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Sapphire Radeon HD6850 and HD6870 Review

Rating: 9.0.

KitGuru is old in the tooth and likes naming conventions which don’t change. With the launch of the Radeon HD 6000 series, AMD has altered its naming strategy. The high end cards will now be the 6900 series (due November) and the 6800 cards that we’re looking at today, will actually be sold for less than £200 each, including VAT (we’re guessing that’s under $250 for our American readers). How much can any gamer get from a graphic card that costs so little?

It seems like only yesterday that nVidia released its first Fermi products to a universally lukewarm reception. Against the subsequent series of lacklustre launches that followed, the GTX460 stood out like a giant. A genuine classic card by anyone’s standard. High performance, competitive pricing and an overclocking potential that made everything around it pale in comparison. AMD has finally moved to try and counter this threat with the Radeon HD 6800 series cards.

Before we get into the details of precisely which cards have been tested, we also want to highlight how difficult our final evaluation has been made by the huge price changes we’ve seen over the past 5 days. Cards like EVGA’s GTX460 FTW have dropped from £205 to £175, ahead of the Radeon HD 6800 series launch. In turn, it seems that AMD had some last minute price moves up its corporate sleeve. Tricky, but we’ve rolled with it – testing first and then making the value decisions right at the end – once we knew precisely what the final pricing will be.

Today we are looking at two boards from AMD’s biggest partner – Sapphire. We will be getting up close and personal with both their HD6870 and HD6850 products, seeing how they can hold up against the mighty GTX460 in various flavours.

Firstly we need to address the naming conventions, because many people are already scratching their heads in bewilderment. The HD6870, for instance, isn’t a direct replacement for the HD5870 – AMD’s goal was to deliver similar levels of performance from the HD6870 but at a much lower price.

The HD5870 first hit the market at £350, while the HD6870 will cost less than £195 … an incredible achievement if the new AMD hardware can go head to head with the giant killing GTX460 – the source of this pricing war.

The ‘Barts’ codenamed products are aimed at the sub $250 market, while the forthcoming ‘Cayman’ and ‘Antilles’ are higher end and significantly more expensive.

Sapphire HD6870
Sapphire HD6850
Core Clock Speed
Stream Processors
Frame Buffer
Compute Power
2.0 TFLOPs
1.5 TFLOPs
Memory Width/Speed
256bit, 4.2GBPS
256bit, 4.0 GBPS
Idle/Load Board Power
Power Connectors
Dual 6 Pin
Single 6 Pin
Display Outputs
2xDVI + 2x mDP + 1 HDMI
2xDVI + 2x mDP + 1 HDMI

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  • JC

    Your 6850 have 1120 sharders. o_o”

  • harry

    these are really good cards, love the performance and price.

  • Hank

    Excellent boards those, really look the part and performance is awesome. overclocking is great !

  • P1n3apqlExpr3ss

    Shit… haha 6850 is a killer card and guess what? its right in the price range im looking at 😀
    Only thing i can say reading other reviews is that the 6850 reference cooler is pretty weak. These sapphire cards look great for the money 😀 (6850) will reserve judgement til i seem overclocked 6870s

  • Tri Color

    Killer card indeed, couldnt agree more.

  • Terrid Fayid

    HD6870 is good, but I dont like reference designs, too noisy/hot/ I will wait for sapphires or XFXs custom cooling one.

  • Harris

    HD6870 is the one I would get, but not reference version. will wait a month for vapor X or toxic version.

  • Trev

    6870 reference design is a waste, waiting on other solutions

  • steve

    the hd6870 isn’t my first choice until they get third party products out of the stable,

    Its always the way with launches, but its weird AMD have let their partners make third party solutions for 6850s

  • Jon

    over clocked HD6870s might be hard to get out the door with such poor over clocks on the core. seems both boards max out around 950

  • Frank

    While these cards aren’t awe inspiring, when you look at the price 150 for a 6850. about the same as the 5770. 25% more performance, looks good.

  • Lux

    those overclocks on the 50 are great. id say overclocked versions will be out really soon. vapor x anyone ?

  • Michael

    As JC stated, this 6850 has 1120 shaders instead of the default 960…

  • Tech head

    The bottom gpuz screenshot is for the 6870

  • Ned

    I get the same 3dmark vantage score as this HD6850. I was hoping I might even up with a 1120 shader version but sadly not 🙁

  • @ Jon

    I saw in another review that they managed to get the Sapphire 6870’s core clock to 1000mHz stable. I’m sure if put under water, these cards will have a bit more overclocking headroom anyway.

  • Efe Eren Kaya