AMD Radeon HD 6870 & 6850 Graphics Cards Debut - HotHardware

AMD Radeon HD 6870 & 6850 Graphics Cards Debut

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Performance Summary: The new Radeon HD 6800 series cards performed very well throughout our entire battery of tests. Generally speaking, the Radeon HD 6870 performs about on par with the GeForce GTX 470 and somewhat behind the Radeon HD 5870, but it does so while offering lower power consumption. The Radeon HD 6850 finds itself in a similar situation. Overall, the Radeon HD 6850 trails the older Radeon HD 5850, but hangs with or outruns a stock GeForce GTX 460 1GB, an overclocked 460, however, will trypically be faster. Keep in mind though, factory overclocked Radeon HD 6800 series cards are right around the corner. We also witnessed excellent dual-GPU scaling when running the new Radeon HD 6800 cards in CrossFire mode. In fact, in a couple of games the 6800 series' strong scaling allowed the 6870 / 6850 CrossFire configurations to outrun competitive offerings, that were slightly faster when running on single GPU.

One word aptly describes AMD's latest Radeon HD 6800 series GPUs: refinement.  AMD's goal was to drive cost and power consumption out of their architecture, along with enhancing its capabilities, features and image quality in next-generation DX11 gaming engines.  To that end we'd say the company has succeeded masterfully. With the Radeon HD 6870 at $239 MSRP, gamers can enjoy virtually all the performance and then some of AMD previous generation $299 card, but with lower power consumption and better support for DX11 features like tessellation and seemingly better multi-GPU scaling. With respect to the Radeon HD 6850, the value proposition may be even stronger at its $179 MSRP.  Also, let's not forget that, especially in the midrange price points, as future higher-end cards are released, (think Cayman and the Radeon HD 6970) those street prices tend to fall back just a tad here and there. AMD has also stated that tens of thousands of these new cards have already shipped to e-tailers, so you'll be able to buy them right away.


Reference AMD Radeon HD 6870 and 6850 Cards

As we noted earlier on in our coverage here, AMD has essentially achieved the traditional intrinsic benefits of a process geometry reduction or "die shrink," with out actually having to execute on the expense of an actual process migration.  What we're looking at here with the Radeon HD 6800 series is a smaller, more efficient graphics engine, pushing higher clock speeds and throughput from less silicon area.  It's a great foundation to build from actually.  Cayman winds will blow sometime in the forth quarter this year and the performance bar will be raised again. Beyond that dual-GPU cards will follow, and further out, a true process migration is likely in the works.  AMD is sitting pretty we'd say. The only question really is, how will NVIDIA answer?


 

  • Strong Performance
  • Relatively Low Power Consumption
  • New AA and Aniso Modes
  • Very Competitive Pricing
  • Eyefinity Support
  • Relatively Cool and Quiet
  • Updated Video Engine

  • Naming Convention May Be Confusing To Some
  • Can't Quite Catch The 5870

 

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These are for the mainstream users. Not a viable upgrade from my 5870. Waiting on the Caymen 6890 XT for my next upgrade. Bring it!

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That's Cayman (Radeon HD 6970) and yep, we want it brought too! :)

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Good read!  Was glad too see some Branded cards, rather than the reference models I have seen so far.  Can't wait to see cayman and antilles coverage.

would love to hear about the stereoscopic 3d support these cards are introducing.

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Great review! The excellent scaling bodes well for the dual-GPU 6990.

Some things that confused me:

-The naming convention will make it all the harder to compare previous generation cards with the new generation. Perhaps AMD wants to create more low to mid-end offerings and needed to free up some numbering space.

-Little disappointed that AMD chose to debut the series with the upper mid-range cards. Can't wait to see how the 6900 series perform, but right now the performance numbers are good, but not thrilling.

-The improvement in power, heat and noise will be very interesting to see in the mobile versions of these cards.

 

So all in all, AMD has served us a great appetizer course, but no entrée.

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It's weird how Sapphire chose to use the stock fan on the 6870 but placed the good, quiet cooling fan on the 6850.

I have the Sapphire 6850 and its the quietest fans I have ever heard (or not heard), it only starts to get noticeably audible at 55%  inside a case but during OCCT/Furmark the fans only throttle up to 59% so its still relatively quiet when you are gaming.

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The Crossfire scaling is insane. Almost double performance in some games. That's just crazy. Not that I have the money to drop in 2 cards. I am getting a good size pay check tomorrow. About time to upgrade and now seems like a pretty good time to do that. My budget will most likely be around the $150 - $200 price point so this review hits that hard.

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I myself am also waiting for Caymen as well. I want that card to blow away the GTX480 if it wants to get my hard earned money.

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Any one know when the 6900 series cards will be out?

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@Der - We can't say exactly, but it won't be long.

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Marco C:

@Der - We can't say exactly, but it won't be long.

Sweet! In the next week or so then I would assume... 

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