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Powercolor Radeon HD5850 PCS+ Video Card review

Rating: 8.0.

ATI have been enjoying huge success in 2010. The 5xxx series of graphics cards has been fondly received by both the public and critics … the combination of low power requirements with top tier performance has proven hard to beat. nVidia have managed to level the playing field lately with the latest Fermi cards, but most people would agree that ATI are still in a very strong position. When heat and power drain are important, the 5xxx is still king.

Without a doubt, my favourite card in the ATI range is the 5850 series. They are very efficient and overclock like crazy, putting them right beside 5870 performance levels for a fraction of the cost. When Powercolor asked if I would like a look at their own overclocked heatpipe version of the HD5850 I couldn’t resist. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t get to keep these cards, but I certainly do love playing with them and making sure we give solid, unbiased buying information to our readers.

The Powercolor Radeon HD5850 PCS+ Video card is supplied pre-overclocked, but its a relatively modest increase, not quite as big as the recent Sapphire Toxic edition card we looked at. It isn’t as expensive either and we are interested in potential headroom, so stick with us today and you will get the full breakdown.

I was told I never put enough information into tables, so here is a quick overview for reference.

Card and specifications HD5850 Reference Powercolor HD5850 PCS+ Sapphire HD5850 Toxic Edition HD5870 Reference
GPU Cypress Cypress Cypress Cypress
Shader Units 1440 1440 1440 1600
ROPs 32 32 32 32
Transistors 2154m 2154m 2154m 2154m
Memory Size 1024MB 1024MB 1024MB 1024MB
Memory Bus Width 256 bit 256 bit 256 bit 256 bit
Core Clock 725mhz 760mhz 765mhz 850mhz
Memory Clock 1000mhz 1050mhz 1125mhz 1200mhz
UK pricing £225 £250 £270 £340

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  • Tim Hutton

    Thats a sweet ass card, almost all the HD5850s overclock like hell, mine hits 850 and 1200 ram too 🙂 and its reference, gets a bit hot though

  • Roy

    great review, covered all the bases. I agree HD5850 is much better than GTX465. cheaper too which I cant believe

  • Trey

    The problem I have with ATI cards, no matter how good they are, is the drivers. I know they are meant to be better than 2 years ago, but I will never forget the issues I had with my media center and infinite loops. never again.

  • Death Dealer

    I think the cooler is actually quite ugly, Saapphier card looks much better

  • Ken

    good price, but id still rather go for the 5870 and overclock that. can get some good overclocks with those cards too. its only £80 more I think.

  • Francois

    excuse english, anyone have france retailers with this in stock?

  • Terry

    Fermi is still good, I hate the way people knock it all the time. its very fast – GTX465 is great value

  • Frankie

    @ Terry – what world are you living in? GTX465 is slower, hotter, more expensive than the HD5850. why would you buy it ?

  • Laurie

    Temperatures are really good actually, seems a better deal than the Sapphire. what about noise? I dont see any ratings? louder or quieter than Sapphire?

  • Stewart

    whats the noise like? is it acceptable when overclocked?

  • Ralph L.

    Good review, like the card. good price too

  • Derah Frack

    Still dont see a need to upgrade from my last gen card. im happy with 8800

  • Fringe benefit

    Seems quite dear still, I like the 5770, but I dont game at 1920x or 2560x . I might add another 5770 to my system though, crossfire anygood ?

  • Stefan

    Quality review – you are certainly pumping them out lately Z man.

  • Tim

    Wouldn’t touch this make, they seem very generic far east, not a european supported brand.

  • Brian

    prefer sapphire, even for the £20 more. better cooler, better company, I would think.

  • Torrence

    Actually you guys are wrong – most of these cards are all made by the same handful of companies in the far east, then ‘farmed’ out to the various companies we buy them from. All basically made by the same people. I have had powercolor boards in the past, never had a problem. Dont be so narrow minded

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  • another great review.