AMD Radeon HD 6850 graphics card
AMD Radeon HD 6850 review: An affordable model in AMD's 6800 Radeon series of graphics cards
- Quiet operation, solid performance in benchmarks, can support 3D movies and gaming
- AMD HD3D product support is currently limited, despite a reduction in size it's still pretty big
The AMD Radeon HD 6850 graphics card is a worthy successor to the HD 5850. It performed superbly in our benchmarks, with results often matching its technically superior predecessors. Throw 3D gaming into the mix and you have a great graphics card for the $259 asking price.
Price$ 259.00 (AUD)
AMD's Radeon HD 6850 is a mid-range graphics card in the company's freshly-launched 6800 Series. It's also the first model to ditch the ATI moniker, which has been a fixture on AMD graphics cards since the company's acquisition in 2006. While nominally the 'baby' of the 6800 range, AMD's Radeon HD 6850 is a pretty powerful card in its own right; providing a rock-solid performance for the asking price. It is roughly comparable to the Radeon HD 5850 — but in a smaller and more affordable package.
AMD Radeon HD 6850: Design & architecture
Like the AMD HD 6870, the Radeon HD 6850 is built on a new chip architecture, code-named Barts. This is a modification of the 'Cypress' architecture found in graphics cards such as the Radeon HD 5870 and HD 5890. The main advantage of the Barts architecture is a reduction in size without compromising on performance.
Both the ATI Radeon HD 6850 and ATI Radeon HD 6870 use the same 40nm manufacturing process and come with a 256-bit bus width and 1024MB of inbuilt memory. The HD 6870's 900MHz core clock has been scaled back to 775MHz (compared to the HD 6870), while the memory clock has dropped from 1.05GHz to 1GHz. The number of stream processors has also been snipped, falling from 1120 to 960.
The AMD Radeon HD 6850 sports a similar design to the HD 5850/5870
At 230mm long, the AMD Radeon HD 6850 isn't exactly tiny, but it is slightly smaller than equivalent cards from the previous generation. The card looks similar to its 5800 predecessors, with the same brick-like shape and red-on-black finish. The AMD Radeon HD 6850 only requires a six-pin power connector to run (the ATI Radeon HD 5850 required two six-pin connectors). This will help cut down on cable clutter inside your PC; especially if you're planning on a CrossFire multi-card configuration. AMD rates the HD 6850's peak power consumption at 200 Watts, which seems like a pretty fair estimation.
AMD Radeon HD 6850: Heating and connectivity
The HD 6850 is a relatively cool performer compared to previous HD Radeon graphics cards. It peaked at 75 degrees Celsius while under load — which is around 20 degrees cooler than its top-tier predecessors. The AMD Radeon HD 6850 comes with a single cooling fan that doesn't make much of a racket — whether you're gaming or watching YouTube, it shouldn't become an intrusion. Handily, the fan expels excess heat outside of the PC's case, which should cut down on the 'sauna effect' that can plague some cards.
The AMD Radeon HD 6850 provides a good range of connectivity. An HDMI output, two DVI ports and a pair of mini-DisplayPort connectors are provided. Naturally, AMD's Eyefinity Technology is also supported, which allows you to drive up to three displays from a single card. This is especially handy for flight sim and racing fans, as it allows them to set up an authentic 'cockpit' style view for added immersion and authenticity.
Detail shot of Radeon HD 6850's connections
One of the card's DVI ports is compatible with HD3D, which is AMD's take on Nvidia's GeForce 3D Vision. This technology offers support for the Open Stereo 3D Initiative. Instead of creating dedicated hardware, HD3D promises support for a wide variety of technologies. This includes active-shutter or polarised glasses, along with emerging hardware, such as glasses-free 3D monitors. HD3D support is pretty limited at the moment, but if you're even remotely intrigued by the concept of 3D gaming, it remains a good feature to have.
AMD Radeon HD 6850: Benchmarks
We ran our benchmarks on a Vista 64-bit machine running an Intel Core i7 965, 6GB of DDR3 RAM and a Western Digital VelociRaptor (WD3000GLFS) hard drive. We then compared the results to other graphics cards we've reviewed in the same testbed. Unless otherwise stated, we have used the DirectX 10 version of each game, with maximum settings enabled:
|Model||Chipset||Memory||3DMark 06||3DMark Vantage||Crysis (fps)
||Far Cry 2 (fps)
||Lost Planet (fps)
||Call of Juarez (fps)
||Half Life 2:
Episode Two (fps)
|AMD Radeon HD 6850||AMD Radeon HD 6850||1GB||17250||P12280||47.9||136.66||65||75.6||N/A|
|Asus ATI Radeon HD 5850 1GB||Asus ATI Radeon HD 5850 1GB||1GB||17222||P13206||47.3||71.24||53||83.3||217.61|
|AMD ATI Radeon HD 5870||ATI Radeon HD 5870||1GB||N/A||P12000||34.5||57.1||N/A||72.3||130.5|
|ASUS ENGTX285||NVIDIA GTX285||1GB||xx||P13532||35.3||60.17||50.1||52.4||131.32|
|ATI Radeon HD 5970||ATI Radeon HD 5970||2GB||9968||P13988||41.37||92.70||83||96.8||138.71|
|Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 5750||ATI Radeon HD 5750||1GB||13887||P8012||26.82||42.99||27.5||47.7||131.97|
The AMD Radeon HD 6850 acquitted itself well in our benchmarks, particularly when it came to real world (i.e. non-synthetic) gaming tests. In resource-hungry games like Crysis and Far Cry 2, the Radeon HD 6850 held its own against the likes of the Asus ATI Radeon HD 5850 1GB and Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 5750. All in all, the AMD Radeon HD 6850 is a worthy investment for gamers on a budget. Highly recommended.
Become a fan of PC World Australia on Facebook
Follow PC World Australia on Twitter: @PCWorldAu
Stay up to date with the latest news, reviews and features. Sign up to PC World’s newsletters
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Subaru XV 2017 review
- 2 Samsung 2017 QLED Q7 TV: Full, in-depth review
- 3 Kogan Atlas UltraSlim Pro laptop: full, in-depth review
- 4 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 5 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
Latest News Articles
- EVGA's GTX 1080 FTW2 and SC2 graphics cards get updated with faster memory
- Qualcomm: First Windows 10 ARM PC coming in the fourth quarter
- User-created patch lets Kaby Lake and Ryzen PCs receive Windows 7 updates
- Samsung ready to make chips faster than the ones in Galaxy S8
- Prices of SSDs and DRAM will crash in 2019, Gartner predicts
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Samsung Galaxy S8 phone: full, in-depth review
- Ryzen 5 vs Intel Core i5 CPU Australian review
- Mass Effect Andromeda review: One for the fans
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTICT Sales Account ManagerQLD
- CC.Net DeveloperQLD
- FTBusiness Process AnalystWA
- FTReporting DeveloperSA
- FTBusiness Development ManagerACT
- FTNetwork Engineer - CCNP - WeipaQLD
- TPSolution ArchitectVIC
- CCProject Communications and Engagement SpecialistNSW
- FTSecurity and Technical Risk ManagerQLD
- TPProject Support AnalystNSW
- FTPHP / WordPress DeveloperQLD
- TPProject ManagerVIC
- FTIT ArchitectNSW
- FTSenior Desktop Engineer - SCCM / AD / 2012 ServerNSW
- FTICT Transformation Integration ManagerNSW
- CCSenior Full-Stack Developer (Digital Transformation Project)QLD
- FTWFM Support Analyst (Kronos)NSW
- FTSales/Account Manager - Education SectorNSW
- FTProject Administrator - Telecommunications InfrastructureNSW
- FT.Net DeveloperNSW
- FTPMO CoordinatorQLD
- FTCampaign ManagerNSW
- FTTest AnalystACT
- FTOracle Database Administrator (DBA)SA
- FTService Desk - Level 1 SupportVIC