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MSI Radeon HD 6850 Cyclone 1GB Power Edition Video Card

MSI bring the Cyclone cooler to the HD 6850 while strapping on the "Power Edition" tag. We answer what that means for you.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Thu, Dec 30 2010 8:19 AM CST   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 95%Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Package


Introduction

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At launch we saw that the HD 6850 was attacked straight away by partners due to AMD letting companies make their own design of the model. This is good for two reasons; the first is that come launch day we see a lot of companies offer a lot of different coolers. It just helps make everything a little different instead of looking at reference card over reference card.

The second, though, is that partners are able to attack the model a lot faster than they normally would, as they've already been playing around with the model in making a non-reference version.

The first company we saw really attack the model was Sapphire in the form of the TOXIC version. Today we see MSI come to the party with the Cyclone, although it's not your normal Cyclone version, this particular one is the Cyclone "Power Edition." What exactly does that mean? - Well, let's check out the package before we check out the card and its specifications where we can dive into what's really on offer.


The Package

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Checking out the package, there's nothing here that you wouldn't have really seen from MSI before with some paperwork, driver CD, DVI to VGA connector a single dual Molex to 6-Pin PCI-E power connector.

Card and Specifications


The Card

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Looking at the actual card, you're again going to find yourself in familiar territory with it not looking too different to a lot of previous Cyclone offerings from MSI. As for the rest of the card, there's also no other real surprises with a single 6-Pin PCI-E power connector at the top and a single Crossfire connector closer to the front.

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Connectivity comes in the form of two DVI connectors. Both in this case are dual-link offerings along with a DisplayPort and HDMI connector.


Specifications

MSI haven't just slapped an upgraded cooler on the HD 6850 and sent us on our way; instead they've chosen to increase the clock speeds of the card at the same time. Out of the box a standard HD 6850 will carry a core clock of 775MHz while the 1GB of GDDR5 comes in at 4000MHz QDR.

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Like the Sapphire TOXIC we looked at, MSI has chosen to bump the memory clock up to 4400MHz QDR. They've chosen to go a good chunk higher on the core, though, with that coming in at 860MHz; almost 100MHz over the reference card.

Being the "Power Edition" means that we've got Triple Over Voltage. While most HD 6800s will let you increase the core voltage, using MSI Afterburner and this card you'll also be able to bump up the Memory and AUX voltage. What this ultimately means is you should achieve a higher overclock. This is something we tend to only see on the HAWK edition cards. Fingers crossed we'll start to see these "Power Edition" cards make a larger appearance, though.

Test System Setup and 3DMark 11


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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.

The main thing we're looking at today is the kind of performance gain we get from the HD 6850 Cyclone Power Edition from MSI against the reference Sapphire version we first looked at when the card launched.

We've of course included a number of other single cards in our benchmarks, though, which include the AMD HD 6870, Sapphire HD 5870 and GIGABYTE GTX 480.

Let's get started!


3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/
Buy It Here




3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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The nice increase in clock speeds show a solid increase in performance here.

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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Those strong gains are also seen when we fire up 3DMark Vantage.

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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Heaven sees a small bump in performance, but nothing like we've seen from our previous benchmarks.

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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Across the board we see some really nice increases from the MSI offering, especially at 2560 x 1600. It's always nice to move further away from that 60 FPS average.

Benchmarks - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2


Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.2

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. 2 is an arcade-style flight action game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft. The game is the sequel to Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., released in 2009.

The game begins with Colonel David Crenshaw participating in a routine patrol mission in the Middle East. After halting an insurgent attack, a volley of missiles is fired at the Air Force base that Crenshaw was stationed at, with one of the missiles disabling Crenshaw's aircraft, resulting Crenshaw being in enemy captivity. A joint strike force composed of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and a Ghost Recon squad executes an operation to rescue Crenshaw. In Scotland, Royal Navy Pilot Colin Munro encounters an unidentified passenger aircraft that explodes from an on-board bomb when undergoing training exercise. In Russia, an air force squadron led by Colonel Denisov and Captain Dmitri Sokov engages separatist aircraft but is ordered to retreat from the region after numerous Russian military installations have been attacked.

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H.A.W.X. 2 manages to see some strong performance gains with the HD 6850 Cyclone Power Edition giving us the same average FPS as the HD 6870.

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 continue to see that strong performance boost from the MSI offering. The most appreciated increase is that 1920 x 1200 one where we move from 62 FPS to 68 FPS. Anything above 60 FPS is what we consider playable, but it's nice to move just a little further away from the bare minimum.

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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We see a bit of a performance bump across the board, but unfortunately our FPS are still below playable levels at any resolution here.

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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Like Lost Planet 2 we do see a nice little performance bump across the board, but also like Lost Planet 2 we're below that 60 FPS average we want to get.

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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We've already got big FPS under SF IV, but you can clearly see the performance increase that is on offer under Street Fighter IV.

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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Far Cry 2 across the board sees a little bit of movement with the best gains being seen at the lower resolution in this case.

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 sees some good gains across the board, but there's no denying that they're not really needed with strong FPS coming out of the reference clocked card.

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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Cranking up the detail, we manage to continue to see some good gains and you can see under Far Cry 2 we're so close that 30 FPS minimum. It would only take a small detail drop to move that to an extremely playable level.

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 Cyclone series has always been about the cooler and you can see it does a fantastic job on this HD 6850 with it being the coolest one we've tested to date.

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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The good news is that the coolness hasn't come at the cost of extra noise; instead it's still nice and quiet which is fantastic.

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 doesn't hold any surprises with the card coming in at a similar level to the reference HD 6850. Of course, we've got a bit more performance here thanks to those clock speed increases.

Total Performance Rating (TPR)


Total Performance Rating

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

The TPR number is a combination of:

3DMark 11, Heaven Benchmark V2, Resident Evil 5, Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.2, Mafia 2 (PhysX Off), Lost Planet 2, Aliens vs. Predator, 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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Over the reference clocked card the MSI Cyclone Power Edition really offers a strong performance boost and closes that gap between the HD 6850 and HD 6870.

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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Most surprising out of everything, though, is the hyper aggressive $195 USD price tag MSI are throwing on the model. That price tag and the out of the box performance helps the overall value of the card sit atop the mountain.

Final Thoughts




This is just a fantastic version of the HD 6850 from every angle. First you've got the performance. Out of the box we really see a strong boost compared to the reference clocked card. Second, we've got the "Power Edition" tag which helps give us the ability to adjust more voltages, which in turn should give us the ability to reach a higher overclock.

Third, we've got that Cyclone cooler which is nothing short of fantastic. Not only is it quiet, but it also runs the card extremely cool coming in a good couple of degrees cooler than our next HD 6850. If all that wasn't enough, MSI have managed to wrap it all up in an aggressive price tag make it the best valued card in our latest incarnation of the TVR graph.

What you feel you're getting from the "Power Edition" is all those normal goodies associated with the HAWK version, but without those more "Hardcore" features that normal users will simply find they're not going to use anyway.

Throw in the fact that MSI have chosen to do it with a well valued card like the HD 6850 and you quickly find yourself looking at a winner of a product. Like we said, though, if the performance wasn't enough to make you buy the card and the price couldn't just seal the deal, the efficiency behind that Cyclone cooler which is quiet and effective makes for a well-rounded product, and that's ultimately what the Cyclone Power Edition HD 6850 from MSI is; a well rounded product.

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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.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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