Exactly a week after the Radeon HD 5870, little sibling HD 5850 is here. The HD 5850 is based on the same Cypress GPU – with 2 SIMD units disabled from the 5870 – leaving 1440 SP / 72 TMU. Furthermore, both core and memory have been downclocked to 720 / 1000 from 850 / 1200, respectively.

ATrHD5850 3 4 lo res ATI Radeon HD 5850 arrives, availability update

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Exactly a week after the Radeon HD 5870, little sibling HD 5850 is here. Early reviews for the HD 5850 are now appearing on the internet. The HD 5850 is based on the same Cypress GPU – with 2 SIMD units disabled from the 5870 – leaving 1440 SP / 72 TMU. Furthermore, both core and memory have been downclocked to 720 / 1000 from 850 / 1200, respectively. The HD 5850 is smaller than the HD 5870 – sized at around 9.5″, similar to that of the HD 4870/90. This size fits in most cases. TDP is down to 150W from 188W, though the HD 5850 still requires 2×6 pin PCIe power connectors.

That leaves us with a theoretical performance cut of ~25%. Surprisingly, the HD 5850 performs closely, in most cases within 10-15% of the HD 5870 – further proof that the 1600 SP are indeed under-utilized in most of today’s games. The best news is the $110 price difference – retailing at $259 – making the HD 5850 tremendous value for money.

The price-point of $259 leaves the HD 5850 in daylight. Compared to Nvidia’s Geforce GTX 285, the HD 5850 is, on average, between 10-20% faster, despite being priced at least $30 on launch. The HD 5850 is smaller, cooler, uses less power, faster, cheaper, far more future proof – thus making the GTX 285 irrelevant, unless Nvidia can slash prices to around the $200 mark, at which point they will probably be making a loss. The GTX 285 fairs better in multi-GPU mode. This is to be expected, as there is no doubt drivers for the HD 5800 series are immature.

At the same time, the HD 5850 is indeed a better value proposition than the HD 5870. Sure, if you want the fastest single GPU – the HD 5870 is the card for you. But HD 5850 just makes more sense.

Unfortunately for AMD, product availability for the HD 5800 series is still poor. It’s a regular case of stock arriving, and being sold out within hours. Clearly, AMD is unable to cope up with the strong demand for its HD 5800 series, although HD 5870 availability has been steadily improving. The HD 5850 is listed at few e-tailers, like Zipzoomfly, but is out of stock almost everywhere. Availability is expected to improve by the end of the first week of October.

Here are some selected reviews around the web:

http://www.hexus.net/content/item.php?item=20481
http://guru3d.com/article/radeon-hd-5850-review-crossfire/
http://techreport.com/articles.x/17652
http://anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3650
http://www.hardocp.com/article/2009/09/30/amds_ati_radeon_hd_5850_video_card_review
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-5850,2433.html

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