Sapphire Radeon HD 5850 CrossfireX

Packaging & Initial Impressions

Packaging and Initial Impressions
Our pair of Sapphire Radeon HD 5850 1GB graphics cards arrived in a standard glossy outer box that doesn't particularly deviate from the Add In Board partner's usual styling theme. On the box itelf, it has just about all you need to know about the graphics card if you were to decide to go and pick it up in a shop. This includes it's key features such as ATi Eyefinity, CrossfireX support, DirectX 11 compliance, System Requirements and so on.
As you may have noticed from the box, the package includes with a coupon that entitles the end user to download the well anticipated DiRT 2 Racing game, that will be among the first to take advantage of DirectX 11. Aside this, the accessory list is airly standard but more than acceptable. This includes an owners manual, DVI to VGA adapter, Driver CD, CrossfireX bridge, two 4pin molex to 6pin PCI-Express adapters and a Sapphire Sticker.
The graphics card itself looks very much like it's Radeon HD 5870 brother. It's PCB length however is down to a more respectable 9.5", which is directly comparable to the Radeon HD 4800 series and GeForce 8800/9800 series. This technically allows the graphics card to fit in cases which are less deep but do remember that you must factor in the size of your PCI-E 6pin cables as well because the sockets are situated on the back rather than the top.
After the removal of no less than 16 screws, the HD 5850's Heatsink was dismembered from the graphics card PCB. Following the removal of another couple of screws, the shroud could be removed, exposing it's blower fan and cooling block. Sporting two U shaped heatpipes, a copper base and tightly spaced Aluminium fins, it would seem as though ATi have specified the cooling solution well. Upon observing the spread of thermal paste on the Cypress core and the base of the heatsink, we were pleased with both core contact and the quantity of paste used. The craftmanship of the graphics card seems pretty good so far.
The installation of our Sapphire Radeon HD 5850's was trouble free. After the drivers were installed and the system had restarted, ATi's Catalyst Control Center had detected both cards and was then notified that CrossfireX had been enabled. From a noise point of view, the graphics cards were whisper quiet, very much like the HD 5870's that we have previously tested.
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Most Recent Comments

02-11-2009, 19:12:16

Great review as usual Mul. The 5850's look like a good buy! They should be awesome around christmas when the price drops kick in, ATI's cards are the real working class hero's of graphics Quote

02-11-2009, 19:28:23

Originally Posted by name='MeltedDuron'
Great review as usual Mul. The 5850's look like a good buy! They should be awesome around christmas when the price drops kick in, ATI's cards are the real working class hero's of graphics
Cheers MeltedDuron.

As for price drops, I fear it may well go the other way until nVidia has a direct competitor. Given that the production of GeForce GTX 260/275/285's, VAT increases and a (currently) low supply of Cypress cards to meet demand, prices could even rise. We'll see how things pan out though.Quote

02-11-2009, 20:07:35

Great review.

Got a few questions I'm not sure of:

  • Is the difference between the 5850 & 5870 purely clock speed, or is there something capability-wize the 5870 can do that the 5850 can't ?

  • Why does the i7 cpu score in the FutureMark benchie vary so much with the differing 4 setups ?

Unless there's a non-clock answer to the 1st question, I don't see any point in any1 buying 2x 5870 to xfire. There's a difference of some %age of fps in games that the 2x 5850 are already scoring over 100s. To that end, I don't see the cream.

Need to revisit this once there are some/few Dx11 comparisons to be had. Making comparisons of these cards in Dx10 at best doesn't seem to present much visible differences.

Decent card on the face of it. Nothing being made of AMD scoring nice pricing, and perhaps more to come, from the fact they have the only Dx11 out in this window. We know it would, and will, be different in a months time, and I'm sure there will be some shouting from the roof tops then - especially when these cards get cut.Quote

02-11-2009, 20:24:58

Cheers for your thoughts Rastalovich,

The answer to the first question is no unfortunately. Aside Frequencies, the 5850 variant of the Cypress core has 8 5 Way Shading Units disabled, resulting in a 1440 Stream Processors overall, which is 10% less than the HD 5870 at 1600. The consequence is that you'd need to push a HD 5850 to slightly higher core frequencies in order to match the HD 5870.

As for the second question, I'm unsure as to why the CPU Score varied so much. Identical testbeds were used, and the same goes for the drivers.

With regards to revisiting these cards with DX11 hits, I completely agree. Quote

02-11-2009, 20:28:55

The variation of the cpu score concerns me.

If u were to lay out a flat comparison of 5850/5870/5890, I'd personal need a serious answer to why the likes of the i7 cpus are either being held back or being used to bolster deficiencies.

Moreover, would it mean that if u had Quote

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