But I've been doing some research and this card is apparently not a reference card. I originally had no idea what that meant and did more research on what that means. I've read things like some non-reference cards use cheaper parts and therefor aren't as good as a reference card. And I read that the biggest turn off about non-reference cards is the fact that they don't have voltage control. But, I have no plans on over clocking this card. I don't think I've ever tried OCing a gfx card before (and if I did it certainly wasn't by adjusting the voltage with software). My 9600 maxed all the games I currently play quite comfortably. And in this day and age, is it even necessary to OC a high end card like the 5850? I mean, other than knowing your numbers are higher than someone else's A stock 5850 should run any game out now and in the near future, shouldn't it?
I also can't seem to find any reviews on this specific card. I like XFX for the lifetime warranties so that is why I was originally drawn to this card. Does anyone know if this specific card suffers from "cheap parts"? Fellow Neweggers all seem satisfied with it.
Normally I'd buy a reference card just to be on the safe side (and who knows, maybe I'll get into OCing sometime in the future) but he thing is, reference cards are almost impossible to find (I been searching for three days now) and when I do find one the price usually marked up incredibly high.
Any advice is greatly appreciated and sorry for all the text, but this is $300+ we're talking about here.
First off, there are some non-reference solutions that overclock very well, such as MSI cards, or (my favorite) the ASUS DirectCU edition. Both allow voltage options through MSI Afterburner and ASUS SmartDoctor.
As for OC'ing; it can yield a 15% improvement in games. A properly OC'd HD5850 can reach 1kcore/1.25kmem, which is higher than the HD5870's clocks by a lot. This allows it to surpass it in in-game performance.
What you will tend to find with the 'non-reference' cards is an improved cooling solution, or a nice overclock by default, or both. XFX is a quality product with a great warranty. EVGA is another that comes to mind. It sounds like you're doin your homework on this purchase, just be sure to uninstall all the NVIDIA software/drivers completely before installing your new card and ATI software.