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Sapphire HD 5850 Review

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Testing the Sapphire HD 5850 will consist of running the card through the OverclockersClub.com suite of games and synthetic benchmarks to test the performance of the HD 5850 against many popular competitors. The games used are some of today's popular titles to give you an idea on 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. Clock speeds on each card are left at stock speeds. I will test the Sapphire HD5850 at both stock speeds and then overclocked to see how much additional performance is available when you choose to overclock the card, to see if it can run with, or faster than, the current fastest single GPU cards on the market. I have also changed up the benchmark suite to include some of the newest titles to market including Batman: Arkham Asylum, Resident Evil 5 and Darkest of Days. Of course, all settings are left at defaults in the control panels of each respective manufacturer except where noted. I will be using the latest drivers from each manufacturer at the time of this review. Catalyst 9.9 for all ATI cards save the 5800 series that require the 8.66 RC and the 192.00 for the Nvidia cards


Comparison Video Cards:



Overclocked settings:

  • Sapphire HD 5850 870/1225

While I will admit I ran into a few problems with the 5870 overclocking, I did not run into the same problems with the Sapphire HD 5850. THe HD 5850 did well when it came to overclocking but it took a couple different programs to get everything to go off without a hitch. Overclocking in the control panel is ridiculously easy but the limits are set to a level that the card easily is able to achieve. Maybe this is by design! Let the masses overclock and not kill the card with limits set low enough so that even less than capable cards can reach the limits! No problem! CCC Maxed out, Check! Next is where it gets a little more complex, but not overly so. You can download AMD GPU Clock tool and MSI AfterBurner to make sure you get all the functionality you can. The reason for the two utility approach is that when you set the clock speeds in AMD GPU Clock Tool and apply the setting you default the fan speed to auto. If you go back into the CCC to change the fan speed, you lose the clock speeds you set in the GPU Clock Tool. Goofy, but it's what happens. Enter MSI Afterburner - this application was written by the same person responsible for Riva Tuner over at Guru3d and is an easy to use interface that is already able to work with the 5800 series. Now set your clocks in AMD GPU Clock tool and then set the fan speed in Afterburner and you get the fan speed back allowing you to push a bit higher on the overclock. This is exactly what I did and ended up with clock speeds of 870 on the RV 870 core and 1225MHz on the Samsung GDDR5 memory. Independently, the clock speeds could be run up higher, but these clocks were the max I could pull from the card when run up together. An increase of 145MHz on the core and 225MHz on the memory are a pretty strong selling point, if all of them can push to this level. When overclocked, you can see substantial increases in performance across the board. With the fan speed set in the 75 to 80 % range, the card stayed in the high 50's Celsius under load when overclocked so it seems that the two heatpipe cooler is doing its job. You still get the blower noise when you crank up the fan speed manually but you either live with it or tone it down to where both the clock speeds and and noise level work for you.



  • Video:
  1. Far Cry 2
  2. Crysis Warhead
  3. Darkest of Days
  4. Call of Duty World at War
  5. Warhammer 40,000 DOW II
  6. Batman: Arkham Asylum
  7. Resident Evil 5
  8. Left 4 Dead
  9. 3DMark 06 Professional
  10. 3DMark Vantage


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