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Written by Olin Coles   
Monday, 25 October 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
Sapphire 100315L Radeon HD 6850 Video Card
Sapphire 6850 Closer Look
Features and Specifications
Video Card Testing Methodology
DX10: 3DMark Vantage
DX10: Crysis Warhead
DX11: Aliens vs Predator
DX11: Battlefield Bad Company 2
DX11: BattleForge
DX9 SSAO: Mafia II
DX11: Metro 2033
DX11: Unigine Heaven 2.1
Overclocking and Temperatures
VGA Power Consumption
Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 Conclusion

AMD Barts GPU Overclocking

AMD's Cypress GPU was well-known for accepting massively overclocked speeds. The new Barts GPU is based on Cypress, and should in theory yield a similar overclock. This presumes that AMD hasn't already stretched the Radeon HD 6850 and 6870 as far as they could go. For this project, we used MSI's free Afterburner program to overclock the video cards.

The MSI Afterburner "Graphics Card Performance Booster" application offers several adjustable variables to reach the desired overclock. Afterburner allows for voltage changes (increase/decrease), but this project aimed to stretch the AMD Barts GPU as far as it could go without any extra power applied. Beginning with the maximum stable GPU clock speed, I slowly increased the settings until I began to see tearing or the driver crashed. Once I reached the most stable speeds for both GPU and GDDR5, I put the video card back into action with high-demand video games for additional benchmark tests. Here are the results:

AMD Radeon HD 6850 Overclocking Results

Test Item Standard Overclocked Improvement
Radeon HD 6850 775/1000 MHz 850/1075 MHz 75/75 MHz
DX10: Crysis Warhead 22 24 9.0%
DX11: Aliens vs Predator 23.1 25.0 8.2%
DX11: BattleForge 30.1 32.4 7.6%
DX11: Heaven 2.1 22.5 23.6 4.9%
DX11: Lost Planet 2 25.5 28.1 10.2%
DX9+SSAO: Mafia II 39.9 43.2 8.3%

AMD Radeon HD 6870 Overclocking Results

Test Item Standard Overclocked Improvement
Radeon HD 6870 900/1050 MHz 950/1200 MHz 50/150 MHz
DX10: Crysis Warhead 25 27 8.0%
DX11: Aliens vs Predator 27.0 29.5 9.3%
DX11: BattleForge 34.3 37.4 9.0%
DX11: Heaven 2.1 26.5 28.6 7.9%
DX11: Lost Planet 2 31.0 33.0 6.5%
DX9+SSAO: Mafia II 47.5 50.7 6.7%

Radeon HD 6850 Temperatures

Benchmark tests are always nice, so long as you care about comparing one product to another. But when you're an overclocker, gamer, or merely a PC hardware enthusiast who likes to tweak things on occasion, there's no substitute for good information. Benchmark Reviews has a very popular guide written on Overclocking Video Cards, which gives detailed instruction on how to tweak a graphics cards for better performance. Of course, not every video card has overclocking head room. Some products run so hot that they can't suffer any higher temperatures than they already do. This is why we measure the operating temperature of the video card products we test.

To begin my testing, I use GPU-Z to measure the temperature at idle as reported by the GPU. Next I use FurMark's "Torture Test" to generate maximum thermal load and record GPU temperatures at high-power 3D mode. The ambient room temperature remained at a stable 20°C throughout testing, while the inner-case temperature hovered around 37°C.

FurMark does two things extremely well: drive the thermal output of any graphics processor higher than applications of video games realistically could, and it does so with consistency every time. Furmark works great for testing the stability of a GPU as the temperature rises to the highest possible output. The temperatures discussed below are absolute maximum values, and not representative of real-world performance.

Video Card Idle Temp Loaded Temp Ambient
ATI Radeon HD 5850 Reference 39°C 73°C 20°C
AMD Radeon HD 6850 Reference 42°C 77°C 20°C
Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 1GB 36°C 80°C 20°C
AMD Radeon HD 6870 Reference 39°C 74°C 20°C
ATI Radeon HD 5870 Reference 33°C 78°C 20°C



 

Comments 

 
# RE: Sapphire 100315L Radeon HD 6850 Video CardJosh 2011-10-26 16:56
How is exhausting all heated air outside of the case a CON? This is a PRO if anything! I'm lost now.. Otherwise a pretty decent review. Thanks!
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# RE: RE: Sapphire 100315L Radeon HD 6850 Video CardOlin Coles 2011-10-26 17:09
Nearly everyone agrees that hot air does not belong inside the computer case, heating up the processor and other components. We want the video card to exhaust the hot air outside the case, so everything stays cool and lasts longer.
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# RE: Sapphire 100315L Radeon HD 6850 Video CardJosh 2011-10-26 18:04
"Cons:

- Fan exhausts all heated air outside of case"

It says - OUTSIDE of case.. that's why I was confused.

If this "We want the video card to exhaust the hot air outside the case, so everything stays cool and lasts longer." is the case, then why is it listed as con that's all...

I too, as an avid overclocker, agree and understand that hot air does not belong in the case, thank you.
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# RE: RE: Sapphire 100315L Radeon HD 6850 Video CardOlin Coles 2011-10-26 18:45
Exactly one year later, and I'm making a typo correction. It now reads "Con - Fan exhausts all heated air back inside case"
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# RE: Sapphire 100315L Radeon HD 6850 Video CardJosh 2011-10-26 18:49
Lol... still relevant, lots of people are still purchasing this card, including myself - two of them in crossfire can keep up with a 580 - and for less money and less wattage.

Thanks for the review and the clarification on the cons!

Hopefully my going overkill with case fans will help to negate this issue..
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