Product: Sapphire Radeon HD 5850 Xtreme
Company: Sapphire
Authour: James Prior
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: April 12th, 2011
5850 Xtreme Close Up

The Sapphire Radeon HD 5850 Xtreme comes in a small box, well protected from shipping damage using a foam insert and padded ESD protective bag. Included are two 4-pin molex to 6-pin power connector, driver CD and installation pamphlet.

The card is smaller than a standard HD 5850, courtesy of the custom design PCB, measuring around 210mm long (8.25in) and being standard full height. Take into account that the PCI-Express 6-pin power connectors are rear facing, when checking for clearance in your case, and the 500W power supply recommendation (600W for CrossfireX).

The Xtreme features a dual-slot cooler design, with the second backplane slot featuring a full-length exhaust for venting air out of the case. The central axial fan also exhausts air back into the case, as the rear end isn't sealed. The three outputs are inline, featuring dual-link DVI, HDMI 1.3 and DisplayPort 1.1. AMD Eyefinity is supported using all three outputs.

The cooler is affixed by four spring mounted screws to the GPU core. The plastic shroud and fan are affixed to the heatsink assembly, which is comprised of a copper core with two large diameter heatpipes and a wide-spaced aluminum fin array that runs the length of the card.

The VRMs are located at the front of the Xtreme, with the PCB looking very similar to the Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 we tested in October at the Barts-based 6800 series launch. In fact, the whole cooler and design of the 6850 and the 5850 Xtreme are very similar - likely, the PCB is based on the same fundamental design, made possible by the pin-compatibility between Cypress and Barts GPU architectures. The VRMs on the HD 5850 Xtreme are cooled by a separate aluminum heatsink, secured by two screws from the rear of the PCB. Sapphire has also fitted high quality chokes to ensure optimized voltage regulation.

The memory is Elpida 1.5v 5Gbps GDDR5, eight modules arranged in AMD's traditional 90deg two sided arrangement. Rated to 1250MHz this may be very important for overclocking performance.

The Cypress Pro ASIC used in the Sapphire HD 5850 Xtreme is from the Evergreen series of GPUs, launched in September 2009 and notable for being more expensive for the 6 months that followed, than at launch. The HD 5850 debuted at $279, which quickly became $299 and above. Sapphire's HD 5850 Xtreme, with custom heatpipe cooler and custom PCB design is entering the market at $149, around 50% less than before - it's still very price and performance competitive.

Cypress Architecture
Cypress Architecture

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