Last week AMD launched of a pair of the first DirectX 11 graphics cards, the ATI Radeon HD 5870 and Radeon HD 5850! We wrote up a full review on the Radeon HD 5870 graphics card at that time, but the Radeon HD 5850 was not exactly shipping yet. It appears that AMD has started volume shipping of the Radeon HD 5870 and that the first shipments of the Radeon HD 5850 have finally made it from the factory to retailers around the world. At $379 the AMD Radeon HD 5870 might be the fastest single graphics card that we have ever tested, but it does cost more than what most consumers are willing to spend.
The Radeon HD 5850 looks very similar to the Radeon HD 5870 as both cards use basically the same core logic, but they differ in the fact that the Radeon HD 5850 costs just $259. Not a bad price considering the Radeon HD 5850 has a compute power rating of 2.09 TFLOPS, a frame buffer of 1GB and supports up to three monitors at a resolution of 2560 x 1600!
So, what will $259 buy you? Well for starters you will have $120 more in your pocket. Other than that you will have a Radeon HD 5800 series graphics card that has just 18 SIMD engines (2 fewer than the Radeon HD 5870) that operate at lower clock frequencies. The 1440 stream processors on the Radeon HD 5850 operate at a core clock frequency of 725MHz. The 1GB of GDDR5 memory is operating at 1000MHz rather than 1200MHz, so the memory bandwidth is lower. Sure the card is less powerful, but that means it will have lower load temperatures as well as 37 Watts lower power consumption at load. Since both the Radeon HD 5850 and the Radeon HD 5870 have the same numbers of transistors and are based off the same GPU core architecture the idle board power and temperatures should remain the same.