The ASUS EAH5850 DirectCU TOP is the company's high-end non-reference Radeon HD 5850 card and it comes with a host of goodies from ASUS to make it perform substantially better than a bone stock Radeon HD 5850.
Firstly, the card is factory-overclocked at 765MHz at the core and 4500MHz DDR at the memory, representing a 40MHz and 500MHz DDR bump at the core and memory. Secondly, it employs a customized cooler which features ASUS' new DirectCU technology, which means its two copper heat pipes are in direct contact with the GPU core. If you're wondering how, the heat pipes are flattened at the area where they make contact with the GPU and therefore the direct cooling benefits can be reaped. As such, ASUS says that this will help improve cooling performance by up to 20%. We'll check that out soon enough in our test section.
ASUS also claims that only the best chips have been selected to create the ASUS EAH 5850 DirectCU TOP, with each chip handpicked and tested to be able to run at a punishing 800MHz at the core before it makes the grade and can be used.
The EAH 5850 DirectCU TOP also comes with ASUS' Voltage Tweak technology, a software that allows users to adjust the GPU core's voltage values to accommodate for higher clock speeds.
The PCS+ in the name stands for “professional cooling system” and so it is no surprise that the card comes with a huge customized cooler with thick copper heat pipes sprouting out from the core. Older PCS+ cards (like this Radeon HD 4890) used to sport coolers from cooling specialists ZEROtherm, but the newer cards seem to have coolers that are designed in-house, since the ZEROtherm logos that used to adorn PCS+ cards of old are not to be seen.
In terms of clock speeds, the PowerColor HD 5850 PCS+ comes in at 760MHz at the core and 4200MHz DDR at the memory, which is slightly lower than the ASUS EAH5850 DirectCU TOP.
Graphics enthusiasts familiar with Sapphire will know that amongst Sapphire's huge stable of graphics card, “Toxic Edition” ones stand out from the rest, and it is the same with the Sapphire HD 5850 Toxic Edition. Not only does it come with Sapphire's Vapor-X cooling technology (vapor chamber technology), it also comes factory overclocked. Clock speeds of 765MHz at the core and 4500MHz DDR are comparable to the above-mentioned two cards, so we should have a good 'fight'.