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


View All Comments

  • MadMan007 - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    Should have done HAWX in DX 10.1 mode then the HD5850 > GTX 285 sweep would have been complete. Or to flip it around, enable PhysX (lol) on some games. Reply
  • MadMan007 - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    I have to point this out because it's something I've now seen on two websites and it irks me a little bit just like 'solid state capacitors' does. In the last sentence on page one the plural of die in this case is dies not dice. Someone didn't edit this carefully! Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    If you search our archives, Anand has discussed this in depth. It's dice. Reply
  • papapapapapapapababy - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    btw, this card is powerless against "the way is meant to be played"
    nvidia keeps bribing developers left and right, ATI does nothing
    (except boring sideshow penis wars), meanwhile the poor ATI users cant seem to play NFS SHIFT 640 x 480, all set to low, ( my -rebranded- 9800 does it great btw) + there is no in-game selective AA available to any ATI Radeon user in Batman, (another TWIMTBP game) + it looks like empty crap with all the shit nvidia - removed ( yes, really no smoke? no papers? no flags? not even static flags? what about GRAW? it used to work fine on reg cpus...)
  • papapapapapapapababy - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    my "prototype" RV740 @ AC-S1 is better...

    Core Clock: 875

    Idle temp: 29C

    Noise: 0db

    TDP: 80W(+)

    + it doesn't look like the 60's Batmobile

  • AnnonymousCoward - Thursday, October 1, 2009 - link

    What, like this one?">
  • ipay - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    Except it doesn't hav DX11, so it's not better. Go troll somewhere else. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    I suppose we probably have to wait for the consumer driver release to know for sure, but how is the stability of these? The only two AMD cards I have direct experience with have both had driver issues, so that is the one factor that would keep me from considering one of the lower-powered versions of this architecture once they are released. Reply
  • Jamahl - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    It is you who had the issue not the drivers. That is why millions of others have ati's without driver issues. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    Yeah, I definitely think closing my laptop lid and expecting it to have the same resolution set when I reopen is my fault *rolls eyes*. Reply

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