HIS Radeon HD 5850 - Conclusions

By Edward Chester



  • Recommended by TR
HIS Radeon HD 5850


Our Score:


Much as we suspected, the HIS HD 5850 has impressive performance with it comfortably beating all single-chip cards apart from its bigger brother the HD 5870. Both the dual-chip AMD ATI HD 4870 X2 and nVidia GTX 295 cards show they still have plenty of raw performance, though, so if you have either of those cards, the HD 5850 isn't really worth the upgrade. Compatibility with future DirectX 11 games is obviously a motivating factor for upgrading but it will be a while before they start arriving in significant numbers so its worth waiting if you have either of these cards. Also, if the limited benefits of DX10 vs DX9 are anything to go by, you're unlikely to miss anything too spectacular for a while.

There is of course one reason why you may choose to upgrade from one of these dual-chip cards and that's power consumption. Both the HD 4870 X2 and GTX 295 consume huge amounts of power, even when idle. The HD 5850, in contrast delivers similar performance for much less power consumption, indeed it has the lower power consumption of any card on test (just behind the HD5870). It's also one of the quietest, though strangely enough it is a little louder than its more powerful sibblings the HD 5870 and HD 4870 X2 when idling.

Finally we come to look at price and here the HD 5850 really begins to shine. As it happens, there is little in the way of direct competition at the HD5850's £200 price point. Bizarrely, considering its performance deficit, the GTX 285 is still hovering around the £250 to £300 mark while the GTX 275 starts at around £160 with overclocked versions pushing £200. Again, though, neither of these cards offers performance that is close to the HD 5850. Meanwhile, AMD's own HD 4870 X2 is upwards of £300. The only real consideration, then, is whether to get the HD 5850 or the more expensive HD 5870, which brings us back to our opening question of whether you get 90 per cent of the performance for 66 per cent of the cost and the answer is a resounding yes. As such we highly recommend this card if you're looking to buy now. You just might want to pick one up made by another of the board partners (XFX, Asus, Sapphire, Gigabyte, Powercolor) as they're all available for about twenty pounds less at the moment.


The AMD ATI Radeon HD 5850 is an astonishing graphics card. It offers performance only matched by cards costing £300 or more yet itself costs only £200. As a bonus, it also has very low power consumption figures. We really can't recommend it highly enough. This particular HIS model does seem to be demanding more money at the moment than otherwise identical cards in all the shops we've looked at, though, so be sure to shop around.


October 17, 2009, 5:19 am

I read this review but it wasn't necessary. My next graphic card=Sapphire HD5850 soon.


October 17, 2009, 9:59 am

Hi I can't find any power consumption & temperature page. Are they not important?


October 17, 2009, 5:00 pm

@stranded: I read your comment and it wasn't necessary.

Good review by the way. Might get 2 of these in Crossfire.


October 17, 2009, 6:53 pm

@stranded, your post was not necessary too.

Mr Chester, could you please give relative noise levels of fans in future graphics card reviews? It would be good to know if this particular HIS card is loud or not relative to other manufacturer models and previous generation cards. Including the decibel levels of the fan at idle operation and during heavy load would be very informative. Apart from this omission, good review.

Tim Sutton

October 17, 2009, 7:50 pm

@ guy

I'd say having a *subjective* opinion on noise levels in a review is very worthwhile, but an actual decibel level is only useful if its done while the card is inside a PC case in an acoustically shielded room.

Which would add a lot of expense and time to every review, and really wouldn't add much to a reviewer just saying "a bit louder than x card, but not as loud as y card. Perfectly usable in a HTPC in your living room."

OT: I've just ordered 2 of these, will try some geekery Crossfire action before they go into their separate PCs :-)


October 17, 2009, 8:00 pm

Noise and temps would be good (idle and load).


October 17, 2009, 8:49 pm

@guy - I would also like to know the noise levels but after reading Bit-tech's 5850 review and why they don't give noise levels, I think it's quite difficult to get accurate measurements.

Although I'd still like to know, even if it's just a subjective opinion, and even if it's just to say that the 5850 is quieter/louder then the previous generation of ATi cards.


October 24, 2009, 5:12 pm

Pleas note, I've now added sound level testing to this article.


January 2, 2010, 9:57 pm

Thanks Ed for the sound level testing. Didn't realise it had been added until I did a Google search for 5850 noise levels, and this review came up first.

Hopefully, it'll prove slightly quieter then my 4870 when idle or, if not, I'll maybe have to consider the higher-spec Vapor-X cards.


February 25, 2010, 7:55 pm

A nice card, but I think my 5770 Vapor-x for over £90 less is better value.

comments powered by Disqus