AMD ATI Radeon HD 5850 Performance Review - HotHardware

AMD ATI Radeon HD 5850 Performance Review

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The new ATI Radeon HD 5850 is a significant step up from the Radeon HD 4870 which launched last year, but not quite as powerful as AMD's current flagship Radeon HD 5870. The chart below illustrates exactly how the cards compare in a number of key categories.

Radeon HD 4870, Radeon HD 5850, and Radeon HD 5870 Comparison 

As you can see, the Radeon HD 5850 is outfitted with the same 2.15B transistor GPU manufactured at 40nm as the Radeon HD 5870, but the GPU is clocked at only 725MHz, and is outfitted with 1440 stream processors, which results in 2.09TeraFLOPS of compute performance versus the 5870's 2.72TeraFLOPS. The Radeon HD 5850 also sports eight fewer texture units than the 5870, but the same number of ROPs. Finally, the 5850's memory clock is reduced to 1000MHz (4Gbps data rate), which results in 128GB/s of peak bandwidth.

The aggregate effect of all of the changes made to the Radeon HD 5850 result in a graphics card with a 52.2GTexels/s texture fillrate (23.2Gpixels/s), that's still capable of breaking the 2TeraFLOP mark in terms of compute performance. The changes made to the Radeon HD 5850 result in lower power consumption too, as is evident by the card's 151W max board power, which is actually 9 watts lower than the previous generation Radeon HD 4870.

From the front, the Radeon HD 5850 looks very much like the Radeon HD 5870 that launched last week.  Although, as we have already pointed out, the Radeon HD 5850 has a shorter PCB; 9" to be exact. Both cards are equipped with a black fan shroud, with a red stripe running down the middle, that encases the entire front side of the card. Like the 5870, the 5850's cooler has a barrel fan that draws air into the shroud, where it is forced through the heatsink and partially exhausted from the system through vents in the card's mounting plate. Two more vents at the back of the card also direct some air that is vented within the system.

The outputs on the Radeon HD 5850 consist of dual, dual-link DVI outputs, an HDMI output (with audio) and a DisplayPort output. Any combination of three of these ports can be used, and of course the card fully supports the ATI Eyefinity multi-display technology.

Unlike the Radeon HD 5870 though, the backside of the Radeon HD 5850 is exposed. Other than the myriad of surface mounted components, however, there isn't much to see. The GPU heatsink retention bracket is visible right about in the center the PCB, with the card's dual CrossFire edge connectors a couple of inches away at the top corner, just like every other Radeon since the X1950.

As we've mentioned, total board power is rated at 151 watts.  As such, the Radeon HD 5850 requires a pair of 6-pin PCI Express power connectors--no 8-pin connection is required, like some other higher-powered boards.

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Great review guys. Looks like the 5850 directly competes with the GTX285, offering almost identical (to very slightly better) performance at less power consumption.

But since Nvidia will most likely cut the price of the GTX 285 to 5850's levels, this card will the start of higher end value cards.

Another thing is that in most gaming tests, it offered more than 80% of the performance the 5870 offered. So it seems like a better value than the 5870.

However, keep in mind that with ATI EYEfinity, you want the best card possible to future proof yourself. In this sense the 5870 is your best bet since the 5850 deficiencies will disappoint those planning a 3x1 LCD config.

Great marketing move ATI, and I think the gamers will benefit from the price war that will ensue.

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So they're doing what they always do. Driving prices down for the masses,...

Since they always respond to NVIDIA's products and always for a lot less money.

That's why I support them by buying ATI. The market would be terribly expensive without them around.

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Admirable performance, but not quite as close to the 5870 as I would have liked.  But it is indeed the GTX 285 killer as it offers generally better performance at a lower price.  Unless Nvidia adjusts that card to $249 or less, I see those stocks sitting where they are.  Reminds me of the 4850 beating the 9800GTX at a lower price point, forcing Nvidia to replace it with the faster 9800GTX+ (GTS 250).  So I wonder if history will continue to repeat and the GTX 360 will aim for 5870 performance and the GTX 380 will be the fastest single GPU card.  But we shall see.

Opting for the 5850 over the 5870 would get you 20% less performance, but it's also 30% cheaper.  Those with a 4870 / GTX 260 or higher would probably opt for the 5870, but those with 4850 or 9800GTX+ or lower could settle in here and be pretty happy I think.

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   I am really looking at some memories on this specific card. I do not have one (at least not yet), so this opinion is just by looking at the hardware specs of this unit. In a way and also using memory, these very close specs bring back a familiar one. Everyone on here that has been into hardware for some time, will most likely fondly remember the way ATI used to do things. They would release a top end card, and then (and there are special circumstances here) would release another card on there mid value line, of course among all the cards they had. The specific was usually only either in PCB color or sometimes very specific model numbers. This card was usually also with a bit of difference in the end unit, but otherwise basically the same components other than size.

   I bet many of you (at least those who will remember this specific ATI phenomenon) are seeing where I am leading here. Please mind you this is not fact based, as I do not have one of these units physically for testing or mod "yet". When you got one of these units in days gone by, I would think almost 10 years now since the last time I saw this. You would need one with the right PCB or serial# specific's, you could then generally flash the GPU's internal bios, and in the end your card would be recognized as the top model card, and perform on par if not above in some cases.

   The tell tale on this was usually the card would although looking different have the same GPU, and Memory but be under clocked in both cases. Yes you could just OC it and get close to the faster card performance, but you could not match or exceed a stock unit without flashing the cards internal BIOS. So I think I am either going to be watching the various boards (this one being my fave of course), for some news on this, or buying one and attempting some mod work myself, as I said watching various forums (specifically some of the OC boards I use) to see where and if this pops up. I will also be hoping this is the case, as many things have changed in the hardware world bus wise, over clocking method wise etc. . So I could be wrong, but the specifics to me look positive with the exact same GPU, and memory unit speeds.

One of the other specifics on those old units would be specific memory, If I remember correctly it was Samsung memory. This would generally always be the same the cards that could be flashed and out perform the highest units would have a specific version of this memory. The main differing thing would often be a specific of two or three units memory wise sometimes by the same manufacturer sometime by a few different ones.

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Sheesh rapid1 why dont you just say you are talking about the 9700pro and 9500pro and how if you got lucky you could flash a 9500pro to 9700pro. At that time those cards were the only DX9 capable cards, but they spanked the living crap out of what Nvidia had at the time with their 4800Ti series cards. I definitely like the way AMD is pushing these ATI cards and keeping prices down, but i dont think that this is the old 9700pro deal at all, it is close. Maybe next gen we might see this phenomenon, it all kinda boils down to if Nvidia's GT300 is really good, and if it can get to market soon enough.

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Exactly; The memory, gpu specs, and everything on this board looks limited purposefully to me. This is because the specs are overall so similar. Yes as well that is exactly what I am talking about (9500/9700 pro). But the specs are so close why would the card have differing performance in any way. The only real difference I see is a 8 port and 6 port power conneter and a smaller PCB, which if you remember was exactly (PCB) the only difference hardware wise in the 9500/9700 deal.

I think it is actually a very smart way to capture two market segments, just like it was back then. If they do that and grab a big chunk of the market and get the hype running, then Nvidia drops there new card and it east the high end or mid high end it doesn't hurt nearly as bad. Because they would have part of the mid high and middle as well as mid low in there pocket. Those sectors are overall the most profitable of the market anyway.

So the software recognition on the cards sub bios recognizes and auto clocks the 5850 auto, and the make twice the money selling one card as 2. Plus on top of that if Nvidia drops a absolute killer card, well ATI just takes some of those 5870 GPU's and Memory, and throws them on a cheaper smaller PCB. Seems like a money all around strategy to me!

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Lol, I was looking at you computer specs Drago, and ours are so close it is almost a joke. I use the same MB, MEM and HD only diff I really see is  I use a 3870 GPU, and  my cpu is now a x2 4000 which I clock at 5000! The old CPU which was the same is in the other desktop, as well as my ATI X1650xt pro, on an Elitegroup MB.

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