As many of you are probably already aware, AMD released their mainstream enthusiast GPU offering, Pitcairn, a little over a month ago. Better known as the Radeon HD 7800 series, the two models making up this mainstream class are the 7850 and 7870. By nature, qualities of the mainstream enthusiast class consist of a good balance between high image quality and value pricing. With Pitcairn, this translates generally translates to maxed out (or close to it) image quality in games at HD 1080p resolution, with a launch price tag between $250-350. Now that we're past the initial wow of the paper launch and products actually widely available to buy, we're taking a look at the cheapest Pitcairn offering we could find. That happens to be PowerColor's Radeon HD 7850 2GB video card.
It's a basic no frills 7850 that comes with AMD's reference cooler, stock clock speeds, and not much extra in the box. But its main selling point is its low price. Selling for $230, it's almost 10% cheaper than AMD's suggested retail price.
PowerColor Radeon HD 7850
PowerColor's entry level offering based on the Radeon HD 7850 is identical to the reference design. The top of the card is fully enclosed in a plastic shroud which hides all of the important bits, with the exception of a cooling fan. The only branding visible on the card is a PowerColor sticker on the fan and a sticker denoting the model, HD7850. The HD7850 sticker makes the video card look cheap, but that's the point of this card, to be a cheap model.
The black PCB matches the plastic shroud on the opposite side of the card. There is a metal bracket supporting reinforcing the area around the GPU, and it's also part of the cooler's mounting system.
The output connectivity options on the back of PowerColor's Radeon HD 7850 include two mini-DisplayPorts, an HDMI port and a dual-link DVI port. Adapters are included to convert one of the mini-DisplayPorts to a standard DisplayPort, the HDMI port to single-link DVI, and DVI to VGA.
The outside side of the 7850 is mostly plastic shroud. The only other functional part of the side is a single Crossfire connector.
Removing the shroud exposes the top of the video card's PCB, where all the action is. We can easy see the single six pin PCI-E power connector, which really highlights the fact that this card isn't a power hog. Combined with the relatively short 8" length of the video card, the Radeon 7850 should prove to be easy to accommodate as an upgrade.
The dual heatpipe heatsink is fairly small and only directly cools the Radeon HD 7850 GPU. With the shroud in place, air is sucked into the video card with the fan and pushed along the surface of the video card. This provides a cooling effect to the rest of the video card, importantly the memory and VRMs. Hot air is both pushed out of the front of the video card (into the case) and the backplate (exhaust out of the case).
There are eight Hynix H5GQ2H24MFR-T2C (2Gb) GDDR5 modules on the video card, totalling 2GB. These modules are rated for 1250MHz (5000MHz GDDR5 effective). With stock memory clocks at 4800MHz, I'd expect the memory to be able to overclock with ease... at the very least to 5000MHz.