The R6850 in it's baseline performance is 100% similar to the reference products from our launch review. There's not a MHz different in-between the products. In fact the R6850 is basically the reference product PCB wise, yet with another (better) cooler on it.
The improved feature set of course is grand with the new HD3D and UVD 3 update of the video processor. While capable, the HD3D implementation we feel is a loss 3D gaming wise. Pretty much what AMD is doing is saying, "here's a hardware capable product ... and you guys do the rest". The complexity of finding the right TV/Monitor, glasses and then 3rd party software you need to buy is in our vision too complex for the generic end user without any guarantees that the 3D experience will work properly as it's not backed by AMD whatsoever. Time will tell though we think that the complexity of a 3rd party for a lot of end-users will simply be complicated, making them choose the competition's solution as that's a handy straight out of the box kit alright. But sure, with the introduction of HD3D and HDMI 1.4a AMD also brings 3D Stereoscopic features towards the new 6000 series graphics cards, which is a welcome addition of course, yet requires optimal monitors and shutter glasses. As stated we do not like the complexity of the 3D gaming side at all, but watching movies and pictures in 3D is an easy to accomplish task.
Architecture wise it merely improved efficiency tweaks based of the last-gen architecture. There are no ground-breaking new designs aside from some feature updates. Price performance wise however you have noticed that the R6800 offers a truckload of value for money.
The cooler that MSI uses is silent and brings in plenty cooling performance. The fact that we brought this card close toward a GHz on the core frequency surely is a statement all by itself. Even overclocked at that level with the 1.259 Volts we applied on the GPU we still hover at 70 Degrees C only, and that's just really good. Noise wise with such a tweak things will be louder, but it still wasn't bad at roughly 42-43 dBA.
So then, voltage tweaking brings in an incredible amount of overclock potential towards the already extremely value rich Radeon HD 6850, and that makes it a perfect card to own, if you are willing to apply the tweaks of course. If you don't, the baseline performance is already grand .. but overclocked we lifted another 20-25% performance out of it, and that took it towards R6870 performance ... all that for 179 USD. That's value at it's best plain and simple, pure p0wnage.
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