|Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 5850 Video Card 21162-00-50R|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Thursday, 15 October 2009|
Page 3 of 16
Sapphire 5850 Closer Look
The video card industry is hurting as bad as anyone during this economic recession, and nobody is walking around happy about PC graphics these days. They can't, really, not when many of the latest video game titles for the personal computer are released only after console versions have been made available first. Even once you get past that initial burn, you're greeted by yet another. During the 2009 business year we've seen dozens of great video games released on the PC platform, but very few of them demand any more graphical processing power than games demanded back in 2006. Video cards certainly got bigger and faster, but video games we're seriously lacking fresh development. DirectX 10 helped the industry, but every step forward received two steps back because of Windows Vista. Introduced with Windows 7, enthusiasts now have DirectX 11 detail and special effects in their video games.
At first glance, the Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 5850 video card measures exactly 9.5" long, putting it a full inch behind the 10.5" long GeForce GTX 260/285 that it competes with. ATI produces and directly supplies every Radeon HD 5850 that operates at reference specification, with add-in card/add-in board partner artwork applied wherever necessary. Sapphire uses a cartoon likeness similar to ATI's Ruby, the ATI covert-ops model icon, on their products.
Most overclocker-enthusiasts prefer an externally-exhausting VGA cooler (such as the one used on reference-design Radeon HD 5850 video cards) over a cooler that vents back into the computer case. While the majority of the heated air does pass through the vent on the I/O plate, it's only about 0.5x1.5" in diameter. Additional ventilation is located directly beside the external vent, located along the 'spine' of the video card near the I/O plate (visible below).
Probably the newest edition to the ATI Radeon series is the inclusion of DisplayPort output beside a native HDMI 1.3 port, which is available on all Radeon HD 5700/5800-series video cards, and not specific to the Sapphire 21162-00-50R model we're testing. Two DVI digital video outputs are connected to monitors for dual-view, or a third monitor can be added via DisplayPort to enable ATI Eyefinity technology.
The reference cooling unit on the Sapphire/ATI Radeon HD 5850 video card is held tight to the 40nm "Cypress" GPU with four screws in the corner-reinforced bracket and ten plastic screws on the back of the PCB. Considering the Cypress GPU die size is a rather large 334 mm2, and fits 2154 million transistors, the overall heat dissipation is spread over a suitable landscape. The double-height cooler does a very good job of cooling the 5850, but there is still a tremendous amount of heat that builds up on backside of the PCB. If you're an overclocker, there isn't much that can be done to help cool the unit from the reverse side of the circuit board, especially since there aren't any vRAM modules mounted at the backside of the PCB on this video card.
In next several sections, Benchmark Reviews details our methodology for testing video cards followed by a performance comparison against many of the most popular graphics accelerators available. The Sapphire ATI Radeon HD 5850 competes against the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260, 285, and Radeon 4890; so of course we'll be keeping a close eye on comparative performance.