iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Sapphire Vapor-X HD 6850 1GB GDDR5 Graphics Card

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Performance tests


  • Intel Core i7-975 3340 MHz CPU
  • ASUS P6T Deluxe motherboard on the Intel X58 chipset
  • 6GB of 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM from Corsair
  • WD Caviar SE WD1600JD 160GB SATA HDD
  • Tagan TG900-BZ 900W PSU
  • Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit, DirectX 11
  • 30" Dell 3007WFP monitor
  • VSync disabled
  • NVIDIA Drivers 285.62, AMD Catalyst 11.9


  • Far Cry 2 (Ubisoft) — DirectX 10.0, Shaders 4.0 (HDR), built-in benchmarking utility (the Middle level), maximum settings.
  • Crysis Warhead (Crytek/EA) — Cargo, DirectX 10.0, Shaders 4.0, Very High settings, batch file, timedemo available by e-mail request.
  • Colin McRae: DiRT 2 (Codemasters) — DirectX 11, Ultra High settings, run as follows: "dirt2.exe -benchmark example_benchmark.xml".
  • Metro 2033 (4A Games/THQ) — DirectX 11, Super High settings, PhysX disabled, run from in game.
  • Just Cause 2 (Avalanche Studios/Eidos Interactive) — DirectX 10.0, Super High settings, run from in game.
  • Aliens vs. Predator (Rebellion/SEGA) — DirectX 11, Shaders 5.0, Very High settings, run from in game.
  • F1 2010 (Codemasters) — DirectX 11, Ultra High settings, run as follows: "formulaone.exe -benchmark example_benchmark.xml". Game provided by NVIDIA.
  • Tropics Benchmark 1.3 (Unigine) — DirectX 10.0, High settings.
  • Heaven Benchmark 2.5 Pro (Unigine) — DirectX 11, High settings.
  • 3DMark 11 (FutureMark) — DirectX 11, Performance settings.

We'd like to thank Unigine for helping us set up their benchmarks.

The card is factory-overclocked, but the extra 25 MHz do not provide any significant bonuses. To get the idea about card performance, you might as well take a look at the results of a regular Radeon HD 6850.

Far Cry 2

Crysis Warhead, Cargo

Colin McRae: DiRT 2

Metro 2033

Just Cause 2

Aliens vs. Predator DirectX 11.0

F1 2010

Unigine Tropics Benchmark

Unigine Heaven Benchmark DirectX 11.0

3DMark 11 Graphics Marks

Final thoughts

We've recently switched to a simpler rating system and now we only have two of those: capability and usability. The capability rating compares each graphics card with GeForce GT 430 which is considered a baseline, or 100%. The rating is based on both synthetic and gaming results and shows, as the name implies, what a product is capable of.

The usability rating is obtained by dividing each card's capability rating by its price. It basically shows whether a given product is over or underpriced, considering what it can do, and thus how reasonable it is to buy it.

The complete ratings can be found in our i3Dspeed. Below are just the parts relevant to today's review.

Sorted by capability (high to low)

# Card Capability rating Usability rating Approx. price, USD
14 HD 6850 1024MB, 775/775/4000 350 199 176
15 GTX 460 1024MB 675/1350/3600 340 192 177
16 HD 6790 1024MB, 840/840/4200 300 196 153

According to our results, Radeon HD 6850 outdoes GeForce GTX 460 in its immediate price range (about 170-175 USD).

Sorted by usability (high to low)

# Card Usability rating Capability rating Approx. price, USD
01 HD 6770 1024MB, 850/850/4800 220 280 127
02 HD 6850 1024MB, 775/775/4000 199 350 176
03 HD 6790 1024MB, 840/840/4200 196 300 153
05 GTX 460 1024MB 675/1350/3600 192 340 177

As you can see, Radeon HD 6850 is almost at the top of our usability rating and has a very attractive price/performance ratio.

Sapphire Vapor-X HD 6850 1GB GDDR5 has a quiet and very efficient cooler and comes with a nice package. Essentially, it has no drawbacks, although factory overclocking leaves much to be desired.

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Page 1: Intro, specs, design, cooler, package

Page 2: Performance tests, conclusions

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