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Sapphire Radeon HD 6850

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Introduction to the Sapphire Radeon HD 6850

So the wait is finally over and we get our first looks into the HD 6000 series through the new Radeon HD 6850 and 6870 series. Our partners at Sapphire have sent us our first samples to HD 6850 for testing. We all know that the current (now past) Radeon HD 5000 series brought AMD a lot of success, as it finally gave nVidia some tough competition, but also thanks to being the first DX11 chips on the market. The previous models offered great performance, as well as bringing to the table the very successful Eyefinity, which is all the rave right now. Not only was the card fast but it also offered better anisotropic filtering and improved antialiasing. The for a gamer, thing could not have been any better.

That all changes as of today as AMD and its partners are topping the success of the HD 5000 Series with the brand new HD 6000 Series. The 6850 and 6870 models are already being shipped all over the world (and even up for sale at a few etailers), offering everyone new and improved performance, thanks to the new 'Northern Islands' codename Barts Pro core. Spec-wise the model we will be taking a look at (6850) has a core clock of 775MHz coupled with GDDR5 memory running at 1000MHz, while the bigger brother 6870 (Barts XT) has clocks of 900MHz and 1050MHz, respectively.

The GPU is based on the new 40nm process that, according to AMD and Sapphire, promises to deliver greater performance-per-watt than its predecessor. The Radeon HD 6850 offers 960 stream processors and 48 texture processing units. With that being said let us comment a bit on the new numbering system, as it has changed a little bit from the HD 5000 series. If you compare the specs from between the 5850 and the 6850 you will notice that the latter is not providing numbers quite on par in some regards. With the new core improvements AMD was able to squeeze the same performance while decreasing some of the core specs, so the new HD 6850 and 6870 are virtually performance equals to the HD 5850 and 5870. However, in terms of the new chip's pricing it is more in line with that of the HD 5770 and 5830. That being said the HD 6000 line has a lot more to come that will fill the Enthusiast performance group, these will be powered by the codenamed Cayman core and utilize the HD 69xx numberings. You can expect to see those in the coming months.