AMD Radeon HD 6870 and 6850 Overclocked Round-up

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As enthusiasts, one of the things we can always count on is the never-ending progression of computer hardware. Year after year, video cards get faster, processors offer more cores and / or performance, and motherboards provide additional features. That top of the line, $500 GPU you bought a few years ago can't touch the performance of a $200 graphics card available today. Yes, it's tough to keep up with the rapid pace of technology. But by shopping smarter, you minimize the chance of feeling buyer's remorse a few months down the road.  

Right on cue, a new year brings a new series of cards from both AMD and NVIDIA. The trio of video cards we're looking at today are designed to provide the best bang for your buck. These factory overclocked Radeon HD 6800 series graphics cards from PowerColor and HIS have made their way into our testing lab, and it's time once again for another round up.

Some might glance over these products and wonder what the hook is. Any time a new series of graphics cards are launched by ATI or NVIDIA, it is common for add in board (AIB) partners to tweak various features so that consumers have even more attractive options to choose from, beyond the original reference design. Well, each one of the cards here has taken the basic blueprint from AMD, and gone a step further. In addition to higher GPU speeds, they also provide improved cooling solutions. The heatsinks have been redesigned to provide improved cooling in order to handle the increased frequencies that are set for their graphics engines, while also reducing noise output. Read on to find out if one of them has what it takes to be your next upgrade.

Overclocked AMD Radeon Mid-Range GPU Round-up
Let's Get It On!

PowerColor HD 6870 PCS+
940 MHz Core / 1100 MHz Memory
HIS HD 6870 Fan Turbo
920 MHz Core / 1120 MHz Memory
PowerColor HD 6850 PCS+
820 MHz Core / 1100 MHz Memory
                 * Current street pricing

When compared to reference design models, these cards command higher prices due to their improved features and performance. The PowerColor HD 6870 PCS+ sells for $274 at the moment, considerably more than a stock HD 6870, which we've seen as low as $229. In addition, the HIS HD 6870 Fan Turbo can be purchased for $259. The PowerColor HD 6850 PCS+ goes for $209, a $50 price premium over the most affordable HD 6850 we spotted ($169). Now let's take a closer look at each one to see how they differ and how much of a boost you can expect to see from them in various benchmarks.

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InfinityzeN1 3 years ago

And it is reviews like this that make me think I'll be sticking with my Gigabyte 5870 UD until the next generation comes out on a smaller production format.

punditguy 3 years ago

They changed the numbering scheme. The 6800 series is a replacement for the 5700 series, not the 5800 series. The 6900 series will be the replacement for the 5800 series.

Doesn't matter to me -- I always skip a generation anyway. My 5850 will last me for a while yet.

realneil 3 years ago

I have a HD5850 too and it's a good card. I just got a HD6870 and it's better.

Dave_HH 3 years ago

Dig those geek porn pictures or what? Mat takes the best product shots in the biz. And I for one am jealous...

realneil 3 years ago

These picture angles show more of the cards features with less pictures.

So yeah, I like the Star"Geek-Porn"Star as you call it. Tongue Tied

infinityzen1 3 years ago

Hey Pundit, I know they changed the numbering scheme. But considering that I am using a 1920x1200 monitor combined with a highly over clocked 5870, I see no reason to make the jump to a 69X0 card.

cahya 3 years ago

must be very fun to play games with the HD 6870 and 6850 at a price quite likely to be more satisfied if you wear themBig Smile

realneil 3 years ago

[quote user="cahya"]must be very fun to play games with the HD 6870 and 6850[/quote]

Oh yes, it is. My 6870 is an XFX Black Edition and comes slightly over-clocked. Been trying it out these past few days and the real world experience is a good one. It's very smooth. (I used to say that about my whiskey)

And, of course, my GTX570 is "very fun" too.

SammyHayabuza 3 years ago

I'm curious as to why you chose to buy both the 6870 and the 570? Are you getting ready to do some Eyefinity gaming? and on the Nvidia side, 3D gaming?

Knowing that you do video Editing and had owned  the gtx 285 and now the 570, are you using it to take advantage of the Mercury playback Engine and the Encoding speed  advantages it offers on Nvidia's cards in Premiere CS5?

realneil 3 years ago

[quote user="SammyHayabuza"]I'm curious as to why you chose to buy both the 6870 and the 570? Are you getting ready to do some Eyefinity gaming? and on the Nvidia side, 3D gaming?[/quote]

Neither one. Knew I'd like the GTX-570 and bought it for better, faster gaming. It's the bomb.

Decided to try the HD6870 to see how good it was even though it doesn't do Cuda and Phys-X. It's a nice card. It was on sale and cheap too.

Still have the 2GB GTX-285 in the third 'puter and the HD5850 on the shelf. Probably gonna be building a few 'puters later on this month for some folks and will put the HD5850 in the first one to go. It's perfect for what this guy is going to be doing. Will probably get another GTX-570 after that. and move the HD6870 down to third place. The GTX-285 is something that I'll probably just keep. It may make a nice Phys-X card or something.

SammyHayabuza 3 years ago


So what are you playing right now?

realneil 3 years ago

All of the Half Life series, Batman, Penumbra, Just Cause 2, Operation Flashpoint, Far Cry 2, FEAR, Metro 2033, and my all time favorite UT3.

(I haven't re-installed Crysis, Quake Wars-Enemy Territory, Call Of Duty-World At War, Medal Of Honor-War Chest, Fallout 3, Splinter Cell, Wolfenstein, and Halo 2 so far, but I will when I get the time)

SammyHayabuza 3 years ago

Nice!!  Enjoy your babies!!

animatortom 3 years ago

That powercolor one has a really cool design! It looks futuristic and functional! Might be hell to clean:P

I kinda learned that you must wait about six months to buy a new card. These things will probably be in the 1Bill range by the summer, then they will also have the new 7800's out by then. I think if they really wanted to up thier earnings then they should focus on releasing less versions of thier cards with greater features. that way people wont feel like they have just been ripped off once they finnaly buy that new Hot GPU:P

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