ASUS EAH5850 TOP Video Card Review
By Gabriel Torres on September 22, 2010


Introduction

The ASUS EAH5850 TOP, also known as the EAH5850 DirectCU TOP/2DIS/1GD5 (phew!) comes with 1 GB GDDR5, pre-overclocked, and with a custom cooling solution that promises to lower temperature by 20% and noise level by 35% than the AMD stock cooler. Let’s check it out.

The Radeon HD 5850 is a DirectX 11 graphics chip, and in the table below we compare the main specifications of the six video cards we included in our review. The EAH5850 TOP model from ASUS comes with a 5.5% GPU overclocking and a 12.5% memory overclocking.

Video Card

Core Clock

Shader Clock

Memory Clock (Real)

Memory Clock (Effective)

Memory Interface

Memory Transfer Rate

Memory

Shaders

DirectX

GeForce GTX 460 (768 MB)

675 MHz

1,350 MHz

900 MHz

3,600 MHz

192-bit

86.4 GB/s

768 GB GDDR5

336

11

GeForce GTX 460 (1 GB)

675 MHz

1,350 MHz

900 MHz

3,600 MHz

256-bit

115.2 GB/s

1 GB GDDR5

336

11

GeForce GTX 465

607 MHz

1,215 MHz

801.5 MHz

3,206 MHz

256-bit

102.6 GB/s

1 GB GDDR5

352

11

Radeon HD 5830

800 MHz

800 MHz

1 GHz

4 GHz

256-bit

128 GB/s

1 GB GDDR5

1,120

11

Radeon HD 5850

725 MHz

725 MHz

1 GHz

4 GHz

256-bit

128 GB/s

1 GB GDDR5

1,440

11

ASUS EAH5860 TOP

765 MHz

765 MHz

1,125 MHz

4.5 GHz

256-bit

144 GB/s

1 GB GDDR5

1,440

11

You can compare the specs of these video cards with other video cards by taking a look at our AMD ATI Chips Comparison Table and NVIDIA Chips Comparison Table tutorials.

Now let’s take a complete look at this model from ASUS.

The ASUS EAH5850 TOP

The difference between the ASUS EAH5850 TOP and the AMD reference model is not only the factory-overclocking, but also the use of a different cooling solution.

ASUS EAH5850 TOP
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Figure 1: ASUS EAH5850 TOP

ASUS EAH5850 TOP
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Figure 2: ASUS EAH5850 TOP

This video card has three video outputs, one DVI-D, one HDMI, and one DisplayPort.

ASUS EAH5850 TOP
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Figure 3: Video connectors

The ASUS EAH5850 TOP (Contíd)

In Figure 4, you can see the video card with its cooler removed. Note how it requires one six-pin and one eight-pin auxiliary power connectors. In Figures 5 and 6, you can see the cooler by itself. Two thick, 8 mm, nickel-plated, copper heatpipes make direct contact with the GPU, connecting it to the heatsink.

ASUS EAH5850 TOP
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Figure 4: Video card with the cooler removed

ASUS EAH5850 TOP
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Figure 5: The GPU cooler

ASUS EAH5850 TOP
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Figure 6: The GPU cooler

The reviewed card uses eight 1 Gbit GDDR5 chips, making its 1 GB video memory (1 Gbit x 8 = 1 GB). Each chip is connected to the GPU using a 32-bit data lane, making the video card’s 256-bit memory interface (32 bits x 8 = 256).

The chips used are K4G10325FE-HC04 parts from Samsung, which support up to 1.25 GHz (4.5 GHz QDR) and since on this video card memory is accessed at 1.25 GHz (4.5 GHz QDR), there is no margin for you to increase the memory clock rate while keeping the chips inside the maximum they support. Of course you can always try to overclock the memory chips above their specs.

ASUS EAH5850 TOP
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Figure 7: Memory chips

In Figure 8, you can see the accessories that come with the reviewed card: one power adapter, one DVI-to-VGA adapter, one HDMI-to-DVI adapter, and one CrossFireX bridge. The product doesn’t come with any games.

ASUS EAH5850 TOP
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Figure 8: Accessories

Before seeing the performance results, let’s recap the main features of this video card.

Main Specifications

The main specifications for the ASUS EAH5850 TOP video card include:

* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.

How We Tested

During our benchmarking sessions, we used the configuration listed below. Between our benchmarking sessions the only variable was the video card being tested.

Hardware Configuration

Software Configuration

Driver Versions

Software Used

Error Margin

We adopted a 3% error margin. Thus, differences below 3% cannot be considered relevant. In other words, products with a performance difference below 3% should be considered as having similar performance.

3DMark Vantage Professional

3DMark Vantage measures Shader 4.0 (i.e., DirectX 10) performance and supports PhysX, a programming interface developed by Ageia (now part of NVIDIA) to transfer physics calculations from the system CPU to the video card GPU in order to increase performance. Mechanical physics is the basis for calculations about the interaction of objects. For example, if you shoot, what exactly will happen to the object when the bullet hits it? Will it break? Will it move? Will the bullet bounce back? Note that since we are considering only the GPU score provided by this program, physics calculations are not taken into account.

We ran this program at three 16:10 widescreen resolutions, 1680x1050, 1920x1200, and 2560x1600. First we used the “Performance” profile, and then we used the “Extreme” profile (basically enabling anti-aliasing at 4x, anisotropic filtering at 16x, and putting all detail settings at their maximum or “extreme” values). The results being compared are the “GPU Scores” achieved by each video card.

ASUS EAH5850 TOP Video Card Review

3DMark Vantage – Performance

1680x1050

Difference

ASUS EAH5850 TOP

12764

 

Radeon HD 5850

12747

-0.1%

Radeon HD 5830

10481

-17.9%

GeForce GTX 460 (1 GB)

9660

-24.3%

GeForce GTX 460 (768 MB)

9008

-29.4%

GeForce GTX 465

8926

-30.1%

ASUS EAH5850 TOP Video Card Review

3DMark Vantage – Performance

1920x1200

Difference

ASUS EAH5850 TOP

10334

 

Radeon HD 5850

10184

-1.5%

Radeon HD 5830

8302

-19.7%

GeForce GTX 460 (1 GB)

7608

-26.4%

GeForce GTX 465

7043

-31.8%

GeForce GTX 460 (768 MB)

7021

-32.1%

ASUS EAH5850 TOP Video Card Review

3DMark Vantage – Performance

2560x1600

Difference

ASUS EAH5850 TOP

6256

 

Radeon HD 5850

5998

-4.1%

Radeon HD 5830

4859

-22.3%

GeForce GTX 460 (1 GB)

4216

-32.6%

GeForce GTX 465

3974

-36.5%

GeForce GTX 460 (768 MB)

3466

-44.6%

ASUS EAH5850 TOP Video Card Review

3DMark Vantage – Extreme

1680x1050

Difference

ASUS EAH5850 TOP

9680

 

Radeon HD 5850

9547

-1.4%

GeForce GTX 460 (1 GB)

7964

-17.7%

Radeon HD 5830

7480

-22.7%

GeForce GTX 465

7479

-22.7%

GeForce GTX 460 (768 MB)

7412

-23.4%

ASUS EAH5850 TOP Video Card Review

3DMark Vantage – Extreme

1920x1200

Difference

ASUS EAH5850 TOP

7704

 

Radeon HD 5850

7573

-1.7%

GeForce GTX 460 (1 GB)

6327

-17.9%

Radeon HD 5830

5986

-22.3%

GeForce GTX 465

5868

-23.8%

GeForce GTX 460 (768 MB)

5811

-24.6%

ASUS EAH5850 TOP Video Card Review

3DMark Vantage – Extreme

2560x1600

Difference

ASUS EAH5850 TOP

4763

 

Radeon HD 5850

4571

-4.0%

GeForce GTX 460 (1 GB)

3641

-23.6%

Radeon HD 5830

3596

-24.5%

GeForce GTX 465

3362

-29.4%

GeForce GTX 460 (768 MB)

3177

-33.3%

Call of Duty 4

Call of Duty 4 is a DirectX 9 game implementing high-dynamic range (HDR) and its own physics engine, which is used to calculate how objects interact. For example, if you shoot, exactly what will happen to the object when the bullet hits it? Will it break? Will it move? Will the bullet bounce back? It gives a more realistic experience to the user.

To get accurate results we had to disable the 80 FPS limit in the game. To do this, input the command, “/seta com_maxfps 1000” (minus the quotes) into the console (` key). It can be set to any number greater than 200.

We ran this program at three 16:10 widescreen resolutions, 1680x1050, 1920x1200, and 2560x1600, maxing out all image quality controls (i.e., everything was set to the maximum values in the Graphics and Texture menus). We used the internal game benchmarking feature, running a demo provided by NVIDIA called “wetwork.” We are putting this demo here for downloading if you want to run your own benchmarks. We ran the demo five times, and the results below are the average number of frames per second (FPS) achieved by each video card.

ASUS EAH5850 TOP Video Card Review

Call of Duty 4 – Maximum

1680x1050

Difference

ASUS EAH5850 TOP

143.6

 

GeForce GTX 460 (1 GB)

141.4

-1.5%

Radeon HD 5850

141.3

-1.6%

GeForce GTX 465

120.6

-16.0%

Radeon HD 5830

116.8

-18.7%

GeForce GTX 460 (768 MB)

114.3

-20.4%

ASUS EAH5850 TOP Video Card Review

Call of Duty 4 – Maximum

1920x1200

Difference

ASUS EAH5850 TOP

124.4

 

GeForce GTX 460 (1 GB)

121.4

-2.4%

Radeon HD 5850

119.6

-3.9%

Radeon HD 5830

102.6

-17.6%

GeForce GTX 465

102.3

-17.8%

GeForce GTX 460 (768 MB)

96.1

-22.7%

ASUS EAH5850 TOP Video Card Review

Call of Duty 4 – Maximum

2560x1600

Difference

ASUS EAH5850 TOP

85.6

 

GeForce GTX 460 (1 GB)

84.2

-1.6%

Radeon HD 5850

82.5

-3.6%

GeForce GTX 465

70.4

-17.8%

Radeon HD 5830

69.7

-18.5%

GeForce GTX 460 (768 MB)

62.8

-26.6%

Crysis Warhead

Crysis Warhead is a DirectX 10 game based on the same engine as the original Crysis, but optimized (it runs under DirectX 9.0c when installed on Windows XP).

We used the HardwareOC Crysis Warhead Benchmark Tool to collect the data for this test. We ran this program at three 16:10 widescreen resolutions, 1680x1050, 1920x1200, and 2560x1600, all at medium image quality (16x anti-aliasing and 16x anisotropic filtering) and using the Airfield demo. The results below are the number of frames per second achieved by each video card.

ASUS EAH5850 TOP Video Card Review

Crysis Warhead – Medium

1680x1050

Difference

ASUS EAH5850 TOP

70

 

Radeon HD 5850

69

-1.4%

GeForce GTX 465

63

-10.0%

GeForce GTX 460 (1 GB)

61

-12.9%

GeForce GTX 460 (768 MB)

57

-18.6%

Radeon HD 5830

49

-30.0%

ASUS EAH5850 TOP Video Card Review

Crysis Warhead – Medium

1920x1200

Difference

ASUS EAH5850 TOP

61

 

Radeon HD 5850

59

-3.3%

GeForce GTX 465

57

-6.6%

GeForce GTX 460 (1 GB)

56

-8.2%

GeForce GTX 460 (768 MB)

50

-18.0%

Radeon HD 5830

44

-27.9%

ASUS EAH5850 TOP Video Card Review

Crysis Warhead – Medium

2560x1600

Difference

GeForce GTX 460 (1 GB)

49

6.5%

ASUS EAH5850 TOP

46

 

Radeon HD 5850

43

-6.5%

GeForce GTX 465

41

-10.9%

GeForce GTX 460 (768 MB)

36

-21.7%

Radeon HD 5830

34

-26.1%

Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2 is based on an entirely new game engine called Dunia, which is DirectX 10 when played under Windows Vista with a DirectX 10 compatible video card.

We used the benchmarking utility that comes with this game, setting image quality to High (x8 anti-aliasing) and running the “Ranch Long” demo three times. The results below are expressed in frames per second and are an arithmetic average of the three results collected.

ASUS EAH5850 TOP Video Card Review

FarCry 2 – Maximum

1680x1050

Difference

ASUS EAH5850 TOP

76.4

 

Radeon HD 5850

75.8

-0.8%

GeForce GTX 460 (1 GB)

75.3

-1.4%

GeForce GTX 465

72.5

-5.1%

GeForce GTX 460 (768 MB)

70.0

-8.4%

Radeon HD 5830

65.6

-14.1%

ASUS EAH5850 TOP Video Card Review

FarCry 2 – Maximum

1920x1200

Difference

Radeon HD 5850

63.2

1.9%

ASUS EAH5850 TOP

62.0

 

GeForce GTX 460 (1 GB)

61.0

-1.6%

GeForce GTX 465

60.4

-2.7%

GeForce GTX 460 (768 MB)

58.0

-6.4%

Radeon HD 5830

53.5

-13.8%

ASUS EAH5850 TOP Video Card Review

FarCry 2 – Maximum

2560x1600

Difference

ASUS EAH5850 TOP

45.6

 

GeForce GTX 460 (1 GB)

44.9

-1.6%

Radeon HD 5850

42.7

-6.3%

GeForce GTX 465

38.2

-16.1%

GeForce GTX 460 (768 MB)

26.4

-42.0%

Radeon HD 5830

23.8

-47.9%

Aliens vs. Predator

Aliens vs. Predator is a DirectX 11 game that makes full use of tessellation and advanced shadow rendering. We used the Aliens vs. Predator Benchmark Tool developed by Rebellion. This program reads its configuration from a text file (our configuration files can be found here). We ran this program at 1680x1050, 1920x1200, and 2560x1600 resolutions, with low texture settings, x8 anisotropic filtering and x4 anti-aliasing.

ASUS EAH5850 TOP Video Card Review

Aliens vs. Predator

1680x1050

Difference

GeForce GTX 460 (1 GB)

63.9

2.4%

ASUS EAH5850 TOP

62.4

 

Radeon HD 5850

59.7

-4.3%

GeForce GTX 465

55.8

-10.6%

GeForce GTX 460 (768 MB)

46

-26.3%

Radeon HD 5830

43.4

-30.4%

ASUS EAH5850 TOP Video Card Review

Aliens vs. Predator

1920x1200

Difference

GeForce GTX 460 (1 GB)

53.3

1.7%

ASUS EAH5850 TOP

52.4

 

Radeon HD 5850

51.3

-2.1%

GeForce GTX 465

44.7

-14.7%

GeForce GTX 460 (768 MB)

36.6

-30.2%

Radeon HD 5830

34.5

-34.2%

ASUS EAH5850 TOP Video Card Review

Aliens vs. Predator

2560x1600

Difference

GeForce GTX 460 (1 GB)

30.4

1.3%

ASUS EAH5850 TOP

30

 

Radeon HD 5850

27.9

-7.0%

GeForce GTX 465

26.8

-10.7%

GeForce GTX 460 (768 MB)

21.3

-29.0%

Radeon HD 5830

20.5

-31.7%

Metro 2033

Metro 2033 is a DirectX 11 game. To benchmark this game we used FRAPS to record the average FPS while playing part way through the Chase level (the save file we used can be downloaded here). We ran this program at 1680x1050, 1920x1200, and 2560x1600 resolutions, setting texture quality at “Low,” anti-aliasing at “AAA,” anisotropic filtering at 4x, tessellation “on,” and DoF “off.”

ASUS EAH5850 TOP Video Card Review

Metro 2033

1680x1050

Difference

GeForce GTX 460 (1 GB)

84.68

2.7%

ASUS EAH5850 TOP

82.46

 

Radeon HD 5850

82.37

-0.1%

GeForce GTX 465

78.56

-4.7%

GeForce GTX 460 (768 MB)

66.37

-19.5%

Radeon HD 5830

63.13

-23.4%

ASUS EAH5850 TOP Video Card Review

Metro 2033

1920x1200

Difference

GeForce GTX 460 (1 GB)

74.33

2.6%

ASUS EAH5850 TOP

72.46

 

Radeon HD 5850

71.02

-2.0%

GeForce GTX 465

66.57

-8.1%

GeForce GTX 460 (768 MB)

55.55

-23.3%

Radeon HD 5830

52.53

-27.5%

ASUS EAH5850 TOP Video Card Review

Metro 2033

2560x1600

Difference

GeForce GTX 460 (1 GB)

53.60

3.8%

ASUS EAH5850 TOP

51.62

 

Radeon HD 5850

49.76

-3.6%

GeForce GTX 465

42.57

-17.5%

GeForce GTX 460 (768 MB)

37.94

-26.5%

Radeon HD 5830

34.48

-33.2%

Darkest of Days

Darkest of days is a DirectX 9 game that implements a PhysX engine, moving physics calculations from the CPU to the GPU. Although it’s not very popular, we added this game because of its PhysX benchmarking feature. We ran this game at 1680x1050 with details set at “very high,” and both anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering disabled. We ran three tests, first with PhysX set at “low,” where the game makes all physics calculations using the system CPU, then increasing it to “medium” (which adds leaves, wind and weapons impact effects due to bullets and grenades), and finally increasing it to “high” (which adds fog and smoke effects). The medium and high PhysX levels move physics calculations from the CPU to the GPU. Keep in mind that only NVIDIA-based cards support PhysX.

ASUS EAH5850 TOP Video Card Review

Darkest of Days - 1680x1050

Low Phys X

Difference

GeForce GTX 465

99.25

54.4%

GeForce GTX 460 (1 GB)

94.49

47.0%

GeForce GTX 460 (768 MB)

94.43

46.9%

ASUS EAH5850 TOP

64.28

 

Radeon HD 5850

59.43

-7.5%

Radeon HD 5830

51.69

-19.6%

ASUS EAH5850 TOP Video Card Review

 Darkest of Days - 1680x1050

Medium PhysX

Difference

GeForce GTX 465

78.09

2308.0%

GeForce GTX 460 (1 GB)

76.87

2270.5%

GeForce GTX 460 (768 MB)

69.41

2040.5%

ASUS EAH5850 TOP

3.24

 

Radeon HD 5850

2.96

-8.6%

Radeon HD 5830

1.44

-55.6%

 

ASUS EAH5850 TOP Video Card Review

Darkest of Days - 1680x1050

High PhysX

Difference

GeForce GTX 465

46.92

3354.3%

GeForce GTX 460 (1 GB)

45.83

3274.3%

GeForce GTX 460 (768 MB)

42.78

3049.4%

Radeon HD 5830

1.44

6.1%

ASUS EAH5850 TOP

1.36

 

Radeon HD 5850

1.36

-0.1%

Conclusions

In most games and simulations we’ve ran, the ASUS EAH5850 TOP achieved performance similar to the standard Radeon HD 5850. The times it was faster, the advantage wasn’t of statistical relevance. The reviewed model from ASUS was up to 7% faster than the standard HD 5850, but it cost way more than the standard model (USD 310 vs. USD 255). Pay 20% more to get up to 7% more performance? No, thanks.

Of course this model comes with a better cooling solution, but you have the option to buy the same video card without the factory overclocking for USD 280 (ASUS EAH5850 DIRECTCU/2DIS/1GD5).

Although the Radeon HD 5850 graphics chip is a good option and we’ve been recommending it since its launch, the ASUS EAH5850 TOP itself is highly overpriced, and, therefore, we can’t recommend it.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/ASUS-EAH5850-TOP-Video-Card-Review/1093


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