HIS Radeon HD 6850 1GB Video Card in Crossfire

Having checked out both the new HD 6850 and HD 6870 cards separately, it's now time to turn our attention to other areas of interest with the new models. First up? Some HD 6850 Crossfire goodness thanks to HIS coming aboard. Has scaling improved?

Manufacturer: HIS
16 minutes & 51 seconds read time

Introduction and Package


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Multi card setups continue not to be the biggest area in video cards. It probably never will be; you've got the people that don't understand how it works and simply people who have no interest in running multi card setups. In saying that, though, there's still a large group of us that love multi card setups and to be honest, NVIDIA has really spiced the category up lately thanks to the release of the GTX 460.

While today it's going to be hard to compare how these new mid-range cards compare against the higher end single GPU setups because the new HD 6900 series hasn't been launched yet, it doesn't mean we can't find out exactly how scaling is looking these days and just how overall performance is.

We're getting Crossfire up and running today with the help of the HIS HD 6850 which we haven't looked at yet, so what we'll do before we get into the performance side of things is have a look at the package HIS has put together before looking at the card itself and the specifications it carries.

The Package

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HIS Radeon HD 6850 1GB Video Card in Crossfire 04

HIS Radeon HD 6850 1GB Video Card in Crossfire 05

Overall box design is fairly standard. Inside we've got a manual and driver CD. We've also got a sticker, Crossfire connector, DVI to VGA connector and dual Molex to 6-Pin PCI-E connector.

Card and Specifications

The Card

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Looking at the card, you can see the cooler's a little different to the Sapphire card we've already looked at. I've got to say that I do love the color scheme that HIS has got going on. The card looks great. Behind the fan we can also see some of the copper piping which helps keep the card as cool as possible.

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HIS Radeon HD 6850 1GB Video Card in Crossfire 08

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Looking around the card, we've got nothing surprising to make note of. A single 6-Pin PCI-E power connector at the back of the card, a single CF connector across the top connectivity offers us a Dual-Link DVI connector, Single-Link DVI connector, HDMI port and DisplayPort is resident.


While companies have mixed it up a little in the cooler department, we haven't seen anyone change the clock rates at the moment. That means the core comes in at 775MHz while the 1GB of GDDR5 memory carries a 4000MHz QDR memory clock.

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As we mentioned in the introduction, we'll be making use of Crossfire today. Looking at the bottom of GPU-Z and you can see that it's enabled via 2 GPUs.

Test System Setup and 3DMark Vantage

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASRock, Kingston, Mittoni, Noctua and Corsair.

We'll be checking out the HIS HD 6850 1GB CF setup against a number of cards including a couple that didn't have results on our new testbed previously.

For starters, we'll be comparing the setup against the single Sapphire HD 6850 1GB to see how scaling is. We'll also see how it goes against other single GPU setups like the HD 6870, HD 5870 and GTX 460 OC. The performance against these cards won't be so important as the price difference between the setups is quite large.

Comparing to dual GPU setups is what really matters, though, and we'll be comparing the setup against the GTX 460 OC SLI setup which is going to be the main competitor while also looking at how the setup goes against what is still the fastest single video card on the market, the dual GPU HD 5970.

Let's get started!

3DMark Vantage

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmarkvantage/
Buy It Here

3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware.

3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.

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Checking out Vantage performance and we can see scaling is strong in the Extreme preset. Compared to the HD 5970 the HD 6850 CF setup lags behind a little bit, more so at the higher preset. Compared to the GTX 460 SLI setup which is taking advantage of PhysX support we see again the setup lags a bit behind.

What's interesting is that AMDs HD 6800 series hasn't been performing stellar under 3DMark Vantage. It seems that AMD has taken the approach to concentrate on gaming performance more than 3DMark Vantage with the HD 6800 series. It'll be interesting to see how the HD 6900 series goes under it and how it goes in the next generation of 3DMark due later this year.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 2
Developer Homepage: http://www.unigine.com
Product Homepage: http://unigine.com/press-releases/091022-heaven_benchmark//

New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.

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This is an interesting graph here. Again we see that the scaling performance is very strong; actually, stronger than the GTX 460 SLI setup here. We also see massive gains over the HD 5970 at both presets and compared to the GTX 460 SLI setup the HD 6850 CF setup pulls out a win at 1920 x 1200.

Benchmarks - Resident Evil 5

Resident Evil 5

Version and / or Patch Used: Demo Benchmark
Developer Homepage: www.residentevil.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.residentevil.com/

Resident Evil 5 is a survival horror video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on September 18. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.

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We see some strong performance across the board which sees the HD 6850 CF setup win out against everything else with it having a good 20+ FPS on the GTX 460 SLI setup at 2560 x 1600.

Benchmarks - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/UK/default.aspx
Product Homepage: http://www.hawxgame.com/

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X is an arcade-style flight simulator video game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and iPhone OS.

The fundamental gameplay mechanics are similar to those of other console-based flight series. Players take on enemies with over 50 aircraft available. Each mission is at real world locations in environments created with commercial satellite data. A cockpit, first person, and third person view are selectable. The third person view gives the player an external view of both their plane and the target.

Set above the skies of a near-future world, increasingly dependent on private military companies with elite mercenaries who have a relaxed view on the law. As these non-governmental organizations gain power, global conflict erupts with one powerful PMC attacking the United States.

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Strong performance again. First, the scaling is very strong, especially at the highest resolution. Across the board, though, we can see that the setup out performs both the GTX 460 OC SLI setup and the HD 5970; very impressive considering the price point of the setup.

Benchmarks - Mafia II

Mafia II

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.2kczech.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.mafia2game.com/
Buy It Here

Mafia II is a third-person action-adventure video game, the sequel to Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven. It is developed by 2K Czech, previously known as Illusion Softworks, and is published by 2K Games. The game is set from 1943 to 1951 in Empire Bay (the name is a reference to New York's state nickname "The Empire State"), a fictional city based on San Francisco and New York City, with influences from Chicago and Detroit. The game features a completely open-ended game map of 10 square miles. No restrictions are included from the start of the game. There are around 50 vehicles in the game, as well as licensed music from the era.

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We've got some interesting numbers here and while the HD 6850 CF setup does perform behind the HD 5970 and GTX 460 SLI setup, we can see at 2560 x 1600 we go from 43 FPS which is considered unplayable to 64 FPS which is playable.

Benchmarks - Lost Planet 2

Lost Planet 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark - Test A Scene 1
Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.lostplanet2game.com/

Lost Planet 2 is a third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition which is also made by Capcom, taking place ten years after the events of the first game, on the same fictional planet. The story takes place back on E.D.N. III 10 years after the events of the first game. The snow has melted to reveal jungles and more tropical areas that have taken the place of more frozen regions. The plot begins with Mercenaries fighting against Jungle Pirates. After destroying a mine, the Mercenaries continue on to evacuate the area, in which a Category-G Akrid appears and attacks them. After being rescued, they find out their evacuation point (Where the Category-G appeared) was a set-up and no pick up team awaited them. The last words imply possible DLC additions to the game, "There's nothing to be gained by wiping out snow pirates... unless you had some kind of grudge."

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For starters we're again seeing some fantastic scaling from the HD 6850 CF setup. Compared to the GTX 460 SLI setup performance does lag behind a little, especially at the lower resolution. It's interesting that we see while the gap at 1920 x 1200 is 11 FPS in favor off the GTX 460 SLI setup, at 2560 x 1600 only 1 FPS separates the two setups.

Benchmarks - Aliens vs. Predator

Aliens vs. Predator

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.rebellion.co.uk/
Product Homepage: http://www.sega.com/games/aliens-vs-predator/

Aliens vs. Predator is a science fiction first-person shooter video game, developed by Rebellion Developments, the team behind the 1999 original PC game, and published by Sega for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The game is based on the Alien vs. Predator franchise, a combination of the characters and creatures of the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise. There are three campaigns in the game, one for each race/faction (the Predators, the Aliens and the Colonial Marines), that, while separate in terms of individual plot and gameplay, form one overarching storyline.

Following the storyline of the campaign modes comes the multiplayer aspect of the game. In this Multiplayer section of the game, players face off in various different gametypes in various different ways.

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For starters, very strong scaling performance again; not just at the higher resolution but across the board we can see gains that equate to almost 100% which is impressive. These are the same kinds of gains we get from NVIDIA.

As far as performance goes, we've got the HD 6850 CF setup falling only just slightly behind the HD 5970. Compared to the GTX 460 OC SLI setup we can see it wins out across the board. At the highest resolution we're not quite at the 60 FPS average we want, but we're not far from it.

Benchmarks - Final Fantasy XIV

Final Fantasy XIV

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark - Elezen (Male)
Developer Homepage: http://www.square-enix.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.finalfantasyxiv.com/

Final Fantasy XIV, also known as Final Fantasy XIV Online, is the fourteenth installment in the Final Fantasy series. The game is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game and is developed and published by Square Enix. The game takes place in a land called Hydaelyn, mainly in a region named Eorzea, which will have a contemporaneously aesthetic blend of science fiction and classic fantasy elements.

The battle and job systems will be different from the one previously used in Final Fantasy XI, which utilized experience points and level-based progression. Final Fantasy XIV is being designed to utilize a skill-based progression[15] system similar to that of Final Fantasy II. Character races will resemble and allow players to create avatars similar to ones in Final Fantasy XI. Group play has been de-emphasized, and now solo and group play have been balanced. Weapon use will alter "character development".

Note: Final Fantasy XIV gives us a score and not a normal FPS rating, our understanding is that anything around 2000 points or above is considered playable.

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Final Fantasy XIV doesn't enjoy Crossfire setups and you can see performance goes backwards. It's interesting to see that in SLI, though, the HD 6850 by itself is only just behind the SLI setup; the HD 6870 by itself is actually right on top of it.

Benchmarks - Street Fighter IV

Street Fighter IV

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.streetfighter.com/

While Street Fighter IV features models and backgrounds rendered in 3D, the gameplay remains on a traditional 2D plane, with the camera having freedom to move in 3D at certain times during fights, for dramatic effect. Producer Yoshinori Ono has stated that he wanted to keep the game closer to Street Fighter II. A new system called "Focus Attacks" ("Saving Attack" for the Japanese version) has been introduced, as well as Ultra moves. The traditional six-button control scheme returns, with new features and special moves integrated into the input system, mixing classic gameplay with additional innovations.

All the characters and environments in Street Fighter IV are rendered as 3D models with polygons, similar to the Street Fighter EX sub-series Capcom produced with Arika. However, there are a couple of key differences. Art director and character designer Daigo Ikeno, who previously worked on Street Fighter III 3rd Strike, opted for non-photorealistic rendering to give them a hand-drawn look, with visual effects accented in calligraphic strokes, ink smudges and ink sprays during the fights.

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Good scaling and just strong performance across the board. We actually again see the HD 6850 CF setup takes top spot at all resolutions which is impressive.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/
Buy It Here

The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.

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Already we had good numbers from the HD 6850 which managed to give us playable numbers at all resolutions. In Crossfire we're able to almost double those numbers and performance between the GTX 460 OC SLI and HD 6850 CF setup is very close. The latter setup would pull the overall win as it only falls behind once and that's by only a single FPS.

Benchmarks - Batman Arkham Asylum

Batman Arkham Asylum

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.batmanarkhamasylum.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.batmanarkhamasylum.com/

Batman: Arkham Asylum exposes players to a unique, dark and atmospheric adventure that takes them to the depths of Arkham Asylum - Gotham's psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. Gamers will move in the shadows, instigate fear amongst their enemies and confront The Joker and Gotham City's most notorious villains who have taken over the asylum.

Using a wide range of Batman's gadgets and abilities, players will become the invisible predator and attempt to foil The Joker's demented scheme.
Batman: Arkham Asylum features an original story penned exclusively for the game by famous Batman author and five-time Emmy award winner Paul Dini, whose credits include Lost season one and Batman: The Animated Series.

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Batman AA was already giving us good numbers and you can see moving over to Crossfire just improves them. Compared to the GTX 460 1GB OC SLI setup the HD 6850 CF setup falls behind at the lower resolutions, but at the highest we can see the HD 6850 CF setup wins.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AF

Our high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.

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HIS Radeon HD 6850 1GB Video Card in Crossfire 32

HIS Radeon HD 6850 1GB Video Card in Crossfire 33

HIS Radeon HD 6850 1GB Video Card in Crossfire 34

Performance in CF is strong and compared to the HD 5970 performance between the two setups is very similar. Apart from Mafia II, scaling performance again from the HD 6850 setup is very strong with it tipping almost 100% at some points. As for playable numbers, AVP falls just behind the 60 FPS average we want, but everything else is at playable levels.

Temperature Test

Temperature Tests

The temperature of the core is pulled from MSI Afterburner with the max reading used after a completed run off 3DMark Vantage and the Performance preset.

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The cards get a little warmer under Crossfire, but it's nothing too serious. 81c is a tad warm, but it's not a number we should be really worried about in a Crossfire situation.

Sound Test

Sound Tests

Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.

After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).

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Noise levels don't hold any surprises which is nice. You could probably go to manual fan mode if you wanted to drop the temperatures and were happy to handle a few more dBs.

Power Consumption Tests

Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).

There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.

The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a SSD hard drive is used with a single CD ROM and minimal cooling fans.

So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.

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Power draw is very impressive. At less than 400 watt it's below even lower end and cheaper setups like the GTS 450 SLI setup.

Total Performance Rating (TPR)

Total Performance Rating

The TPR graph is a combination of all our benchmarks in which NVIDIA and ATI are on an even playing field.

The TPR number is a combination of:

3DMark Vantage, Heaven Benchmark V2, Resident Evil 5, Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., Mafia 2 (PhysX Off), Lost Planet 2, Aliens vs. Predator, Final Fantasy XIV, Street Fighter IV, Far Cry 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum (PhysX Off) and our four High Quality tests which include Mafia 2, Aliens vs. Predator, Street Fighter IV and Far Cry 2.

All of the benchmark results achieved are then combined into a single number. As this graph will grow over time and cards won't be re-tested, next to each model you'll find the driver version that was used when the card was benchmarked.

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TPR finds performance is very close to the HD 5970. The overall picture doesn't paint the whole picture, though, and the two largest scoring tests in our line up, 3DMark Vantage and Final Fantasy XIV, favor the GTX 460 1GB OC SLI setup. Really, if you break it down in to the individual benchmarks, the HD 6850 CF setup wins out almost every time.

Total Value Rating (TVR)

Total Value Rating

The TVR graph is the TPR score divided by the price of the video card. The price of the video card is based on the list price of the model on Newegg.com. In the event the card isn't listed, it will be based on the U.S. $ MSRP given to us by the manufacturer.

In the event we can't source a price from either, the product will not receive a TVR rating. As with our TPR graph, the amount of video cards on the list will grow over time and the price of the model won't change from what it was when first reviewed. For this reason the U.S. $ price that the card is based off will be included next to the name of the model.

In the event you want to find the TVR rating yourself based on the current price, all you have to do is simply divide the TPR number by the list price.

TVR numbers are rounded to the nearest whole number; 100.3 will be 100; 100.8 will be 101 and 100.5 will be rounded down to 100.

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Overall value is very strong considering we're dealing with a multi card setup. It's not the strongest with the GTX 460 OC SLI sitting closer to the top, but again the score is based on the TPR which we know is favoring the GTX 460 SLI setup due to the stronger Vantage and FF XIV numbers.

Final Thoughts

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.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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