The HD 6850 in itself looks to be a winner. When you pair it with a second, though, the performance is really very strong. It's surprising to see how strong performance is when you pair two cards together; it's not unusual for us to see performance gains of 100% in some situations.
Sure, Crossfire performance isn't perfect, nor is SLI, but this is some really impressive performance here and we're sure that people are going to be interested in running a pair of these cards together. As always, overall value drops a little when it comes to multi card setups, but it's still very strong.
Getting into specifics on the HIS version, it's a great looking card and the cooler performs strong. As for the bundle, there's nothing out of the ordinary; it's a little on the light side, but it's fairly safe to assume most bundles will be like this when it comes to the HD 6850.
Overall performance is great and we're seeing some numbers that are pulling our games from just playable or not playable to silky smooth. When it comes to adding a second card to your gaming setup, this is exactly what you want. Sure, it's nice to see a game jump from 120 FPS to 200 FPS, but what's more important is when a game jumps from 50 FPS to 100 FPS. You go from an experience that is average, to one that's a lot more enjoyable while at the same time giving you more headroom for future releases.
Compared to the GTX 460 OC 1GB SLI setup it's a tough call. With similar pricing between the two, deciding which setup you would prefer to have might be a little tough, especially if you're with a board that supports SLI. On the other hand, if you're running an AMD rig or something that only supports CF, then the decision is easy.
What you would be best to do is just go through the graphs and start breaking the games down and really let the games you play make the decision. AMD it seems has chosen to spend less time making sure they can get a big 3DMark score and instead to move onto optimizing performance where it matters; in games and at high resolution.
We can also see that when we start getting into things like Tessellation which is tested in the Heaven Benchmark and Lost Planet 2, the setup performs significantly better than the HD 5970 which is a real testament to the work AMD has put into to the new series of cards.
Sure, the HD 6800 series isn't this massive next generation leap, but it was never going to be one with it being a refresh of the HD 5800 series. The fact that we're seeing this performance at power levels lower than a GTS 450 SLI setup and a single GTX 480 is really amazing. It seems that AMD has clearly achieved what they wanted to with the HD 6800 series. Let's hope the same carries over to the HD 6900 series that we should start seeing next month.