AMD’s Radeon HD 5850: The Other Shoe Drops

 

For those of you looking for the above and a repeat of the RV770/GT200 launch where prices will go into a free fall, you’re going to come away disappointed. That task will fall upon the 5850, and we’re looking forward to reviewing it as soon as we can.”

 

-From our Radeon HD 5870 Review

Today the other shoe drops, with AMD launching the 5870’s companion card: the slightly pared down 5850. It’s the same Cypress core that we saw on the 5870 with the same features: DX11, Eyefinity, angle-independent anisotropic filtering, HDMI bitstreaming, and supersample anti-aliasing. The only difference between the two is performance and power – the 5850 is a bit slower, and a bit less power hungry. If by any chance you’ve missed our Radeon HD 5870 review, please check it out; it goes in to full detail on what AMD is bringing to the table with Cypress and the HD 5800 series.

  ATI Radeon HD 5870 ATI Radeon HD 5850 ATI Radeon HD 4890 ATI Radeon HD 4870
Stream Processors 1600 1440 800 800
Texture Units 80 72 40 40
ROPs 32 32 16 16
Core Clock 850MHz 725MHz 850MHz 750MHz
Memory Clock 1.2GHz (4.8GHz data rate) GDDR5 1GHz (4GHz data rate) GDDR5 975MHz (3900MHz data rate) GDDR5 900MHz (3600MHz data rate) GDDR5
Memory Bus Width 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Frame Buffer 1GB 1GB 1GB 1GB
Transistor Count 2.15B 2.15B 959M 956M
TDP 188W 151W 190W 150W
Manufacturing Process TSMC 40nm TSMC 40nm TSMC 55nm TSMC 55nm
Price Point $379 $259 ~$180 ~$160

AMD updated the specs on the 5850 at the last moment when it comes to power. Idle power usage hasn’t changed, but the final parts are now specified for 151W load power, versus the 160W originally given to us, and 188W on the 5870. So for the power-conscious out there, the 5850 offers a load power reduction in lockstep with its performance reduction.

As compared to the 5870, AMD has disabled two of the SIMDs and reduced the core clock from 850MHz to 725Mhz. This is roughly a 15% drop in clock speed and a 10% reduction in SIMD capacity, for a combined theoretical performance difference of 23%. Meanwhile the memory clock has been dropped from 1.2GHz to 1GHz, for a 17% overall reduction. Notably the ROP count has not been reduced, so the 5850 doesn’t lose as much rasterizing power as it does everything else, once again being 15% due to the drop in clock speed.

With the reduction in power usage, AMD was able to squeeze Cypress in to a slightly smaller package for the 5850. The 5850 lobs off an inch in length compared to the 5870, which will make it easier to fit in to cramped cases. However the power connectors have also been moved to the rear of the card, so in practice the space savings won’t be as great. Otherwise the 5850 is a slightly smaller 5870, using the same sheathed cooler design as the 5870, sans the backplate.

Port-side, the card is also unchanged from the 5870. 2 DVI ports, 1 HDMI port, and 1 DisplayPort adorn the card, giving the card the ability to drive 2 TMDS displays (HDMI/DVI), and a DisplayPort. As a reminder, the DisplayPort can be used to drive a 3rd TMDS display, but only with an active (powered) adapter, which right now still run at over $100.

AMD tells us that this is going to be a hard launch just like the 5870, with the 5850 showing up for $260. Given that the 5870 did in fact show up on-time and on-price, we expect the same for the 5850. However we don’t have any reason to believe 5850 supplies will be any more plentiful than 5870 supplies – never mind the fact that it’s in AMD’s interests to ship as many 5870s as they can right now given their higher price. So unless AMD has a lot of Cypress dice to harvest, we’re expecting the 5850 to be even harder to find.
 
Update: As of Wednesday afternoon we have seen some 5850s come in to stock, only to sell out again even sooner than the 5870s did. It looks like 5850s really are going to be harder to find.

Battleforge: The First DX11 Game
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  • merin - Monday, October 12, 2009 - link

    Any idea what producer I should choose if I'm getting a 5850?
    Is there even any difference between them?
    Reply
  • ambientmf - Sunday, December 06, 2009 - link

    At this point, I doubt there's much difference between vendors. Since the card is still relatively new and supply still low, I would think most vendors are sticking to the reference design.

    Warranties and support aside, they're all identical.
    I'd investigate the warranties offered, any trade-up programs (not that they'll be much to trade up from but still good to know) and any info like that.
    Reply
  • hsew - Sunday, October 11, 2009 - link

    I find it rather peculiar that even though Crysis Warhead runs better on ATI single GPUs (4890 faster than GTX275, 4870 faster than GTX260, 4850 almost as fast as GTX 260) it scales well enough in SLI to take the performance lead from ATI, as shown by the 5850 CF losing to GTX285 SLI (SLI scaling almost 100%!!). It makes one wonder just what the heck all the hype is about ATI releasing a new driver once a month if they don't seem to do make much of a difference in the performance department. Reply
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  • cosminliteanu - Tuesday, October 06, 2009 - link


    Thanks for this kind of article, I would also to see some Fallout 3
    testing.....
    Thank you ,again :)
    Reply
  • bhougha10 - Monday, October 05, 2009 - link

    sorry the f-bomb quote was in the previous artical. But kinda adds to the point. Please no silly fan boy comments as I have stock in amd and nvidia :) (ya, in know probably silly to have stock in these two companies) Reply
  • bhougha10 - Monday, October 05, 2009 - link

    Probably get locked out of the site for saying this. But it seems like there is always an agression toward NVIDIA. Kinda like ATI gives free samples and NVIDIA does not, or not in a timely manner. I mean why would an F-Bomb be quoted on a professional site. It's not just this one statement and not just this one artical that makes me wonder.
    otherwise, as usual, great artical, with great content.
    Reply
  • Malachite - Monday, October 05, 2009 - link

    I wish you guys would put together Company of Heroes, World in Conflict and Supreme Commander so we could see clearly the differences between the cards. Today we see only reviews based on FPS, I like FPS, but my main games are all RTS.... I bought the HD4890 based on reviews but it didnt run as good as my GTX 275 for RTS titles.... Reply
  • merin - Monday, October 05, 2009 - link

    I'm wondering what the text that says "Floor @ 40.6dB" on the noise diagram means. Is it the background noise or something?

    I'm wondering if it can compete with the Sapphire HD4890 Vapor-X in the noise-department...

    "The dual slot Vapor-Chamber Cooler has a noise level under 20 dbA in 2D operation and is still under 30 dbA in 3D operation before it reaches 85 degrees Celsius." ( http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1056/1/">http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1056/1/ )
    Reply
  • Pastuch - Monday, October 05, 2009 - link

    From what I've heard at other sites the Vapor-x 4890 is significantly quieter than the ATI cooler on the 5850. Thats not a knock on the 5850, it's just that the Vapor-x cooler on the 4890 is dead quiet. I love mine. It even has HDMI, VGA, Displayport and DVI on the back of the card! Reply

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