When a new series of video cards is launched it’s easy to get distracted by the new flashy cards and their amazing performance. The problem is when it comes to mid-range and lower cards sometimes last generations cards perform as well or better at similar price points. This can mean a simple decision on a video card for a budget build could have tens or hundreds of options to choose from. To give you another option Sapphire has brought back their HD5800 series cards with new Xtreme Edition series. They introduced today both the HD5830 and HD5850, of which we will be taking a look at the HD5850. Let’s take a look at what is different with this reintroduction and how it affects the budget gamer.
Product Name: Sapphire HD5850 Xtreme
Review Sample Provided by: Sapphire
Review by: Wes
Pictures by: Wes
1 x Dual-Link DVI
725 MHz Core Clock
1024 MB Size
DVI to VGA Adapter
-PCI Express® based PC is required with one X16 lane graphics slot available on the motherboard.
-500 Watt Power Supply is required.
-600 Watt Power Supply is recommended for CrossFireX™ System.
-2 X 75Watt 6-pin PCI Express power connector is required.
-4 X 75 Watt 6-pin PCI Express power connector is required for CrossFireX™ system.
-Certified power supplies are recommended. Refer to http://ati.amd.com/certifiedPSU for a list of certified products.
-1024 MB Minimum of system memory.
-Installation software requires CD-ROM drive.
-DVD playback requires DVD drive.
-Blu-ray™ / HD DVD playback requires Blu-ray / HD DVD drive.
-To support 3 displays, one of the monitors has to support DisplayPort.
Features (from Sapphires website)
Advanced GDDR5 Memory Technology
GDDR5 memory provides twice the bandwidth per pin of GDDR3 memory, delivering more speed and higher bandwidth.
ATI Eyefinity technology maximizes your field of view across up to three displays, fully engaging your peripheral vision. For gamers this puts you right IN the game and for other applications it helps to increase productivity by maximizing your visual workspace so that you can see more windows simultaneously. ATI Eyefinity technology is also ideal for multimedia applications as it allows you to keep several ‘palettes’ or ‘panels’ open over a larger workspace whist you edit your images or videos.*
40nm Process Technology
Cutting edge manufacturing process allows for efficient, high performance parts which use less power than their predecessors.
ATI Stream Technology
Accelerate the most demanding applications with ATI Stream technology and do more with your PC. ATI Stream Technology allows you to use the teraflops of compute power locked up in your graphics processer on tasks other than traditional graphics such as video encoding, at which the graphics processor is many, many times faster than using the CPU alone.
ATI Avivo HD (DVD/HD-DVD/Blu-ray Playback)
Watch the hottest Blu-ray movies or other HD content at full 1080p display resolution and beyond and enjoy a more feature rich experience with enhanced Unified Video Decoder(UVD)
ATI CrossFireX™ Multi-GPU Technology
Triple or Quadruple gaming power withATI CrossFireX™ Multi-GPU Technology.ATI CrossFireX technology supports up to four graphics cards to be used in a single system.
The latest PCI-Express 2.0 specification doubles data throughput from 2.5Gbps to 5Gbps allowing you to exploit the full performance potential of your graphics card.
Equipped with the most popular Dual Link DVI (Digital Visual Interface), this card is able to display ultra high resolutions of up to 2560 x 1600 at 60Hz.
Turn your PC into a home entertainment center with HDMI. Simply connect the graphics card to an LCD TV with an HDMI input and you will be able to enjoy watching HD videos with audio in the living room.
Enjoy the benefits of the latest generation display interface, DisplayPort. With the ultra-high HD resolution of 2560 x 1600 the graphics card ensures that you are able to support the latest generation of LCD monitors.
Microsoft DirectX® 11
Get intense gaming performance and unrivalled image quality with stunning 3D visual effects, realistic lighting and lifelike imagery with SAPPHIRE graphics cards supporting DirectX®11. New features in DirectX®11 such as Hardware Tesselation, HDR Texture Compression, Multi-threading support and DirectCompute bring lifelike gaming and an experience never possible on a PC before.
Shader Model 5.0
Supports the latest Shader Model 5.0 feature set including VTF (Vertex Texture Fetch) which is a key feature used extensively in many of the games that ship today. Without support for this feature the game will fall back to a lesser shader path resulting in the loss of cool, lifelike effects made possible by Shader Model 5.0
ATI Catalyst Control Center™
The ATI Catalyst Control Center™ software application gives you complete control over the performance and visual quality of your SAPPHIRE ATI Radeon™ based graphics card allowing for the best experience on your PC.
Accelerated Video Transcoding
Massively parallel architecture and support for common shader transcoding instructions accelerates video encoding / transcoding way beyond what was possible with the CPU only.
Dolby® TrueHD and DTSHD Master Audio™ Support
Support for copy protected, high bandwidth, 7.1 channel surround sound over HDMI. Get a fully immersive, high definition audio experience with the latest Blu-ray movies. (Requires a DVI to HDMI dongle on some models, an HD capable monitor and a Blu-ray drive)
Supports advanced AA (Anti-aliasing) features to maximize your enjoyment of high definition gaming.
-Multi-sample anti-aliasing (2, 4 or 8 samples per pixel)
-Up to 24x Custom Filter Anti-Aliasing (CFAA) for superior quality
-Adaptive super-sampling and multi-sampling
-Super AA (ATI CrossFireX™configurations only)
-All anti-aliasing features compatible with HDR rendering
Physics processing support
Accelerates the performance of Fluid Dynamics, Cloth Simulation, Soft or Rigid Body Dynamics, Universal Collision Detection, Hair Simulation and Finite Element Analysis for the most lifelike gaming experience.
3rd Generation TeraScale Engine
Massive arrays of on-chip compute units offer the latest in graphics functionality and performance allowing you to enjoy what you are watching at the highest quality possible.
AMD Advanced Parallel Processing technology
Accelerate the most demanding applications by offloading parallel data compute tasks from the CPU to GPU, dividing the tasks as evenly as possible for improved system performance and reliability.
Offers an incredible choice of the latest display connectivity options natively on the board, including dual-link DVI-I, DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 1.4a along with adapters to ensure compatibility with your legacy analogue VGA monitor.
TriXX helps users to get the optimum performance from compatible SAPPHIRE graphics cards in any application by allowing them to monitor, tune and save different settings of key parameters for the card.
Enhanced Unified Video Decoder 3 (UVD 3)
Watch the hottest Blu-ray movies or other HD content at full 1080p (and beyond !) display resolution. Enjoy a feature rich video experience with enhanced Unified Video Decoder 3 (UVD 3), offloading the bulk of the video decoding tasks from the CPU to the GPU allowing for a cooler, quieter and more balanced system.
Enhanced Internet Browser Applications
Not just for video and games, the power of your GPU can now accelerate the latest versions of some Internet browsers (IE9/Mozilla FireFox) utilizing Direct 2D rendering for a faster and more responsive browsing experience including high quality image rendering and media playback.
Microsoft Office 2010
Take advantage of improved picture and media editing capabilities in Office 2010 as well as edit and share your content in real time.
See more, and get more done. Enhanced productivity with accelerated GPU processing for Office applications.
Windows® 7 support
WHQL (Windows Hardware Quality Labs) Certified drivers and logos are available for all SAPPHIRE HD2000, HD3000, HD4000 and HD5000 series cards ensuring compatibility and reliability with Microsoft Windows 7.
The HD5850 uses the typical Sapphire style package, but without being a Toxic or Flex edition it lacks the bright colors you would see on their packaging. This time around it’s just grey and black with one of Sapphires signature characters on the front. Above the product name is an Xtreme sticker, I’m curious what the Xtreme entails. Around back they have broken each of the cards main features down. You will also notice that the copyright is still dated from the launch of the HD5800 series cards; they didn’t reinvent the wheel with this relaunch (And why would they). Inside the video card is inside of a padded static free bag and is accompanied by the accessories, paperwork, and software disc. As far as accessory’s go you will get two Molex to 6 pin adapters and a DVI to VGA adapter for those of you who need VGA connections.
For cooling Sapphire installed a full coverage cooler similar to what we have seen on their recent HD6000 series cards. This is no reference design and you won’t see any other company with anything similar. This is a Sapphire design through and through.
The fan is centrally mounted and large enough to get the job done, if not more than is needed.
For power you are going to need two six pin connections for the HD5850, they did provide adapters if by some chance your power supply doesn’t come with enough.
Around back on the backplate you get a selection of three connections, a DVI, HDMI, and Displayport. No mini connections on this baby, its a little old school! You do still get a full PCI slot for air flow for optimum cooling performance.
The PCB is a bright blue as you can see from the back of the card
Our Test Rig
Intel i7 930 CPU Running at 2.8 (Stock)
Gigabyte X58A-UD5 Motherboard
Patriot Sector 7 Ram Triple Channel
Seagate Constellation 2tb Hard drive
Corsair H50 Water Cooling
Cooler Master Gold Series 1200 Watt PSU
http://www.highspeedpc.com/ Test Bench
Our Testing Procedures
All of our in game performance testing was run at 1920x1080, you can see the exact settings below. Here are the details for each of our tests.
Call Of Duty Black Ops (1920x1080 – high settings, first scene starting after the cut scene, recorded using fraps)
Battlefield Bad Company 2 (1920x1080 – high settings, first scene starting after the cut scene, recorded using fraps)
Dirt 2 (1920x1080 – 4x MSAA – high settings, in-game benchmark)
Metro 2033 DX11 test (built-in benchmark, 1920 x 1080; DirectX: DirectX 11; Quality: Very High; Antialiasing: MSAA 4X; Texture filtering: AF 4X; Advanced PhysX: Enabled; Tessellation: Enabled; DOF: Disabled)
Metro 2033 DX10 test (built-in benchmark, 1920 x 1080; DirectX: DirectX 10; Quality: Very High; Antialiasing: MSAA 4X; Texture filtering: AF 4X; Advanced PhysX: Enabled; Tessellation: Enabled; DOF: Disabled)
Mafia 2 (built-in benchmark, 1920x1080, PhysX on, high settings)
Synthetic Benchmarks For video cards our synthetic benchmarks are limited to 3DMark Vantage and 3DMark Vantage 201. 3DMark Vantage is run with PPU turned off with results from both the performance and high settings. In 3DMark Vantage 2011 we run both performance and extreme benchmarks.
With this being a previous generation card I wasn’t sure how it would stand up against the latest and greatest from both AMD and Nvidia. Surprisingly the HD5850 outperformed all of the mid-range cards in almost every test. What is really impressive is the cards performance was close to the GTX560 Ti at a lower price.
The heatsink on the HD5850 Xtreme is of a similar design to what we have seen on HD6000 series cards and we have been very happy with the noise and cooling performance each card with that design. The HD5850 Xtreme is no different. Its noise performance wasn’t noticeable, even while running our benchmarks. Most of that is because the heatsink does a great job keeping everything cool. If by a chance you do get the card warmed up enough for the fans to ramp up you can expect enough noise to let you know it’s getting very hot.
When we started this review we knew the HD5850 would perform well, but we were curious how it would stand up against the current generation cards. As it turns out, surprisingly well. The HD5850 is priced to compete with Nvidia’s GTX 550 Ti and the HD 6850. In almost every test it outperformed the 550, some by a considerable amount. The performance numbers even have it above the HD 6850 overclocked version pushing performance near what we see from the $200+ cards. For those of you who are willing to go with a previous gen card, the HD 5850 Xtreme from Sapphire is a diamond in the rough for gaming performance!