XFX HD 5850 Review

ATI has had the value sector for graphics cards down tight for a few years now, offering high end parts at competitive prices. They look to continue this streak with the HD5850, the little brother of the high end HD5870. Coming in at $100 cheaper this board looks at people wanting performance at a great price. So how exactly does it perform and is it worth the entry price? Let’s find out.

Test Setup

Cpu: AMD Phenom II X4 945 @ 3.0ghz
Mem: 4GB DDR2 800 OCZ @ 800mhz
HDD: 750gb 7200rpm 32mb cache Western Digital Caviar Black
Mobo: Biostar AMD 780g SE motherboard
Case: Antec Sonata 1x 120mm back fan
Cooling: Thermaltake 92mm CPU cooler for AMD socket AM2 processors
PSU: 700w OCZ StealthxStream
OS: Windows Vista 64bit SP1

Good

Design/Build: This particular model is a non-reference HD5850 from XFX. It features a Fan in the middle of board expelling air out the back and front. There is no backplate for the black PCB, however this is common for boards and nothing to be concerned about. Overall it feels solid, although its not heavy, in fact It’s lighter than the previous ATI board the HD4890. However this is a large card. Coming in at roughly 9.5in its a long board just barely fitting in my case. It would have been nice if ATI had designed the two 6-pin connectors on the side of the card like the HD5870 instead of the back however its not much of a concern only in smaller cases. The power connectors are located in the back and the fan is placed in the middle. This is a long board, even longer than the HD4890 shown with it

Like the HD5870 it also features the half-grill design in front. It features two DVI-D ports (XFX painted red), 1 native HDMI port, and a display port. It would have been nicer to see a full-grill design with either one DVI or the HDMI port sacrificed simply for better cooling (Not that it needs it see: Temps). As is normal with any high-end or even mid-range card it is a dual slot design. this will take up the PCI-e port as well as the neighboring port.

Cooling/Sound: Keep in mind this is a non-reference build customized by XFX. I have to say if you need a cool and quiet card look no further the buck stops here. First the fan speed. Throughout the testing I never took it past 40% fan speed. I found I could crank it all the way up to 50 or 55% and it was still silent not audible over the rest of the rig. Keeping it on 40% I got idle temps of 40-44c and under load (Warhead for over an hour on max) it kept under 70c. The room temp is about 75F. All in all its quiet amazing that the card is not only cool but also silent. I have yet to test the overclocking abilities, but I’m sure it could handle Ocing to at least the max that the CCC allows which is 775mhz core and 1125mhz memory, with no issues.

Performance: Benchmarks all run at 1680×1050 with max settings various AA all in game performance captured using FRAPS in game benchmark, all at least 1 hour of play time. All games are patched to the lates, unmodded. All are run through the Steam game client.

Bad

Size: The card just barely fit in my case.

Benchmarks

Conclusion

Besting the previous generation by a landslide, and even holding its own against newer cards, the ATI HD5850 is a marvelous performer. When you factor in the fact that this card is available for $280 that performance looks even more amazing. On top of performing beautifully, the card is also cool and quiet only adding to its value. ATI still proves is has the value minded performance sector locked down.

HD 5850 Review by Washd