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Single-Slot Graphics: Whose Card Is Fastest?

Conclusion

We normally conclude our comparisons with a value shootout, but that’s not possible for several reasons. First and foremost, this was a story that sought out the best performance from a single-slot card, and the best-performing part had a far higher MSRP.

Afox suggests that its vendors sell the Radeon HD 6850 for $210. We can only guess that means an actual Web price somewhere around $185 to $200 at large sites like Newegg and TigerDirect. Furthermore, we’d also need to arbitrarily assign a price of $75 to the ECS sample that’s not available in the States yet, based on its previous pricing policies and competing models. And all of those arbitrary prices would yield a chart where all three cards placed within 3% of each other in value.

Sticking to the original goal of this review, the Afox Radeon HD 6850 (AF6850-1024D5S1) exhibits clear performance leadership among its single-slot rivals. PowerColor has its own single-slot board that could have competed here, giving North American readers an option. And while we were expecting that board to arrive for inclusion, it unfortunately never showed up. The main caveat is that PowerColor does employ a six-pin connector, making it a little less attractive compared to the harder-to-find Afox model.

There's only one other single-slot model that we would have liked to see compete against the Radeon HD 6850, and that was Galaxy’s GeForce GTX 460 Razor. It's a bummer, then, that nobody at Galaxy answers email (at either the U.S. or global addresses).

With a huge performance lead against the vendors that were willing to compete, Afox deserves some kind of award. We'd like to give it a Recommend Buy. But with no vendor selling its card in the States, we don't have a price to cite. It also can’t be a Best Of Tom's Hardware award because the one card that could have offered exciting competition wasn't represented.

Thus, for demonstrating a huge performance lead against the other single-slot gaming cards that were submitted for our comparison, Afox earns our entry-level Tom's Hardware Approved award, indicating our approval of the company's innovation in addressing an important market segment that doesn't receive enough attention.

  • ta152h
    I'm not sure this needed so many pages to state the obvious (a 6850 board was faster than 440 and 450 boards, the concept is a good one. There are a lot of areas that sites do not cover that should be, and many of them are logistical like this one.

    For example, there are few, if any, reviews on noiseless CPUs (meaning, fanless) and too few if any reviews on GPUs without fans. Small form factors have thankfully been addressed a bit, but some of the smallest sizes are still not represented well in reviews.

    Even if you are into killing evil Zargons with your pimped out main computer (which many are not anyway), there is still a cool factor of a computer that fits in your hand that can be used in other locations like a kitchen, or living room, or both since you can pick it up and move it easily.

    Articles like this, that might not pertain to a main computer (or may), are interesting, since most of us have several computers, and know several people that ask our assistance in making decisions, and there are often criteria like this involved.
    Reply
  • dragonsqrrl
    I've read up to but not including the benchmark results, but is there honestly any question as to which card will perform best? The HD6850 is in a completely different performance segment. I'm just impressed they were able to get it down to a single slot form factor.
    Reply
  • eklipz330
    wonderful idea for an article, for those who have cramped areas
    Reply
  • Yuka
    You could have also included a standard reference board of the 6850 and GTS450 to see if there were any differences in power draw, heat, noise and why not, performance.

    Still, I also like the idea of reviewing different approaches of hardware pieces. We all have different needs, so different hardware (forms) need to be addressed as well 8)

    Cheers!
    Reply
  • Crashman
    dragonsqrrlI've read up to but not including the benchmark results, but is there honestly any question as to which card will perform best? The HD6850 is in a completely different performance segment. I'm just impressed they were able to get it down to a single slot form factor.Afox wanted to present this to prove its solution viable. Lots of people thought it wouldn't work due to the missing 6-pin connector and tiny fan. A couple weeks after Afox released its card, PowerColor announced a single-slot version WITH the 6-pin connector so now you have three choices: Galaxy's 460, Afox's 6850, and PowerColor's 6850.

    The Tom's Hardware team put a lot of effort into getting as many companies onboard as possible for this. PowerColor should have been excluded since its product was actually too late to meet the test deadline, but that's a non-issue since the card didn't show up. And Galaxy, Galaxy Where Art Thou? You would think companies like that would be in touch with ALL the major sites, wouldn't you?
    Reply
  • mister g
    I was looking into these cards because I have a BTX case from Dell, Crashman just listed all the cards I was looking at except for the Afox. However I'm not likely to get any of these since the single slot comes with one big con, a price tag of at least $220.
    Reply
  • jadavis1992
    Where is the Galaxy GTX 460 razor?
    Reply
  • dragonsqrrl
    CrashmanThe Tom's Hardware team put a lot of effort into getting as many companies onboard as possible for this. PowerColor should have been excluded since its product was actually too late to meet the test deadline, but that's a non-issue since the card didn't show up. And Galaxy, Galaxy Where Art Thou? You would think companies like that would be in touch with ALL the major sites, wouldn't you?I wasn't questioning the work ethic of Tom's Hardware's authors and reviewers, you guy's almost always deliver high-quality review material. But thanks for clarifying the situation.

    I really don't know what I would think, I'm completely unfamiliar with the process of acquiring test hardware from companies. Is this really unusual behavior from Galaxy and Power Color (ignoring or passing up a request to review one of their new products)?
    Reply
  • Assmar
    Cool. where can I get 4?
    Reply
  • Crashman
    dragonsqrrlI wasn't questioning the work ethic of Tom's Hardware's authors and reviewers, you guy's almost always deliver high-quality review material. But thanks for clarifying the situation.I really don't know what I would think, I'm completely unfamiliar with the process of acquiring test hardware from companies. Is this really unusual behavior from Galaxy and Power Color (ignoring or passing up a request to review one of their new products)?I believe the OTHER companies simply didn't want to get "shown up" by the bigger card, where ECS and MSI sent a card they knew would lose the performance race in order to show off their lower power consumption and price.

    As for PowerColor, they said they sent one. Either they screwed up, or something happened to the card along the way. Either way, I wasn't going to worry about the cause of this conundrum since it was too late to deal with.

    I really don't know what's up with Galaxy. Chances are they might have simply cut their marketing department.
    Reply