Tom's Hardware's 2009 Gift Guide: Part 1, For System Builders

Graphics: Gigabyte Radeon HD 5850 1GB

www.giga-byte.com
$309
By: Anthony Celeste

Looking for a gift for the hardcore PC gamer on your holiday shopping list? Gigabyte has the answer in its Radeon HD 5850 1GB video card.

1,440 ALUs of fury...1,440 ALUs of fury...

The Radeon HD 5800-series processors are the most sophisticated, feature packed GPUs ever created by ATI (and indeed they are currently besting Nvidia's best efforts). This graphics accelerator contains 2.15 billion transistors, yet uses only 27 watts of power at idle, and 151 watts at maximum load (for more on its power and performance, check out our launch coverage of the Radeon HD 5850). The GPU’s advanced architecture enables crisp video output and high frame rates, while generating minimal heat and using minimal electrical power. 

At the heart of the Radeon HD 5850 you'll find a Cypress graphics processor with 1,440 stream processing units and 72 texture units. In other words, it's a slightly de-tuned version of the chip found in the company's Radeon HD 5870 single-GPU flagship. The Radeon HD 5850 ships with 1GB of memory, and the most advanced memory architecture in the business to boot: a 256-bit GDDR5 interface, capable of moving up to 128.0 GB/s of information. Of course, the Radeon HD 5850 includes full support for games and applications using Microsoft DirectX 11 and OpenGL 3.x technology.

In addition to putting up impressive performance numbers, the Gigabyte Radeon HD 5850 also supports impressive features: 

ATI’s Eyefinity technology enables the best in multiple display “surround sight” viewing. The Radeon HD 5850 includes four display outputs (2 x dual-link DVI, 1 x HDMI, and 1 x DisplayPort), which can drive up to three displays simultaneously. Multiple displays can be arranged to perform as a single, large-screen panoramic display, providing complete immersion into your productivity, video, and gaming applications.

ATI’s Stream Technology enables the Radeon HD 5850 to handle properly-optimized tasks, which would normally be performed by your CPU, freeing your host processor to complete other work.  Although your CPU may be an adept multi-core engine, the Radeon HD 5850's parallel architecture gives it up to 2.09 TFLOPs of compute muscle.

If your gift recipient has been extra nice this year, consider buying two Radeon HD 5850 graphics accelerators, and running them in CrossFire mode. Our tests of the Radeon HD 5850 versus Nvidia's GeForce GTX 200-series graphics cards yielded impressive results for the 5850. Two Radeon HD 5850 cards running in CrossFire mode consistently outperformed Nvidia's most expensive enthusiast card (the $500 GeForce GTX 295). The only real bummer here is that, between the time we picked the 5850 and now, the price has jumped from $249 per card to $309.

In short, Gigabyte's Radeon HD 5850 serves up great performance in today's games, compatibility with tomorrow's DirectX 11 titles, impressive display scalability via Eyefinity, and impressive power figures (especially at idle). While a card this large isn't likely to end up in a home theater PC, the board does bitstream the HD audio formats included with most Blu-ray movies, so anyone with a capable stereo receiver can enjoy great-sounded audio from the card's HDMI connection, too.

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    Top Comments
  • gtvr
    FoShizzle gets the Freudian slip of the day award
    23
  • Bluescreendeath
    She would make a far better Christmas present than hardware components... ;)
    22
  • FoShizzleDizzle
    Bet shes likes a good overcocking.
    21
  • Other Comments
  • the_silent_one
    Anytime you mention eyefinity, be sure to mention that ONE MONITOR MUST EITHER BE ON DISPLAYPORT OR ON AN ACTIVE DISPLAYPORT ADAPTER (not just any displayport adapter, but one that uses supplemental power). If people don't know this. They are in for a rude surprise. Also, if using a displayport to hdmi or dvi active adapter for eyefinity, make it the middle monitor.
    -4
  • Bluescreendeath
    She would make a far better Christmas present than hardware components... ;)
    22
  • dhowie
    I think she should be on the gift guide, I can certainly bet most of us would rather have her then anything on here :)
    -2
  • 1898
    Does she come with the retail version of the i7?
    9
  • 1898
    Obviously I meant to say i5 but seriously, why isn't there an edit button?
    -10
  • nanotiberium
    I would like she to bring me the gift! :)
    -7
  • FoShizzleDizzle
    Bet shes likes a good overcocking.
    21
  • FoShizzleDizzle
    overclocking*
    11
  • gtvr
    FoShizzle gets the Freudian slip of the day award
    23
  • kencolestud69
    Sarah, you make christmas better for us(tech geeks) each year.
    :P
    5
  • JeanLuc
    1898Obviously I meant to say i5 but seriously, why isn't there an edit button?


    All your posts you make on the feedback page here can been found in the forum. If you want to edit your post here simply go the review comments (found here) forum, find this article and find you post and click on the quick edit button just and make the changes.
    15
  • twanto
    I don't understand why you recommend a 1.65v RAM kit at 1600 when you can have 1600 speeds at 1.5v with other kits, for a lower price. G.skill ripjaws, for example.
    4
  • zelannii
    The power supply, really, 850w for $179 and it;s only an 80+, not 85+?

    Sure, it's got 6 8pin connectors... but it onl;y has 850w... an 8pin + 6pig GPU, like the 5890 Toms just recently reviewed, can handle 280w. That means 3 of those alone exceeds this PS performance, not even including any other components...

    1: not modular. 2: too many connectors. 3: not 85% + rated. 4: about $40 too high of a price for what it DOES have.
    -7
  • blacksins
    well, i saw all the pages only because of her!! i actually use toms hardware from long time ago and never registed, i did now only to comment hehe :P
    4
  • JeanLuc
    Why do I get thumbs down vote when all I do is try and help the guy? Some of you are a bit trigger happy.
    4
  • bill gates is your daddy
    Is it wrong for me to want to spank her with my keyboard?
    11
  • zak_mckraken
    JeanLucAll your posts you make on the feedback page here can been found in the forum. If you want to edit your post here simply go the review comments (found here) forum, find this article and find you post and click on the quick edit button just and make the changes.

    Wow, thanks! Didn't know we could do that. Finally!
    3
  • digitalkryme
    Would of been better without the woman in the pics, cant get a good view of the hardware. Besides that my wife is better looking :P
    -13
  • blacksins
    DigitalkrymeWould of been better without the woman in the pics, cant get a good view of the hardware. Besides that my wife is better looking

    WOW! really?!!
    -3
  • Anonymous
    JeanLucAll your posts you make on the feedback page here can been found in the forum. If you want to edit your post here simply go the review comments (found here) forum, find this article and find you post and click on the quick edit button just and make the changes.


    Well golly gosh! That's so convenient. In the next iteration, see if you can add more steps.
    -1