The HD 6000 series is a big deal. It's not just because it's a new generation of cards, but it's also the end of an era. The HD 6000 series ultimately marks the end of the ATI name; instead we'll be using the AMD name hereon. We get the feeling that AMD are off to a bit of a shakey start when it comes to this series, as the naming has caused some confusion out the gate.
Before we get into everything, let's talk about what exactly the HD 6850 is and what it's replacing and going to compete against. While the name might suggest it's the successor to the HD 5850, the product is instead designed to replace the HD 5700 series. What's interesting, though, is that while the HD 5800 and HD 5900 series will be discontinued over the coming months as their replacements come out, AMD seem to be keeping the HD 5700 series around.
We're not sure exactly why it's happening; large stock pile? Lower end HD 6000 series still a bit away? - It's worth knowing, though; this isn't a straight replacement for the HD 5700 series either, as they'll continue to be around, and no doubt at a more aggressive price point.
The HD 5800 and HD 5900 series will be replaced with the HD 6900 series which will carry both single GPU models and a dual GPU one that no doubt AMD will use to help hold the title of the fastest video card. The reason for the shuffle in numbers we've been told is because AMD needed the room for more models. Our understanding is that the reason AMD wants the extra wiggle room is because of Fusion which we'll no doubt be seeing soon enough.
With that out the way, we'll check out the Sapphire HD 6850 today. First we'll look at the package Sapphire has put together and then the card itself.
Looking at the box, there's nothing too out of the ordinary with the design following the standard Sapphire one. We do see that there's a little bit of a push for 3D on the front of the box, though. As for what's inside, we've got a quick install guide and some paperwork regarding Sapphire Select Club. Cable wise we've got a Molex to 6-Pin PCI-E connector, HDMI cable, DVI to VGA convertor and Crossfire bridge.
You might notice there's no CD; that's just because our sample came to us early. The ones that hit retail shelves will carry with them a driver CD.