|1120-Core "Fixed" Radeon HD 6850 Review Samples Shipped to Media|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Saturday, 23 October 2010|
1120-Core "Fixed" Radeon HD 6850 Video Card Review Samples Shipped to Media
Websites publish Radeon HD 6850 reviews with inflated results as a result of hidden 6870 GPU.
Shortly after AMD launched their new Radeon HD 6000 series, which featured their 960-core AMD Radeon HD 6850 and 1120-core AMD Radeon HD 6870 video cards, some reports surfaced that some retail manufacturers had shipped 6850 test samples with the same 1120 shader core Barts GPU that comprises the more powerful Radeon HD 6870 video card.
This creates a major problem for review websites, because many of them had unknowingly published their Radeon HD 6850 video card reviews to the public. Fortunately for AMD, although quite unfortunate for NVIDIA, many curious readers have now incorrectly perceived the Radeon HD 6850 to be capable of performance levels not possible from its correct GPU - even with maximum overclocking. While this incident excludes all unbranded AMD reference samples, partners such as Sapphire, HIS, PowerColor, and XFX appear to have sent "overpowered" samples to reviewers.
So far, several reviews of Sapphire, HIS, and XFX Radeon HD 6850 products have been discovered to be affected. Benchmark Reviews received a 1120-core Radeon HD 6850 video card from Sapphire a week prior to the launch, and on the same day we also receiving an email from our marketing contact requesting to immediately return the sample for different reasons:
As it turns out, our Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 was listed in their 'recall' and was returned to them prior to publishing a full review. We did, however, manage to obtain a GPU-Z screen shot prior to shipment which confirms the problem existed:
While I don't have firsthand experience with how HIS or XFX might have handled this, there was not attempt by Sapphire or AMD to alert reviewers of the problem. As an experienced reviewer, I'm skeptical of this incident. It's unclear how many samples were sent to reviewers with this problem, and it's difficult to determine if the action was intentional.
There's no doubt that several of the published Radeon HD 6850 reviews have been tainted with inflated results. Readers should take caution, because there are many single-card and CrossFire reviews that were published using Sapphire, HIS, and XFX Radeon HD 6850 video cards. These articles may have consequently reported abnormally high test results, which could lead to a skewed public perception of the product's natural performance.
Until merchants begin shipping the retail products to consumers, we won't know how for this problem extends. For many, this raises question and concern over unethical sampling from AMD's board partners. At the same time, now there's a consumer interest in unlocking the other 160 shader cores on the Radeon HD 6850.
Official AMD Response: