The first thing we need to talk about is the cooling. While the card runs a little warmer and noisier than the HD 5870 which uses the stock cooling, due to the overclock the card runs warmer than normal and of course because it runs warmer the fan spins a little faster.
On the more important performance front, the card is absolutely awesome. You can see in our benchmarks that it really performs very similar to the HD 5870. To be honest, while the HD 5870 does run a little faster, for the most part it's not really a game changing difference here. This of course would change as we climb up the resolution table with setups like Eyefinity.
The extra MHz on the card does a great job of bringing performance close to the HD 5870. There's no doubt that if you spend the time you'll be able to squeeze even more MHz out of it and boost performance even further with it possibly overtaking the HD 5870 at some points.
The HD 5850 in itself is a good model so we know straight away that the performance we receive is going to be strong. Throw in a decent overclock like Sapphire has done and performance becomes only better.
All in all we've got a really nice HD 5850 on our hands which stands out. Performance is strong thanks to the overclock Sapphire have offered that isn't too insane, but at the same time isn't just a small bump. It's good to see them actually give us a real overclock; there's nothing more frustrating when a company gives us a 10MHz bump on the core and calls it an overclock, especially on these higher end models.
At $339.99 over at Newegg it's one of the more expensive HD 5850s at about $30 to $40 more than a standard model. With most companies removing the game bundles from the model these days, the package lines up with most, so for the extra money you're getting a new cooler which is pretty nice along with a good overclock that gives us some strong performance.
Most companies haven't attacked the HD 5850 yet with overclocks and new coolers due to supply issues. Sapphire has come out quickly and ahead of the pack making it a real stand out version of the popular HD 5850. If you're looking for something that's a bit different than the stock model and carries with it an overclock that will actually help performance, this is a fantastic model.