XFX Radeon HD 5850 1GB GDDR5 Review

by Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig     |     October 7, 2009

A Closer Look at the XFX HD 5850 1GB

When comparing the HD 5850 to the high-end HD 5870, there really isn’t much to differentiate them from one another. To be honest, the HD 5850 looks like nothing more than a smaller version of its bigger brother. It has the same black PCB and its heatsink shroud is the same design even though its length has been modified to fit this smaller card.

The sticker design XFX has chosen reflects the design of the exterior packaging and it complements the red accents on the card very well. To be honest, we find the black and red color scheme of the HD 5850 1GB looks great in a unique way, especially how the single red line down the center of the card carries the red accent color from the fan.

The side of the card has a red plastic insert that holds the ATI Radeon logo as well as a number of vents. The front vent is strategically placed to exhaust any excess airflow that the backplate’s opening can’t take care of. Granted, this allows hot air to escape into the case but it’s location is close enough to the back of an enclosure that the additional heat should be quickly dissipated.

The back of the heatsink shroud has a pair of holes that are somewhat gaudily dressed up in red. These allow some additional air to enter from under the fan in addition to making the necessary space for the HD 5850’s two PCI-E 6-pin connectors.

Meanwhile, the backplate is a mirror image of the one found on the HD 5870. There are a pair of DVI connectors as well as outputs for both HDMI and Displayport which are directly the main exhaust grille. This setup can be used for ATI’s Eyefinity technology if you wanted to use this card to display across a trio of monitors.

The back of the HD 5850 shows us a PCB devoid of the full-length backplate that was installed onto the HD 5870. Instead, we get a look at the black PCB as well as the heatsink mounting bracket.

The overall length of this card is only about 9.5” which makes it much more compact than the HD 5870 and equal to the length of a HD 4890. It should also be noted that any case that is a standard size, shouldn’t have an issue with this card since its length means it doesn’t pass the edge of an ATX motherboard.

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