long, successful pedigree, the game is not without substantial criticism and controversy, especially on the PC. Aside from the extremely short campaign and lack of innovation, the PC version's reception was also marred by its lack of support for user-run dedicated servers, which means no user-created maps, no mods, and no customized game modes. You're also limited to 18-player matches instead of the 64-player matches that were possible in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Despite all this, the game has been well received and the in-house IW 4.0 engine renders the maps in gorgeous detail, making it a perfect candidate for OCC benchmarking. You start off the single player missions playing as Private Allen and jump right into a serious firefight. This is the point where testing will begin. Testing will be done using actual game play with FPS measured by Fraps.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

In the gaming resolutions this card is most likely to be used with, the EAH6850 is faster than the GTX 465 but much slower than the GTX460 while being on par with or slightly better than the HD 5850.

Testing:

Just Cause 2 is a third-person shooter that takes place on the fictional island of Panau in Southeast Asia. In this sequel to 2006's Just Cause, you return as Agent Rico Rodriguez to overthrow an evil dictator and confront your former boss. When you don't feel like following the main story line, you're free to roam the island, pulling off crazy stunts and causing massive destruction in your wake, all beautifully rendered by the Avalanche Engine 2.0. In the end, that's what the game basically boils down to. Crazy stunts and blowing things up. In fact, blowing things up and wreaking havoc is actually necessary to unlock new missions and items.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

At stock speeds, the EAH6850 DirectCU is faster than the GTX 465 and HD 5850 in all four resolutions. When all the cards are overclocked, the EAH6850 is still equal to or faster than the HD 5850.

Testing:

Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.0 is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on the Unigine engine. What sets the Heaven Benchmark apart is the addition of hardware tessellation, available in three modes. Moderate, Normal and Extreme. Although tessellation requires a video card with DirectX 11 support and Windows Vista/7, the Heaven Benchmark also supports DirectX 9, DirectX 10 and OpenGL. Visually, it features beautiful floating islands that contain a tiny village and extremely detailed architecture.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

As the resolution increases, the EAH6850 compares more favorably with the HD 5850. When overclocked, the AMD based single GPU equipped 58XX and 68XX cards have a 3 FPS differential between the best and worst with the 5700 series performing at a lower level.

Testing:

Batman: Arkham Asylum is a new game that brings together two bitter foes, the Joker and Batman. The Joker has taken over Arkham Asylum, Gotham's home for the criminally insane. Your task is to rein in the Joker and restore order. This game makes use of PhysX technology to create a rich environment for you to ply your trade.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

At stock speeds, the two HD 6850s are similar in performance across all four resolutions with the closest comparisons being the GTX 465 and HD 5850. When overclocked, the AMD based single GPU cards' performance is incredibly similar across the test suite.

Testing:

Resident Evil 5 is the sequel to one of the best selling video games of all time. You play the game as Chris Redfield a survivor of the events at Raccoon City who now works for the BSAA. Sent to Africa to find the genesis of the latest Bio Organic agents, you meet up with another BSAA operative and work together to solve the problem. The game offers incredible 3D effects and a co-op gaming style.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

By overclocking the EAH6850, it competes with an overclocked HD 6870 in this game test. At stock speeds, the ASUS 6850 is just ahead of the reference clocked card and below the HD 5850 Toxic.

Testing:

3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest has begun. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

The EAH6850 performs right around the level of the ENGTX465, HD 6850 and GTX 460 in this test. Overclocking does not necessarily increase the performance differential as this same group of cards compete at close to the same level.

Testing:

Featuring all-new game tests, this benchmark is for use with Vista based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. 'Entry' is 1024 x 768 progressing to 'Extreme' at 1920 x 1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

In 3DMark Vantage, The EAH6850 performed at a higher level than the reference clocked 6850 in both the stock and overclocked testing.

Testing:

Temperature testing will be accomplished by loading the video card to 100% using MSI Kombuster which is paired with MSI's afterburner overclocking utility for temperature monitoring. I will be using the stability test set to a resolution of 1920 x 1200 using 8xAA. I will use a 15 minute timeframe to run the test ensuring that the maximum thermal threshold is reached. The fan speed will be left in the control of the driver package and video card's BIOS for the first test, with the fan moved to 100% to see the best possible cooling scenario for overclocking. The idle test will be a 20 minute cool down with the fan speeds left on automatic.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

Lower = Better

 

At the default test levels, the DirectCU cooling solution on the ASUS EAH6850 was just about the coolest running card in the pack. Only out-cooled by the GTS 450 and HD 5750. When you crank up the voltage tweaking ability in ASUS's Smart Doctor, the cooler has a hard time keeping up with the thermal loading generated by the test when both the clock speeds and voltage are bumped up. Most manufacturers say that the kinds of power loads that Kombuster/Furmark/OCCT generate cause unrealistic loads that even the most stressful games do not generate. So, to test that hypothesis, I went ahead and looped the Crysis warhead benchmark through a ten run set using the 1920 x 1200 test resolution 8x AA and the Gamer preset in DX10 mode. What I found was that the game pulled a higher power consumption number and generated temperatures that were within two degrees of the load temperatures delivered by the EAH6850 DirectCU as when running the Kombuster application.

Testing:

Power Consumption of the system will be measured in both idle states and loaded states and will take into account the peak voltage of the system with each video card installed. I will use MSI Kombuster to load the GPU for a 15 minute test and use the peak load of the system as my result for the maximum load. The idle results will be measured after 15 minutes of inactivity on the system.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

Lower = Better

 

The ASUS EAH6850 DirectCU finishes towards the lower end of the power consumption results.

Conclusion:

The EAH6850 DirectCU Overclock Edition video card is another example of ASUS's commitment to the end user to put together a complete package that can satisfy the needs of the overclocker and enthusiast. ASUS Extreme Design philosophy is putting their engineering out front showing why the product they deliver is better than the competition's. Things such as improving the structural design with ASUS GPU Guard that helps prevent board flex and cracking of the PCB and traces when larger heatsinks (the one used on this card is a prime example) are used. ASUS EMI shield is another of these small unrecognized differences that reduces the amount of EMI interference in the outgoing signal for a clearer image. Then of course the cooling solution that helps keep the VRM circuits as well as the graphics core cool. All these things add up to points of difference.

When it comes to performance, the EAH6850 DirectCU showed improved frames per second performance over the reference clocked HD 6850 as it should have. It even gave the HD 5850 and GTX 465 a run for the money in many of the tests. With a name that includes Overclocked Edition you have to believe that ASUS took the time to make sure the card overclocked well. And it did. With the large DirectCU dual heat pipe based heat sink, ASUS has equipped the card with better than stock cooling to allow for some spirited overclocking. I was able to overclock the core by almost 25% and the memory 18% (on this card in particular) by using ASUS's Smart Doctor utility to reach the final clock speeds of 983/1184Mhz. The ASUS overclocking utility has monitoring functionality as well as the ability to push the voltage envelope higher than the currently available utilities. Again, a point of difference at 1.35v versus 1.30v. Overclocking the EAH6850 resulted in measurable improvements in gaming performance so even if you don't take full advantage of the card's capabilities you can still see improved performance.

The EAH6850 is equipped with a large non-reference cooler that runs quieter than the blower style reference cooler by a wide margin. At stock speeds and voltages the DirectCU cooling solution is one of the coolest in the comparison field at 63 degrees Celsius. It achieves this level of cooling with the moderately sized fin array and dual direct contact heat pipe design of the cooler. People's opinions of cool differ widely but I found as the voltages and clock speeds were ramped up the cooler was less capable, exhibiting a load temperature of 81 degrees Celsius, approaching the level of the Fermi based powerhouses. Any higher on the voltage than 1.265v and the cooling was a bit overwhelmed with temperatures shooting even faster up to 81 Celsius. In my opinion, 81 Celsius is warm but I'm sure there are graphics cards sitting in small cases with no airflow running much hotter. It's just that cooler temperatures are better for long term stability and component life. Even though the temperatures climbed a little high when overclocked, the noise from the EAH6850 is worlds better than the reference design blower style fan.

With all that being said, the EAH6850 DirectCU is a more than capable video card that fits right into the sub $200 price point (at $199 online). Although up $20 from the reference $179 price point the HD 6850 was initially offered at, the ASUS-added features of this card make it $20 well spent. Features such as improved cooling, lower noise and the ability to use all of the latest AMD specific technologies such as Eyefinity, 3D Stereoscopic gaming support, CrossfireX support, HDMI 1.4a, Display Port 1.2 and performance that rivals the performance of the HD 5850 and GTX 465 all add up to way more than $20 in value - in my opinion. The 6850 is not meant to fill the performance shoes of the HD5850 but it does a fine job of making it happen in the resolutions that this card will most often be used when displaying images on 22 to 24 inch monitors.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: