AMD Radeon HD 6800 series is the new midrange graphics champ

The Radeon HD 6850 and 6870 offer fantastic performance at a price gamers can live with.`

Performance: Games

Synthetic tests can be useful for evaluating features that will be common in tomorrow's games, but performance in real games is far more important. We tested five modern games that can push a modern graphics card to the limit.

Codemasters' rally racer Dirt 2, one of the first DirectX 11 games, features an excellent built-in benchmark. We use the demo version (whose benchmark track differs from the track in the retail game), so you can run the game at home and compare your results. We enabled DirectX 11 and turned all of the detail levels up to full. The Radeon HD 6850 was dramatically faster than the 5770 despite costing only about $30 more; the Radeon HD 6870, meanwhile, managed to run a few frames per second faster than the more expensive 5850.

6_208189-6800-series-specs-chart_original

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. is a graphically rich arcade flight game that uses DirectX 10.1 to enable features such as Screen Space Ambient Occlusion (SSAO), God Rays, and Soft Particles. Again, we turned all of the detail levels up to the max for our testing. The results: This was the first test where the Radeon HD 5850 actually outperformed its less-expensive successor, the Radeon HD 6870. Still, the performance numbers were very close, and both of the new cards delivered more than 60 frames per second even at 1920 by 1200 with antialiasing enabled.

7_208189-6800-series-specs-chart_original

World in Conflict is aging a bit, but it's still a beautiful real-time strategy game with a DirectX 10-based graphics engine that can stress all but the most powerful graphics cards when you maximize the detail levels, as we did. The new cards performed exceptionally well here: The 6850 performed on a par with the 5850, which costs about $100 more; and the 6870 cruised along about 14 percent faster.

8_208189-6800-series-specs-chart_original

The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series has always been on the leading edge of graphics technology. We used the demo benchmark for the Call of Pripyat sequel with DirectX 11 lighting enabled and all detail settings maximized. The scores shown here are for the "Day" benchmark run.Again the new Radeon HD 6850 blew away the 5770 for only about $30 more; and though the Radeon HD 5850 outran the 6850, the 6870 was the fastest of all by narrow margin, even though it costs less than the 5850.

9_208189-6800-series-specs-chart_original

Last but not least, we used the excellent benchmark built in to Just Cause 2. We maximized graphics settings and ran the "Concrete Jungle" test, which is the most strenuous of benchmarks. Once more, the Radeon HD 6870 came out on top, followed by the more expensive 5850. The affordable Radeon HD 6850 finished just behind the 5850, but ahead of the 5770 by a wide margin.

10_208189-6800-series-specs-chart_original

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags pc componentsgraphics cardsAMD

Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jason Cross

PC World (US online)

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?