ATI RADEON HD 5850 review

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The ATI Radeon HD 5850 packs a punch in high-definition gaming. Primarily pitched in to attend to the needs of an ambitious high-end gamer, it also aims at those who want to make do with a decent API (application programming interface). Radeon 5850 is a trimmed version of the high-performance Radeon 5870. It is also more affordable at a below $230 price bracket.

GPU

When you are testing Radeon 5850 against other cards or the ones in the Radeon series, you will be in for a surprise. 5850 shares its GPU core with Radeon 5870. However, their workings differ in terms of the number of stream processors, texture fill rate, etc. A slower GPU clock rate at 725 MHz with 1440 processors produces 2.9 TFLOPS worth of computing performance in Radeon 5850. This may fall short of the overall performance of 5870 but still manages to notch it up beyond the 2 TFLOPS mark. The memory clock speed stands at an upright 128 GB/sec.

Nvidia’s GTZ 200 series is touted as a market rival for Radeon 5850. But the latter is preferred over GTX on account of a high computing speed but narrowly scrapes in terms of core clock speed. The makers of Radeon 5850 have significantly cut down on power consumption. The idle power board measures up to a meagre 27W while the maximum board power is 151W.

Video memory

Radeon 5850 unfortunately falls flat when it comes to memory speed. Clocked at 1000 MHz, it is slower than the GTX 285 in terms of memory speed as well as bus width. The GTX has an amazing bus-width at 512-bits. Radeon 5850 lags behind its rival on bandwidth measurement as well. It is no match for the 159 bandwidth measurement of GTX.

Display Interface

Armed with a quad-video output configuration consisting of a dual link DVI port, HDMI output and Display Port, Radeon 5850 can be used to channelize and convert the output into a desired mode.

Technologies rendered

This card supports innovative technologies like DirectX 11 and Direct Compute. Most advanced games are built in and around these interfaces and thus the card keeps you ahead without having to spend on expensive upgrades. The usage of progressive multi-display technology like ATI Eyefinity and independent display controllers is an added edge over and above the highly efficient GPU core. You can steer the multiple displays to control the colour and resolution of the images. Radeon 5850 makes it possible for a user to use multiple displays and treat them like one whole display unit through the use of display grouping.

Besides rendering these technologies, the card is imbibed with tessellation and anti-aliastion techniques. Both improve on the quality of the images and add more panache to the whole gaming experience.

A last word

Radeon 5850 operates better than the formerly introduced Radeon 4870 but is a slightly watered down version of 5870. It has a relatively shorter PCB at 9” and hence can be accommodated in most PC boards. With a low power requirement, it can work with a sole 6pin connector. Offering good performance, most gamers have been eyeing this card for the APIs it supports and good computing strength.

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