ASUS EAH6850 DirectCU Review

Editor: Sahil Mannick  Date: 21-10-10   6 Comment(s) - Join the discussion here
Introduction

Product on Review: ASUS EAH6850 DirectCU 2DIS/1GD5
Manufacturer and Sponsor: ASUS
MSRP: £160
Street Price: £159.99 @ Overclockers UK Price at time of review

A year on from the release of the Cypress based HD5870 and HD5850, AMD are looking at refreshing their line-up of cards with some new offerings. Any graphics card release is met by a certain level of hype and following the huge success of the HD5XXX series, consumers have every right to expect more great things from AMD. However, in a confusing turn of events, today’s release is aimed at targeting the mid-range market as opposed to the traditional method of releasing the high end cards first to create a halo effect. More confusing is AMD’s bold choice of renaming their new series of cards to reflect an entirely refreshed product range, as opposed to intuitively carrying the moniker we’ve been accustomed to seeing since the HD3870 launched a few years back. Typically, the X850 naming convention has been reserved for ATI’s budget high end offerings, but under the new AMD logo rebrand, they have decided that the moniker will now symbolise their mid-range segment instead. The confusion arises in the fact that consumers accustomed to the old naming scheme will confuse this new card as the replacement to the Cypress based HD5850, when in fact it will replace the Juniper based HD5750.

Naming scheme aside, it is the price/performance ratio that we are most interested in and readers should hold their prejudice until this becomes clearer later in the review. At £150, AMD are targeting Nvidia’s highly popular GTX460 768/1024MB with their HD6850/6870 respectively. Comparing them to their rightful Juniper predecessor, the Barts core has undergone a number of architectural tweaks to provide much better performance. Firstly, the number of shader processors has increased from 720/800 to 960/1120 and a wider 256bit bus will no doubt alleviate the low memory bandwidth of the old mid-range cards. Furthermore, AMD are claiming significantly improved tessellation performance, an issue that had plagued the 5 series in comparison to Nvidia’s outstanding performance in this department. With the promise of high performance at a low price point and low power consumption, AMD’s new cards will no doubt prove to be a success.


The card we have received from ASUS is the cheaper of the two Barts based graphics cards variants, the HD6850. By default, it comes with a mild overclock from 775MHz on the core to 790MHz. ASUS have also tried to differentiate themselves from the competition by releasing a custom built card from the onset, hence the re-introduction of the famed and functional DirectCU cooler. Furthermore, the card comes bundled with ASUS’s SmartDoctor application for voltage tweaking capabilities, a feature not yet seen on other manufacturer’s cards.

A bit about ASUS:

ASUS comes from the last four letters of Pegasus, the winged horse in Greek mythology that represents the inspiration of art and learning. ASUS embodies the strength, creative spirit and purity symbolized by this regal and agile mythical creature, soaring to new heights of quality and innovation with each product it introduces to the market.

ASUS pursues technological and aesthetic perfection through continuous innovation. We place ourselves in our customers’ shoes to develop a deep understanding of, and genuine empathy for, their needs—enabling us to create user experiences that transcend the norm.

ASUS Design Philosophy

ASUS Design develops high-quality solutions our customers will enjoy.
Our design process is built on thorough research, early anticipation and well-planned execution.

We act with a global vision and a focus on local strengths, conditions and heritage.



The review will focus on how the HD6850 compares to its more expensive brother and the GTX460 1GB. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the 768MB variant for testing but based on current pricing, the 1GB proves to be rightful competitor.

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