Hey guys. I heard a lot of good things about the 5850 series and i decided to pic one up for a pretty decent price. But lately i have been hearing that it is very dated. This contradicts a lot of things i have read about it being a nice graphics card. The one i got is the Asus ATI Radeon HD 5850 Top. What do you guys think? Still viable for a 2012 build?
As an owner of the Radeon HD 5850 I say it is still a pretty good performing card. However, it is starting to get a little dated. Overall, it is basically equal to the Radeon HD 6870; in non DX11 games the Radeon HD 5850 performs better. But because the Radeon HD 6xxx series has improved DX11 performance it will do a little better in DX11 games. You can play most games with the Radeon HD 5850 at high settings with the exception of really graphic intensive games like Metro 2033. But if you are looking for decent performance in Ultra settings, then you should look at the newer Radeon HD 7xxx series.
It basically boils down to how much you are paying for the HD 5850 and if it is new or used. I believe the Radeon HD 8xxx is coming out in Q1 2013. I will likely replace my HD 5850 next year after the HD 8xxx is released, then again I am still pretty satisfied with it's performance.
I paid about a hundred for it. And i am upgrading from a geforce 210(old one died on me so i picked it up for 20 bucks then never re upgraded lol). I am going to OC it for a bit and then later decide if i want to crossfire a pair of them or just upgrade to a new tier
For ~$100 it is definitely a great performer. As a comparison, the Radeon HD 7750 is about $100 and it is basically equivalent to the Radeon HD 5770/6770 (same card). The Radeon HD 7770 is about $120 and is almost as good as the Radeon HD 5830.
Regarding XFire... I really don't know the performance of two Radeon HD 5850 XFired. I think it would be faster than a Radeon HD 7870, but slower than a Radeon HD 7950.
I prefer a single graphic card solution 'cause benchmarks are easier to find, less complications like poor XFire (or SLI) scaling, or no XFire support at all, and a single powerful current generation card will likely use less power than two older powerful cards.
As long as you can live with a mix of medium and high settings @ 1920x1080 resolution, I think the Radeon D 5850 can last you for another 2 or 3 years. As for an upgrade I would say something of at least the power of the Radeon HD 7870, but at a decent price. That likely means a used Radeon card whether it is the HD 7xxx, HD 8xxx or HD 9xxx if you are looking to upgrade sometime in 2014.