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Roundup: Four Radeon HD 6850 1 GB Cards Compared

Conclusion

Sapphire and PowerColor have the best-performing graphics cards, but who has the best performance-value? We averaged the price of all four cards, then divided the actual price by the class average to put each card on a percent scale.

Based solely on a comparison of price to performance, Asus wins. Yet, unlike PowerColor, Asus does not include a free game certificate with its card. If you don't already own Call of Duty and that bundled item is important to you, then the balance shifts toward PowerColor's offering. Likewise, Sapphire is the only company to include a free HDMI cable with its card. So if the card is going into a home theater environment and you're missing HDMI connectivity, Sapphire's inclusion is more meaningful. Both Sapphire and PowerColor provide marginally better performance than Asus, and the packaged bonus features for both Sapphire and PowerColor come at a mere $10 price premium compared to Asus.

So, which card would we chose? This tester would probably pick the Asus EAH6850 DirectCU Overclock Edition for its low noise. But then again this tester already has HDMI cables and more game licenses than he can ever use.

If this was a System Builder Marathon, I’d probably go with two Sapphire Toxic 6850 cards for their externally-vented design. Pushing graphics heat out of the case would allow a more aggressive CPU overclock, and the CPU is a big bottleneck in multiple-GPU configurations.

If I were building for someone else, I would probably choose the PowerColor PCS+ AX6850 for its high speed, moderately-low noise, and free game. That special someone would probably value the extra software worth anywhere from thirty to fifty dollars online. Now, where did I put that Christmas list?

  • It would be nice to see overclocking results. I know the whole "results will vary" malarkey but still, it would be interesting to see things like the benefit (if any) to having two pci-e power connectors on the Sapphire card or how high you could take the ASUS card using the software that came with it. Oh, and also, can you use Afterburner with the Powercolor and Sapphire cards?
    Reply
  • Scanlia
    Oh, and also, can you use Afterburner with the Powercolor and Sapphire cards?
    I use afterburner with a Gigabyte Card, (Flashed to ASUS). Works fine.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    BillehBawbOh, and also, can you use Afterburner with the Powercolor and Sapphire cards?Yes
    Reply
  • tomskent
    last line of the article...
    "Now, here did I put that Christmas list?"
    here = where
    Reply
  • scrumworks
    Why are you using catalyst 10.6 (drivers from june) instead of latest, quite long already available 10.11 or 10.10-beta with HD6800 support?
    Reply
  • sudeshc
    love this card looking to buy it for my new build and would go for ASUS as i already own the game.
    Reply
  • karma831
    No OCing?
    Reply
  • iam2thecrowe
    so, wheres the comparison between these cards and rival cards from nvidia??? using recent drivers?? and OC???!this doesnt really tell us anything except the performance is so close you may as well get the cheapest of the lot.
    Reply
  • ATI driver support is a complete debacle. That's why this article uses stone age drivers (10.6)
    Reply
  • Crashman
    karma831No OCing?iam2thecroweso, wheres the comparison between these cards and rival cards from nvidia??? using recent drivers?? and OC???!this doesnt really tell us anything except the performance is so close you may as well get the cheapest of the lot.Er dude...
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-6870-radeon-hd-6850-barts,2776.html
    The previous article, which answered all your questions a month ago, was linked numerous times in this article.
    Reply