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Sapphire Radeon HD 7850 2GB OC Edition Video Card Review

We check out the pre-overclocked HD 7850 2GB from Sapphire and see how it performs today.

Published Mon, Aug 6 2012 2:27 PM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:01 PM CST
Rating: 94%Manufacturer: Sapphire

Introduction and Package

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AMD's Radeon HD 7850 hasn't shined as bright as some of the other HD 7000 series video cards we've looked at from AMD. We saw the HD 7870, HD 7950, HD 7970 really shine with some awesome numbers and great overclocking results, while the HD 7750 and HD 7770 were both priced too high in our opinion.

The HD 7850 kind of sat in the middle - its price to performance was better, but the overclocking potential we've seen from it hasn't been as great as some of the others. Overall, though, out of the box the performance was strong and it ultimately proves to be a very good model for people who are looking for something at this reasonable price point.

Today we're going to be looking at another HD 7850 with this one coming from Sapphire and carrying an overclock out of the box. We haven't looked at a HD 7850 from Sapphire and we wonder if this one will impress us or not. As always we've got to do a few things before we look at the performance of this particular card.

The first thing we're going to do is take a look at the box and see what kind of bundle Sapphire has been able to put together for us today. Once we've done that we'll move onto the card itself and take a closer look at what is exactly going on with the cooling and connectivity side of things.

From here we'll move onto the specifications where we'll look at what kind of overclock Sapphire is offering us out of the box before we move onto our testbed which will then lead us into the performance side of things. As just mentioned, though, let's see what's going on with the package here.


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Looking at the box we can see the overall design isn't too different to what we've seen before and you can see we're dealing with an Overclock Edition. Turning the box over goes into some detail on the features that are offered by the HD 7800 series.

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Inside we've got a pretty nice package with an invitation to Sapphire Select Club or SSC, Quick Install Guide and driver CD to round out the normal additions.

We've also got a Molex to 6-pin PCIe power connector, HDMI to DVI, CrossFire Bridge, Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort and a full length HDMI cable to round off the bundle.

The Card and Specifications

The Card

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Looking at the video card itself you can see even though the HD 7850 isn't a huge card, Sapphire has managed to apply a really mean looking dual fan cooling solution. You can see we've got a large aluminum heatsink covering it and also a couple of copper heatpipes to help make sure it stays as cool as possible. Considering how cool the HD 7000 series cards have been running, we'll see if this cooler brings some attractive numbers to the table today.

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A quick spin around doesn't really hold any surprises. Towards the back you can see we've got a single 6-pin PCIe power connector while if we move across the top you can see we've got a single CrossFire connector which allows us to run up to two of these video cards together in CrossFire.

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The I/O side of things is pretty strong with a Dual-Link DVI connector, HDMI port and two Mini DisplayPort connectors. As we saw on the last page when we looked at the bundle we've also got a MiniDP to DP connector in the bundle, which is always a nice addition.


As we mentioned in the introduction we're dealing with a pre-overclocked HD 7850 here today from Sapphire. If we were dealing with a reference clocked card you'll find the core comes in at 860MHz while the 2GB of GDDR5 carries a clock of 1200MHz or 4800MHz QDR.

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Looking above you can see that Sapphire has bumped both these numbers up with the core getting a 60MHz bump to 920MHz while the 2GB of GDDR5 gets a 50MHz bump which translates to a new memory clock speed of 5000MHz QDR. This is a nice out of the box overclock from Sapphire and should help yield some nice performance numbers today.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup

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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, ASUS and Corsair.

In our graphs today we've got a number of cards outside the Sapphire HD 7850 2GB OC which include the HIS HD 7850 2GB that we overclocked the other day to 895MHz on the core and 5060MHz QDR on the 2GB of GDDR5.

Alongside those two cards we've got the reference clocked HD 7870, HD 7950 and HD 7970 to round out the AMD side of things. On the NVIDIA side we've also thrown in the GTX 680 in 2GB and 4GB form. Of course due to the price difference between these models the main cards we'll be looking at are going to be the HD 7800 series based cards.

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.

Benchmarks - 3DMark 11

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.

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Under 3DMark 11 we can see that the overclock that Sapphire gives us out of the box helps push us into the P6000 area while we see the Xtreme preset hit almost X1800.

Benchmarks - Unigine Heaven Benchmark

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.

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Heaven performance looks good with the pre-overclocked HD 7850 from Sapphire not sitting all that far behind the reference clocked HD 7870. Let's see how performance is when we move into the gaming side of things.

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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Moving into H.A.W.X. 2 we can see very strong performance from the Sapphire HD 7850 OC which sees playable numbers at all resolutions including the high-end 2560 x 1600 resolution.

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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Mafia II performance is strong and we can see we're almost at the 60 FPS mark at 2560 x 1600. We do fall shy by just 2 FPS, but fortunately you shouldn't have any real trouble picking up those couple of FPS if you want to play at 2560 x 1600.

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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Lost Planet 2 numbers look good, we've got playable numbers at 1680 x 1050 and at 1920 x 1200 we've got a very solid 59 FPS. We'd probably slightly adjust one of our in game settings to bring that to just over 60 FPS, but considering the intensity of this engine, these are some impressive numbers.

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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Aliens vs. Predator is following the trend where we see 1920 x 1200 is coming very close to playable. We've got 57 FPS here which is again just shy of that 60 FPS mark we aim to provide a solid gaming experience. A small detail change, though, would bring that number up to where we want it to be.

Benchmarks - Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2

Version and / or Patch Used:

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.

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Just Cause 2 looks good at 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050, but moving to 2560 x 1600 we can see a 54 FPS average, which is a bit lower than we'd like to see. If you really wanted to play, though, you could go into the detail side of things and adjust some of the more intensive options slightly helping make for ultra-smooth performance at that resolution.

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.

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Metro 2033 is another really intensive game, but you can see here today that the pre-overclock that Sapphire applied on the HD 7850 helps give us a solid 61 FPS at 1920 x 1200. Of course that means that 1680 x 1050 isn't an issue, unfortunately 2560 x 1600 is clearly not an option.

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.

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Dirt 3 looks good at 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050 with very solid numbers. 2560 x 1600, though, is not an option as we find ourselves below 50 FPS in this instance, which is just too low for a smooth gaming experience.

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 numbers across the board look strong with nice minimums and averages being seen.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AF

While we test all our games with maximum in-game settings, turning on Anti-Aliasing (AA) and Antistrophic Filtering (AF) helps take the intensity of our testing to another level.

Here we see video cards go from playable FPS to an unplayable FPS and the real power houses continue to help break that 60 FPS mark we always aim for to provide a smooth gaming experience.

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A slight detail adjustment would move our Mafia II 1920 x 1200 number from 59 FPS into the 60 FPS region. The same can't be said when we move to 2560 x 1600, though.

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Something more intensive like Aliens vs. Predator shows that the HD 7850 just isn't built for using AA and AF under this kind of engine.

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While older, we can still see that Far Cry 2 sees the HD 7850 OC from Sapphire still fall a little shy of those numbers we want to see at 2560 x 1600 with AA and AF on. Looking at 1920 x 1200 numbers, though, you can see we don't run into any problems.

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Like Aliens vs. Predator; Metro 2033 just isn't a game that you'll be playing with AA and AF on.

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At 56 FPS we're not far away from that 60 FPS number we want at 1920 x 1200. A slight detail change would need to be applied, though. Of course 2560 x 1600 just isn't going to be an option.

Temperature Test

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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Looking at the temperature numbers we can see the Sapphire HD 7850 does a very good job sitting clearly towards the bottom of the pack with a load temperature of only 57c.

Sound Test

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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You can see those temperature numbers come at noise levels that find the card sitting right in the middle of the pack with numbers that shouldn't worry you too much.

Power Consumption Test

Using our 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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In no surprise power numbers sit towards the bottom of the graph. Most branded power supplies shouldn't have an issue dealing with this kind of setup.

Final Thoughts

When it's come to the OC Edition label that Sapphire throw on a number of their video cards, it's been a little bit hit and miss. We say that because we've seen in recent times Sapphire uses the OC label and then add only 20MHz extra to the core and nothing on the memory side of things.

Today, though, Sapphire has used the OC tag on the HD 7850 and thrown in a nice bump in clock speeds which sees another 60MHz on the core and an extra 200MHz QDR on the 2GB of GDDR5 onboard memory. You can see that helps result in some nice performance with the 60 FPS number we aim for being with in only an FPS or two in a number of intensive games.

Alongside the normal "typical" performance numbers, we can see the cooler also does a fantastic job as the card sits nearly at the bottom of our graph when it comes to heat and noise levels sit in the middle of the pack.

Outside of that, though, we see the bundle Sapphire has put together is really strong and stands out when compared to what you'd normally expect from a video card in this price range. The biggest stand outs would be the inclusion of the full length HDMI cable and the MiniDP to DP connector that we still see a lot of companies skip on, even on higher end models.

While the OC model of the card we're looking at today can't be found over at Newegg, the non-OC version which carries the same cooler comes in at a very solid $239.99 and is one of the cheapest Radeon HD 7850's available. The overclock that Sapphire offers us today is going to set you back around the $15 mark in retail form and if you're not interested in overclocking yourself, it's a good option.

If you're looking at spending around the $250 mark then this is a really nice option that's made even more attractive by the fact that NVIDIA continue to offer us nothing new in this price range. While the GTX 660 series is due next month; information continues to be quite hard to find.

For now, if you're looking at spending around that mid $200 area, the HD 7850 is a fantastic option and the version we've got from Sapphire here today is really nice with that great out of the box overclock, strong cooler and excellent bundle helping it stand out from the pack.

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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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