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HIS Radeon 6850 1GB
Written by Scott Harness   
Thursday, 04 November 2010 00:00

thumb1HIS Radeon 6850 1GB

- The 68xx series has been received rather well so far. Now it's our turn to check out a 6850, which our friends at HIS have provided. So let's check it out shall we?


When AMD released the 5xxx series cards, not all that long ago, it brought with it some major features that have been welcomed by many end users. The largest has got to be Eyefinity; multi-display gaming has never been so good.

It took NVIDIA a while to catch up, but catch up they did and now you can get similar features from NVIDIA's line up, and arguably it's easier to implement. NVIDIA also had the GTX 460, which provided great performance at a good price point, and even better price point since they just reduced the price.

AMD have responded by beginning to refresh their line up with new cards based on refinements of the previous features, and adding in a few new ones too. Coming out guns blazing, AMD have priced these new parts to be very competitive in the marketplace. So let's take a look at the first new card, the 6850, specifically, the .


Model Name
Radeon HD 6850 PCIe Series
Radeon HD 6850 GPU
Memory Size
Stream processors
1600 (unified)
Manu. Process
Memory Type
Engine CLK
Memory CLK
4.0GBPs / 4000 MHz
Memory Interface
Bus Interface
PCI Express x16
Max. Resolution
3x 2560*1600 (Dual dual-link)
GPU Features
  • Microsoft DirectX 11 Support
  • AMD Eyefinity Technology
  • AMD Advanced Parallel Processing technology
  • Advanced GDDR5 Memory Technology
  • AMD CrossFireX™ Technology
  • 3rd Generation TeraScale Engine
  • 40nm Process Technology
  • Accelerated Video Transcoding
  • Nearly 3 teraFLOPS of computing power!
  • Display Flexibility
  • HDMI 1.4
  • Dolly®TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio Support
  • AMD PowerPlay™ Technology
  • Enhanced Unified Video Decoder (UVD) 3
  • Accelerate the most demanding applications with AMD Accelerated Parallel Processing (APP) technology. Do more, faster.
  • Maximize your online and Blu-ray video experiences with a new level of smooth visual quality with AMD EyeSpeed visual acceleration technology.
  • Experience Blu-ray 3D as it was intended with AMD HD3D technology.
  • Take advantage of AMD Radeon™ HD 6800 Series graphics’ Dolby True HD and 3D HDTV support to create that theatre-quality experience.
Power Supply Requirement
500 Watt or greater power
2x DVI (Upper Single-link DVI-D + Bottom Dual-link DVI-I), 1x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort

OK, before we delve into some of the new tech, let's get one thing straight here; the Naming scheme. The 68xx series of cards do NOT replace the 58xx series of cards. The 68xx series are set to replace the 57xx series of cards in the market place.


So why the obviously confusing naming then? Well, the problem stems from AMD wanting to offer a cheaper 32nm Barts GPU (the codename used in the 68xx series) but being let down by their manufacturing partner TSMC. Because of this, AMD had to stick with a 40nm process and was unable to squeeze out a huge performance increase at the right price to allow for cards that would fill each market segment. Instead, AMD decided to keep the 57xx series in the market but reduce it down to a lower tier in the performance/market scale (not a bad thing, because let's face it; the 57xx series are damn good cards). That meant that if they named the new Barts GPU's 67xx, many folks simply wouldn't buy the 57xx series anymore ... because both are mid-range and 67xx is better than 57xx, right? Hence AMD have gone with the 57xx series for the bottom end, the 68xx series for mid-range and by the end of the year, the 69xx series will appear to take the top spots.

That said, the 6850 card is quite the high performer, which it has to be at the price point it's being offered at (which is highly competitive) which is close to that of the GTX 460 even after the price reductions from NVIDIA not so long ago.


We are already aware of the Eyefinity feature of the 5xxx series; a feature that has been highly received in the 5xxx series and should be a little simpler now in the 6xxx series, though arguably still not as easy as NVIDIA's solution. AMD are using Display Port 1.2 which supports Daisy Chaining up to 3 monitors from one output (4 if you use a low enough resolution). A new Multi-Streaming Transport Hub will allow for up to 4 monitors via any display standard so this could make things a lot easier to get multi-display gaming up and running with your existing equipment.


Eyespeed is a new marketing buzzword from AMD and refers to anything that can be GPU accelerated such as (but not limited to) media playback. In keeping with this, the 68xx cards can playback more than before. The HDMI port gets a level up, with the 68xx series featuring an HDMI 1.4a port. This allows for 3D, which AMD have dubbed HD3D. This 3D support extends the playback features offered, and AMD have further extended video decoding playback with new support for more MPEG formats in their new UVD3 feature, including Xvid and DivX. You can also expect better post-processing from UVD3.

One thing that has been taken away is a second Dual Link DVI port; you now only get a single Dual Link DVI with the other being a Single Link DVI port. This is important because if you have a high resolution large screen, you better make sure you plug it into the correct DVI socket.

Another thing you will notice is that the 68xx series card only have one CrossfireX header, so you can only have a pair of 68xx series cards. If you want more performance, then you'll need to spend more on a 69xx series card. AMD believe that this is what folks would/should do anyway, and they are probably right.


AMD have also introduced a new Anti-Aliasing method called Morphological AA. It uses adaptive filtering via DirectCompute to detect edges and shades them accordingly to smooth things out. It's similar in performance to CSAA (faster than SSAA), but unlike CSAA it applies to all edges including those created by shadows. You will need the latest 10.10c hotfix drivers and you will have to force it in the drivers for it to work. Support for 5xxx series cards is coming for this method, although if you look around, you can probably find some hacks to make it work right now.

Anisotropic filtering has also been improved, and there is now a Surface Format Optimization feature that improves performance in games that use 16bit Floating Point surfaces for HDR.


The 68xx series then, is a much refined version of the 5xxx series, and aims to fill the mid-range area in performance and price while adding new features as well.


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