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XFX HD 6850 Black Edition Review

Category: Video Cards
Price: $209
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And so it starts! The Barts core AMD 6800 series video cards were released to the world officially on October 22 2010.  These cards delivered performance above what they were projected to deliver, all for a very reasonable price point. NVIDIA countered with factory overclocked examples of the FERMI architecture equipped GTX 460 and GTX 470, which offers additional performance, making the match-up a bit closer than it originally was going to be. Now, just a week later, the overclocked cards from AMD and its partners are rolling out the doors. The first factory overclocked example I will be looking at comes from XFX in the form of its Black Edition HD 6850. Now we all know the Black Edition cards that roll out of the doors of XFX have a little something special and this one indeed is, with the clock speeds at 850Mhz on the core and at a hefty 1100MHz on the 1GB of GDDR5 memory. These speeds are pretty decent increases over the base clock speeds of 775/1000MHz, which the base versions come equipped with. We saw how the XFX 6850 overclocked in our AMD 6800 series launch article with an overclock of 972MHz on the Barts core and 1159MHz on the memory, while staying relatively cool due to the heat pipe based cooling solution. Running cool is the name of the game when overclocking and XFX utilizes a different method to rid the core of its thermal energy by way of a Vapor Chamber type heat sink made popular by Sapphire and used as the reference cooling solution on the top card in AMD's DirectX 11 arsenal, the HD 5970. Let's take a walk on the dark side and see how the XFX HD 6850 Black edition performs.

Closer Look:

The packaging that came with the XFX HD 6850 Black edition mirrored the stock packaging. The front and rear views contained a wealth of information about the card: its capabilities and the technologies it supports including DirectX 11, Eyefinity, Advanced Parallel Processing, CrossFireX, Stereoscopic 3D and Unified Video Decoder 3. In lieu of showing the packaging I received, I will show a representation of the final product packaging.












Inside the outer sleeve is a box that contains the subject of this closer look, the the XFX HD 6850 BE. The outside is black and features the XFX logo and slogan "Play Hard" in green with the XFX web link to the right. The inside of the box is broken up into compartments with the peripherals such as the manuals, driver disk and adapters up top, with the video card stored underneath.  From the first look, the Black edition seems to be similar to the standard card in its length and build.



The accessory bundle for this card contains the driver disk, an AMD GPU guide, quick install guide, a door tag that lets your family know not to disturb you while you are dishing out a world of hurt to your opponents, and a single Crossfire bridge connection.


Really the only thing special thus far is the Black Edition's promise of enhanced performance. With its impressive factory overclock that should be a forgone conclusion.

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