AMD Radeon HD 6870 & HD 6850 Video Card Review

AMD is launching its new mainstream performance lineup, the Radeon HD 6800 series. The 6800 cards will offer much more performance at the $179 to $239 price range. We compare the new Radeon HD 6870 and Radeon HD 6850 with AMD and NVIDIA cards and find out which delivers the best gameplay experience and value.

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Evaluation Method

We evaluate what each video card configuration can supply us in terms of a playable gaming experience while supplying the best culmination of resolution and "eye candy" graphical settings. We focus on quality and immersion of the gameplay experience rather than how many frames per second the card can get in a canned benchmark or prerecorded timedemo situation that often do not represent real gameplay like you would experience at home. Then we will follow with apples-to-apples testing in with minimum, maximum, and average framerates.

Test System Setup

We will be using a MSI Eclipse SLI X58 motherboard, an Intel Core i7 920 Overclocked at 3.6GHz, and 6GB of Corsair TR3X6G1600C8D Dominator DDR3.

While it might be "overkill," we use the Core i7-920 processor at 3.6GHz in an attempt to prevent our evaluation from being CPU limited. Obviously, we make every effort to not use CPU limited games for video card evaluations, but the i7-920 at 3.6GHz seems to put many peoples’ minds at ease when it comes to that subject.

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For the AMD and ATI Video Cards we are using Catalyst 10.10 Beta as provided by AMD. The driver package version is: 8.782-100930m-106214E. For the NVIDIA based video card we are using ForceWare 260.89 WHQL.

NOTE: We are using a reference clocked GeForce GTX 460 1GB for comparison, so its clock speeds are 675MHz GPU/1350MHz Shader/3.6GHz memory.

AMD Radeon HD 6870

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AMD Radeon HD 6850

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