Jump to...
Régis Jehl Published on December 9, 2009
Translated by


  • Chip Cypress Pro
  • GPU frequency 725 MHz
  • Memory quantity 1 GB
  • Memory type GDDR5
  • Memory frequency 1000 MHz
  • Cooler double decker
The Radeon 5850 is a slightly slower version of the Radeon HD 5870, launched at the same time. It's also DirectX 11- compatible. But how does it really compare to older cards like the Radeon HD 4890 and GeForce GTX 285?

Size, noise and heat generation

The 5850 looks a lot like the 5870, but it's a little shorter - 24.2 cm (9.5") as opposed to 28 cm (11") for the 5850. The ventilation system is also a double-decker, and we were fairly impressed with it.

At idle, the card doesn't really get hot, with the graphics chip staying in the neighborhood of 40°C. The fan is at low speed and we measured noise at 40.9 dB(A). The sound generated by the movement of the blades is not inaudible. You do hear a whoosh, but it's at an acceptable level and won't be a problem if your casing has any sound insulation at all.

In load, the card held up well, with the chip maxing at 87°C and fan noise at 54 dB(A). So while the card is audible, it's not loud enough to disturb other people in the room.

Energy consumption

ATI has studied power management carefully on the Radeon 5000 series. In 2D - in other words, at idle -, our configuration drew less than 84 W! Under load, the results were just as good, with only 266 W. Despite the low numbers, the card does need two 6-pin PCI-E power connectors.

Gaming performance

This card is bound to make owners of high-definition monitors (1920 x 1200 pixels) happy. If you own such a monitor you can play games with the texture filters and all options enabled. Only a few extremely power-hungry titles will challenge the card, but there really aren't many. Generally speaking, the 5850's performance puts it somewhere between a GeForce GTX 285 and the HD 5870.

Performance average.
Click on the image to see all our readings
and compare this model with other cards

We start the comparison with BattleForge, the first DirectX 11-compatible game. At 1920 x 1200 with the filters enabled, the 5850's average framerate was 30 fps. The GTX 285 uses DirectX 10 and scored an average of 22 fps. The 5870 clocked as high as 36 fps.

The second game was Crysis Warhead, but at 1680 x 1050 and without the filters. The Radeon HD 5850 scored an average of 34 fps, while the GTX 285 hit 31 fps and the 5870 41 fps. Finally, ArmA 2, at 1920 x 1200 without filters - an average of 52 fps for the 5850, 35 fps pour the 275, and 62 fps for the 5870.
The card at a glance
For our tests, HIS sent us their Radeon HD 5850 H585F1GDG. It's not really an original card, since it uses ATI's stock design. It's the same size and has the same cooler and clocks as a standard Radeon HD 5850. But that's okay, since this cooler is not bad at all (see article). The rear connectivity is also standard, with two DVI outs, a DisplayPort connector, and an HDMI out.

The box contents are rather run of the mill - a user manual, an installation CD, a DVI-to-VGA adaptor, a Molex-to-PCI-E 6-pin adaptor, and a CrossFireX bridge for running two cards in parallel on compatible motherboards.

But HIS still know how to set themselves apart from the crowd, and they've thrown in a download coupon for the race simulation game Colin McRae: DiRT 2. So it's a good deal - but make sure you look for the game icon on the box. There's another version that doesn't come with the coupon.

We also like the fact that the HDMI out lets you output DTS-HD MA and Dolby Digital True HD in bitstream. Also note that it's possible to extend the display onto two, three, or four monitors and extend the overall resolution (the Eyefinity function).

What's the point? Gaming on multiple monitors of course! In a race game, with three screens, you have the windshield view on the center screen and the driver's and passenger's windows on the other two displays. In a shooter game, you get really wide viewing angles - you can truly see what's happening on the sides. Note that to use Eyefinity, at least one of your monitors needs to have a DisplayPort connector.


  • Good overall 3D performance
  • Very good control of power consumption
  • Silent operation in 2D
  • Compatible with DirectX 11


  • Could be quieter in 3D
  • No stereoscopic 3D


Fast in gameplay, saves power, and generates little heat and noise. What more could you ask? It may not be the fastest card out there, but we have no qualms in recommending it.
4 AMD Radeon HD 5850 1 GB DigitalVersus 2009-12-09 00:00:00
Compare: AMD Radeon HD 5850 1 GB to its competitors
Add to favorites


No users have reviewed this product yet. Post a user review

Similar Reviews

Find competing devices: