AMD radeon hd 6850

The AMD Radeon HD 6850 isn't quite the must-buy card that we expected it to be, especially at its initial pricing. Now that the dust has settled a little on the pricing front it's a much a more interesting prospect, producing playable frame rates at what would have been the sweet spot for most gamers only a few days ago.

It's certainly not the worst graphics option out there.

Graphics cards aren't released into a vacuum though, and you're spoiled for choice if you've got between £100 and £150 to spend on your next graphics card.

The 6850 finds itself sandwiched between the two 460s, which makes for some tricky comparisons. It's not woefully out-matched, but those that can afford the shift up to a 1GB GTX 460 will reap the benefits, whilst a £20 saving and plumping for the 768 version produces similar performance.

Ultimately, which card you go for it largely defined by the value you place on the likes of Physx, CUDA and Eyefinity.

The spectre of Cayman-powered Radeon 6900s isn't a direct threat to the 6850, as such cards will undoubtedly appear north of the £200 barrier. Even so, their release may have Nvidia cutting into its margins yet again, something that the 6850 looks ill-placed to weather.

We liked:

Rolls in at the right price point (eventually), producing playable framerates in most recent games.

Power consumption is low, as is noise production – although under full load it does reach a heady 81oC on the stock cooler.

We disliked:

Value for money lags behind the GeForce GTX 460s, and in straight cash terms a better bargain can be had in the form of the 768MB GTX 460.

The reduced shader count affects raw performance too much, especially given the marginal frequency increase over its predecessors.