|VisionTek Radeon HD 6850 Video Card|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Hank Tolman|
|Friday, 04 November 2011|
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Closer Look: Visiontek 6850
The Visiontek Radeon HD 6850 comes in a very unassuming black box. There is very little advertising on the box. It simply states the name of the card and, in quite small letters, some of the basic functions and features. We can see from the box that it's has 1GB of DDR5 memory, it fits a PCI-E X16 slot, supports 7.1 surround over HDMI, has a lifetime warranty, and that it's a DX11 card. I'll tell you the truth; if I saw this card in the store, I might miss it.
Opening up the box, I was a little surprised by the sparseness of the components as well, although I suppose it matches the box. Inside you'll find the VisionTek 900339 Radeon HD 6850 video card, of course, along with an installion CD, a set-up guide, a 4-pin molex to 6-pin GPU power adapter, and a DVI to VGA adapter. I am quite disappointed with the last one, especially considering that most new cards come with a mini display port. I can certainly understand that people might have an older monitor and cables and that they would need to use the DVI to VGA adapter. What I don't understand is why most new video cards come with a display port output and, in my experience, they are hard to find on monitors. That means I probably don't have a display port cable lying around. My suggestion would be a DVI (or better yet HDMI) to display port adapter rather than DVI to VGA.
When VisionTek designed their Radeon HD 6870 card, the 900338, they stuck very closely to the reference design, including the shroud and heatsink. That's not the case with the 900339, their Radeon HD 6850. The black shroud stays the same, but it's branded with the VisionTek name and the Radeon HD 6850 logo. Also, the fan is moved to the center of the PCB and the heatsink is changed slightly to fit it. The reference cooling design features the fan at the end of the PCB. This was originally designed this way to help avoid a dead spot for air flow right behind the fan where the memory or some power management components frequently hide. With the lower clock speeds on the Radeon HD 6850 as compared to the HD 6870, a little bit of extra heat probably wouldn't hurt anyway. Later on we'll take a look at the temperatures of the VisionTek Radeon HD 6850, but I doubt we'll find anything we don't like.
The output ports available on the VisionTek Radeon HD 6850 mirror that of the 6870 and many other recent cards. There are two DVI outputs, an HDMI output, and a display port output. Using the display port as one of your outputs allows you to enter an Eyefinity configuration. You can then stretch your display across three separate monitors for enhanced functionality or awesome gameplay.
One of the DVI ports is dual-link DVI and that is the one that will support AMD HD3D to play 3D games or watch 3D Blu-Ray movies. The HDMI port, obviously, will support it as well. A year ago, the list of supported 3D monitors was extremely sparse, consisting of exactly one monitor. That list has expanded to a much larger variety of supported monitors now, as well as 3D TVs and projectors.
The backside of the VisionTek Radeon HD 6850 really shows us just how close together these components can get. That being said, the solder quality is great. There is no spillage and none of the solder extends out past where it should.
The VisionTek 900339 Radeon HD 3850 mirrors the AMD reference design HD 6850 in size, clocking in at 9.0" long by 1.25" tall by 3.75" wide. This is 3/4 of an inch shorter than the VisionTek 900338 Radeon HD 3870.
Besides the location of the fan and the heatsink, the VisionTek Radeon HD 6850 has some other differences from the HD 6870 in terms of cooling features. The shroud on the HD 6870 is completely enclosed. There are no vents in the back for cool air intake. Even the top of the shroud on the HD 6870 lacks a lot of ventilation. That's not the case on the VisionTek Radeon HD 6850. On this shroud the back is mostly open, allowing for air to flow freely across the board. The top is also well-ventilated.
Before we get into the testing, let's take a look at the specifications of the Radeon HD 6850.