AMD Radeon HD 6850 CrossFireX Performance Analysis

A Dangerous Pairing

A Dangerous Pairing

Our original intention was to present both Radeon HD 6870 and HD 6850 CrossFireX results, but due to some indeterminable compatibility issue, our previous two Radeon HD 6850 cards refused to work together. Hence, we decided to go ahead and present results from two Radeon HD 6870 in CrossFireX first, while we tried to figure out what was wrong with our Radeon HD 6850 cards. If you haven’t read our article, be sure to do so, for it is a powerful combination.

Frankly, we are not quite sure what was preventing our Radeon HD 6850 cards from working properly. We had three cards from ASUS, MSI and HIS, and no matter which combination we tried (PowerColor with MSI, PowerColor with ASUS, ASUS with MSI), our system would crash whenever we began benchmarking. We tried checking on the internet and it seems that no one else has experienced such an issue and even AMD could not provide an explanation for our problems. We do have an inkling that it could be associated with the early VGA BIOS revisions, but that's just a hunch.

How will the Radeon HD 6870's little brother perform? Read on to find out as we unleashed a pair of the Radeon HD 6850 cards in our tests.

Fortunately, we received a new card from HIS and together with the MSI card, we finally managed to get the two cards to work in CrossFireX. And here are the results. 


Test Setup

To evaluate how the Radeon HD 6850 series cards will perform in a 2-way CrossFireX configuration, we’ll be using our trusty X58 setup with the following specifications:

  • Intel Core i7-975 (3.33GHz)
  • Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD4P motherboard
  • 3 x 1GB DDR3-1333 G.Skill memory in triple channel mode
  • Seagate 7200.10 200GB SATA hard drive
  • Windows 7 Ultimate

If the results from CrossFiring two Radeon HD 6870 cards is any indication, two Radeon HD 6850 cards should prove to be a fearsome combination. We expect to see decent performance scaling and it’ll be interesting to see how it’ll match up against two 768MB GeForce GTX 460 cards in SLI.

The list of cards tested and driver version used:

  • AMD Radeon HD 6850 2-way CrossFireX (Catalyst 10.10)
  • AMD Radeon HD 6850 1GB GDDR5 (Catalyst 10.10)
  • AMD Radeon HD 6870 2-way CrossFireX (Catalyst 10.10)
  • AMD Radeon HD 6870 1GB GDDR5 (Catalyst 10.10)
  • ATI Radeon HD 5970 2GB GDDR5 (Catalyst 10.9)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 2-way SLI (1GB version - ForceWare 258.80)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 1GB GDDR5 (ForceWare 258.96)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 2-way SLI (768MB version - ForceWare 258.80)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 768MB GDDR5 (ForceWare 258.96)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 480 1560MB GDDR5 (ForceWare 260.89)

The list of benchmark used are as follows:

  • Futuremark 3DMark Vantage
  • Crysis Warhead
  • Far Cry 2
  • Warhammer: Dawn of War 2
  • Battlefield Bad Company 2
  • Tom Clancy’s Hawx 2
  • “Heaven" from Unigine v2.1
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat
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