The AMD Radeon HD 6790 comes at a recommended price of $149. You can also spend the same money to buy an Nvidia GeForce GTX 550 Ti. The Radeon HD 5770, which is going to be eventually replaced by the new HD 6790, costs $20 less whereas the Radeon HD 6850, on its part, is $30 more expensive and costs $179. Nvidia's GeForce GTX 460 with 768 MB of memory can be had for about the same money whereas its faster version with 1024 MB of memory is somewhat more expensive. The junior version of GeForce GTX 460 has almost left the market and I couldn’t get one for this review. The rest of the mentioned cards will all be tested, though.
The graphics cards' specifications are listed in the following table:
I will give you a brief description of each card below. To make the review more interesting, I’ve collected products with nonstandard coolers and factory overclocking.
MSI GeForce N460GTX Hawk
First goes MSI’s GeForce N460GTX Hawk:
This graphics card is equipped with an efficient cooler with heat pipes and features increased frequencies (811/1622/3900 MHz). However, I managed to overclock it further up to 875/1750/4600 MHz. I will benchmark it at both the default and the overclocked frequencies.
Here is the temperature of this card when running Aliens vs. Predator (2010):
The card isn’t very hot, the GPU temperature reaching only 62°C. However, the speed of its two 92mm fans is almost as high as 4000 RPM. Even though the monitoring tools cannot read the fans’ tachometer accurately, the card is subjectively very noisy.
Radeon HD 6850 IceQ X Turbo
The Radeon HD 6850 series is represented by a product from Hightech Information System Ltd. It is the Radeon HD 6850 IceQ X Turbo model.
This is a beautiful graphics card. It is a pleasure to take it into your hands and see it in your system case. Besides, the HIS Radeon HD 6850 IceQ X Turbo is 33 millimeters shorter than the reference Radeon HD 6850 and has only one rather than two power connectors.
The word Turbo in the product name indicates its pre-overclocked frequencies, which are 820/4400 MHz. My sample of the card proved to be able to speed up even further, up to 910/4880 MHz. This is higher than the frequencies of the reference Radeon HD 6870:
That’s a very rewarding result for overclocking.
The following diagrams show you the temperature of the overclocked card from HIS with its fan regulated automatically (left) or working at the maximum speed (right):
The peak GPU temperature is 69°C, the 92mm fan rotating at only 1900 RPM. That’s just an excellent result. At the maximum speed of the fan the GPU temperature is no higher than 59°C. Here is the BIOS of this superb graphics card!