XFX Radeon HD 5850 1GB GDDR5 Review

by Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig     |     October 7, 2009

A Look at the ATI 5000-series

As you can probably tell by the chart above, both the HD 5870 and the HD 5850 fit perfectly into ATI’s current lineup. In essence, The HD 5870 takes the place of the expensive-to-produce and comparably inefficient dual GPU HD 4870X2 as the top dog for the time being. Judging from paper specifications alone, the HD 5870 is a technological marvel considering it packs all of the rendering potential of ATI’s past flagship card and then some while not being saddled by an inefficient dual processor design. The fact that this new card could effectively double the performance of a HD 4890 just a few months after that card’s release is nothing short of stunning.

The HD 5850 on the other hand looks to be the purebred price / performance leader of the new ATI lineup. Barring slightly lower clock speeds for both the core and memory along with eight disabled texture units (totaling 160 stream processors), it is basically a clone of the HD 5870. This is the card ATI hopes will compete directly with the GTX 285 for the near future and then come into its own when DX11 games make their way into the market. We believe this card will appeal to the majority of early adopters since it allows them to buy class-leading DX9 and DX10 performance now without gambling $400 on unproven DX11 potential.

We can also see that ATI did some careful price cutting prior to launch since even though the HD 4890 looks to offer about half the HD 5870’s performance, it is actually priced accordingly. As such, this previously high end card will stick around for the next few months in the $200 price bracket but that isn’t to say that it will stay there indefinitely...

In short order, ATI will have a full range of DX11 cards on the market; all of which have been talked about in rumours over the last quarter. To begin with we will see the two “Cypress” series cards which are the HD 5870 and HD 5850 followed before the new year by the dual GPU Hemlock card which will make use of two Cypress processors. The Hemlock sticks to ATI’s mantra of never releasing a card that retails for above $500 but it will nonetheless take over the premier position of this DX11 lineup.

The $199 Juniper card will rear its head right before the year is up and should take the place of the HD 4890 and will give consumers a perfectly affordable card to put on their parents’ Christmas shopping list. Finally, the first months of 2010 will herald the Redwood and Cedar mainstream cards.

So there you have it. In the high stakes game of poker that is the GPU industry, ATI has shown its hand. All that is left is for the competition to respond.

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