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ASUS Radeon HD 6850 DirectCU V2

asus radeon hd6850 directcuWe have seen many retailers’ sites featuring this line of cards and we have the opportunity to look at one today. The ASUS Radeon EAH6850 boasts this DirectCU cooling technology, as well as a 790MHz overclocked Barts GPU up from the default 775MHz. Based on AMD’s latest TSMC 40nm processing, the HD6850 tops out at a mere 127 watts for power consumption. Meaning a good 500W power supply should be good enough to power one of these beauties.

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asus radeon hd6850 directcu

asus radeon hd6850 directcuWe have seen many retailers’ sites featuring this line of cards and we have the opportunity to look at one today. The ASUS Radeon EAH6850 boasts this DirectCU cooling technology, as well as a 790MHz overclocked Barts GPU up from the default 775MHz. Based on AMD’s latest TSMC 40nm processing, the HD6850 tops out at a mere 127 watts for power consumption. Meaning a good 500W power supply should be good enough to power one of these beauties.

 

Introduction to the ASUS Radeon HD 6850 DirectCU V2

We have reviewed several ASUS motherboards over the past couple of months. Which, if you have tuned into any tech site as of late you might think that is all they make, but that is far from the case. ASUS has their hands in many different ventures ranging from motherboard, laptops, high quality sound cards, monitors, networking products and many others. Second to motherboards though, their video cards are best sellers.

Of the many different classes of graphic cards, we typically see ASUS releasing high powered pre-overclocked models. As of late, said high powered model’s title would be DirectCU. The overview of this DirectCU technology is that the Copper (Cu) heat pipes that help to form the graphics card’s cooling system, come in direct contact with the GPU for a significant improvement of thermal transfer. According to ASUS this makes for a 20% increase cooling performance, and lower noise at idle due to the fan not having to spin as fast.

We have seen many retailers’ sites featuring this line of cards and we have the opportunity to look at one today. The ASUS Radeon EAH6850 boasts this DirectCU cooling technology, as well as a 790MHz overclocked Barts GPU up from the default 775MHz. Based on AMD’s latest TSMC 40nm processing, the HD6850 tops out at a mere 127 watts for power consumption. Meaning a good 500W power supply should be good enough to power one of these beauties.

Specifications

ModelEAH6850 DirectCU V2
Graphics EngineAMD Radeon HD 6850
Bus StandardPCI Express 2.1
Engine Clock790 MHz
Memory Clock4000 MHz (1000 MHz)
Video Memory1GB GDDR
Memory Interface256-bit
RAMDAC400 MHz
ResolutionD-Sub Max Resolution : 2048×1536
DVI Max Resolution : 2560×1600
InterfaceD-Sub Output : Yes x 1 (via DVI to D-Sub adapter x 1)
DVI Output : Yes x 1 (DVI-I),Yes x 1 (DVI-D)
HDMI Output : Yes x 1
Display Port : Yes x 1 (Regular DP)
HDCP Support : Yes
Accessories1 x CrossFire cable
2 x Power cable
1 x DVI to D-Sub adaptor
ASUS FeaturesDirectCU Series
Dimensions10.24 ” x 4.84 ” Inch

Features

  • Factory Overclocked at 790MHz for 10MHz higher than reference clock performance
  • Boost up to 50%* higher with ASUS exclusive Voltage Tweak
  • Exclusive DirectCU thermal solution reaches 20% cooler temperatures
  • Immersive multi-display gaming experience with advanced Eyefinity technology

Closer look

The EAH6850 has a very underwhelming look to it, not really flashy or overbearing at all. This should be a bigger hit with the masses as subtlety is fast becoming a trend with a lot of PC components. The EAH6850 sports a black plastic shroud that just covers the heat sink, leaving the majority of the PCB open to be seen. To add a bit of color to the shroud there are for small red strips that run down the trailing portion. The shroud extends out past the edge of the card making the EAH6850 approximately ¾ of an inch longer than the reference cards.

How the unit gets its name is because of the way the GPU is cooled. The copper heat pipes are actually part of the base of the heat pipe. similar to the H.D.T. (Heatpipe Direct Touch) made famous by Xigmatek, hence DirectCU.

The EAH6850 is a dual slot solution, evident by the size of the shroud and the expansion plate on the rear of the card. Speaking of the rear, we have two DVI ports, one HDMI and one DisplayPort connector. Unlike the Sapphire FleX model HD6870, an active DisplayPort adapter is required to utilize the Eyefinity feature this card is capable of.

The HDMI port is up to par with the latest standard of 1.4a.This means that you have full compliance with all the newest digital audio versions and 3-D video playback. ASUS even offers a full line of 3-D monitors to take advantage of this feature, like the VG236.

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On the leading edge of the EAH6850 is a single Crossfire bridge connectors,which sadly limits us to no more than 2 cards in crossfire, and two 6-pin power plugs at the rear. According to AMD’s specification a solid 500W is enough to run this card by itself, but 650 watts or more will be needed for Crossfire.

Four spring loaded screws secure the heat sink to the PCB of the video card and pass through these copper-clad holes at the corners of the GPU. Once the four screws are removed the entire heatsink comes off and we have a completely naked Barts powered GPU. The uncovered ram modules are Hynix made H5GQ1H24AFR chips. According to the datasheet, these GDDR5 SDRAM modules used for applications demanding high memory bandwidth. Also operating at 1.5V with a max clock frequency up to 1.25MHz. The EAH6850 has a memory clock of 1000MHz so we have overclocking headroom to play with.

What we are starting to see more and more of when it comes to video cards is the ability to access the voltage settings of the BIOS in order to get better overclocks. ASUS gives you access to this setting via a Windows-based program called SmartDoctor. Granted, you do this at your own risk. Not only does the app allow you to change the voltage settings, but also core and memory frequencies.

Test Hardware:
Motherboard:  Gigabyte P67-UD4
Processor: Intel Core i5 2500K @ 4.5GHz @ 1.35 voltages
Ram: Patriot Sector 5 1333 4GB Dual Channel (9-9-9-24)
Video Card: ASUS Radeon HD 6850 DirectCU V2
HDD: Hitachi 1TB
Power: Thermaltake Tough Power XT 850 (Sponsored by Thermaltake)
Case: Open air
Cooling: Xigmatek Aegir SD128264
OS: Microsoft Windows 7 64-bit
Thermal compound: Arctic Silver 5

Testing Software:
Futuremark 3DMark11: 1280×720, Default
Stalker: Call of Pripkat: Ultra, 1920×1200, 4xAA, Max FPS Recorded
Heaven 2.5: DirectX 11, 1920×1200, 4xAA, 8xAF, Tessellation Normal, Max FPS Recorded
Alien vs. Predator: 1920×1200, 16xAF, Tessellation On, Average FPS Recoded
Street Fighter 4: 8xAA, 16xAF, 1920×1200,
Cinebench: OpenGL
Devil May Cry: DirectX10, 1920×1200, 8xAA, Texture Super High
ARMA 2: 1920×1080, High
Final Fantasy 14: Hyur, 1920×1080
Dirt 2: 1920×1200, 8xAA, Preset High, Average FPS Recorded
Resident Evil 5: DirectX10, 1920×1200, 8xAA
H.A.W.X. 2:  1920×1200, 8xAA, No Tessellation, Maximum FPS Recorded

Drivers:
Windows Seven Ultimate 7 64-bit
ATI Cat 11.2

Futuremark 3DMark 11
Your PC’s performance is determined by the interactions between different hardware components, the operating system and the type and amount of software running. A benchmark provides a set of performance tests that can be repeated with a high degree of accuracy on a wide range of computer hardware.
3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world’s most popular benchmark for measuring the graphics performance of gaming PCs.
Designed for testing DirectX 11 hardware running on Windows 7 and Windows Vista the benchmark includes six all new benchmark tests that make extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading.
After running the tests 3DMark gives your system a score with larger numbers indicating better performance. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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GSC Game World S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat
We are glad to present you a special version of S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat Having your PC tested with benchmark you will be able to get detailed information about its performance on various graphical modes and find out how well your system is balanced for gaming and S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat in particular.
This benchmark is based on one of the ingame locations – Pripyat . The testing process includes four stages, those utilizing various weather and time of the day settings (day, night, rain, bright sun). In order to test your system thoroughly the benchmark is provided with a number of presets and options including different versions of DirectX (9.0, 10.0, 11), screen resolutions, antialiasing etc, all at your disposal.

Capcom Devil May Cry 4
Long ago the Dark Knight Sparda rebelled against the dark emperor and waged a one-man war to save humanity. Thousands of years later, a religious organization worships this renowned savior and has taken it upon themselves to rid the world of all evil. Residing in Fortuna, this organization is known as the “Order of the Sword,” and is made up of an elite group of “Holy Knights.” One day, a young knight named Nero witnesses Sparda’s legendary son Dante slaughter his fellow warriors. Has the renowned devil hunter turned his back on mankind? What does the encounter mean for these two individuals?

Unigine Heaven 2.5
New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.

Capcom Resident Evil 5
Capcom officially announced Resident Evil 5 on July 20, 2005. Jun Takeuchi, the director of Onimusha and producer of Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, took over producer duties from Hiroyuki Kobayashi. Keiji Inafune, who served as promotional producer for Resident Evil 2 and executive producer for the PlayStation 2 version of Resident Evil 4, oversaw the project.[26] In February 2007, members of Capcom’s Clover Studio were also called upon to help develop the game.

Capcom Street Fighter 4
All the characters and environments in Street Fighter IV are rendered as 3D models with polygons, similar to the Street Fighter EX sub-series Capcom produced with Arika. However, there are a couple of key differences. Art director and character designer Daigo Ikeno, who previously worked on Street Fighter III 3rd Strike, added cel-shading to give them a hand-drawn look, with visual effects accented in calligraphic strokes, ink smudges and ink sprays during the fights.

Codemasters Dirt 2
DiRT 2 will feature a roster of contemporary off-road events, taking players to the most diverse and challenging real-world environments. This World Tour will have players competing in aggressive multi-car and intense solo races at extraordinary new locations, from canyon racing and jungle trails to city stadium-based events.
To be powered by the third generation of the EGO™ Engine’s award-winning racing game technology, DiRT 2 will benefit from tuned-up car-handling physics system and new damage engine effects. It will also showcase a spectacular new level of visual fidelity, with cars and tracks twice as detailed as those seen in GRID.
DiRT 2’s garage  houses a best-in-class collection of officially licensed rally cars and off-road vehicles, specifically selected to deliver aggressive and fast paced racing. Covering seven vehicle classes, players will be given the keys to powerful vehicles right from the off. In DiRT 2 the opening drive is the Group N Subaru; essentially making the ultimate car from the original game the starting point in the sequel and the rides just get even more impressive.
In addition to the World Tour, DiRT 2 will come complete with full online functionality that will be core to the overall experience, with head-to-head competitive online play and new social features to engage the racing community. Prepare for mud, gravel, dust and dirt too in DiRT 2, coming 2009.

Square Enix Final Fantasy XiV
FINAL FANTASY XIV takes the first intrepid steps into an unknown realm, and in doing soa new place for adventurers of all creeds to call home is born — Eorzea.
In the world of Hydaelyn, the term Eorzea denotes the geographical region comprised of the continent of ldenard and its surrounding islands, as well as the civilization which spawned there. Calling the area home are several independent city-states,the most notable being Limsa Lominsa, bustling port and pirate hub;Ul’dah, a desert city rich in mineral wealth; Gridania, nested deep within an ageless wood; and Ishgard, bastion atop the mountains.

Sega Alien versus Predator
Aliens vs. Predator is an entirely new title for PC and high-definition consoles from acclaimed British developer Rebellion, the team behind the 1999 original PC gaming classic. Bringing the legendary war between two of science-fiction’s most popular characters to FPS fans, AvP delivers three outstanding single player campaigns and provides untold hours of unique 3-way multiplayer gaming. Experience distinctly new and thrilling first person gameplay as you survive, hunt and prey in the deadly jungles and swamps surrounding the damned colony of Freya’s Prospect.

Maxon Cinebench 11.5
CINEBENCH is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer’s performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON’s award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such as Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more.
CINEBENCH is the perfect tool to compare CPU and graphics performance across various systems and platforms (Windows and Mac OS X). And best of all: It’s completely free.

Bohemia ARMA 2
Reinforcements brings two independent factions – British Armed Forces and Private Military Company – onto one DVD. Play it separately in a non-linear campaign or join friends in multiplayer battles with up to 50 players and hundreds of AI units. Find out the sequential dramatic events of Takistan, originally described in Arma 2: Operation Arrowhead.
Deploy a mechanized division of British Armed Forces to reinforce coalition troops battling a large-scale outbreak of guerilla insurgency, or join Private Military Company, recently contracted, to protect a UN weapons inspection team in Takistan

Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. 2
Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. 2 plunges fans into an explosive environment where they can become elite aerial soldiers in control of the world’s most technologically advanced aircraft. The game will appeal to a wide array of gamers as players will have the chance to control exceptional pilots trained to use cutting edge technology in amazing aerial warfare missions.

Overclocking

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With the Radeon HD6850 DirectCU we had a lot of headroom for overclocking, and this was all done without having to touch the voltage controls and fan settings. After what seems like thousands of run of 3DMark 11 and Stalker, we finally got to a finally stable overclock of 960MHz and 1165MHz on the core and memory respectively. Not bad from the 790MHz and 1000MHz default levels.

Conclusion

At the asking price of $179.99 (or at NewEgg, with MIR it can be had for $154!), the ASUS Radeon HD 6850 DirectCU is at a point where it hard to beat its price-to-performance ratio. You get a video card that is capable of playing all the latest games, including those that use DirectX 11 with respectable graphics settings. Gaming isn’t all this card has in it. For the video buff the DirectCU card supports the latest HDMI 1.4a protocol, allowing you to see and listen to the full quality that Blu-ray has to offer. If gaming nor movie watching is your cup of tea, and you are more about work than play, this card can do Eyefinity with the aid of the DisplayPort 1.2 connection.

One advantage this card has over many of the others on the market, no matter the price point, is ASUS made the voltage adjustment user-friendly. For the longest time you would have to jump through hoops to be able to change the voltage setting on a GPU. Now it is just a matter of installing a Windows-based application and a little know how when it comes to safe voltage limits.

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ASUS did well by upgrading the cooling system on the this model . Chance are stock cooling would not be able to support a high enough voltage to make the overclock worth while. The DirectCU cooling system allows for a decent amount of additional voltage, which whatever amount that may be might have been too much for the reference design. 1000MHz on the core should be very obtainable under these conditions, as we were only 40MHz shy at stock levels!

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ProClockers was founded in 2004, and since then we have reviewed thousands of tech products, including motherboards, CPUs, graphics cards, PC cases, cooling solutions and more. Whilst many of the original products we reviewed back then have long bit the dust, we continue working hard to provide unbiased PC hardware and tech reviews.

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