If we had an award for the “best bang for the buck”, it would require little thinking to give it to ATI’s Radeon HD 5850. For the price, it offers incredible power, superb power consumption, and of course, DirectX 11 support. We’re taking a look at ASUS’ version here, which along with Dirt 2, includes a surprisingly useful overclocking tool.
To test our graphics cards for both temperatures and power consumption, we utilize OCCT for the stress-testing, GPU-Z for the temperature monitoring, and a Kill-a-Watt for power monitoring. The Kill-a-Watt is plugged into its own socket, with only the PC connect to it.
As per our guidelines when benchmarking with Windows, when the room temperature is stable (and reasonable), the test machine is boot up and left to sit at the Windows desktop until things are completely idle. Once things are good to go, the idle wattage is noted, GPU-Z is started up to begin monitoring card temperatures, and OCCT is set up to begin stress-testing.
To push the cards we test to their absolute limit, we use OCCT in full-screen 2560×1600 mode, and allow it to run for 30 minutes, which includes a one minute lull at the start, and a three minute lull at the end. After about 10 minutes, we begin to monitor our Kill-a-Watt to record the max wattage.
Impressive results here, as expected. The room temperature was a bit lower when we tested the HD 5850, but even then, it’s interesting to see just how effective Sapphire’s Vapor-X cooler is, as it was in a hotter room, and should be the hotter card, but proved 1°C cooler overall. But that in itself doesn’t matter, because the other comparisons are more important, such as the one pitting the HD 5850 to the lowly GTS 250. The former is much, much more powerful, yet retains modest temperatures. The same goes for power consumption, proving to draw 33W less at max load than the GTS 250.