With the release of the second generation DX11 class GPUs today AMD confused their consumers a little. The shift in naming will be bothersome for some of you, what we have been looking at today should have really been labeled Series 6700 as the fastest products, which you'd expect to be placed in the 6800 series, still need to be released. Talking offsite with AMD learned us that this was done to make some room in the sub mid-range segment for upcoming unannounced products, we can only hint to Fusion here.
Both cards released today are somewhat an improved and updated hybrid silicon based of the AMD's 5700/5800 series. And granted, while performance really is very nice on both cards, we as well seem to be confused a little by the 5700/5800 vs 6800 naming stigma we just got used to. But that will pass with time ... it will fade away plain and simple. So keep it in mind, the 6800 is upper mid-range of graphics card performance, and 6900 is high-end, it is and will be as simple as that.
If you focus on the suggested retail prices then we can definitely state that these products will find their way into the market fast and with a lot of interest, the feature set of course is grand with the new HD3D and UVD 3 update of the video processor.
While capable, we feel that the HD3D implementation 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 difficult 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 competitions (NVIDIA 3D Vision) solution as that's a handy straight out of the box kit, which is far more easy.
But yeah 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 both products today merely are improved changes & 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 does offer a truckload of value for money. Its one purpose, which is to hinder the GeForce GTX 460 series, is achieved.
Now I do want mention though that, as policy and guideline, we compare reference to reference cards only with reference reviews. NVIDIA's board partners do have a lot of factory faster clocked models, at a price premium of course, they offer 10 to 20% more performance depending on the model. Keep that in mind, just to be fair here.
The Radeon 6850 offers plenty of performance for today's games. We feel it's sweet spot gaming wise is for gamers with a monitor up-to roughly 1600x1200, even 1920x1200. At that resolution pretty much any game will play excellent with good options in image quality settings like AA.
The Radeon HD 6870 is as far as I am concerned, definitely the more interesting card. It does have a handful more shader processors over what we expected initially, and armed with a phat 900 MHz clock frequency this product simply makes really good sense. It will bring a lot of value to the table but will also allow you to play your games at 1920x1200 extremely well. From a price point of view that makes this product really nice. AMD needed two GeForce GTX 460 cards of their own ... and these are it. Bare in mind though, coming from an R5870 you'd be taking a small perf step down.
Time to wrap things up, the Radeon 6800 series naming wise still feels a little weird, as we all expected it to be named the 6700 series. Regardless of that, the two product launched today fit really well into the upper mid-range segment of the graphics industry. Priced right these two cards can be really interesting for the PC aficionados that like to play games on their PC without spending truckloads of money. And it is exactly that last sentiment that makes ATI AMD so very successful lately.
Now if you own a Radeon HD 5850 or something more spicy, then there's no need to upgrade just yet; unless watching 3D movies is a big thing for you. But if you come from the Radeon HD 3000/4000 series, well ... that's where this DX11 class products start to really make sense. But scouts honor, the two cards tested today run beautifully, seem faster than the reference GTX 460 cards and can even match the GTX 470. The cards neither are noisy or running hot and the overall game performance really is spot on.
Prices then, the R6850 will cost you roughly 189 USD/ 159 EUR and thus is targeted at the slightly cheaper priced GeForce GTX 460 768MB.
For 249 USD / 209 EUR the R6870 is positioned against the GeForce GTX 460 with 1024MB graphics memory, now the R6870 is faster, however NVIDIA will pull their trump card, the GeForce GTX 470 and lower its price on that product, significantly I must add.
As of today you can spot these price-cuts, NVIDIA confirmed that the GeForce GTX 460 1024MB will now cost US $199 / 169 EUR including VAT and the GeForce GTX 470 is to cost US $259 = 219 EUR including VAT, pricing it very close to the Radeon HD 6870, and these two cards are close to each other performance wise alright. So yeah, that will be your baseline and benchmark to judge from right there and here on.
The fierce competition inbetween NVIDIA and AMD will get you some really great choices in products and prices for the upcoming Christmas season, just the way we like it here at Guru3D.com
Of course next month (November) the actual high-end 6900 series product under codename 'Cayman' will launch as well. We can't wait to get our grubby little paws on that one. Exciting times for sure, both the 6850 and 6870 come recommended by Guru3D.com as really great mid-range graphics cards - it's simply put top notch stuff for your money.
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