After recently testing the ATI Radeon HD 5870 and proving its capabilities, we really wanted to get our hands on the cheaper, reduced version called the Radeon HD 5850. Although both cards were announced on September 23rd, AMD waited an additional week for the Radeon HD 5850 to launch. And now – admittedly a bit late – we've finally dug up a production model from HIS to test it.
The cheaper HD 5850 has the same technological advances as its high-end sibling. This includes support for DirectX 11, HDMI bitstreaming, Eyefinity, angle-independent anisotropic filtering, and supersample anti-aliasing. However, a slightly toned down configuration allows it to sell for just $ 260.
At this price point, the Radeon HD 5850 isn't much more expensive than Nvidia's HD 4890 or GeForce GTX 275, and it's considerably cheaper than the GeForce GTX 285. It's also about $ 120 cheaper than the Radeon HD 5870, the currently the fastest holds single GPU graphics card crown.
In terms of power consumption, the Radeon HD 5850 has an output of 151 W due to its load consumption. This is cheap compared to the HD 5870 with 188 W, which means healthy energy savings of 20%. In the meantime, those with smaller midsize computer cases will be pleased to know that the 5850 is only 15 inches long, which is much shorter than the Radeon HD 5870 and other high-end graphics cards.
With the new Radeon HD 5800 (Cypress) series, there is only one problem and it is not about performance, value or efficiency. Ironically, the problem is availability – AMD is really shooting itself in the foot here.
In the past, AMD has been forced to drastically lower the price of its newest GPUs and sacrifice its margins to stay competitive with Nvidia. This was the case with both the Radeon HD 3870 and the Radeon HD 4870. Today, at least for the time being, the new Radeons face practically no competition, and yet AMD did not seem to be able to fully exploit this advantageous advantage.
A limited number of consumers have been able to get their hands on the new Radeon HD 5870, and inventory of the 5850 appears to have run out of inventory approximately a week and a half after it was released. This is unfortunate as we expect Radeon HD 5850 cards to sell like hot cakes at around 32% less than the Radeon HD 5870.
Read on as we toss our HIS Radeon HD 5850 sample through a barrage of tests only to make you long for a little graphics monster that's hard to come by right now, at least for the time being.