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XFX HD 5850 Review

Price: $289


The XFX HD 5850 is the second line of cards to come out of the AMD 5-series cards. The die still has the same transistor count as the 5870 Cypress core, with a few processing units disabled to get 1440 stream processors while the ROPs were untouched at 32. The core speed is 725 MHz versus the 850 MHz reference clock of the HD 5870. The XFX HD 5850 also has 1GB of GDDR5 memory on a 256-bit memory bus, these are running at 1000 MHz (4000MHz effectively). The smaller 40nm fabrication process allows more power to be packed into a chip, and generally equates to cooler running and less energy consumption on the GPU; the 4-series cards left off at 55nm for the most part. The heat sink and expansion slot ports are identical looking to the HD 5870 save for the shorter design - about an inch shorter. The 5-series cards such as the XFX HD 5850 being reviewed support the soon to be released DirectX 11. This card also supports the new ATI Eyefinity technology that allows multiple monitors to span games across them. With a similar Volterra VRM design, this card is also core volt-modifiable through software just like the XFX HD 5870 was.

As long as the petite XFX HD 5850 doesn't disappoint in the benchmarks, then there is a huge chance that this card will fit very well in the price-to-performance segment. With the only difference between it and a HD 5870 being some processing power and overall length, it will be interesting to see how different they are and if the 5850 can catch up in performance.

Closer Look:

The box art for the XFX HD 5850 is virtually the same as was found on the XFX HD 5870. The box is smaller however, more resembling the typically skinny XFX boxes. Red and black galore, as is fit with AMD/ATI products, a metallic-X sits in the background, while in the foreground prominently sits the title, Radeon HD 5850, underlined by caution stripes that enclose four features - Graphics Card, PCI Express 2.0 Bus, 1GB GDDR5 Memory, and HDMI Output. An XFX, ATI, and Dirt 2 logo make appearances near the edges of the box. 1GB and 5-star support stickers are also there. Switching to the back shows the key features of the card along with some of the specifications. Expand, Accelerate, Dominate is the new mantra from AMD for their new line of cards. XFX bolds these with green which stands out against the tide of red and black, they also do the same with the 5-star support and company website. The only information missing is the shader processor count - 1440, smaller than the 5870's but both are still CrossFire capable according to AMD.









One side of the XFX box has some information concerning the free game bundle - rated PG / 12 years of age, Teen, Mild Coarse Language, et cetera. The bottom has the usual XFX label with model, version, and part numbers, basic information on the video card - HD 5850, 1GB GDDR5, Display Port, HDMI, Dual DVI, and PCI-E connectivity. The serial and UPC is near the bottom. The next side has information about some of the features of the card - four white pictures at the top read "Vivid Photos", "Cinematic Video", "Immersive Gaming", and "High Performance". Powered by XFX Radeon HD 5850 sits above the other features - ATI Avivo HD Video and Display Technology, ATI Catalyst Software Suite, and ATI CrossFireX Technology Multi-GPU Ready.



The top is clean with a continuation of the background artwork which is on the rest of the box. In bold, bright letters, the top reads Radeon HD 5850, with two logos to the right - one for XFX and one for ATI. The bottom lists the minimum system requirements and the box contents. For card installation, a PCI-Express or PCI-Express 2.0 compatible motherboard with an open slot is the first requirement, a 500-Watt or better power supply is the next suggestion with preferably two 75W 6-pin PCI Express connections. Lastly, 1GB of system memory is suggested. The box contains the video card, Installation CD, Quick Installation Guide, Driver CD Installation Guide, XFX Serial Number Door Hanger, 6-pin to 4-pin Power Cable adapter, DVI to VGA adapter, and CrossFire bridge.



Opening the package gives access to the standard XFX black box. The box has an XFX logo to the left and the website address to the right. The box is rigid cardboard with a smooth feel to it - providing an elegant box to protect the valuables inside. Opening the box shows the tray underneath of the Dirt 2 voucher. The tray holds the accessories and driver disks for installation, and provide protection to the card from the top.



Opening the tab on the tray shows the hardware accessories - CrossFire ribbon cable, DVI to VGA adapter, and a pair of two 4-pin to 6-pin power cables. The door tag is tucked between the flap on both sides. Removing the tray gives access to the video card - protected by both the black box and a green cardboard support that fits the form of the XFX HD 5850 closely.



The XFX HD 5850 is protected in its anti-static bag from static, dust, and moisture. The included accessories are plentiful and should provide a good installation experience. The door hanger can come in handy when users need their serial number or other information, and the Dirt 2 game voucher will come in handy when the game is released. The installation guides should also come in handy for anyone needing help getting the video card in.



The XFX Radeon HD 5850 is unpacked so it's time to get a look at it!

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