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Radeon HD 5850 vs Radeon HD 5870

Intro

The Radeon HD 5850 makes use of a 40 nm design. AMD has set the core frequency at 725 MHz. The GDDR5 RAM works at a frequency of 1000 MHz on this specific card. It features 1440(288x5) SPUs along with 72 Texture Address Units and 32 ROPs.

Compare all that to the Radeon HD 5870, which has a GPU core clock speed of 850 MHz, and 1024 MB of GDDR5 memory running at 1200 MHz through a 256-bit bus. It also features 1600(320x5) Stream Processors, 80 Texture Address Units, and 32 Raster Operation Units.

Avatar

Settings: Ultra High Quality
AA: 8x
AF: none
Resolution: 1920x1200
Test Machine: Tom's Hardware Test Machine (Source)
Radeon HD 5870 62 FPS
Radeon HD 5850 52 FPS
Difference: 10 FPS (19%)

Battlefield Bad Company 2

Settings: High Quality
AA: 4x
AF: 8x
Resolution: 1920x1200
Test Machine: Tom's Hardware Test Machine (Source)
Radeon HD 5870 58 FPS
Radeon HD 5850 44 FPS
Difference: 14 FPS (32%)

Fallout 3

Settings: Very High Quality
AA: 8x
AF: 16x
Resolution: 1920x1200
Test Machine: Tom's Hardware Test Machine (Source)
Radeon HD 5870 85 FPS
Radeon HD 5850 76 FPS
Difference: 9 FPS (12%)

Left4Dead

Settings: Very High Quality
AA: 8x
AF: 16x
Resolution: 1920x1200
Test Machine: Tom's Hardware Test Machine (Source)
Radeon HD 5870 119 FPS
Radeon HD 5850 100 FPS
Difference: 19 FPS (19%)

Left4Dead 2

Settings: Very High
AA: 8x
AF: 16x
Resolution: 1920x1200
Test Machine: Tom's Hardware Test Machine (Source)
Radeon HD 5870 124 FPS
Radeon HD 5850 104 FPS
Difference: 20 FPS (19%)

Mass Effect 2

Settings: Maximum Quality
AA: none
AF: 8x
Resolution: 1920x1200
Test Machine: Tom's Hardware Test Machine (Source)
Radeon HD 5870 150 FPS
Radeon HD 5850 124 FPS
Difference: 26 FPS (21%)

Supreme Commander 2

Settings: High
AA: 8x
AF: 16x
Resolution: 1920x1200
Test Machine: Tom's Hardware Test Machine (Source)
Radeon HD 5870 92 FPS
Radeon HD 5850 78 FPS
Difference: 14 FPS (18%)

Tom Clancy's Endwar

Settings: High Quality
AA: 4x
AF: 8x
Resolution: 1920x1200
Test Machine: Tom's Hardware Test Machine (Source)
Radeon HD 5850 30 FPS
Radeon HD 5870 30 FPS
Difference: 0 FPS (0%)

Radeon HD 5870 wins

(Based entirely on the benchmarks listed above)

When combining all game benchmark scores on this page together, the Radeon HD 5870 wins overall, by 266 FPS. Please note that we do not have the results of every benchmark ever done for these cards, so the results may differ wildly in different games.

Radeon HD 5870 1600 FPS
Radeon HD 5850 1334 FPS
Difference: 266 FPS (20%)

Power Usage and Theoretical Benchmarks

Power Consumption (Max TDP)

Radeon HD 5850 151 Watts
Radeon HD 5870 188 Watts
Difference: 37 Watts (25%)

Memory Bandwidth

In theory, the Radeon HD 5870 should be 20% quicker than the Radeon HD 5850 in general, due to its higher bandwidth. (explain)

Radeon HD 5870 153600 MB/sec
Radeon HD 5850 128000 MB/sec
Difference: 25600 (20%)

Texel Rate

The Radeon HD 5870 will be much (more or less 30%) more effective at texture filtering than the Radeon HD 5850. (explain)

Radeon HD 5870 68000 Mtexels/sec
Radeon HD 5850 52200 Mtexels/sec
Difference: 15800 (30%)

Pixel Rate

If running with a high resolution is important to you, then the Radeon HD 5870 is the winner, though only just barely. (explain)

Radeon HD 5870 27200 Mpixels/sec
Radeon HD 5850 23200 Mpixels/sec
Difference: 4000 (17%)

Please note that the above 'benchmarks' are all just theoretical - the results were calculated based on the card's specifications, and real-world performance may (and probably will) vary at least a bit.

Price Comparison

Radeon HD 5850

Amazon.com

Radeon HD 5870

Amazon.com

Please note that the price comparisons are based on search keywords - sometimes it might show cards with very similar names that are not exactly the same as the one chosen in the comparison. We do try to filter out the wrong results as best we can, though.

Specifications

Model Radeon HD 5850 Radeon HD 5870
Manufacturer AMD AMD
Year September 30, 2009 September 23, 2009
Code Name Cypress PRO Cypress XT
Fab Process 40 nm 40 nm
Bus PCIe 2.1 x16 PCIe 2.1 x16
Memory 1024 MB 1024 MB
Core Speed 725 MHz 850 MHz
Shader Speed N/A MHz (N/A) MHz
Memory Speed 1000 MHz (4000 MHz effective) 1200 MHz (4800 MHz effective)
Unified Shaders 1440(288x5) 1600(320x5)
Texture Mapping Units 72 80
Render Output Units 32 32
Bus Type GDDR5 GDDR5
Bus Width 256-bit 256-bit
DirectX Version DirectX 11 DirectX 11
OpenGL Version OpenGL 3.2 OpenGL 3.2
Power (Max TDP) 151 watts 188 watts
Shader Model 5.0 5.0
Bandwidth 128000 MB/sec 153600 MB/sec
Texel Rate 52200 Mtexels/sec 68000 Mtexels/sec
Pixel Rate 23200 Mpixels/sec 27200 Mpixels/sec

Memory Bandwidth: Bandwidth is the largest amount of information (measured in MB per second) that can be transported past the external memory interface in one second. It's worked out by multiplying the card's bus width by its memory speed. If the card has DDR type RAM, it must be multiplied by 2 once again. If it uses DDR5, multiply by 4 instead. The better the card's memory bandwidth, the better the card will be in general. It especially helps with anti-aliasing, High Dynamic Range and high resolutions.

Texel Rate: Texel rate is the maximum amount of texture map elements (texels) that are processed per second. This number is calculated by multiplying the total amount of texture units of the card by the core speed of the chip. The better this number, the better the card will be at handling texture filtering (anisotropic filtering - AF). It is measured in millions of texels in a second.

Pixel Rate: Pixel rate is the maximum amount of pixels that the graphics card could possibly write to its local memory in one second - measured in millions of pixels per second. The number is calculated by multiplying the number of colour ROPs by the the core clock speed. ROPs (Raster Operations Pipelines - aka Render Output Units) are responsible for drawing the pixels (image) on the screen. The actual pixel fill rate also depends on lots of other factors, most notably the memory bandwidth - the lower the memory bandwidth is, the lower the ability to get to the maximum fill rate.

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