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Closer Look: GIGABYTE Radeon HD 6850As usual, GIGABYTE packages its GPUs in a quiet nice box. Any technologies, features and bundles are displayed on the frontal and back side of the package. There's a big sticker claiming a 3 years warranty, and they show you their new windforce 2x heatsink design along with GV-R6850C-1GD overclocked speeds against reference clocks.
GIGABYTE GV-R685OC-1GD completely gets out of AMD's reference design. With their newest Windforce cooler and its anti-turbulence design, they included a massive heatsink for this GPU, paired with 2x80mm fans instead of the commonly used (but still efficient enough) single fan. The GV-R685OC-1GD promises to be one hell of a quiet card, while delivering superb performance and low heat levels. Since this is an overclocked design, it also means we could try to add some extra volts and reach higher clocks with lower temperatures.
With high-end video cards, the cooling system is an integral part of the performance envelope for the product. Make it run cooler, and you can make it run faster, has been the byword for achieving gaming-class performance with all recent GPUs. Even some midrange models have turned out to be supreme overclockers with enhanced cooling. Windforce anti-turbulence cooling uses specially selected fans with inclined fins and PWM support. Inclined-fins redirect airflow and help to reduce excessive heat and turbulence. Depending on its orientation, there are three types of inclined-fin designs: parallel-inclined, mirroring-inclined and 3D-inclined. Each type contributes to generating excellent exterior airflow for efficient heat dissipation from the interior GPU core. This specific GPU model includes the parallel-inclined design, which moves the air through one direction only, instead of pushing it directly into the PCB and spreading everything to all the available sides.
As it's usual, GIGABYTE uses a blue PCB design with high quality components to sustain their Ultra Durable VGA series. This card is powered by an AMD Radeon HD 6850 GPU, and it supports PCI-Express 2.1 as well as DX-11 AMD CrossfireX and Avivo HD technology.
The heatsink is based on a vapor chamber cooling base and a pair of pure copper 6mm heat-pipes. In the next picture, we're able to see how the fans are somewhat inclined to blow the air directly to the PCI bracket instead of blowing all the air into the chassis as many other models do. This means you don't need a full-closed GPU heatsink to exhaust the air of your PC case, and improves system stability by avoiding heat to spread over the rest of your components.
A closer look reveals that the GPU heatsink is actually larger than the PCB itself. I think this isn't necessary, but who knows. Anyway, under this heatsink cover there's the 6-pin PCI-e PSU connector, which has enough open space around to be manipulated even in small-room conditions (mini-ITX builds for example).
There's one different thing from AMD's reference design to the GV-R685OC-1GD. GIGABYTE includes a pair of dual link DVI ports, one HDMI port and a full size DisplayPort connector. However, AMD's reference design initially included a pair of mini-display port connectors instead of a single full-sized one. Anyway, you're still able to connect 3 displays in this card using their newest DP adapter which fully utilizes bandwidth to connect 3 monitors on it and enable Eyefinity.
In the next section, let's take a more detailed look at some of the new components on this reference board. I did a full tear-down, so we could see everything there is to see...