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Sapphire Radeon HD 6850

sapphire radeon hd 6850That all changes as of today as AMD and its partners are topping the success of the HD 5000 Series with the brand new HD 6000 Series. The 6850 and 6870 models are already being shipped all over the world (and even up for sale at a few etailers), offering everyone new and improved performance, thanks to the new ‘Northern Islands’ codename Barts Pro core. Spec-wise the model we will be taking a look at (6850) has a core clock of 775MHz coupled with GDDR5 memory running at 1000MHz, while the bigger brother 6870 (Barts XT) has clocks of 900MHz and 1050MHz, respectively.



sapphire radeon hd 6850

sapphire radeon hd 6850That all changes as of today as AMD and its partners are topping the success of the HD 5000 Series with the brand new HD 6000 Series. The 6850 and 6870 models are already being shipped all over the world (and even up for sale at a few etailers), offering everyone new and improved performance, thanks to the new ‘Northern Islands’ codename Barts Pro core. Spec-wise the model we will be taking a look at (6850) has a core clock of 775MHz coupled with GDDR5 memory running at 1000MHz, while the bigger brother 6870 (Barts XT) has clocks of 900MHz and 1050MHz, respectively.

Introduction to the Sapphire Radeon HD 6850

So the wait is finally over and we get our first looks into the HD 6000 series through the new Radeon HD 6850 and 6870 series. Our partners at Sapphire have sent us our first samples to HD 6850 for testing. We all know that the current (now past) Radeon HD 5000 series brought AMD a lot of success, as it finally gave nVidia some tough competition, but also thanks to being the first DX11 chips on the market. The previous models offered great performance, as well as bringing to the table the very successful Eyefinity, which is all the rave right now. Not only was the card fast but it also offered better anisotropic filtering and improved antialiasing. The for a gamer, thing could not have been any better.

That all changes as of today as AMD and its partners are topping the success of the HD 5000 Series with the brand new HD 6000 Series. The 6850 and 6870 models are already being shipped all over the world (and even up for sale at a few etailers), offering everyone new and improved performance, thanks to the new ‘Northern Islands’ codename Barts Pro core. Spec-wise the model we will be taking a look at (6850) has a core clock of 775MHz coupled with GDDR5 memory running at 1000MHz, while the bigger brother 6870 (Barts XT) has clocks of 900MHz and 1050MHz, respectively.

The GPU is based on the new 40nm process that, according to AMD and Sapphire, promises to deliver greater performance-per-watt than its predecessor. The Radeon HD 6850 offers 960 stream processors and 48 texture processing units. With that being said let us comment a bit on the new numbering system, as it has changed a little bit from the HD 5000 series. If you compare the specs from between the 5850 and the 6850 you will notice that the latter is not providing numbers quite on par in some regards. With the new core improvements AMD was able to squeeze the same performance while decreasing some of the core specs, so the new HD 6850 and 6870 are virtually performance equals to the HD 5850 and 5870. However, in terms of the new chip’s pricing it is more in line with that of the HD 5770 and 5830. That being said the HD 6000 line has a lot more to come that will fill the Enthusiast performance group, these will be powered by the codenamed Cayman core and utilize the HD 69xx numberings. You can expect to see those in the coming months.


Output1 x Dual-Link DVI
1 x HDMI 1.4a
1 x DisplayPort
1 x Single-Link DVI-D
GPU775 MHz Core Clock
40 nm Chip
960 x Stream Processors
Memory1024 MB Size
256 -bit GDDR5
4000 MHz Effective
SoftwareDriver CD
Accessory1 x CrossFire™ Bridge Interconnect Cable
D-Sub Adapter
Mini-DP to DP Cable
HDMI 1.4a high speed 1.8 meter cable(Full Retail SKU only)


ATI Eyefinity

ATI Eyefinity technology maximizes your field of view across up to three displays, fully engaging your peripheral vision.  For gamers this puts you right IN the game and for other applications it helps to increase productivity by maximizing your visual workspace so that you can see more windows simultaneously.  ATI Eyefinity technology is also ideal for multimedia applications as it allows you to keep several ‘palettes’ or ‘panels’ open over a larger workspace whist you edit your images or videos.*

Eyefinity Demo

*To support 3 displays, one of the monitors has to support DisplayPort
**When running Microsoft Windows XP, Eyefinity technology supports a maximum of 2 displays.

Advanced GDDR5 Memory Technology

GDDR5 memory provides twice the bandwidth per pin of GDDR3 memory, delivering more speed and higher bandwidth.

40nm Process Technology

Cutting edge manufacturing process allows for efficient, high performance parts which use less power than their predecessors.

ATI Avivo HD (DVD/HD-DVD/Blu-ray Playback)

Watch the hottest Blu-ray movies or other HD content at full 1080p display resolution and beyond and enjoy a more feature rich experience with enhanced Unified Video Decoder(UVD)

ATI CrossFireX™ Multi-GPU Technology

Triple or Quadruple gaming power withATI CrossFireX™ Multi-GPU Technology.ATI CrossFireX technology supports up to four graphics cards to be used in a single system.

PCI-Express 2.0

The latest PCI-Express 2.0 specification doubles data throughput from 2.5Gbps to 5Gbps allowing you to exploit the full performance potential of your graphics card.

AMD HD3D Technology

Enjoy the most immersive experience possible with full support for High Definition Stereoscopic 3D, a technique that presents 2D images (movies, games, photos) in a format that creates the illusion of three-dimensional depth when using compatible 3D displays / glasses / software.

Dual-Link DVI

Equipped with the most popular Dual Link DVI (Digital Visual Interface), this card is able to display ultra high resolutions of up to 2560 x 1600 at 60Hz.

HDMI 1.4a

HDMI 1.4a builds on previous generations of HDMI connectivity with support for Deep Color, 7.1 High Bitrate Audio, and 3D Stereoscopic support, ensuring the highest quality Blu-ray and video experience possible from your PC.


Enjoy the benefits of the latest generation display interface, DisplayPort. With the ultra high HD resolution of 2560 x 1600 the graphics card ensures that you are able to support the latest generation of LCD monitors.

Single-Link DVI-D
Microsoft DirectX® 11

Get intense gaming performance and unrivalled image quality with stunning 3D visual effects, realistic lighting and lifelike imagery with SAPPHIRE graphics cards supporting DirectX®11. New features in DirectX®11 such as Hardware Tesselation, HDR Texture Compression, Multi-threading support and DirectCompute bring lifelike gaming and an experience never possible on a PC before.

OpenGL® 3.1 and 3.2

Supports the latest OpenGL API (Application Programming Interface) to accelerate performance of applications outside of DirectX®, i.e. Adobe Autodesk 2D/3D graphic design.

►OpenGL 3.2 Driver support scheduled for release in 2010

Shader Model 5.0

Supports the latest Shader Model 5.0 feature set including VTF (Vertex Texture Fetch) which is a key feature used extensively in many of the games that ship today. Without support for this feature the game will fall back to a lesser shader path resulting in the loss of cool, lifelike effects made possible by Shader Model 5.0

ATI Catalyst Control Center™

The ATI Catalyst Control Center™ software application gives you complete control over the performance and visual quality of your SAPPHIRE ATI Radeon™ based graphics card allowing for the best experience on your PC.

Accelerated Video Transcoding

Massively parallel architecture and support for common shader transcoding instructions accelerates video encoding / transcoding way beyond what was possible with the CPU only.

(Requires application support for ATI Stream technology and Digital rights management restrictions may apply)

Dolby® TrueHD and DTSHD Master Audio™ Support

Support for copy protected, high bandwidth, 7.1 channel surround sound over HDMI. Get a fully immersive, high definition audio experience with the latest Blu-ray movies. (Requires a DVI to HDMI dongle on some models, an HD capable monitor and a Blu-ray drive)

Anti-aliasing features

Supports advanced AA (Anti-aliasing) features to maximise your enjoyment of high definition gaming.

  • Multi-sample anti-aliasing (2, 4 or 8 samples per pixel)
  • Up to 24x Custom Filter Anti-Aliasing (CFAA) for superior quality
  • Adaptive super-sampling and multi-sampling
  • Gamma correct
  • Super AA (ATI CrossFireX™configurations only)
  • All anti-aliasing features compatible with HDR rendering
Physics processing support

Accelerates the performance of Fluid Dynamics, Cloth Simulation, Soft or Rigid Body Dynamics, Universal Collision Detection, Hair Simulation and Finite Element Analysis for the most lifelike gaming experience.

ATI PowerPlay™

Dynamically manage power efficiency and take control of your performance with AMD’s revolutionary ATI PowerPlay TM power management technology delivering high performance features when needed and conserving power when the demand on the graphics processor is low. This seamless technology dramatically reduces the overall power consumption allowing for break-through energy efficiency.

Windows® 7 support

WHQL (Windows Hardware Quality Labs) Certified drivers and logos are available for all SAPPHIRE HD2000, HD3000, HD4000 and HD5000 series cards ensuring compatibility and reliability with Microsoft Windows 7.

3rd Generation TeraScale Engine

Massive arrays of on-chip compute units offer the latest in graphics functionality and performance allowing you to enjoy what you are watching at the highest quality possible.

AMD Advanced Parallel Processing technology

Accelerate the most demanding applications by offloading parallel data compute tasks from the CPU to GPU, dividing the tasks as evenly as possible for improved system performance and reliability.

Display Flexibility

Offers an incredible choice of the latest display connectivity options natively on the board, including dual-link DVI-I, DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 1.4a along with adapters to ensure compatibility with your legacy analogue VGA monitor.

Enhanced Unified Video Decoder 3 (UVD 3)

Watch the hottest Blu-ray movies or other HD content at full 1080p (and beyond !) display resolution. Enjoy a feature rich video experience with enhanced Unified Video Decoder 3 (UVD 3), offloading the bulk of the video decoding tasks from the CPU to the GPU allowing for a cooler, quieter and more balanced system.

Enhanced Internet Browser Applications

Not just for video and games, the power of your GPU can now accelerate the latest versions of some Internet browsers (IE9/Mozzilla FireFox) utilizing Direct 2D rendering for a faster and more responsive browsing experience including high quality image rendering and media playback.

Microsoft Office 2010

Take advantage of improved picture and media editing capabilities in Office 2010 as well as edit and share your content in real time.

See more, and get more done. Enhanced productivity with accelerated GPU processing for Office applications.

Closer look

The Sapphire HD 6850 uses a heatsink assembly that is different from the reference model, and of similar design to their Vapor-X line. From the pictures that we have seen of the reference model it is the external exhausting blower style we’ve seen been used by AMD in the past. Where the fan is mounted to the rear of the card, forcing air travel to the front and exiting out the rear of the case. The Sapphire model uses a fan mounted in the middle of the shroud forcing air towards the PCB, but still allowing for any air that can to vent through the mounting bracket.

Because of the size and width of the card it will occupy the adjacent slot. This should not be much of a problem for anyone wanting CrossfireX as most motherboards manufacturers today either have several PCIe x16 slots, or provide enough space between if there are only two slots available.

The Sapphire models offers a wide variety of connection to satisfy the various types of monitors (or TVs) on the market. Lets not forget to mention the inclusion of enough to satisfy those that are able to obtain several monitors for Eyefinity usage. There are a pair of DVI outputs, one HDMI v1.4a, and a single DisplayPort connection. Sapphire even mentioned that once DisplayPort v1.2 is released you will be able to daisy chain several monitors together to enhance your viewing pleasure.

Power is provided to the card via a single 6-pin power connector, meaning you won’t need a ton of juice to power the card. Sapphire recommends at least a 500 watt PSU.

Missing from the layout of this card is a second bridge connector. The one present will allow for you to Crossfire one additional card, but that is about it.

The GDDR5 modules are Hynix-made, model number H5GQ1H24AFR T2C, which have a maximum clock rating of 1.25GHz at 1.5 volts.

A closer look at the heat sink reveals aluminum fins and a copper core, with two large 8mm diameter copper pipes running from the base to the fins. The assembly only cools the GPU core, but not the memory modules, leaving their only means of cooling being the air pushed across them by the main fan.

A single aluminum heat sink cools the VRM segment of the graphic card.

Testing Hardware:
Motherboard: ASUS P7P55-E Deluxe
Processor: Intel Core i5 665K @ 4.2GHz at 1.38 volts
Ram: Patriot Viper II Sector 4GB 1600MHz DDR3
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 6850
HDD: Hitachi 1TB
Power: Thermaltake Tough Power XT 850 (Sponsored by Thermaltake), Watts Up meter
Case: Microcool Banchetto

Testing Software:
Futuremark 3DVantage (Performance, High and Extreme settings at 1280×1024)
Devil May Cry 4 (Built-in benchmark – DirectX 10 -1280×1024, No AA/4xAA)
Maxon Cinebench
Resident Evil 4 (1280×1024, No AA/4xAA)
Street Fighter 5 (1280×1024/1920×1200, No AA/4xAA)
Unigine DirectX 11 (1280×1024/1920×1200, 2xAA/4xAA)
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat (High, Extreme and Ultra, 4xAA)
Bohemia Interactive ARMA 2
Codemasters DiRT 2

OS & Drivers:
Windows Seven Ultimate 64-bit
Radeon HD 5770: AMD Cat 10.2
Sapphire Radeon HD 6850: Shhhhh

Gigabyte GTS 250: Nvidia ForceWare 259.22

Futuremark 3D Vantage
3DMark Vantage is a PC benchmark suite designed to test the DirectX10 performance of your graphics card. We’ve been making 3DMark for over 10 years, with each new edition using the latest 3D technology to determine real-world performance.
A 3DMark score is an overall measure of your system’s 3D gaming capabilities, based on comprehensive real-time 3D graphics and processor tests. By comparing your score with those submitted by millions of other gamers you can see how your gaming rig performs, making it easier to choose the most effective upgrades or finding other ways to optimize your system.
3DMark is widely used by the PC industry, press and media as well as individual users and gamers, for comparing performance levels between whole systems or even specific components.

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.

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 DirectX 11
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.

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.

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.

Power Consumption

The readings were taken from the wall using our Watts Up meter and is of the whole system usage. We used a few rounds of Futuremark’s 3DVantage to stress the video card to give us a maximum load that is consistent between each run. The Radeon HD 6850 did use more power than HD 5770 in order to operate, which is expected given its a replacement for the HD 5850, but the 6850 was still in a realm to consider it a low power consuming card. Based on the idle and load readings we can determine that the card draws only 115W of power, which is pretty accurate based on AMD’s reference design specs of 125-130W. After you factor in this may not totally follow the reference design and the margine-of-error for the power metter, that is pretty accurate.


We used MSI’s popular Afterburner and AMD’s CCC to overclock this new card, but the results were decent at best. We realize that any amount of overclock has a clear advantage over stock, so we will take what we get and that was 803MHz core clock and 1084MHz RAM clock, and increase of only 28MHz and 84MHz over each. This was done without adding any voltage to the card.


The new Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 is a ‘must have’ for anyone that is building a new system. If you currently have anything at or below the HD 5830 then this HD 6850 will also make for a great upgrade! One would think that this new card with it’s “6850” model number designation would be taking over the performance segment that the Radeon HD 5830 and HD 5850 currently occupy, but that is not the case here due to the new numbering system we mentioned at the beginning. That is why we say it is the ideal replacement for mid-range graphics solution, where the HD 6870 will actually fit in between the HD 5850 and 5870.

So for those that are planning to upgrade from such solutions will be amazed at the features in which the Radeon HD 6850 and its bigger brother offer. The speedy 775MHz core and 1000MHz memory clocks will get you a significantly better-than-average gaming experience but the features like the improved Eyefinity and DisplayPort v1.2, which provides daisy-chaining of multiple monitors; the new development of ATI’s HD3D to directly compete with nVidia’s 3D Vision Surround; updated UVD to 3.0, which is a on-die video decoder which lessen the stress put on the CPU; new antialiasing method called Morphological AA, that has the quality of Super Sample (SSAA) but performance of Full Scene (FSAA). Those just a few reasons why the HD 6000 series are worth a look!

The Radeon HD 6850 is currently priced around $180, making it easily the best option available at that price point. If you’re building a new system you can end up with a very respectable gaming rig at that price, and still have money left over to put elsewhere.

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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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