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by Rob Williams on November 16, 2009 in AMD-Based GPU

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.

Grand Theft Auto: IV

If you look up the definition for “controversy”, Grand Theft Auto should be listed. If it’s not, then that should be a crime, because throughout GTA’s many titles, there’s been more of that than you can shake your fist at. At the series’ beginning, the games were rather simple, and didn’t stir up too much passion in certain opposers. But once GTA III and its successors came along, its developers enjoyed all the controversy that came their way, and why not? It helped spur incredible sales numbers.

Grand Theft Auto IV is yet another continuation in the series, though it follows no storyline from the previous titles. Liberty City, loosely based off of New York City, is absolutely huge, with much to explore. This is so much so the case, that you could literally spend hours just wandering around, ignoring the game’s missions, if you wanted to. It also happens to be incredibly stressful on today’s computer hardware, similar to Crysis.

Manual Run-through: After the first minor mission in the game, you reach an apartment. Our benchmarking run starts from within this room. From here, we run out the door, down the stairs and into an awaiting car. We then follow a specific path through the city, driving for about three minutes total.

Crysis is one of the most gluttonous games on the market today, and GTA IV doesn’t follow too far behind. The game as a whole requires a beefy system to run at all, and if you have the barebones of what it requires, then the gains seen with faster graphics hardware shrinks the higher you can go. Memory is king in this game, and it’s a prime example of benefits that 2GB cards can offer.

The results here are interesting, though. In our lower resolutions, the HD 5850 placed right below the HD 5870, but at 2560×1600, it was knocked down a few notches. I’m uncertain why this is the case, but the result was very repeatable. To add to it, although the FPS is decent in our graph, the game had more noticeable skips during the gameplay. I find this odd as the HD 5870 had no such issue.

Graphics Card
Best Playable
Min FPS
Avg. FPS
NVIDIA GTX 295 1792MB (Reference)
2560×1600, H/H/VH/H/VH Detail
27
52.590
ATI HD 5870 1GB (Reference)
2560×1600, H/H/VH/H/VH Detail
29
45.767
NVIDIA GTX 260 896MB (GBT SOC)
2560×1600 – High Detail
30
46.122
NVIDIA GTX 285 1GB (EVGA)
2560×1600 – High Detail
32
45.573
NVIDIA GTX 275 896MB (Reference)
2560×1600 – High Detail
30
44.703
NVIDIA GTX 260 896MB (XFX)
2560×1600 – High Detail
24
38.492
ATI HD 5850 1GB (ASUS)
1920×1080, High Detail
27
42.102
ATI HD 4890 1GB (Sapphire)
1920×1080 – High Detail
32
50.300
ATI HD 4870 1GB (Reference)
1920×1080 – High Detail
33
48.738
ATI HD 5770 1GB (Reference)
1920×1080 – High Detail
33
47.719
NVIDIA GTX 250 1GB (EVGA)
1920×1080 – High Detail
21
34.257

As much as I hated to do it, I put the best playable as the 1920×1080 resolution. If the game had no visible skips at 2560×1600, the slightly lower performance would have been acceptable, but no one, and I mean no one, would want to play with such skipping during prolonged play.