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A quick look at the package reveals that our test unit is the OC Edition of MSI’s R6850 PM2D1GD5, separated from MSI’s reference-speed R6850 PM2D1GD5 only by clock rate.
The difficulties we had trying to set this article up at the end of October are bluntly revealed in this board. The OC Edition was initially listed on MSI’s Web site, only to disappear later. AMD’s Radeon HD 6850 graphics processor has little room to overclock at or near stock core voltage, and MSI cancelled its OC Edition card rather than risk instability.
Several factors caused us to keep MSI in the running for this roundup. First is that all our reference-clocked cards are dispersed across other test labs around the country, and including one as a reference point in this story is a useful way to show how much better overclocked samples perform.
Second is that the OC Edition card uses the same hardware as MSI’s standard-edition R6850 PM2D1GD5, so that underclocking allows the faster card to represent the performance level of its reference-clocked sibling.
The R6850 PM2D1GD5 uses the same 8.5”-long circuit board design as the HIS model from our launch article, with three of its four voltage regulators enabled. While the cooler extends the card’s overall length, the 8.6” distance from the card’s face to the end of its PCIe power connector will be more important to those who plan to use a small case.