After looking at the HD 5870 so many times I was feeling pretty confident that ATI were going to deliver with the HD 5850. The good news is they did. Really, like the HD 5870 we can see for the most part it's able to pull out a win against the GTX 285 which is NVIDIAs top single GPU graphics card.
As for pricing, the HD 5850 manages to be pretty aggressive. The GTX 285 sits around the $350 US mark, while the HD 5870 is about $30 US more expensive at $380 US. The HD 5850, however, comes in at $260 US. This is simply sweet pricing. Over the past few years any ATI card that has sat in the top series and has offered a 50 at the end of the model name has represented excellent value for money; this is really no different.
Really, to be honest this card offers better value for money than the HD 5870 for the plain fact that if you're gaming at 1920 x 1200 or below the top ATI card offers really no extra performance that would enhance your gaming experience over the HD 5850.
A prime example of this is Far Cry 2. At 1920 x 1200 the HD 5870 offers a minimum of 61.26 FPS, while the HD 5850 offers us 52.14 FPS. While the latter might be lower, the main thing we want to see is a minimum over 30 FPS. Now that's what we need for a good gaming experience. Mind you, it's right on the edge so if we can get around the 40 FPS mark we're happy. Moving to a 50 FPS minimum and then getting 60 FPS on another is going to offer no better or worse gaming experience.
It's disappointing that Sapphire didn't include the Dirt 2 coupon or at least another game like we saw in the HD 5870. With that said, leaving them out helps keep price down which increases the value for money and this is one area the card stands out in. We really can't wait to slap another one into our testbed to see what kind of performance CrossFire HD 5850 can offer.