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HIS Radeon HD 5850 review

Great DX10 and competent DX11 performance make this an attractive card whichever way you slice it

Our Verdict

Not a bad card, in fact quite a decent mid ranger, but the pricing strategy is totally bananas

For

  • Can be picked up reasonably cheaply

Against

  • Comparatively pricey
  • Showing its age now
  • Increasingly rare

Have a scoot around the online retailers for the Radeon HD 5850, and you're not so much opening a can of worms as stripping naked, upending the can on your head, and running off down the streets with a hoot and a gibber, twig and berries flapping in the breeze.

Ranging from £150 to £250 for identical cards, the pricing is nothing short of crackers. Which speaks volumes about the unfortunate state of affairs for AMD's first-gen DX11 mid ranger. Nobody knows what it's really worth any more, and to be quite frank, that's nobody's fault but AMD's.

Retail turmoil

After all, AMD had to go and launch the HD 6850, which strode in, cape flung aside, at a cavalier and almost attractive price-point. Retailers who bought heavily into the 5850 must be in turmoil. How are they going to shift that stock now?

But it's your welfare we care about round here, so let's have a look at the benchmarks and work out whether the HD 5850 still has a place in your PC.

An interesting state of affairs: the HD 5850 is pretty close to the HD 6850 in performance terms. It pips it in our DX10 tests, though the tables are turned in DX11, which is where the 6850 pulls ahead. But the HD 5850's real competitor is none other than the GTX 460 1GB.

For slightly less than the asking price of the cheapest HD 5850, you can bag yourself a GTX 460 1GB, which outperforms it in DX10 and DX11 games alike... but only by a hair's breadth.

The model we tested, made by AMD board partner HIS, still retails for around £200, which is incredibly hard to recommend in the current climate, and with such alternatives on offer.

None of which means the HD 5850 is a bad card; far from it. This is an incredibly competent mid-ranger. Let's face it, who can argue with 70fps in Far Cry 2, at 1,680 x 1,050, with x4 AA applied, and 65fps at 1,920 x 1,080? A pedant, that's who. And nobody likes a pedant.

The problem is the recommended retail price. It's like some retailers have realised they need to shift the stock for a card that has, apparently if not accurately, gone out of date very quickly... and others haven't. I mean, who on earth's going to fork out £250 for one of these, when you can purchase a GTX 470 for a measly £175?

Great DX10 performance and competent DX11 abilities make this an attractive card whichever way you slice it, but the old adage of 'buyer beware' has never been more appropriate. Shop around, folks, and look for the etailers who are driving prices down to shift their stock.

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Tech Specs

Product TypeGraphic Card
Chipset ManufacturerATI
Chipset ModelHD 5850
Chipset LineRadeon
Chipset SeriesHD 5000
Maximum Resolution2560 x 1600
Brand NameHIS
Standard Memory1 GB
Host InterfacePCI Express 2.0 x16
HDCP SupportedYes
Bus Width256 bit
Multi-GPU TechnologyCrossFireX
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityRoHS
RAMDAC Speed400 MHz
Digital SignalYes
Dual Link DVI SupportedYes
Height120 mm
Cooler TypeFan Cooler
Memory TechnologyGDDR5 SDRAM
Form FactorPlug-in Card
Length241.3 mm
ManufacturerHightech Information System Limited
Memory Speed4000 MHz
Product NameRadeon HD 5850 Graphic Card
Package TypeRetail
Processor Speed725 MHz
Manufacturer Part NumberH585F1GDG
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.hisdigital.com
Marketing Information

Prepare to experience a riveting high-definition gaming experience with ATI Radeon HD 5800 Series graphics processors. Expand your visual real estate across up to three displays and get lost in the action with revolutionary ATI Eyefinity Technology. Using ATI Stream technology, accelerate even the most demanding applications and do more than ever with your PC. The first to deliver full support for Microsoft DirectX 11, these GPUs enable rich, realistic visuals and explosive HD gaming performance so you can dominate the competition.

Package Contents
  • Radeon HD 5850 Graphic Card
  • ATI CrossFireX Bridge Interconnect
  • 2 x Power Cable
  • DVI-VGA Adapter
  • DiRT 2 Game Coupon
  • Install CD with Multilingual User Guide and BumpTop
  • Quick Installation Guide
  • HIS Power Up Label
Thickness40 mm
API SupportedDirectX 11.0, OpenGL 3.2, OpenCL, DirectCompute 11