The GeForce GTX 460 saved Nvidia's hind last year when it hit the market at $200 (currently $150 for the 768MB version) beating the existing Radeon HD 5830, while simultaneously threatening the more affordable Radeon HD 5770.

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Meanwhile, the 1GB version of the same card was offered for $230, greatly diminishing the Radeon HD 5850's value. Even with the eventual price cuts on AMD's side, we felt the GeForce GTX 460 was a deserving winner at the time, offering users the best bang for their buck.

AMD vowed to keep on top of Nvidia throughout 2010 and into 2011, so an overhaul was in order. AMD then launched its current-gen Radeon 6000 cards last October, with the Radeon HD 6850 and 6870 priced at $199 and $239 — suspiciously close to the GTX 460.

Despite the dubious naming scheme, the Radeon HD 6850 and 6870 weren't meant as replacements for the Radeon HD 5850 and 5870 previous-gen boards. In fact, depending on the game, the newer cards were slightly slower. AMD repositioned the new generation cards as mainstream offerings, saying these were intended to improve DirectX 11 performance and enhance display support.

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Regardless of AMD's intentions, the Radeon HD 6850 and 6870 wound up ousting the 5870 and 5850 alongside the GTX 460 because they offered roughly the same performance at seriously discounted prices.

Looking at the market today, the Radeon HD 6850 remains one of the best options available to gamers shopping for a sub-$200 GPU, while the Radeon HD 6870 still commands the sub-$250 bracket with its only real competition coming from the GeForce GTX 560 Ti. It's not very often that we see mainstream-level GPUs settle down for long, in this case it appears there's nothing too big on the horizon and thus we were pleased to hear that HIS was preparing an update for all card versions this year.

The factory-overclocked 6870 IceQ X Turbo X and HIS Radeon HD 6850 IceQ X Turbo have upgraded coolers and are meant to be the fastest 6850 and 6870 graphics cards available out of the box — albeit at a premium price. The 6870 IceQ X Turbo X is currently retailing for $250, while the 6850 IceQ X Turbo costs $190. Being the inquisitive type, we're determined to see if the extra fee is worthwhile.

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*Remember to click in the bottom right of an image to expand it.*

Benchmarks: CoD: Black Ops, Modern Warfare 2

The HIS Radeon HD 6870 IceQ X Turbo X had no trouble delivering highly playable performance when testing Call of Duty: Black Ops at 1920x1200, averaging 87fps — 9% more than the standard version. Despite this, it was 16% slower than the GeForce GTX 560 Ti, 22% slower than the GTX 570 and 6% slower than the Radeon HD 6950.

The 6850 IceQ X Turbo was only slightly slower, producing an average of 81fps and clocking in at 5% faster than a standard Radeon HD 6850 as well as 1% faster than a standard HD 6870. Conversely, it was 8% slower than the GeForce GTX 460 and 21% slower than the GeForce GTX 560 Ti.

The HIS Radeon HD 6870 IceQ X Turbo X Crossfire configuration averaged 111fps at 2560x1600, making it 5% slower than the Radeon HD 6990 and 9% slower than the GeForce GTX 590. Meanwhile, it performed 56% better than the Radeon HD 6970 and 29% faster than the GeForce GTX 580.

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Then we have the HIS Radeon HD 6850 IceQ X Turbo Crossfire cards which averaged 100fps, putting them 41% ahead of the Radeon HD 6970 and 16% ahead of the GeForce GTX 580. They were also 18% slower than the GeForce GTX 590 and 15% slower than the Radeon HD 6990.

The HIS Radeon HD 6870 IceQ X Turbo X squeezed out 60fps at 1920x1200 when testing with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Although it was 5% slower than the GeForce GTX 560 Ti and 19% slower than the GTX 570, HIS' overclocked card was 7% faster than a standard Radeon HD 6870.

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Surprisingly, the HIS Radeon HD 6850 IceQ X Turbo was only 4fps slower with an average of 56fps, making it 12% faster than the GTX 460 and 6% faster than the HD 6850. Meanwhile, it matched the performance of the HD 6870 while it was 11% slower than the GTX 560 Ti.

With an average of 83fps at 2560x1600, the HIS Radeon HD 6870 IceQ X Turbo X Crossfire cards were 57% faster than the Radeon HD 6970 and 43% faster than the GTX 580. They were also 18% and 12% slower than the dual-GPU HD 6990 and GTX 590.

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The HIS Radeon HD 6850 IceQ X Turbo Crossfire configuration averaged 71fps, or 34% faster than the HD 6970 and 22% faster than the GeForce GTX 580. At the same time, they were 30% slower than the HD 6990 and 24% slower than the GTX 590.

Overclocking Performance

Using the MSI AfterBurner overclocking utility, we were able to push the core clock of both graphics cards up to 1020MHz. The memory of the HIS 6870 worked at 1200MHz and the 6850 reached 1150MHz.

Our manually overclocked HIS Radeon HD 6870 IceQ X Turbo X produced 12% better performance in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 than the factory-overclocked configuration. However, the HIS Radeon HD 6850 IceQ X Turbo was just 6% faster once the maximum stable overclock was applied.

The HD 6870 IceQ X Turbo X was just 2% faster in Crysis Warhead once we overclocked further, while the HD 6850 IceQ X Turbo was 14% faster.

When testing the maximum stable overclocks in Battlefield Bad Company 2, we found the HD 6870 IceQ X Turbo X was 6% faster. The HD 6850 IceQ X Turbo has more ample gain room as it received a 14% performance increase versus the factory overclock.

Continue reading

HIS Radeon HD 6850 IceQ X Turbo
HIS Radeon HD 6870 IceQ X Turbo X
Test System Specs & 3Dmark 11
Benchmarks: AvP, Bad Company 2
Benchmarks: Crysis Warhead, Dragon Age II
Benchmarks: Civilization V, Dawn of War Retribution
Benchmarks: Just Cause 2, Mass Effect 2
Benchmarks: Metro 2033, Splinter Cell Conviction
Benchmarks: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: CoP, World in Conflict
Power Consumption & Temperatures
Final Thoughts

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Republished with permission from TechSpot.com.

Steven Walton is the chief hardware editor at TechSpot; he also runs his own review site Legion Hardware.


TechSpot is a computer technology publication serving PC enthusiasts, gamers and IT pros since 1998.