Power, Temperature, & Noise

With the variety of card designs it’s the difference in power draw, heat dissipation, and acoustics that truly separate the cards. It’s not just the difference in physical designs that helps set these cards apart, but also how the manufacturer has decided to tune the cards to balance these attributes. A balanced card is usually the most desirable.

Radeon HD 6850 Load Voltage
Ref 6850 XFX 6850 MSI 6850 Asus 6850
1.094v 1.148v 1.148v 1.148v

As we noted in the introduction, all of our 6850s except the reference card have a load voltage of 1.148v, versus 1.094v. We’re still trying to get to the bottom of the issue, but in the meantime this means all of these cards run worse than the reference 6850 when it comes to power consumption.

Out of our 3 partner cards and our reference card, our idle power results are tightly clustered among all of the 6850s except for the XFX card which draws a few more watts at idle. We believe this is due to XFX’s fan choice, though we can’t rule out component selection either.

In terms of power consumption the Asus card is closest to the reference 6850, followed by the XFX and then the MSI card. This isn’t particularly good for XFX here, as the other partner cards all have at least a token overclock while the XFX card is doing notably worse than the 6850 reference cards even though it’s operating at the same clockspeeds. Even compared to the Asus card it’s doing worse here.

Meanwhile the MSI R6850 ends up being rather close to the 5850. Given that it achieves 5850-like performance, this isn’t particularly surprising.

All 3 partner cards do better than the 5850 when it comes to idle temperatures thanks to their open designs. The price of a fully exhausting design is more noise and higher temperatures, which the reference 6850 pays the price for here.

Once again the open coolers on the partner cards give them a significant leg up over the reference card. Even with the reference card’s lower power consumption, it runs hotter than all the open cards as we’d expect. Topping this chart is the XFX card, which with XFX’s extreme focus on cooling manages to hit only 60C on Crysis and 66C under FurMark.  This is followed by the Asus and MSI cards, which are neck-and-neck, which is a reasonable outcome given the similarities between their coolers. All of the partner 6850s end up doing better than the NVIDIA GTX 460 1GB, which uses a cooler similar to the XFX card.

At idle most cards run up against our noise floor. The standouts here are the Asus card, which ends up being a dB over the quietest cards, while the XFX card does significantly worse here at 46.8dB. In practice the Asus card shouldn’t be any worse than the other cards, but the XFX is noticeable (but not distracting) at idle.

It’s when we move to looking at load noise that we see our 6850 cards significantly separate. The reference 6850 was a tough card to beat here being that it was tuned for noise, but Asus did it, coming in at 45.3dB, quieter than any reference card in its class. Meanwhile the MSI and XFX cards do significantly worse; the XFX at 59dB is outright loud, but this was a conscious design decision on XFX’s part to focus on cooling over noise concerns. MSI on the other hand has a card with similar temperature characteristics as the Asus card, but does significantly worse than the Asus card when it comes to noise. It’s difficult to do a straight comparison here, as while both cards have the same load voltage, the MSI card has a much larger overclock than the Asus card. The MSI card still seems too loud for what it is, even though the amount of noise is comparable to the 5850 and other cards with a similar power draw.

The Test & Stock Gaming Performance Overclocking: Performance, Power, Temperature, & Noise


View All Comments

  • CeriseCogburn - Thursday, August 23, 2012 - link

    The "new policy" purportedly made from "abundantly clear emails" is a self serving policy and will leave us with less information more of the time.
    Anandtech will include only the OC model of the currently being tested card, and thus - they will get a happy pat on the head for the review article from their minders who sent them the test card(s).
    Oh look it's soooo fast...
    "why thank you"
    "your welcome"
    "see you guys at the island party where we can discuss the industry"
    "why thanksfor the tickets and invite !"
    "you're welcome keep up the good promo work!"
    "we will ! "
    "I like how you said it's your viewers desire! Man the spin is awesome !"
  • 7Enigma - Monday, November 8, 2010 - link

    I can't say I read all 55 pages (last time I checked), but if you weeded out the fanboys on both sides you got very similar to what the OP is saying here (and I'm sure the comments to follow will reiterate):

    Comparing stock-clocked cards from a LAUNCH article of a new series to OC variants is questionable (again the key word being launch), but I believe that few of us were asking to not have any factory OC cards included (especially when this review focuses solely ON factory OC cards).

    Just keep the comparisons consistent; that's all most of us readers without an agenda are advocating.
  • mm2587 - Monday, November 8, 2010 - link

    Thank you. I admit my first post was a bit over the top but really so was the conclusion to this article.

    Here's an article about the extremes of the 6850. A perfect place to mention the extremes of its closest competitor the gtx460 (yes the ftw cost more, but lets face it most 460's are able to clock within 5% of the ftw)

    Instead we're treated with another round of OC'd cards vs. reference cards. The very issue that created the uproar previously.

    I have no agenda here. I'm pretty sure I've switched manufacturers every time I've updated my card. I just want the most bang for my buck regardless of what color the card is. Right now Anandtech's articles are not doing a good job of showing me how to get that.

    I've used and trusted this site for years. Like 7enigma, all I'm asking for is consistency, something that I always thought this site delivered.
  • khimera2000 - Monday, November 8, 2010 - link

    I have to agree i was surprised that the FTW card was not included since this was roundup of the 6850 OC cards. But i can understand there hesitation. When they caved to Nvidia they lost alot of respect from alot of there reviewers since no matter how you spin it, and no matter what there intentions everyone who looks at the sight will see it as AT selling out.

    AT now have to be even more carefull not to include anything that might be seen as biyest. and now has to do alot of work to prove that its loyalties rest with its readers and not lining there pockets (good luck)

    If it was found that the FTW card killed the OC 6850 then im pritty sure they would have another flaim fest.

    Its not a perfect approach but I see it as a step in the right direction to patching up there relation with there customer base. Id say a good approach is do a review off all the cards individualy so you can do see there marrets and flaws, then post one big comparison review of the OC 400 series vs the OC 6000 series. then note that you intend to do this comparison at the releas of every OC card.
  • MeanBruce - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - link

    Oh my God, you might have to start thinking on your own, what a disaster. Remember who is in charge here, Anand, not you... Reply
  • krumme - Monday, November 8, 2010 - link

    Excellent Ryan.
    Thank you for listening.
  • flipmode - Monday, November 8, 2010 - link

    Well, Ryan - give the people what they want, right? So you're giving in to the Radeon fanboys and opting to limit the products that you show. I don't know what to say. Sometimes you have to stand up to fanboys and stupidity, not give in. Anandtech just got an F for the day today.

    You're simply not supposed to let fanboys dictate policy for you.
  • mapesdhs - Monday, November 8, 2010 - link

    Hey, wait a minute Ryan, *plenty* of us said we _did_ agree with including
    the FTW, that it was the right thing to do. You're seriously bowing to the moaners?
    That's effectively admitting your original rationale for including the card was
    wrong, which makes no sense to me.

    As I pointed out, people who objected are much more likely to say so than
    people who didn't mind. So once again we have to pander to the lowest
    common denominator of opinion?

    You should do a particular thing because it is the _right_ thing to do, not
    because the majority say so. An opinion without a rationale is no opinion
    at all. Your reasons for including the FTW were sound; it should have been
    included in this review precisely to offer the comparison which all those
    same moaners said was missing in the earlier article. It's whatt hey wanted

    What a sad day... another win for the those who shout loudest. :\

  • medi01 - Monday, November 8, 2010 - link

    Right thing to do was exactly NOT including cherrypickedhardtofindoverclocked card. They realize it themselves. Reply
  • SlyNine - Monday, November 8, 2010 - link

    Wait wait. Can we please respect the opinions of others instead of having an "my opinion is the only valid one" Now I agreed with their decision to include the FTW. But it's no big deal that they don't.

    Otho I agree, It sucks that those who whine loudest get their gears greased first. But if it's not a big deal, who gives a rats @$$.

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