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Reviews » Video Cards

Sapphire HD 5850 Review

Price: $259.99


ATI dropped a bomb on the graphics card world with the Sapphire HD 5870 so it would only be a short while before the follow-up came out in the form of the Sapphire HD 5850. Based on the same "Cypress" RV870 core the HD 5850 should offer performance that scales well in games and some much needed shoring up of the performance in the $250 price range. The Sapphire HD 5850 is built using the same 40nm process and comes equipped with the same 2.15 Billion transistors and 1GB of GDDR5 memory as the HD 5870. Clock speeds come in at a reasonable 1000MHz on the memory and 725MHz on the core giving up a hefty amount of speed to the 5870 in the clock speed department. As the second DX 11 video card to market ATI is ramping up a full DX 11 lineup for the future of gaming even though the DX 11 titles have not made it to market yet. The HD 5850 has more in store as ATI is making the move to compete with Nvidia in the GPU compute market while offering improved graphics performance in DX9/10/10.1 titles.

Let's find out if the Sapphire HD 5850 has the same thoroughbred heritage as the HD 5870 and how well it competes against the latest video cards from Nvidia and the last generation of ATI video cards. If performance is close to that delivered by the 5870, then ATI and its partners including the biggest of them all, Sapphire, has delivered a one / two punch that currently puts the cards at the top of the performance ladder! Let's get to it!










Closer Look:

Sapphire's packing has had different iterations of Ruby as the focal point of its packaging for sometime now. Each one is appealing in its own way and draws in its core customer. The background on the HD5850 has a violet hue instead of the gold background on the 5870 that made a statement. Features of the HD5850 are listed on the front panel and include ATI Eyefinity capability, on-board HDMI and DisplayPort connections, two Teraflops of computing power, DirectX 11 and CrossfireX readiness. The back panel lists the contents of the package, several product highlights and a short description of the latest technologies the HD 5850 is capable of using. A couple of things most people don't take into account are the environmental factors associated with their products. On the bottom right-hand side you can see that the HD 5850 is ROHS compliant and that the packaging materials, both the inner and outer packaging, are 100% recyclable.



The inner package is a plain recyclable cardboard box that contains the Sapphire HD 5850 and bundle. When you open the box it is nice to see that the recyclable materials are used so that Sapphire is not adding to the environmental woes of the world with the packaging they use. The HD 5850 is encased in bubble wrap to protect it from the stress of travel with the bundle on top of and segregated in its own compartment.



The bundle included with the Sapphire HD 5850 includes the documentation in the form of the manual, a driver disk that contains the driver for this latest offering from ATI and Sapphire, a Crossfire Bridge connection, D-sub to DVI adapter, and two power connections in case your power supply does not have 6 pin PCIe connections. There are no other video adapters needed for this card since it does not have a HDTV out port - what it does include are a DisplayPort and HDMI connection onboard.


Let's get a little more intimate with the little brother to the HD 5870 and see if it has the same pedigree.


  1. Introduction & Closer Look
  2. Closer Look (The Video Card)
  3. Closer Look (Drivers & Programs)
  4. Closer Look (Catalyst Control Center)
  5. Specifications & Features
  6. Testing: Setup & Overclocking
  7. Testing: Far Cry 2
  8. Testing: Crysis Warhead
  9. Testing: Darkest of Days
  10. Testing: Call of Duty World at War
  11. Testing: Warhammer 40,000 Dawn of War II
  12. Testing: Batman Arkham Asylum
  13. Testing: Resident Evil 5
  14. Testing: Left 4 Dead
  15. Testing: 3DMark 06
  16. Testing: 3DMark Vantage
  17. Conclusion
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