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AMD Radeon HD 6850 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £133
inc VAT

A great card at a great price, if you held off upgrading to the 5000-series, then this is the card for you.

The new 6000 series cards haven’t quite made the splash we expected. Plus, as the smaller sibling of the pair, the HD 6850 could easily be overlooked. However, just like the more-powerful HD 6870, this card provides an excellent balance of price and performance.

It may be a cut-down version of the HD 6870, but the HD 6850 still provides plenty of graphical power. In terms of pricing it’s on a par with the old HD 5830, and is around the same price as the cheaper of the Nvidia’s GTX 460 cards. In terms of performance, however, it easily outshines both these – in fact it’s pretty much the equal of the old HD 5850, which costs around £200.

HD 6850 2

The card’s GPU and architecture are largely identical to its larger sibling. There are less stream processors however, down from 1,120 to 960, and though the memory bus remains at 256-bit, memory speed is reduced slightly to 1,000MHz. The big change is in the core clock speed of the GPU, which drops by 125Mhz to 775MHz.

Despite these differences, we have to look to our tougher tests to separate this card from the HD 6870. Running Crysis at 1,920×1,080 with 4x anti-aliasing gave us a score of 42.6fps, just 4fp below the HD 5870. Our DX11 Stalker test showed a larger gap, with the HD 6850 producing 33.3fps, compared to 38.8fps from the more powerful card – it’s not a huge gap but is just enough to justify the £45 price hike for the more powerful card.

The HD 6850 scored higher than the GTX 460 1GB is all of our tests, yet it costs significantly less, being available for just a few pounds more than the GTX 460 768MB, which it completely outclasses. It’s a great buy for any gamer who hasn’t upgraded their graphics card for a while.

Basic Specifications

Price £133
Rating *****
Award Best Buy
Interface PCI Express x16 2.1
Crossfire/SLI CrossFireX
Slots taken up 2
Brand ATI
Graphics Processor ATI Radeon HD 6850
Memory 1GB GDDR5
Memory interface 256-bit
GPU clock speed 775MHz
Memory speed 1.00GHz
Card length 230mm


Architecture 960
Anti aliasing 24x
Anisotropic filtering 16x


DVI outputs 2
VGA outputs 0
S-video output no
S-Video input no
Composite outputs no
Composite inputs no
Component outputs no
HDMI outputs 1
Power leads required 1x 6-pin PCI Express


Accessories none
Software included N/A

Benchmark Results

3DMark Vantage 1680 8,014
Call of Duty 4 1680 4xAA 82.4fps
Call of Duty 4 1440 4xAA 86.7fps
Crysis 1680 High 4xAA 48.7fps
Crysis 1440 High 4xAA 57.2fps

Buying Information

Warranty one-year RTB
Price £133

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