Sapphire Radeon HD 5850 graphics card

Following in the only slightly larger footprints of the sizzling 5870 graphics card comes this downscaled version, the Sapphire Radeon HD 5850 1GB

Sapphire Radeon HD 5850
  • Expert Rating

    4.50 / 5

Pros

  • Excellent value for money, good performance

Cons

  • Less well-equipped for future use than more expensive cards

Bottom Line

The Sapphire Radeon HD 5850 1GB boasts plenty of power, with many of the same features as the 5870. The clincher, though, is the price. Four hundred dollars is fantastic for a card hard on the heels of a GTX 295 or HD 5870. If you're shopping anywhere near to this price point, nothing tops the ATI HD 5850.

Would you buy this?

Special Offers

The Radeon HD 5870 first showed us the joys of ATI's DirectX 11.0 technology, but it was the 5850 that shoe-horned it into a package that offered real value for the fervent gamer.

Both graphics chips are manufactured using the 40nm process. The 5850 is a little shorter than the 5870, but it also runs cooler and consumes less power at 151W under maximum load. It requires a pair of six-pin power connectors. You get both HDMI and DVI ports, and the 5850 can support up to three screens. Eyefinity adds the ability to stretch some games across those three displays.

The basic architecture is based on a 256bit memory interface. The specifications have been trimmed slightly, so the 5870’s 850MHz core clock becomes 725MHz in the 5850. The memory clock speed has been turned down from 1.2GHz to 1GHz, and the number of stream processors is sliced from 1,600 to a still impressive 1,440. All this should give the 5850 the edge over both the GTX 470 and 480. Its floating point of 2.09TFlops is almost twice that of the GTX 470’s 1.09TFlops, while the fill rate sees it beat even the GTX 480 by more than 10.2GTps. This is due to a generous sampling of texture units.

But superiority on paper doesn’t always result in a commanding lead in real-world performance. The 5850 is a slower card than the GTX 470, but the difference wasn’t as great as the $100 price gap might suggest. In Hawx, it trailed by around 8 to 12fps, but in Aliens vs Predator the difference was less than 2fps as detail levels were raised. Our Crysis tests occasionally saw the 5850 beat its rival.

Of the $350-plus cards we've tested recently, the 5850 saw the greatest drop in performance when moving from DirectX 10.x to 11.0. We suspect this card will have few problems with future DirectX 11.0 games, however.

The 5850 is slower than the GTX 470 in most tests. But it costs less and runs cooler and quieter.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Read more on these topics: ati, graphics cards, pc components, sapphire, ATI Radeon
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?