Sapphire HD 5850 1GB & Sapphire HD 5770 1GB Review

by Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig     |     January 19, 2010

Sapphire HD 5850 1GB & Sapphire HD 5770 1GB Review

Welcome to a brave new world. A world in which ATI’s DX11 cards have finally started showing up at retailers in sufficient quantities to satisfy backorders while those annoying “In Stock Soon” tags have finally been replaced by “In Stock” monikers. This means that you can actually buy a HD 5850 or HD 5870 right now and expect near-immediate reception without having to wait for weeks or even months for one to ship. Is every last product from all of the board partners in stock? Not yet. The simple fact is that ATI still has some production issues but they are being gradually ironed out. All in all, Team Red now still has sole ownership of the DX11 marketplace and they are finally in a position to sit back and watch their products sell at breakneck speed.

The HD 5700-series on the other hand doesn’t seem to have had any of the shortages seen with the HD 5800-series but according to our retailer contacts this is due to two factors: one being that these lower-end cards are readily available from their distributors. The other reason for nearly uninterrupted stock of the HD 5750 and HD 5770 is the fact that they are simply not as popular as their higher-end brethren with two of our contacts actually stating the HD 5850 was selling more units than the two lower end cards combined. This is definitely a head-scratcher considering the amazing value the HD 5700 series represents but it does shine a positive light on people’s expectations and confidence in the PC as a viable gaming platform.

Sales figures aside, we have been putting this review off for some time due to the fact that one of the cards –the Sapphire HD 5850- was next to impossible to find and the few stores that had it available were simply fleecing customers with ultra high pricing. Now that we can actually go out and buy this card, the decision was made to put this review live and add in a Sapphire HD 5770 for good measure. While both of these cards obviously come from different ends of the price spectrum, they offer up some great performance for your hard earned dollars.

The most interesting aspect of this review will be the fact that over $100 separates one from the other which is quite significant in terms of graphics card pricing. With ATI planning on releasing a card which bridges the gap between the current HD 5800 series and HD 5700 series in a few weeks, this things could get even more interesting. We should also put all our cards on the table and state that we are in the process of switching to a new and updated testing suite so we will be using the 9.11 drivers for this review.

It should go without saying that $100 is a significant amount of money. Does this monetary difference equate a massive gap in performance between the HD 5850 and HD 5770? Let’s find out.


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