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 newsletter!
Samsung QLED 8K TV
Bang and Olufsen Beoplay A9 Speaker
Ballistix Sport AT
Apple iMac Pro
Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB 3000
Toys for Boys
ESET Internet Security
Osmo Coding Awbie Game
ESET Cyber Security Pro for Mac
Tivoli PAL BT
Nix Pro Colour Sensor
ESET Smart Security Premium
Little Bits DROID Inventor Kit
Oregon Pro WMR500 Weather Station
Ikea RIGGAD work lamp with wireless charging
Naztech Xtra Drive Mini + 256GB microSD Card
SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3
TimeFlip Magnet Simple Time Tracking Device
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker
So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Samsung Galaxy Watch review: Brilliant but not quite a breakthrough
- 2 HP Omen 15 (2018): Full, in-depth review
- 3 HP Envy x360 13 (Ryzen): Full, in-depth review
- 4 Dell G5 review: Easy to live with
- 5 D-Link Omna 180 Cam HD DSH-C310 review
Latest News Articles
- CES 2019: Mad Catz strike back
- CES 2019: Razer expand PC case lineup
- CES 2019: Intel to ship new Nervana neural network processor in 2019
- Razer have announced their first console keyboard
- New AMD processor spotted in Xbox console leak
PCW Evaluation Team
Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications
I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)
It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!
The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.
I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.
If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.
- CES 2019 Round-Up:
- Razer Phone 2 review: One for the fans
- Samsung’s Galaxy S10 will launch on Feb 20
- 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