AMD Radeon HD 7870 & HD 7850 Review

Author: SKYMTL
Date: March 3, 2012
Product Name: Radeon HD 7870 & HD 7850
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HD 7850 2GB Conclusion

The HD 7850 doesn’t quite live up to the performance levels of its sibling but most of our praise for the HD 7870 applies here as well. While it may not be able to achieve the framerates necessary to be considered a high end solution, the Pitcairn Pro’s goals are grounded firmly within market realities, making this solution not only affordable but infinitely more appealing to the gaming masses. By hitting the $249 mark, AMD has put this card up against some of the most popular GPUs from the last two years and for the most part, it is able to compete quite well.

One of the main advantages of the HD 7850 is AMD’s move to a 2GB, 256-bit memory interface. At first glance this may not be of much interest to mainstream gamers playing on lower resolution monitors but the landscape is quickly moving on. These days, most entry level panels are available in 1080P form and this is changing the metrics for what it takes to provide decent framerates, particularly as games begin featuring increased texture sizes, more geometry and exotic forms of anti aliasing.

We can see examples of how bandwidth and architectural differences can affect performance by looking at the HD 7850’s performance against two 1GB cards: the GTX 560 Ti and HD 6870. In both cases the cards run relatively close to one another at 1920 x 1200 but as image quality settings increase, the HD 7850’s lead grows by leaps and bounds. Even the GTX 560 Ti 448 sees its leads all but erode once higher resolutions are reached and make no mistake about it; the HD 7850 is still able to perform well at 2560 x 1600 if given the chance.

As with the HD 7870, we couldn’t have asked for more in terms of efficiency and overclocking capabilities. The sought after 1GHz mark was attainable even without voltage tuning and while your experience may differ, this resulted in unheard of performance levels for a $250 card. Meanwhile, power consumption was by far the best we’ve seen from a GPU that can play games at high settings.

Our one critique about many of AMD’s newest cards unfortunately remains true to form once again. While the move towards 2GB is a welcome addition, the HD 7850 is in no way a game changing card. It won’t provide any improvement if you already bought into the GF114 or Cayman Pro architectures and in some cases the $190 GTX 560 Ti can still be considered a better purchase for today’s applications. However, for anyone still using an HD 6870, GTX 460 or HD 5850 it provides a nearly perfect upgrade path, especially when the needs of upcoming games are taken into account. In today’s market, that makes the HD 7850 2GB a great buy for anyone that wants peace of mind for the next few years.


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