HIS Radeon 6850 & 6870 Review

HIS Radeon 68x0 Series Review


We definitely have mixed feelings about these cards. Nothing to do with HIS Digital themselves, but rather the decision by ATI to completely mess about with the branding.

It’s one thing to fiddle with numbers if you reach the top of the four digit possibilities and don’t wish to re-use the brilliance that was the 9700 and 9800 cards, but to make needless changes seems to us only to be confusing for the sake of it.

Surely it’s the desire of any company to have their product so ingrained in the psyche of the populous that everyone is aware of it and what it stands for. In the same way that “Hoover” has become as much a verb for vacuuming as it is a electronics company, or “to Google” has become the alternative term for searching (despite both these companies protestations to ensure they can’t lose their trademark), the Radeon 3/4/5870 has always meant the top of the line, the cream of the crop, the fastest of the fast.

Even knowing that it’s theoretically a 6830 doesn’t help. Your brain is so tuned to expecting a certain thing that you’re constantly having to remind yourself to ignore the number. Which surely defeats the point? Isn’t that breaking what was fixed? Destroying years of hard built brand imaging needlessly.

If ATI were that desperate to give us new branding then why not change it entirely as nVidia did with the 280?

With that off of our chest, although still within reaching distance, how do they perform?

Unquestionably both the HIS HD6850 and HIS HD6870 comfortably beat the cards they are intended to replace. The HD6850 is on a par with the HD5830 and the HD6870 conclusively is at the top of all of our tests.

The most disappointing aspect is the overclocking performance. It’s not the actual ability of the cards to overclock, both of them manage to hit the stops in the Catalyst control panel with ease whilst remaining cool and relatively quiet. It’s the performance gain you get from doing so. Or rather the performance you don’t get.

Mid-range cards are something we’ve always loved in the same way we all took to the E8400 and similar. Overclocking enabling huge performance increases for zero cost.

Both the HD6850 and HD6870 enabling overclocking for zero cost, but with zero performance too.

So are they worth a purchase? The HD6850 is expected to retail around £150 and the HD6870 about £200.


The HIS HD6850 is hard to recommend as there is no clear selling point. It’s only really a budget gamer and if you’re not gaming then there are dozens of cards which will run your desktop and HD movie needs, but if you are looking for a 3D compatable HTPC card then this could be right up your street!



The HD6870 is different. Sure you wont buy one if you’re hoping to clock the hell out of it and achieve free performance, but for sensible gaming at sensible resolutions it’s good enough. It’s designed to replace the HD5830, performs like a poor HD5850 but in actuality could be the replacement for the HD5770 in terms of a value, high performing, Crossfire option. We’ve seen a few places claim the HD6870 has HD5870 performance. It doesn’t.


We’d always prefer to see the high-end models released and then the cheaper options appear later. As it is, these are a good start.

Thanks to HIS Digital for providing the HD6850 and HD6870 for todays review. Discuss in our forums.