Review Index:

AMD Radeon HD 6870 and 6850 Review - Barts Architecture Refresh

Author: Ryan Shrout
Manufacturer: AMD

XFX Retail Cards, Testing Configurations and Pricing Wars

We already received a couple of partner cards for the HD 6800 series launch, but at this time they are all based nearly completely on the reference designs.  The XFX Radeon HD 6870 and HD 6850 models shown here were used in our CrossFire platform testing.  
The HD 6850 card actually uses a custom cooler and PCB - if you happen to think that is really quick for such a change to be made, you aren't alone.  Because the new Radeon HD 6800 series of GPUs is completely pin compatible with the HD 5800 series of cards, vendors are able to simply drop in the Barts GPU on PCB custom designed for the HD 5850/5830 and as long as the cooling solution fit the bill, they were ready to go.    

XFX even adds a nice little touch by putting their logo in place of the standard air vent.  We'll have more details on XFX's plans for retail cards very soon as well as other AMD card partners.  
Testing Configuration

AMD Radeon HD 6870 1GB Reference 

AMD Radeon HD 6850 1GB Reference 

Setting up the testing comparisons for this review were a bit complicated as both sides played their cards close the chest and didn't give us real pricing until the DAY OF RELEASE.  If they do this again, I'll probably have to hurt someone. it stands 4 hours before the launch of the Radeon HD 6800 series, we'll be looking at a few different configurations of cards in our benchmarks.  First, the new Radeon HD 6870 will be pitted against the Radeon HD 5850 and the GeForce GTX 460 1GB in two versions: reference speeds and overclocked.  There are several GTX 460s clocked at 800 MHz or higher priced right around the MSRP of the HD 6870 and thus the comparison is completely valid and worth showing.  Next, the HD 6850 will be going up against the somewhat clunky HD 5830 as well as reference GTX 460 1GB and 768MB cards.  Finally, we have a set of graphs showing how the HD 6870 and HD 6850 compare to each other and how well CrossFire scaling works with these new GPUs.

You will likely also notice a completely new benchmark suite on PC Perspective - we have needed a refresh for quite some time and we finally got it.  Unfortunately for us that mean 40+ hours of benchmarking; for you that means much more current and relevant results!

Here is our test system setup for the benchmarks:

  • Testing Configuration
  • ASUS P6X58D Premium Motherboard
  • Intel Core i7-965 @ 3.33 GHz Processor
  • 3 x 2GB Corsair DDR3-1333 MHz Memory
  • Western Digital VelociRaptor 600GB HDD
  • Corsair Professional Series 1200w PSU
  • Benchmarks used: 3DMark Vantage, Unigine Heaven v2.1, Metro 2033, Lost Planet 2, Civilization V, F1 2010, Bad Company 2, Left 4 Dead 2
Let's get to it!

May 31, 2011 | 12:58 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Interesting article, I will post about it on

September 2, 2011 | 05:18 AM - Posted by Jim (not verified)

Today's cards are about offering gamers more bang for the money and more performance per watt, and the prices of both 6870 and 6850 well within reach for most.
On top of that, the enhancements on both 6870 and 6850 have improved anisotropic filtering algorithm and also looked into issues which caused some visual anomalies in the past generation.

October 19, 2011 | 04:29 AM - Posted by simoniddings

Interesting comparison. Though it is quite obvious there is an improvement of performance for the new cards, it may not be the best time to upgrade. With the way technology is advancing, we can expect better models to come out annually. Save the money to purchase an even more powerful model next year. That is if your current rig is powerful enough to handle today;s graphics.
Simon -

December 1, 2011 | 10:51 PM - Posted by simoniddings

I have heard that Evergreen architecture and the corresponding graphics card are very good in performance.
There are so many IT tools and devices that people may like but with reviews of the IT tools can help a customer make better choices. They can also learn from the ratings given for the IT products. A printer is known to be a useful technology.
Simon -

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