AMD Radeon HD 6870 & 6850 Graphics Cards Debut

Our Summary and Conclusion

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


Related content