The PCS+ R6850 is a very potent product, in its baseline performance it already is a decent chunk faster than the reference 6850 products available on the market and there's some overclocking headroom left as well. Unfortunately PowerColor opted to use a non standard (Chill) Voltage management regulator IC that with current software availble on the market does not allow any voltage tweaking. So on that front the competition like MSI and even reference boards might go a notch higher.
The feature set itself is of course top notch. That 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 the 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 PowerColor uses is very silent and brings in plenty cooling performance. The fact remains that we brought this card over 900 MHz on the core frequency without any temperature issues, is a statement all by itself and let's not forget the fact that this card comes factory clocked at faster frequencies offering more performance in it's baseline configuration over the reference products.
So the baseline performance of this product is grand... the cooling is just extremely silent, and all that can be purchased for roughly 179 USD. If you are not planning a massive overclock session with voltage tweaks, then we can wholeheartedly recommend this product. PowerColor tops it off with a free game as well, included is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Agreed, COD Black Ops would have been nicer of course, but still this bundle offers great performance for any modern game at a very fair price.
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