The Radeon HD 5850 is a winner for both ATI and
enthusiasts. It's the rare videocard that manages to balance price, 3D
performance, features and power usage, resulting in a total package that will
satisfy almost any gaming enthusiast. ATI's RV870 GPU is powerful enough to play
pretty much any game you throw at it without breaking a sweat. Even Crysis was
smooth at 1920x1200 with detail settings turned up maximum and the anti-aliasing
cranked up to 8xAA.
ASUS also deserves some credit for the EAH5850 DirectCU
TOP's excellent benchmarking results. ASUS has factory overclocked the GPU and
memory up to 765MHz/1125MHz, and if this particular sample is any indication the
EAH5850 DirectCU TOP has a substantial amount of overclocking headroom.
PCSTATS was able to push this particular videocard's GPU and memory to
945MHz/1315MHz, some 25% faster than a stock Radeon HD 5850. Overclocking using
ASUS' SmartDoctor software went quickly and with minimum fuss, although ASUS
really ought to invest some time making their overclocking software tools more
user friendly and legible. Just look at the MSI Afterburner software!!
Even with the substantial increases in GPU performance
the ASUS EAH5850 DirectCU TOP draws significantly less power than the Radeon HD
4890 and 4870 videocards it's designed to replace. Even with it's factory
overclock, the EAH5850 DirectCU TOP's total system power draw never exceeded
200W. The Radeon HD 4870 X2 comes closest to the ASUS EAH5850 DirectCU TOP in terms of 3D
performance; under load it consumes nearly twice as much power.
While even the entry-level videocards in the Radeon HD
5000-series support DirectX 11, it takes a card in the class of the Radeon HD
5850 to actually make good use of the new features. This videocard is powerful
enough that you can activate features like tessellation and compute shading in
DirectX 11-compatible games and still maintain a decent frame rate.
DisplayPort and EyeFinity support is another big draw of
the EAH5850 DirectCU TOP and the Radeon HD 5800-series. DisplayPort makes it
possible to hook up as many as three DisplayPort monitors at once using by daisy
chaining them to one another. With compatible monitors you can also hook up
three monitors at once in Eyefinity mode, letting you tile separate screens into
one giant display for gaming.
With a street price of around $315 CDN ($315 USD, £210 GBP), the
EAH5850 DirectCU TOP is an excellent value for the enthusiast. It has
performance to spare for running today's games, and support for DirectX 11
features that will make it into tomorrow's titles. The only real difficulty will
be finding one; Radeon HD 5850's are in such high demand that manufacturers and
retailers have had difficult keeping them in supply, and with cards like the
ASUS EAH5850 DirectCU TOP it's easy to see why.
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