Whew, it has been a long time since we last reviewed a video card. I am not even going to bother linking to our last article on graphics to give you an exact time gap between this review and the last. With the past now behind us, I am very proud to announce we are now back on board with the component essential to all gaming computers -- and we will have many more to come, too. I still remember a few years ago when a midrange video card meant playing most computer games at midrange settings. You might get a shot at maximum settings if you were playing an older game. Own a big monitor? Cough up more cash, or turn down the resolution and detail. But times have changed. Today's midrange performance cards in the $200 range provide surprisingly excellent bang for your buck. AMD's 40nm Northern Islands family of GPUs is the company's second generation DirectX 11 cards, and the 6850 and 6870 -- codenamed 'Barts' -- promise to deliver roughly the same level of performance as the 5850 and 5870, which were the high performance graphics processor units of the previous generation. (Just to clear up the name confusion, the 6800 series replaces the 5700 series; the 6900 series replaces the 5800 series.) With so many variants of 6850s to choose from, manufacturers scramble to differentiate their products from their competitors. The Gigabyte GV-R685OC-1GD Radeon HD 6850 1GB OC is a perfect example. Featuring Gigabyte's Windforce 2X cooler out of the box, as well as a slight factory overclock to give it an edge in the benchmarks, is it enough to set this product aside from the other 6850s? Read on to find out!
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