XFX Radeon HD 7850 Core Edition Review

If you want to spend under $200 on a discrete graphics card you have a large number of choices, but one card that recently managed to catch our attention is the AMD Radeon HD 7850. The AMD Radeon HD 7850 came out on March 4, 2012 and cost $249.99 when we originally reviewed the reference card. This video card is now seven months old and the price for an entry level AMD Radeon HD 7850 card has fallen below the $160 price point, which is impressive. One video card that stands out in particular is the XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core Edition (FX785AZNFC) as it appears to be the lowest priced AMD Radeon HD 7800 series card on the market today at $159.99 after rebate. One of the reasons that this card is priced so low is that XFX is using just 1GB of GDDR5 memory instead of 2GB. By slicing the amount of memory in half, XFX was able to obviously reduce costs, but what about overall gaming performance? The point of this review is to see if 1GB of 'VRAM' on a Radeon HD 7850 is adequate for 1920x1080 gaming with the settings cranked up!

XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core Video Card

The XFX Radeon HD 7850 Core Edition 1GB is one of nine AMD Radeon HD 7850 based cards offered by XFX. The part number on the card that we are looking at today is FX-785A-ZNFC and this particular model features a core clock of 860MHz and a memory clock of 1200MHz (4800MHz effective). As you can see from the image above the card uses the a single cooling fan to keep the 1,024 stream processors and 2.8 billion transistors in this 28nm GPU nice and cool!

XFX R7850 Video Card PCB

Turning the XFX Radeon HD 7850 Core Edition 1GB video card over we don't find too many interesting things as the card doesn't have a back plate or any of the GDDR5 memory chips on the back of the PCB. The serial number sticker is the most important thing that is located on the back of the R7850.  The PCB of the card measures ~7.75" in length and stands at ~4.4" in height. We used a pair of dial calipers and found the mounting holes around the GPU use a 53x53mm mounting hole pattern in case you are curious about mounting a water block or a third party GPU cooler.

XFX R7850 Video Card Warranty

We noticed that the GPU cooler screws have stickers on them and if you remove them or break the seal to get to the screws it will terminate the two year warranty that XFX places the Radeon 7800 series cards depending on your region. After talking with XFX we were able to confirm this for all regions except North America. For some reason they allow customers in North America to remove those stickers and their warranty will still be intact. We also learned that XFX doesn't care if you change the GPU cooler and thermal paste just as long as you re-install all the original equipment before you return it. If the card is put back to stock when you send it in, all is said to be good.

XFX R7850 Elpida GDDR5 Memory Chip

XFX went with Elpida GDDR5 memory IC's with part number W1032BBBG for the XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core Edition video card.  These memory IC's have a speed rating of 50-F, which means they are rated at 5.0Gbps at 1.5V+/-0.045. This card comes with the memory running at 4.8Gbps, so there might not be much overclocking headroom on the memory chips.


XFX R7850 Video Card DVI Connectors

The XFX Radeon HD 7850 has a pair of mini-DisplayPort 1.2 connectors, a full size HDMI 1.4a output for 3D video (Blu-ray 3D) support, and a dual-link DVI-I when it comes to video outputs. The AMD Radeon HD 7800 series supports up to six DisplayPort displays by "daisy chaining" them to two mini-DisplayPort outputs. XFX also placed their logo in the exhaust fan as you can see in the image above.

XFX R7850 CrossFire Connector

The XFX Radeon HD 7850 has one CrossFire interconnect, so you can link up to two of these cards together for improved performance. Notice that there is a large 1.7-inch gap between the PCB and the fan shroud along the entire top edge of the card. The vast majority of the hot air from the fan is exhausted out here and back into the system rather than out the rear exhaust port on the card

XFX R7850 Video Card Power Connector

The XFX R7850 has one 6-pin PCIe connector located along the end of the PCB that need to be hooked up. This card requires a 500W or greater power supply with one 75W 6-pin PCIe connector for proper operation.

XFX R7850 Ghost Cooler

The XFX R7850 1GB Core Edition video card uses Ghost Thermal Technology to keep everything nice and cool. This GPU cooler uses HSF solution that has a copper base that is connected to two large 8mm copper heat pipes that transfer heat to aluminum fin cooling arrays. In the middle you'll find a single 65mm cooling fan that moves air across the fins to keep temperatures down.

Let's take a look at the retail box & bundle next and then move on to testing this bad boy out in some games!

Retail Box & Bundle

XFX R7850 Core Edition Card Retail Box

The retail packaging for XFX R7850 1GB Core Edition video card is rather unique as the card comes in a rectangular box that is slightly larger than the card itself. The front of the box clearly shows that this is a PCI Express 3.0 graphics card with 1GB GDDR5 memory. It also shows that this card features Ghost Thermal GPU cooler technology.

XFX R7850 Core Edition Card Retail Box

The back of the box has a bunch of information, but we noticed a few typos and that some of it is not relevant. For example the box states that you need a power supply with two 6-pin PCI-Express power connectors, which is wrong. Only one is needed for proper operation.  It also talks about the XFX XFACTOR GPU cooler design that features quad heatpipes, which is another feature that this card does not have!

XFX R7850 Core Edition Card Retail Box

Inside the inner box you'll find a ton of fliers for other XFX products, a quick install guide, the driver disc and of course the famous XFX 'do not disturb' door hanger that has been included for years. The only real accessory that you get is a single CrossFireX bridge interconnect, so not too much to see here.

Test System

Before we look at the numbers, let's take a brief look at the test system that was used. All testing was done using a fresh install of Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running.

Drivers used for testing:

Intel X79/LGA2011 Platform

Intel LGA2011 Test System
Intel LGA2011 Test System

The Intel X79 platform that we used to test the all of the video cards was running the ASUS P9X79 Deluxe motherboard with BIOS 0906 that came out on 12/22/2011. The Corsair Vengeance 16GB 1866MHz quad channel memory kit was set to 1866MHz with 1.5v and 9-10-9-27 1T memory timings. The OCZ Vertex 3 240GB SSD was run with firmware version 2.22.

The Intel X79 Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

Intel Core i7-3960X

Motherboard

ASUS P9X79 Deluxe

Memory

16GB Corsair 1866MHz

Video Card

Various

Solid-State Drive

OCZ Vertex 3 240GB

Cooling

Intel RTS2011LC

Power Supply

Corsair AX1200

Operating System

Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

Video Cards Tested:

XFX Radeon HD 7850 Core Edition 1GB GPU-Z Information:

XFX Radeon HD 7850 Core Edition 1GB GPU-Z

XFX Radeon HD 7850 Core Edition 1GB GPU-Z Idle Temp:

XFX Radeon HD 7850 Core Edition 1GB GPU-Z

Batman: Arkham City

Batman: Arkham City PC Game

Batman: Arkham City is a 2011 action-adventure video game developed by Rocksteady Studios. It is the sequel to the 2009 video game Batman: Arkham Asylum, based on the DC Comics superhero Batman. The game was released by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows. The PC and Onlive version was released on November 22, 2011.

Batman: Arkham City Game Settings

Batman: Arkham City Game Settings

Batman: Arkham City uses the Unreal Engine 3 game engine with PhysX. For benchmark testing of Batman: Arkham City we disabled PhysX to keep it fair and ran the game in DirectX 11 mode with 8x MSAA enabled and all the image quality features cranked up. You can see all of the exact settings in the screen captures above.

Batman: Arkham City Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: The XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core did pretty well in the performance tests considering it is a $179.99 video card.  It was able to play Batman: Arkham City just under 60 FPS at 1920x1080, which was great!

Battlefield 3

Battlefield 3 Screenshot

Battlefield 3 (BF3) is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA Digital Illusions CE and published by Electronic Arts. The game was released in North America on October 25, 2011 and in Europe on October 28, 2011. It does not support versions of Windows prior to Windows Vista as the game only supports DirectX 10 and 11. It is a direct sequel to 2005's Battlefield 2, and the eleventh installment in the Battlefield franchise. The game sold 5 million copies in its first week of release and the PC download is exclusive to EA's Origin platform, through which PC users also authenticate when connecting to the game.

Battlefield 3 Screenshot

Battlefield 3 debuts the new Frostbite 2 engine. This updated Frostbite engine can realistically portray the destruction of buildings and scenery to a greater extent than previous versions. Unlike previous iterations, the new version can also support dense urban areas. Battlefield 3 uses a new type of character animation technology called ANT. ANT technology is used in EA Sports games, such as FIFA, but for Battlefield 3 is adapted to create a more realistic soldier, with the ability to transition into cover and turn the head before the body.

This game looks great and we tested with the highest settings possible.  This means we used 'ultra' settings and really punished the cards being tested. We ran FRAPS for two minutes on the single player map called 'Rock and a Hard Place' for benchmarking.

Battlefield 3 Screenshot

Benchmark Results: The XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core Edition was able to run BF3 with Ultra settings fairly well and was averaging 39 FPS at 1920x1080 on Ultra settings with 4x MSAA and 16x AF. Not bad performance and it shows that you can do 1080p gaming on it without having to sacrifice image quality.

Dirt: Showdown

Image Description

Dirt: Showdown is a video game published and developed by Codemasters for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It was released in May 2012 in Europe and in June in North America. It is part of the Colin McRae Rally game series.

Image Description

Dirt: Showdown removes several of the gameplay modes featured Dirt 3, and introduces new ones. Gameplay modes can be classified as Racing, Demolition, Hoonigan or Party. We ran the built in Benchmark at Ultra settings to get a true feel of what this engine has to offer!

It is very important to note that Global Illumination and Advanced Lighting have massive performance penalties when enabled, something not seen in other titles in the Dirt series. It seems to affect NVIDIA hardware more so than AMD. We ran with and without the settings enabled to show our readers that these two settings can make a world of difference to your gaming experience.


Dirt Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: In Dirt Showdown we found the XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core Edition was able to perform better than both of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 cards with factory overclocks on them! The XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core averaged 74 FPS at 1920x1080 with the image quality increased.

Metro 2033

Metro 2033

Metro 2033 is an action-oriented video game with a combination of survival horror and first-person shooter elements. The game is based on the novel Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in the Ukraine. The game is played from the perspective of a character named Artyom. The story takes place in post-apocalyptic Moscow, mostly inside the metro station where the player's character was raised (he was born before the war, in an unharmed city), but occasionally the player has to go above ground on certain missions and scavenge for valuables.

Metro 2033 Settings

This is another extremely demanding game. Image quality settings were raised to Very High quality with 4x AA and 16x AF. We turned off PhysX and DOF (Depth of Field) for benchmarking.

Metro 2033

Benchmark Results: The XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core Edition was able to average 31.67 FPS at 1920x1080 in Metro 2033 with very high image quality settings!

Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs PC game

Sleeping Dogs is a 2012 open world action-adventure video game developed by United Front Games in conjunction with Square Enix London Studios and published by Square Enix. The game was released on August 14, 2012, for Microsoft Windows. The game uses the Havok physics engine.

Sleeping Dogs Settings

We used the Adrenaline Sleeping Dogs Benchmark tool to benchmark this game title to make sure the benchmarking was consistent. We tested with 'High' quality setting at 1280x1024 and 1920x1024 resolutions.

Sleeping Dogs benchmark results

Benchmark Results: The XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core Edition did pretty good on Sleeping Dogs and was just a few frames per second slower than the overclocked NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 video cards.

3DMark 11

Futuremark 3DMark 11 Benchmark

3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world’s most popular benchmark for measuring the 3D graphics performance of gaming PCs. 3DMark 11 uses a native DirectX 11 engine designed to make extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11, including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading.

Futuremark 3DMark 11 Benchmark Settings

We ran 3DMark11 with both the performance and extreme presets to see how our hardware will run.

3DMark11 Performance Benchmark Results:

Futuremark 3DMark 11 Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: The XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core Edition scored 5731 3DMarks in 3DMark11 with the performance preset.

3DMark11 Extreme Benchmark Results:

Futuremark 3DMark 11 Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: The XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core Edition scored 1707 3DMarks in 3DMark11 with the extreme preset.

Power Consumption

XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core Video Card

For testing power consumption, we took our test system and plugged it into a Kill-A-Watt power meter. For idle numbers, we allowed the system to idle on the desktop for 15 minutes and took the reading. For load numbers we measured the peak wattage used by the system while running the OpenGL benchmark FurMark 1.10.1 at 1024x768 resolution. We also ran four game titles at 1920x1080 and averaged the peak results recorded the highest Wattage seen on the meter for the gaming results.

Total System Power Consumption Results

Power Consumption Results: With te XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core Edition video card install in the system our entire platform used 101 Watts at idle, which is on par with most cards today. At full load we hit 293 Watts in Furmark and in the games we averaged around 265 Watts. Not bad performance numbers from a mainstream gaming graphics card and it is right where we expected the power consumption to be!

Temperature & Noise Testing

Temperatures are important to enthusiasts and gamers, so we took a bit of time and did some temperature testing on the XFX Radeon HD 7850 video card.

XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core Edition Idle:

XFX Radeon HD 7850 Core Edition 1GB GPU-Z

The XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core Edition had an idle temperature of 32.0C in a room that was 26.0C (79F). The single fan was spinning at 1034 RPM and was fairly silent.

XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core Edition Load in Furmark:

Video Card Furmark Load

With Furmark fired up and running at 1024x768 we saw the temperature reach 74C and level off there. Notice that the fan RPMs jumped up to nearly 3,300 RPM, which is moving pretty good and you can most certainly here it!


Video Card Noise Levels

The XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core Edition runs really cool at idle and the load temperatures aren't that bad as we were seeing 66C in games and just 74C in Furmark!


Sound Testing

Video Card Noise Levels

We recently upgraded our sound meter to an Extech sound level meter with ±1.5dB accuracy that meets Type 2 standards. This meter ranges from 35dB to 90dB on the low measurement range, which is perfect for us as our test room usually averages around 38dB. We measure the sound level two inches above the corner of the motherboard with 'A' frequency weighting. The microphone wind cover is used to make sure no wind is blowing across the microphone, which would seriously throw off the data.

Video Card Noise Levels

The XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core Edition was observed at 42.5 dBA at idle, which is impressive and pretty darn quiet. Once you get the GPU at 100% load that silence goes away as the single fan greatly increases in speed. We were seeing 51.1 dBA in games and 58.9 dBA in furmark. This card is certainly not quiet and if you are wanting a low noise card we highly suggest that you look at one of the dual-fan versions of this card as it will lower the temperatures and that in turn will reduce the fan noise since they don't have to run as fast.

Radeon HD 7850 1GB Overclocking

To take a quick look at overclocking we fired up AMD Catalyst Control Center and used AMD Overdrive to overclock the XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core Edition video card.

AMD OverDrive Radeon HD 7850 Edition

The XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core Edition comes clocked at 860MHz on the core and 1200MHz on the memory from the start. By using OverDrive in CATALYST Control Center (CCC) you can raise or lower the clock frequencies within the parameters set by AMD. For this card AMD set limits for this particular BIOS to 1050MHz on the core and 1450MHz on the memory.

AMD OverDrive Radeon HD 7850

We used CCC and found that with the power control settings maxed out at 20 we could hit 1050MHz on the core and 1325MHz on the memory before any artifacts started to show up in our benchmarks. The Elpida GDDR5 memory chips that XFX used on this card were unable to run any higher than 1325MHz. The core clock speed can likely go higher and can if you install a 3rd party overclocking utility that allows higher clock speed adjustments.

AMD OverDrive Radeon HD 7850

We are happy with this overclock as we are 190MHz over the default core clock speed and 125MHz higher on the 1GB GDDR5 memory.

Let's take a look at some Futuremark 3DMark11 on the performance preset to see how the overclock helped performance.

XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core Edition at 860MHz core and 1200MHz memory:

XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core Edition

XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core Edition at 1050MHz core and 1325MHz memory:

XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core Edition

We tried out this overclock with Futuremark 3DMark 11 on the performance preset and saw the score go from P5731 to P6741, which is a 17.6% improvements from the cards factory settings. Not a bad overclock and a major performance increase for free!

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

XFX R7850 Core Edition Card Retail Box

The XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core Edition was designed to be a low cost entry level card for the AMD Radeon HD 7800 series. Over the past seven months the price of the Radeon HD 7850 has gone from $250 down to $160, which is rather impressive. The XFX R7850 1GB Core Edition can be found at Newegg for $159.99 shipped or for $199.99 shipped on Amazon. It also comes with a Two Worlds II game coupon for free. 

When it comes to gaming performance the XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core Edition did better than expected with a screen resolution of 1920x1080! We were able to easily play all the current game titles at 1080p with the image quality settings cranked up! There were a few game titles like Skyrim where we felt a minor hiccup here or there when the frame buffer would fill up, but they were few and far between. If you are looking to save a few bucks and don't plan on playing beyond 1920x1080 then the XFX R7850 1GB Core Edition should be something to consider.

The Ghost Thermal Technology was great on the XFX R7850 Core Edition when it was in an idle state. The card could barely be heard and the temperature was an impressive 32C when the GPU was not being used. When the GPU was at 100% load in games or other applications the single fan spun up to over 3,000 RPM and became rather loud. Temperatures on the GPU topped out at 74C, which is great, but you will most certainly hear the fan of the card in your system.

XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core Video Card

The XFX R7850 1GB Core Edition comes backed by a two year hardware warranty. All XFX Radeon HD 7000 Series Graphics Cards with 10-digit model numbers ending in “R” is eligible for the limited lifetime hardware warranty. The part number on this card is FX-785A-ZNFC, so we are out of luck. If you are wanting a lifetime warranty then you should look for one of those part numbers or any Double Dissipation Edition card as they can be lifetime warrantied. Just be sure to register your card within 30 days of purchase to get the longer warranty.

At the end of the day the XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core Edition video card performed well and for $159.99 at Newegg it is hard to ignore. It also overclocked from 860MHz on the core clock to 1050MHz with no fuss at all, which boosted performance by 20% in most benchmarks. Not bad for this price point and we recommend this card to those that want a low cost AMD Radeon HD 7850 graphics card and don't care about a little fan noise!

Legit Reviews Recommended

Legit Bottom Line: The XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Core Edition has half the memory of a standard Radeon HD 7850 2GB card, but can still play 1080p game titles with ease!