Feature Articles

AMD Radeon HD 6870 & HD 6850 - Northern Islands Ahoy!

By Kenny Yeo - 22 Oct 2010

Test Setup

Test Setup

To evaluate AMD’s latest cards, we’ll be using our trusty Intel 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

Early leaks have pegged the new Radeon HD 6870 and HD 6850 to be a good match for the older Radeon HD 5870 and HD 5850, and it will be interesting to see if AMD’s new mainstream cards can match up to their high-end predecessors. The Radeon HD 5830 was omitted because our early tests showed that it was lacking the graphics horsepower needed to compete. AMD has advised that the Radeon HD 6850 is pegged just a shade lower than the current Radeon HD 5850 in terms of performance but it's more efficient. As for the Radeon HS 6870, AMD pegs it as a proper replacement of the Radeon HD 5850 as it should better it on most accounts.

And like we mentioned early, despite the ASUS EAH6850 DirectCU being slightly overclocked, our experience tells us that a mere 15MHz bump on the core will offer little, if any, improvements in performance and should be a good indicator of the Radeon HD 6850's performance.

According to AMD, the Radeon HD 6870 and HD 6850 were specifically targeted to go up against the 1GB and 768MB variants of the GeForce GTX 460 respectively. The GeForce GTX 460 is one of NVIDIA’s best offerings in recent times, and it’s clear that AMD has decided to go straight for the jugular with their new releases. Also, we have included benchmarks from the GeForce GTX 470 and both GTX 460, and also included the older GeForce GTX 285, which, in its heyday, used to be the fastest single GPU card money can buy.

The list of cards tested and driver version used:

  • AMD Radeon HD 6870 1GB GDDR5 (Catalyst 10.10)
  • ASUS EAH6850 DirectCU 1GB GDDR5 (Catalyst 10.10)
  • ATI Radeon HD 5870 1GB GDDR5 (Catalyst 10.9)
  • ATI Radeon HD 5850 1GB GDDR5 (Catalyst 10.9)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470 1280MB GDDR5 (ForceWare 258.96)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 1GB GDDR5 (ForceWare 258.96)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 768MB GDDR5 (ForceWare 258.96)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285 1GB GDDR3 (ForceWare 257.21)

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
  • “Heaven" from Unigine v2.1
  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat
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