Review: Nonreference cooled, quiet and overclocked
On our today’s test we have a Club3D graphics card – Radeon HD 5850 Overclocked Edition. As the name suggest, this card comes overclocked. Unlike the reference HD 5850, which runs at 725MHz for the GPU, Club3D’s GPU runs at 760MHz and the memory got a boost from 4000MHz to 4200MHz. Naturally, this means superior performance but we’ll get to that a bit later.
The HD 5850’s ticker is the mighty 40nm Cypres PRO graphics processor with 1440 stream processors, 2.15 billion transistors on 334mm2. The rest of the specs feature 32 ROPs and 72 texture units as well as 256-bit memory interface combined with GDDR5 memory. Reference cards come with 1000MHz (4000MHz effectively) scores a bandwidth of 128GB/s, whereas Club3D HD 5850 Overclocked Edition’s bandwidth stands at 134.4 GB/s.
The reference HD 5850 comes with dual slot cooling, which is pretty good, but note that overclocking might render the fan pretty loud when trying to cool the GPU. This is why Club3D opted on non-reference cooling with 4 heatpipes and a large aluminum heatsink. Up until recently, all the HD 5850 cards used reference cooling, so Club3D is one of the first to remedy that.
Before we see how the card looks, know that chosen Club3D graphics cards, among which is our today’s sample, come with a coupon for a free Dirt2 game, which can be installed via Steam.
The box is small but sturdy, with the emphasis on “Overclocked Edition”.
Perhaps we didn’t need testing after all; the back of the box features performance comparisons between the HD 5850 Overclocked Edition and the reference HD 5850.
Within the box you’ll find a Dirt2 game coupon.
The graphics card comes wrapped in an antistatic protective bag. Within the box you’ll find the driver CD, short installation manual, CrossFire bridge and a DVI-to-VGA adapter.
Just like the reference HD 5850, Club3D Radeon HD 5850 Overclocked Edition comes with dual-slot cooling, albeit completely different from the reference one. The large heatpipes could not be hidden behind the plastic and are thus clearly visible. The heatpipes are not as tall as to make installation difficult in standard computer cases, but you might want to watch out with smaller cases as a 13.7cm tall card might make it a seriously tight fit or in the worst case scenario not fit at all. Note that Radeon HD 5850 is 9.5” or 24.1cm long, which is significantly shorter than Radeon HD 5870, which is 11” or 28cm long.
Unlike the reference cooler whose fan is at the end of the card and blowing through the card, Club3D’s HD 5850 OC cooler comes with a centrally placed fan and uses heatpipes to equally distribute heat from the GPU to the entire heatsink surface.
It’s well worth noting that Club3D’s HD 5870 uses the same cooler, so you don’t have to worry about it having to cool the HD 5850 OC’s GPU.
The fan is a part of the plastic hood, which covers the entire card. The hood not only gives the card a better look but it also routes the air from the fan to the heatsink.
The heatsink has a copper base with four heatpipes. As you can see from the following picture, only the GPU is in direct contact with the base and the heatsink.
The memory (Hynix H5GQ1H24AFR TC2 rated at 2.5GHz) is cooled by the air passing through the heatsink.
The HD 5850 is powered via two 6-pin PCI-E power connectors. AMD uses power-saving tweaks that help the HD 5850 to draw only 27W in idle (just like the HD 5870) and up to 151W during more intensive 3D work (the HD 5870 needs up to 188W in 3D – because 3D clocks are higher and it has 160 stream processors more).
Club3D HD 5850 Overclocked Edition comes with same configuration of outs – two dual-link DVIs, HDMI and DisplayPort. Thanks to the advanced display output logic, the card has six TMDS signals at its disposal and those can be combined in different ways, but note that one dual-link DVI requires TMDS lines. In practice, outs can be mixed for any combination of three digital outputs as long as one of the three outputs is DisplayPort. Otherwise you are limited to two DVI outputs or to one HDMI plus DVI output or in other words – you can’t use DVI/DVI/HDMI combination. Apart from the option to chain up to three monitors on one card, the HD 5850 allows for using them as one monitor with a higher resolution spread across three monitors.
All the memory is located on the GPU side of the PCB, and unlike the HD 5870, there's no backplate.
Motherboard: Elitegroup X58B-A (provided by Elitegroup);
Processor: Intel Core i7 Extreme 965 (provided by Intel);
Memory: 6GB Corsair Dominator 12800 7-7-7-24 (provided by Corsair);
HDD: WD VelociRaptor 300G 10,000RPM (provided by SmoothCreation);
Power Supply: CoolerMaster Ultimete 1100W (provided by Cooler Master);
Case: Obsidian 800D (provided by Corsair);
Fan Controler: Kaze Master Ace 5.25" (provided by Scythe);
Operating System: Win7 64-bit;
Driver: Catalyst 10.2 ; Forceware 196.34;
Futuremark tests show that Club3D HD 5850 Overclocked Edition card’s overclock from 725MHz to 760MHz and the memory from 1000MHz to 1050MHz results in about 5% faster performance compared to the reference HD 5850.
Crysis rates Club3D HD 5850 Overclocked Edition as about 4% faster than the reference HD 5850. It loses to the HD 5870 by about 14%.
Dirt 2 is a DirectX 11 game and looks pretty good, especially if you use Eyefinity multi-display configurations. Unfortunately, we don’t have three monitors to test our Club3D HD 5850 Overclocked Edition, but we can confirm that 2560x1600 will allow for some nice gaming. In fact, Club3D’s HD 5850 Overclocked Edition scores 50fps. Compared to the reference HD 5850 card, Club3D’s HD 5850 Overclocked Edition scores about 9% higher.
Far Cry 2
Strapped with 1GB of fast GDDR5 memory, Club3D HD 5850 Overclocked Edition has no trouble performing at high resolutions in Far Cry 2.
Unlike some of the previous tests, HAWX and World in Conflict weren’t too generous but the HD 5850 OC Edition manages to outrun the reference HD 5850 by 4% in few tests.
World in Conflict
Club3D HD 5850 Overclocked Edition is a factory overclocked card (the GPU runs at 760MHz, the GDDR5 memory at 1050MHz) that scores about 4% better compared to the reference HD 5850. If that is not enough to strike your chord, know that the GPU can easily be overclocked to 850MHz. This is the maximum we managed without having to meddle with voltages, but note that maximum overclocks may vary from car to card. At 850MHz and the memory at 1100MHz (4400MHz effectively), we scored about 7% better results in Far Cry 2.
The Club3D HD 5850 OC Edition’s cooler is inaudible in 2D mode, and although it can be heard in 3D mode it’s still the quietest one we’ve had a chance to test on HD 5850 cards.
Thermals are pretty good as well – we measured about 34°C in idle and about 67°C in 3D.
Club3D HD 5850 OC Edition’s consumption is about 28W higher when in 3D, compared to reference HD 5850, but it should be expected with an overclocked GPU and memory.
Club3D HD 5850 Overclocked Edition is a great DirectX 11 gaming card that comes factory overclocked and strapped with very quiet cooling. Of course, we can’t forget that the card comes with a coupon for a free Dirt2 game.
The cooler uses heatpipe technology and is one of the quietest coolers we’ve heard. The core is up from reference 725MHz to 760MHz, which means better performance. This is a DirectX 11 card that comes with all the bells and whistles, including ATI Eyefinity, all popular outs and more.
Although Nvidia “launched” two Fermi-based graphics cards, the availability has been pretty lousy and thus Radeon pricing remains the same and unlikely to budge anytime soon. Club3D HD 5850 Overclocked Edition is listed at €271 but is currently available only at €290, here. You really can’t go wrong with Club3D’s HD 5850 OC Edition, although we’d advise you to wait a bit for better pricing.