At the end of September ATI Launched the Radeon HD 5850 video card, and by all accounts it has been a hit. It was launched at the right time and at the right price, making it a runaway success. Of course, the downside of buying just below the highest end card available means that you don’t get the fastest performing card around. Naturally, many enthusiasts turn to overclocking their shiny new card to reach the same performance levels of the bigger Radeon HD 5870. Up until recently all that we have seen were reference based Radeon HD 5850’s, but that is all changing with higher binned parts and custom PCB and heat sink designs.
Today on our test bench we have the ASUS EAH5850 TOP (model #: EAH5850 DirectCU TOP/2DIS/1GD5). This Radeon HD 5850 employs a custom heat sink that ASUS claims to run up to 20% cooler and up to 35% quieter than reference 5850’s. ASUS has also given their EAH5850 TOP a custom PCB and power circuitry to help provide a big gain in overclocking. Priced at $339.99
plus $1.99 shipping, this card is sure to grab your attention.
Looking at the card you can see that it is a clear departure from the reference cards we’ve seen over the past 6 months. ASUS has designed the card to take a beating, it’s a part of their Xtreme Design series. It’s built with plenty of over volt protection to keep the card powering through all your games, even when overclocked to the moon! The giant black shroud over the new heat sink is quite a nice looking piece. Note that heat from this heat sink is pushed to the front and the back of the card, meaning components around it are going to tend to get a little warmer than with a reference card. The fan is a “dust proof” design, meaning dust will not reach the bearings. In turn, the life expectancy of the fan is increased 25%.
With an 8-pin and a 6-pin PCI-e power connectors, we have more available power for overclocking than the pair of 6-pin connectors on the reference card. This should provide more stability and higher speeds reached.
Beneath the shroud is an aluminum heat sink. This heat sink uses a pair of copper heat pipes at the base that make direct contact with the die to help dissipate the heat it generates. Once off of the base of the heat sink the heat pipes are nickel plated to resist corrosion. The rest of the heat sink is all aluminum, which wicks away the heat quickly. The fan blows down through the heat sink to cool both the sink and the components around it, like the VRM’s. All in all, this is a great cooling solution for the video card itself, but less so for the rest of your PC since the heat is pushed towards both the front and back of the case.
At the heart of this beast, the ASUS EAH5850 TOP comes overclocked to 765MHz on the GPU core (up from 725MHz of the reference model) and 1125MHz on the memory (1100MHz reference). It still carries the standard 1GB of GDDR5. ASUS claims that the EAH5850 TOP uses the top bin Cypress Pro chips that they get, which promise to reach at least 800MHz core speed.
With just a single D-DVI, HDMI, and Display Port, connectivity is down by one D-DVI. The top portion of the bracket has the longer cutouts for heat to escape, but since it’s not connected to the heatsink it is doubtful that much heat actually makes it outside of the case.
With a good understanding of what the card looks like and offers, let’s take a look at the box and bundle.