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AMD Radeon HD 6870 & HD 6850
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by Rob Williams on October 22, 2010 in AMD-Based GPU

It’s been a long time coming, but gamers can finally relax… AMD’s Radeon HD 6800 graphics cards are finally here. They may still be built upon a 40nm process, but AMD has brought a lot to the table here. We set out to see how the HD 6850 and HD 6870 compare to their closest competition, NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 460 and GTX 470.

StarCraft II

Of all the games we test, it might be this one that needs no introduction. Back in 1998, Blizzard unleashed what was soon to be one of the most successful RTS titles on the planet, and even as of today, the original is still heavily played all around the world – even in actual competitions. StarCraft II of course had a lot of hype to live up to, and it did, thanks to its intense gameplay and superb graphics.

StarCraft II

Manual Run-through: The portion of the game we use for testing is part of the Zero Hour mission, which has us holding fort until we’re able to evacuate. Our saved game starts us in the middle of the mission, and from the get-go, we build a couple of buildings and concurrently move our main units up and around the map. Total playtime lasts about two minutes.

StarCraft II might have a massive fanbase, but unfortunately, graphical detail doesn’t quite scale with that. At completely maxed-out settings, both of AMD’s cards could handle any resolution, straight up to 2560×1600. It’s important to note that anti-aliasing would increase the load on these cards quite dramatically, but as a general rule we don’t benchmark with AA if we have to force it through the driver panel, to avoid any inconsistent results in case any GPU vendor wants to get a little crafty.

Graphics Card
Best Playable
Min FPS
Avg. FPS
NVIDIA GTX 480 1536MB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Ultra Detail, 0xAA
25
72.674
AMD HD 5870 1GB (Sapphire)
2560×1600 – Ultra Detail, 0xAA
31
57.28
NVIDIA GTX 470 1280MB (EVGA)
2560×1600 – Ultra Detail, 0xAA
20
55.961
NVIDIA GTS 450 1GB (Reference SLI)
2560×1600 – Ultra Detail, 0xAA
32
52.565
AMD HD 6870 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Ultra Detail, 0xAA
34
52.115
AMD HD 5850 1GB (ASUS)
2560×1600 – Ultra Detail, 0xAA
32
48.787
AMD HD 6850 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Ultra Detail, 0xAA
26
44.456
NVIDIA GTX 460 1GB (EVGA)
2560×1600 – Ultra Detail, 0xAA
25
41.306
AMD HD 5830 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Ultra Detail, 0xAA
20
32.986
NVIDIA GTS 450 1GB (ASUS)
2560×1600 – Ultra Detail, 0xAA
19
32.561
AMD HD 5770 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600 – Ultra Detail, 0xAA
17
30.515
AMD HD 5770 1GB (Sapphire FleX)
2560×1600 – Ultra Detail, 0xAA
18
30.216
AMD HD 5750 1GB (Sapphire)
2560×1600 – High Detail, 0xAA
23
37.297
NVIDIA GTS 450 1GB (ASUS)
2560×1600 – High Detail, 0xAA
22
33.331

As you probably expected, our results from the 2560×1600 graph carried over into our best playable table.


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