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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
900mhz
775mhz
Stream Processors
1120
960
ROPs
32
32
Frame Buffer
1GB GDDR5
1GB GDDR5
Compute Power
2.0 TFLOPs
1.5 TFLOPs
Memory Width/Speed
256bit, 4.2GBPS
256bit, 4.0 GBPS
Idle/Load Board Power
19W/151W
19W/127W
Power Connectors
Dual 6 Pin
Single 6 Pin
Display Outputs
2xDVI + 2x mDP + 1 HDMI
2xDVI + 2x mDP + 1 HDMI

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