AMD Radeon HD 6850 Shootout - Mainstream Slugfest

Introducing the Cards

ASUS EAH6850 DirectCU

Taiwanese components giants ASUS was one of the first to release custom editions of the Radeon HD 6850 and their take on the new AMD GPU makes use of their effective DirectCU cooler. The cooler is termed such because it has copper heat pipes that are in direct contact with the GPU core, which ASUS says this keeps the card up to 20% cooler.

On top of that, the card comes mildly overclocked getting a slight 15MHz bump at the core to bring it up to 790MHz, whereas memory clock speeds remain unchanged at 4000MHz DDR. For adventurous users, the card also features ASUS’ Voltage Tweak utility which lets users increase voltage values for greater overclocking potential.

The ASUS card is a tad longer than a reference card (as depicted with the HIS branded edition) because of its DirectCU cooler.

For video output connectivity, the ASUS card has two DVI ports, a single HDMI port and DisplayPort.

The heat pipes are in direct contact with the GPU core, this allows it to draw heat away quicker than traditional heatsink designs.


Gigabyte HD 6850

The Gigabyte HD 6850 might come with stock clocks - 775MHz at the core, 4000MHz DDR - but it makes up for that with Gigabyte’s very own Windforce 2X cooler with large 80mm dual fans. What’s unique about Windforce coolers is that they are specially designed to reduce turbulence. By letting air flow quickly and smooth over the heatsink, cooling efficiency is improved. To better understand Gigabyte’s Windforce coolers, it’s best you check out their microsite.

The Gigabyte HD 6850 sports the recognizable dual-fan Windforce 2x cooler. 

The card gets the usual twin DVI ports, single DisplayPort and HDMI port.

The fans are slightly angled, as are the heatsink arrays below, to reduce turbulence and promote smoother air flow.



Judging from the massive 90mm fan, the MSI R6850-PM2DIGD5 (henceforth known simply as MSI R6850) is obviously a firm believer of the saying “size matters”. But sadly, despite the sizable fan, the card still sports reference clock speeds, which means 775MHz at the core and 4000MHz DDR. Fortunately, to make up for that, the card comes bundled with the latest version of MSI’s popular Afterburner overclocking utility, which lets users overclock the card for greater performance.

The MSI R6850 sports one of the largest fans measuring at a considerable 90mm in diameter.

Like many of the other cards, the MSI R6850 gets two DVI ports, a single DisplayPort and HDMI port.

Under the large fan are equally large heat pipes which help dissipate heat quickly away from the GPU core.


PowerColor PCS+ HD 6850

The PCS+ line of cards from PowerColor comes factory overclocked and are fitted with custom “Professional Cooling System” coolers, and the PCS+ HD 6850 is no different. In the case of the PCS+ HD 6850, the card has a massive 95mm fan and underneath the fan is amalgam of cooling fins and thick heat pipes. And to fully capitalize on the cooler, the card is factory overclocked at 820MHz at the core and 4400MHz DDR, which should give it a significant performance boost when compared to a reference card.

Under the cooler cover of the PowerColor PCS+ HD 6850 are three heat pipes that draw heat away from the GPU core.

The PowerColor card gets the same twin DVI ports, single DisplayPort and HDMI port.

We've not had the best of experiences with PowerColor's PCS+ coolers of late, so it will be interesting to see how this one fares.