Sapphire Radeon HD 5850 1GB Video Card Review


Installation
Test Rig:
Intel i7 860 LGA 1156 processor
ASRock P55 Deluxe motherboard
Corsair Dominator Low Voltage 4GB dual channel memory kit
Sparkle GTX 260 Plus 1792MB video card (for comparison purposes)
OCZ Z Series 650 watt power supply
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus CPU cooler
Ikonik Zaria A10 midtower
Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit SP2

Of course installing a video card is simple, pop it in the PCI-E x16 slot, connect the power connectors, and install the drivers.  If this is a replacement card, uninstall the existing card first, especially if it is a geForce card.  I’ve had pretty good luck not uninstalling the software and drivers if replacing either ATI or nVidia graphics cards.  Vista usually takes care of it, and you just have to reboot.  This was replacing a geForce GTX 260, so I uninstalled.


I have found it is much better to install ATI software and drivers with the included CD and update afterwards, rather than download the latest drivers and install them first.  Vista always beats you to the punch, but you usually only have to reboot once if using the CD.  The last several versions of Catalyst have been much better than older versions with Vista, I’ve spent as much as an hour trying to get the drivers and CCC installed.

The shorter length of the card made more difference than I expected.  I thought I would have to connect the power cables before installing the card, but I had plenty of room.

According to ATI Overdrive in the Catalyst Control Center, the fan idled at 22%.  The max speed defaults at 44%.  The card idled at around 35C, and load temp was around 55C, so the cooler is very effective.  I never heard the fan, I actually looked to make sure it was spinning.

Sapphire Radeon HD 5850 1GB Video Card Review Sapphire Radeon HD 5850 1GB Video Card Review

Overclocking
I used the Auto Tune function of ATI Overdrive to overclock the Sapphire Radeon HD 5850.  Everything is automatic, the utility gradually raises the GPU clock while heating things up and checking for artifacts.  Once an optimum overclock is reached, it does the same thing with the memory.

Auto Tune gave me a 765mHz GPU clock, which is just over 5.5%.  Not a lot, but should be enough to see if overclocking gives us a performance gain, something you don’t always get.  Memory clock went up to 1100mHz, which is a 10% increase.

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