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MSI R6850 Cyclone Power Edition Review

Price: $180


Now that the 6000 has become well saturated within the market, companies have begun churning out various customized revisions of the reference designs. Some variations include factory overclocks, some strap on aftermarket heat sinks, still others go to the lengths of attaching waterblocks, giving their cards an additional thermal envelope to play in. While these enhancements are nice, one of the larger benefits of purchasing these higher tag items is the increased quality of the card itself. After chips are manufactured, they are tested for leakage, stability, and efficiency then sorted by quality and sent to various manufacturing lines. The higher the price for the card you’re buying, the higher the likelihood of a highly binned card which means higher clock speeds using less power and lower temperatures. All of these perks are meant to differentiate each card from the next, attempting to entice enthusiasts’ wallets towards their markups.

With MSI’s R6850 Cyclone Power Edition, the company hopes to woo your heart by offering a Military Class II design which features Solid Ferrite Chokes, Hi-C Caps with Tantalum Cores, and Solid CAPs with 10 year lifespans. Working in tandem, these three features offer extreme stability under overclocked conditions with lower leakage and better efficiency. Next up, MSI mounted on a full 6+1 Phase power system which means the GPU receives optimum power conditions at all times under all circumstances allowing for the highest possible overclocks. Finally, this card comes with a custom Cyclone heat sink which was included in a lot of MSI’s designs in the past and is complete with a hardware speed switch right on the PCB. Reading through the specs, this card screams overclock so I can’t wait to put this impressive white paper to the test!

Closer Look:

Throughout my experience with MSI, I have always been met with products that focus a lot more on the main feature than the package that it comes with. This card seems no different. The box that houses the MSI R6850 Power Edition is larger than most graphics card boxes, but it is very clean and imposing. The Cyclone heatsink is front and center, dominating the cover of the package while "R6850 Cyclone Power Edition" is embossed below in large pearlescent letters and an advertisement for the card’s unique 6.1 Power System prominently displayed. A sticker promoting the card's three year warranty in the upper left corner directly underneath the MSI logo and the right corner rounds out the package with the standard technology logos. MSI did add a rather unique feature for a graphics card package here though. The front cover flips up to reveal an entirely separate information panel as well as a window through which the card can be seen. On this insert, MSI describes each of the technologies listed on the front panel in detail and flouts its Cyclone heat sink’s previous accolades. Flip to the rear panel and MSI states that this card runs on the HD 6000 series GPU, uses the Unified Video Decoder 3 for smoother Blu-Rays, and HDMI 1.4a support in 30 different languages consuming the entire right half of the panel. On the left side, basic features and system requirements are present for the contemplating consumer to consider.









Removing the display box, the theming ends abruptly. This is not the kind of product to post unboxing videos of. Nevertheless, the R6850 is very well secured in a bland white one-size-fits-all styrofoam casing thanks to a filler insert and the antistatic bag enclosing the card itself. A cardboard flap is accessible along the front edge of the package revealing the accessories compartment.



Most mid-level graphics cards do not have overly excessive accessory bundles and this card is no different. The MSI R6850 Cyclone Power Edition comes with everything needed to run the card right out of the box. MSI ships each card with a DVI to VGA adapter, a Crossfire link, a 6-Pin to dual Molex for buyers with older power supplies, as well as a driver disc that comes preloaded with MSI’s own Afterburner utility which will be used to overclock the card later in the review. This is a more than adequate bundle for the price range.


The outer packaging looks great and the accessory bundle does not disappoint. Let’s take a look at the card and its Cyclone cooler up close!

  1. Introduction & Closer Look
  2. Closer Look (Continued)
  3. Specifications & Features
  4. Testing: Setup
  5. Testing: Alien vs Predator
  6. Testing: Metro 2033
  7. Testing: Crysis Warhead
  8. Testing: Tom Clancy's HAWX 2
  9. Testing: Lost Planet 2
  10. Testing: Unigine 2.5
  11. Testing: Just Cause 2
  12. Testing: Mafia II
  13. Testing: Battlefield Bad Company 2
  14. Testing: 3DMark 11
  15. Testing: Temperatures
  16. Testing: Power Consumption
  17. Conclusion
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