Asus DirectCU & AMD Radeon HD 6850 Graphics Cards

Graphics Cards
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AMD & Asus DirectCU Radeon HD 6850 Graphics Cards

December 5, 2010 by Lawrence Lee

AMD Radeon HD 6850
PCI-E Graphics Card
Asus EAH6850 DirectCU
PCI-E Graphics Card
Street Price

Nvidia and AMD are always dueling for graphics supremacy, but like Intel and AMD, the one with the fastest chip — regardless of the rest of the product lineup — is usually crowned the king by the media. While great for publicity, the fastest and most expensive graphics card can only be afforded by a few, and actually purchased by even fewer.

It is fun to see just how high and far technology has come, but we reserve much of our praise for the more reasonable, affordable chips and boards, the ones that deliver great value, not ultimate performance. GPUs like the US$500+ GeForce GTX 580 make for big headlines, but it's blue-collar grunts like the GeForce GTX 460 that have more of an impact on the overall market. When it came time to debut the HD 6000 series, AMD didn't rush out a high-end model; instead they released two midrange cards. The aim was to offer competitive alternatives to the GTX 460 and fill in some of AMD's gaps in the juicy center of the market.

The AMD Radeon HD 6850.

The Asus EAH6850 DirectCU.

We've already taken a look at the HD 6870, and now it's the HD 6850's turn. We have two of them, a reference model from AMD, and the Asus EAH6850 DirectCU. The latter name comes from its cooler, which uses direct-touch heatpipes composed of copper (CU is copper's symbol on the periodic table of elements). Not only does it have an interesting heatsink, the card is factory overclocked, and has the potential to be 50% faster according to Asus, thanks to the "Voltage Tweak" ability printed on the card's packaging and literature. The GPU core voltage can be easily changed by overclockers looking for a free performance boast.



The reference HD 6850 came as a bare card only, while the EAH6850 DirectCU was shipped to us in a larger than necessary retail box. While a little extra room is required for accessories, unless there is a second card in there, the packaging does not need to be this excessive.

The improvements brought to the table by the new Barts core in the HD 6000 series has been covered in our Radeon HD 6870 review. From a technical standpoint, the HD 6850 is a slightly cut-down version of the 6870. The 6870 has core/memory speeds of 900/1050 MHz and 1120 stream processors, while the 6850 runs at 775/1000 MHz with 960 stream processors. The Asus EAH6850 DirectCU is slightly overclocked with a 15 MHz bump in core frequency.

Specifications: Asus EAH6850 DirectCU
(from the product web page)
Graphics Engine AMD Radeon HD 6850
Bus Standard PCI Express 2.1
Video Memory GDDR5 1GB
Engine Clock 790 MHz
Memory Interface 256-bit
Resolution D-Sub Max Resolution : 2048x1536
DVI Max Resolution : 2560x1600
Interface D-Sub Output : Yes x 1 (via DVI to D-Sub adaptor x 1)
DVI Output : Yes x 1 (DVI-I),Yes x 1 (DVI-D)
HDMI Output : Yes x 1
Display Port : Yes x 1
HDCP Support : Yes
Accessories 1 x DVI to D-Sub adaptor
1 x CrossFire cable
1 x Power cable
Software ASUS Utilities & Driver
ASUS Features DirectCU Series
Dimensions 10.24 " x 4.84 " Inch

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