TRENDING NOW: AMD's next-gen Ryzen 9 5900X CPU: 12-core, 24-thread Intel destroyer?!

Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 Vapor-X OC 1GB Video Card Review

Sapphire expands the Vapor-X line with the introduction of the HD 6850. Let's see how the card goes.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Thu, Sep 1 2011 4:54 AM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 91%Manufacturer: Sapphire

Introduction and The Package

Introduction

Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 Vapor-X OC 1GB Video Card Review 02 | TweakTown.com
VIEW GALLERY - 28 IMAGES

At the moment we're going through these little phases with video cards; we get a couple in and then it dies down for a few weeks. Then a few more come in and it dies down a little bit again. The latest card to slide into the lab here comes from Sapphire and is an expansion of the Vapor-X series.

To be honest, I think it's going to quiet down a bit in the video card department due to the fact we should see the new Bulldozer platform launch next month from AMD and word is that AMD's next generation cards will come out this year, hopefully around Battlefield 3 time.

On the NVIDIA side of things we haven't seen much at all; the only card we've really seen lately that uses an NVIDIA based GPU is the ASUS MARS II. Of course, this isn't made by NVIDIA and is instead all ASUS. I'm not sure we're going to see much else from companies regarding NVIDIA GPUs in the meantime either, as it's all been a little quiet on the GTX 500 series front. No doubt time will tell, though, what companies are going to be doing.

Still, with that out the way, let's get into the card we have on our hands today, the Sapphire HD 6850 Vapor-X OC. First we'll start off looking at the package before we take a look at the card itself and check out the specifications on it including the overclock on offer. Once that's done, we'll check out the performance of the card and see how it stands up in our latest line-up of games before we wrap everything up.

Well, with that all said and done, let's get into the package.

The Package

Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 Vapor-X OC 1GB Video Card Review 03 | TweakTown.com
Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 Vapor-X OC 1GB Video Card Review 04 | TweakTown.com

Checking out the box, you can see that Sapphire is using the new Vapor-X package that we saw on one of their earlier Vapor-X cards. We won't go into too much more detail as you can really see everything from the pictures above.

Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 Vapor-X OC 1GB Video Card Review 05 | TweakTown.com

Moving inside the package, we've got our Sapphire Select Club voucher which gives us an access key, a quick installation guide, driver CD and Dirt 3 Coupon that is used to get the game via STEAM. On the cable front we've got a full sized HDMI cable, mini DP to DP convertor, two Molex to 6-Pin PCIe connectors, DVI to VGA connector and a CrossFire cable. This is actually quite a healthy package, especially considering the HD 6850 of course isn't part of the highest series from AMD.

The Card & Specifications

The Card

Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 Vapor-X OC 1GB Video Card Review 06 | TweakTown.com

Looking at the card, you can see the overall design isn't anything too out of the ordinary with this design cooler being seen before. You can see we've got the larger fan in the middle of the card and behind the fan you can see the copper heat pipes coming out of the heatsink.

Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 Vapor-X OC 1GB Video Card Review 07 | TweakTown.com
Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 Vapor-X OC 1GB Video Card Review 08 | TweakTown.com

On the power connector front you can see at the back of the card we've got two 6-Pin PCIe power connectors, while closer to the front we have our standard single CrossFire connector giving us the ability to CrossFire two of these cards together.

Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 Vapor-X OC 1GB Video Card Review 09 | TweakTown.com

On the I/O side of things we've got quite the strong line up with a Dual-Link and Single-Link DVI connector, full size HDMI port and two mini DisplayPorts. The inclusion of the mini DP to DP connector in the bundle is great as it means that if you've got a DP monitor, you can make use of the card straight away via that connection.

Specifications

The particular HD 6850 we're looking at today is the OC version of the Vapor-X and looking below you can see the clocks at which the card comes in at. We can see that the core comes in at 800MHz; this is slightly up on the default 775MHz seen on non-overclocked versions of the HD 6850.

Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 Vapor-X OC 1GB Video Card Review 01 | TweakTown.com

As for the 1GB of GDDR5, Sapphire has also chosen to increase that to 1100MHz or 4400MHz QDR. This is 400MHz QDR up on the reference clock of 4000MHz QDR and should hopefully in conjunction with the core clock yield us some nice performance today.

Test System Setup

Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 Vapor-X OC 1GB Video Card Review 99 | TweakTown.com

We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASUS, MSI, Western Digital and Corsair.

Why do you use a Z68 platform with x8 / x8 instead of an X58 one with x16 / x16? Z68 vs X58 - Which is The Better Gaming Platform?

The testbed today doesn't show any changes, so there's not too much to say. The only thing really worth mentioning is the fact that we'll be comparing the Sapphire HD 6850 Vapor-X OC 1GB against a reference clocked Sapphire HD 6870 1GB.

It will take a few weeks for us to build up the normal line-up of products to use in our comparisons, but as we check out more and more video cards, it will grow.

Let's get started!

The FPS Numbers Explained

When we benchmark our video cards and look at the graphs, we aim to get to a certain level of FPS which we consider playable. While many may argue that the human eye can't see over 24 FPS or 30 FPS, any true gamer will tell you that as we climb higher in Frames Per Seconds (FPS), the overall gameplay feels smoother. There are three numbers we're looking out for when it comes to our benchmarks.

30 FPS - It's the minimum number we aim for when it comes to games. If you're not dropping below 30 FPS during games, you're going to have a nice and smooth gaming experience. The ideal situation is that even in a heavy fire fight, the minimum stays above 30 FPS making sure that you can continue to aim easily or turn the corner with no dramas.

60 FPS - It's the average we look for when we don't have a minimum coming at us. If we're getting an average of 60 FPS, we should have a minimum of 30 FPS or better and as mentioned above, it means we've got some smooth game play happening.

120 FPS - The new number that we've been hunting down over recent months. If you're the owner of a 120 Hz monitor, to get the most out of it you want to get around the 120 FPS mark. Moving from 60 FPS / 60 Hz to 120 FPS / 120 Hz brings with it a certain fluidity that can't really be explained, but instead has to be experienced. Of course, if you're buying a 120 Hz monitor to take advantage of 3D, an average of 120 FPS in our benchmark means that in 3D you will have an average of 60 FPS, which again means you should expect some smooth gameplay.

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1

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.

Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 Vapor-X OC 1GB Video Card Review 20 | TweakTown.com

Just shy of 4,000 points in the Performance Preset, the Sapphire HD 6850 Vapor-X 1GB OC looks like it's got some good performance under the hood.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.5

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.

Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 Vapor-X OC 1GB Video Card Review 21 | TweakTown.com

Compared to the HD 6870, the Vapor-X version of the HD 6850 doesn't sit all that far behind.

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.

Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 Vapor-X OC 1GB Video Card Review 22 | TweakTown.com

Across the board under H.A.W.X. 2 we can see some strong performance with the card having no issue breaking that 60 FPS average we aim for at all resolutions.

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.

Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 Vapor-X OC 1GB Video Card Review 23 | TweakTown.com

Mafia II performance is also very good with the card having no problem dealing with the game at 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1200. Unfortunately, at 2560 x 1600 it does fall back a bit offering us just over 40 FPS.

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."

Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 Vapor-X OC 1GB Video Card Review 24 | TweakTown.com

No surprise under Lost Planet 2 we see the card struggle. Even at 1680 x 1050 you're going to want to drop the detail a bit to bring those FPS up.

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.

Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 Vapor-X OC 1GB Video Card Review 25 | TweakTown.com

While not as intensive as Lost Planet 2, you can see we do fall a little behind that 60 FPS average we aim for at 1680 x 1050. We're not too far from it, though, so hopefully with just a bit of a detail drop we'll be able to bring that number up to a playable level. You can see above 1680 x 1050, though, the card does struggle.

Benchmarks - Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.2

Timedemo or Level Used: Dark Tower

Developer Homepage: http://www.eidos.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.justcause.com/

Just Cause 2 employs the Avalanche Engine 2.0, an updated version of the engine used in Just Cause. The game is set on the other side of the world from the original Just Cause, on the fictional island of Panau in Southeast Asia. Panau has varied terrain, from desert to alpine to rainforest. Rico Rodriguez returns as the protagonist, aiming to overthrow the evil dictator Pandak "Baby" Panay and confront his former mentor, Tom Sheldon.

Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 Vapor-X OC 1GB Video Card Review 26 | TweakTown.com

In one of our new benchmarks you can see the HD 6850 Vapor-X OC manages to perform well again at the lower 1680 x 1050 resolution with that 60 FPS average we aim for being broken. Above that, though, we do see our FPS begin to drop off.

Benchmarks - Metro 2033

Metro 2033

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.4a-games.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.thqnordic.com/

Metro 2033 is an action-oriented video game with a combination of survival horror and first-person shooter elements. The game is based on the novel Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in Ukraine and released in March 2010 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360.[3] In March 2006, 4A Games announced a partnership with Glukhovsky to collaborate on the game.[4] The game was announced at the 2009 Games Convention in Leipzig;[5] a first trailer came along with the announcement.[6] A sequel was announced, currently titled Metro: Last Light.

Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 Vapor-X OC 1GB Video Card Review 27 | TweakTown.com

Metro 2033 is an extremely intensive game and while the card again has trouble getting that 60 FPS average at all resolutions, a bit like Aliens vs. Predator, we're not too far from it at 1680 x 1050. A bit of adjustment to the detail and no doubt you'd be able to lift those FPS up.

Benchmarks - Dirt 3

Dirt 3

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.codemasters.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.dirt3game.com/

DiRT 3 boasts more cars, more locations, more routes and more events than any other game in the series, including over 50 rally cars representing the very best from five decades of the sport. With more than double the track content of 2009's hit, DiRT 3 will see players start at the top as a professional driver, with a top-flight career in competitive off-road racing complimented by the opportunity to express themselves in Gymkhana-style showpiece driving events.

Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 Vapor-X OC 1GB Video Card Review 28 | TweakTown.com

Checking out Dirt 3, we continue to see the same kind of trend with the FPS. At 1680 x 1050 we do see the card fall back just below that number we like to see with our in game settings maxed out. The good news is, because we do have the settings maxed out we have a fair bit of room to move without making the game look ugly.

Benchmarks - Total War: Shogun 2

Total War: Shogun 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.creative-assembly.co.uk/

Product Homepage: http://www.totalwar.com/shogun2

Shogun 2 is set in 16th-century feudal Japan, in the aftermath of the Onin War. The country is fractured into rival clans led by local warlords, each fighting for control. The player takes on the role of one of these warlords, with the goal of dominating other factions and claiming his rule over Japan. The standard edition of the game will feature a total of eight factions (plus a ninth faction for the tutorial), each with a unique starting position and different political and military strengths.

Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 Vapor-X OC 1GB Video Card Review 29 | TweakTown.com

Under the 1280 x 720 preset we can see that we've got no problem dealing with Shogun on the HD 6850 Vapor-X. When we move to 1920 x 1200 and the high preset, though, we see our cards both get smashed by the extra detail.

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.

Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 Vapor-X OC 1GB Video Card Review 30 | TweakTown.com

Looking at Far Cry 2 performance, you can see across the board we've got excellent performance with that 30 FPS minimum being reached at every resolution.

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.

Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 Vapor-X OC 1GB Video Card Review 31 | TweakTown.com
Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 Vapor-X OC 1GB Video Card Review 32 | TweakTown.com
Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 Vapor-X OC 1GB Video Card Review 33 | TweakTown.com

Apart from Far Cry 2, we can see that turning on AA is no doubt a struggle for the HD 6800 series cards.

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.

Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 Vapor-X OC 1GB Video Card Review 40 | TweakTown.com

Temperature on the card is good as we'd hope. Considering the idea behind the Vapor-X series is of course the cooler, we hope that it performs well in that department.

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).

Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 Vapor-X OC 1GB Video Card Review 41 | TweakTown.com

Noise levels are also very good under load coming in just below 56 dB.

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.

Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 Vapor-X OC 1GB Video Card Review 42 | TweakTown.com

Power draw doesn't hold any surprises coming in at just over 300 watt. Any good quality power supply shouldn't have an issue dealing with this kind of setup.

Final Thoughts

On the performance side of things the Vapor-X OC version of the HD 6850 doesn't bring anything too new to the table that we haven't already seen before. That's not a bad thing, though, as the card here today continues to show us that the model is just a strong performing mid-range card.

The cooler on the card is of course the highlight due to the fact it's of course part of the Vapor-X series. It's a good cooler that performs well, it's not too loud and keeps our core at a good temperature.

For someone interested in a card that is going to play modern games at 1680 x 1050 with medium to high in game detail, this is a really nice option. You can see in some of our even more intensive games with in game settings maxed we still manage to get averages that sit around the mid 50 FPS point.

Of course, we're going to want just a little bit more to make sure everything is silky smooth, but just a small detail drop in some areas will bring up those numbers which is exactly what we like to see.

While we haven't seen the card up on NewEgg yet, no doubt it won't be far away and going off the track record of Sapphire, the price should come in at a good level. With some good mid-range performance, a cooler that does an excellent job of running quiet, while at the same time keeping our GPU cool, the Sapphire HD 6850 Vapor-X OC 1GB is going to be a good buy.

Throw in the fact that Sapphire have put together a really nice bundle, though, that includes some notable extras like Dirt 3 coupon, HDMI cable and mini DP to DP connector and you've just got a stand out offering that's no doubt going to get the attention of people.

What do TweakTown.com awards mean? Click for details!

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

USUnited States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com

UKUnited Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk

AUAustralia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au

CACanada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca

DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

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.

Related Tags

Newsletter Subscription

Latest News

View More News

Latest Reviews

View More Reviews

Latest Articles

View More Articles