AMD's ATI Radeon HD 5850 Video Card Review

Author:Brent Justice

Editor:Kyle Bennett

Date: Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The ATI Radeon HD 5850 is launching today! It is based on the same 5800 architecture as the HD 5870. We aim to find out how it compares to an HD 5870 in single GPU and 5850 CrossFireX configurations. The ATI Radeon HD 5850 is bringing with it an incredible PC gaming value.

System Test Setup

We will be using a Gigabyte EX58-UD5 motherboard, an Intel Core i7 920 Overclocked at 3.6GHz, and 6GB of Corsair TR3X6G1600C8D Dominator DDR3.

While it might be a bit "overkill," we use the i7 920 at 3.6GHz processor in an attempt to keep from putting our evaluation into a position of being CPU limited. Obviously, we make every effort to not use CPU limited games for video card evaluations, but the i7 920 at 3.6GHz seems to put many peoples’ minds at ease when it comes to that subject.

We have chosen to include the GTX 285 and Radeon HD 5870 as comparison video cards. We are using latest drivers, including 8.66 RC6 as provided by AMD.

A newer version of GPUz was provided by AMD that reveals specifications; you can see that CrossFireX is enabled with two GPUs.

One interesting thing to note, with CrossFireX enabled you have the option to force on 16X MSAA in games that support it. While we did not have time in this evaluation to explore this feature, we will in later evaluations.

Evaluation Method

We evaluate what each video card configuration can supply us in terms of a playable gaming experience while supplying the best culmination of resolution and "eye candy" graphical settings. We focus on quality and immersion of the gameplay experience rather than how many frames per second the card can get in a canned benchmark or prerecorded timedemo situation that often do not represent real gameplay like you would experience at home. Then we will follow with apples-to-apples testing in with minimum, maximum, and average framerates.