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AMD 6800 Series Review

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Testing of new AMD (Formerly ATI) Radeon HD 68XX series video cards will consist of running the 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 these card's performance stands. The games used are some of today's newest and most 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. 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 10.9 Catalyst drivers for the old ATI lineup, the latest launch driver for the HD 68XX series and 260.89 Forceware drivers from NVIDIA for the GTX 480, 470, 465 and GTX 460 and 450. Tests will be conducted at both stock and overclocked settings to gauge performance when an increase in clock speed is applied.

Comparison Video Cards:



  • Sapphire HD 6870  974 / 1170
  • XFX HD 6870  1000 / 1166
  • XFX HD 6850  972 / 1159
  • Powercolor HD 6870  1000 / 1220

Overclocking the HD 68XX series cards from Sapphire, XFX, and PowerColor was much the same as overclocking the AMD HD 5XXX series cards. By increasing clock speeds, performance gains in benchmarks are to be expected. To reach the maximum clock speeds on each card I used MSI's Afterburner overclocking utility to get the most from each card. The configuration file was modified to to allow clock speeds above what is listed in the AMD Catalyst Control Center, just in case I needed it. On the Sapphire card, I was able to reach 974MHz on the new Barts core and 1179MHz on the GDDR5 memory. That's an increase of only 8%, or 74Mhz, on the core and 129MHz, or close to 12%, on the memory - without any added cost. The XFX version of the HD 6870 did better on the core, but was slightly worse on the memory, at 1000Mhz on the core and 1166MHZ on the memory. These increases are roughly 11% on the GPU core and 10% on the memory. The PowerColor card was also able to achieve an 11% gain on the core speed, up from 900 MHz stock up to 1000 MHz overclocked. The memory was able to be pushed all the way to 1220 MHz from 1050 MHz stock for a gain of roughly 16%, the highest memory clock of the group. Last but certainly not least, the HD 6850 from XFX really was able to maximize the GPU clock speed from its original 775MHz to 972Mhz, just shy of a 200Mhz increase on the core. The memory seemed to fall right in the narrow window all of these cards fall into. While not has high as what the HD 5XXX series were capable of, the clock speeds are impressive enough to really push the performance envelope that one step further.




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.  The stable condition was determined 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.



  • Gaming Tests:
  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 2.0
  7. Batman: Arkham Asylum
  8. Resident Evil 5
  9. 3DMark 06 Professional
  10. 3DMark Vantage
  • Usage:
  1. Temperature
  2. Power Consumption


The maximum clock speed graphs above show the overclocking potential of the all cards tested.

  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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