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AMD 6800 Series Review

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One thing most people will have a hard time with is the fact that the 6870 and 6850 are not the replacements for the strong performing HD 5870 and HD 5850. These are cards that are meant to fit into a mid-range performance and price point whose introduction also ushers in support for new technologies such as Stereoscopic 3D, HDMI 1.4a and Display Port 1.2 and that offer up a host of display opportunities. You now have the ability to run Eyefinity setups without expensive adapters with a fairly inexpensive video card. The HD 68XX series are cards that target NVIDIA's GTX 460 and hit the mark on performance and price. The performance of the HD 6870 was actually better than I was expecting and shows that you can get excellent performance for a sub $250 price tag. All-in-all, the two series delivered excellent performance in the game testing by comparison to a stacked field.

After the stock testing was finished it was time to overclock each of these cards. What I found was that each one of the HD 6870 cards reached a limit at 1000Mhz or below. So really all I was able to realize was a maximum of about 100Mhz on the core and just over that on the memory on each of the HD 6870 cards. The HD 6850 on the other hand was able to give up close to 200Mhz on the core to bring the performance up a few notches. It may be that once the overclocking community gets their hands on them and tweaking utilities pick up the ability to make voltage adjustments, then we may see higher clock speeds. With the overclocking work, you have the temperatures you want to keep an eye on. On these cards the temperatures were well within limits and never really got out of hand. What did get out of hand was the fan noise of the HD 6870's blower fan. In the past I have railed on the noise these fans put out when ramped up and these cards did not in any way do anything to reduce the contempt I have for a blower fan. While yes they are effective, you really don't want the noise equivalent of a vacuum cleaner two to five feet from your head. If anything needs fixing on these cards this is the one thing. By reducing the physical size of the GPU, AMD has been able to reduce power consumption for these cards to a point that makes the use of less energy an attractive proposition. I think the Barts core must feel like the Six Million Dollar man, Better, stronger , Faster!

AMD has priced this line of video cards at an aggressive price point of $239 for the HD 6870 and $179 for the HD 6850. I think this may have struck a nerve with NVIDIA as the current price/performance stars in their DX 11 product stack, the GTX 460 and the GTX 470 both saw price drops today to the $259 and $199 price point respectively. With OC Versions (like the ones used in this review) of the GTX 460 and 470 popping up all over the place and deals to be had left and right from both camps, you will have a lot of choices to choose from. Looks like innovation and new technology is opening the doors for better consumer pricing!

Each of the cards we have looked at today offer great performance for a modest price. An upgrade from the 5800 series this card is not. But, for just about anything less, you can take a step up the ladder with these mid-range power houses!



  • Great Performance
  • Stereoscopic 3D
  • Pricing
  • Power consumption
  • Overclocking on the HD 6850



  • HD 6870 fan noise
  • Low overclocking overhead on the HD 6870
OCC Gold

  1. Introduction
  2. Closer Look: Sapphire
  3. Closer Look: XFX HD 6870 & HD 6850
  4. Closer Look: PowerColor
  5. Closer Look: Technologies
  6. Specifications & Features
  7. Testing: Setup & Overclocking
  8. Testing: Far Cry 2
  9. Testing: Metro 2033
  10. Testing: Crysis Warhead
  11. Testing: Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2
  12. Testing: Just Cause 2
  13. Testing: Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.1
  14. Testing: Batman Arkham Asylum
  15. Testing: Resident Evil 5
  16. Testing: Futuremark 3DMark06
  17. Testing: Futuremark 3DMark Vantage
  18. Testing: Temperatures
  19. Testing: Power Consumption
  20. Conclusion:
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