Earlier this month we reviewed the (paper launched) reference AMD Radeon HD 7850, which shares the same PCB as the higher end HD 7870. Back then we also felt that the stock performance was lackluster and our review sample had almost zero overclockability. Coming to stores next week, ASUS's custom pre-overclocked HD7850 offering actually punches above its weight and impressed us. Read on to find out why!
Built with AMD Southern Island's 'Pitcairn Pro' GPU, ASUS HD7850 DirectCU II TOP 2GB (HD7850-DC2T-2GD5) is a dual slot card with their much heralded "DirectCU II" direct contact heatpipe cooler.
At first glance from the front, the dual fan ASUS card looks similar size wise to the reference HD7850 blower design.
But when we turn the cards around, we see that the ASUS card actually uses a significantly cut down version of the reference PCB.
No changes at the display outputs so six monitor Eyefinity can be achieved with pair of mini-DP, a single HDMI and a DVI-D port.
The PCB is actually 8-inches length wise but the protuding part of the cooler extends it to 10.5-inches. We feel that there is a missed opportunity here to serve users of space constrained enclosures since the rated TDP of the HD 7850 at 130W is not very high anyway and can make do with a smaller cooling system. A 6-pin PCIe extension cable is preinstalled as the release catch on the card is obstructed by the cooler.
Accessories – the mandatory driver CD and instruction manual, a CrossfireX bridge and a DVI to analog convertor
Quick refresher – the HD 7850 has 16 'Graphics Core Next' compute units (almost half that of the big daddy HD 7970), with 1024 Stream processors, 32 ROPs and a GDDR5 256bit memory bus. ASUS pre-overclocked their card to 975MHz on the core and 1250MHz on the memory, a decent increase of 115MHz (13.4%) and 50MHz (4%) respectively. As with all the new 28nm based cards launching this year, the HD 7850 has PCIe 3.0 support, which helps in transfer bandwidth constrained scenarios like HD video encoding and will work with the current Intel Sandy Bridge-E and the upcoming Ivy Bridge platforms.