ATI's Radeon HD 5850 hit the streets about a week after its older brother, the HD 5870, shook up the graphics card market in mid-September. Despite the late arrival, HD 5850 is already gaining the reputation as a mid-priced powerhouse and quite possibly the best value anywhere. Read on to find out what's under the hood

First things first: Any member of ATI's new 5800 family is going to be something special. After a few launch delays and lots of hype, ATI popped the cork on the first line of graphics cards with DirectX 11 support. In fact, the "Evergreen" line of GPU's with the new RV870 architecture was the first really new development to hit the graphics card market in a long time, one that will no doubt leave Nvidia scrambling to meet the challenge with something actually new - not rehashed -- by the holidays. (Sounds like the Nvidia "Fermi" line may answer this question.)

ATI Radeon HD 5850 Video CardRight out of the gate, the HD 5850 is over a hundred bucks less expensive that the HD 5870 and occupies about 1" less real estate -- about 9.5". Launched at roughly $260, the HD 5850 yields 2.15 billion transistors plus 1GB of GDDR5 with a memory clock tripping the radar at 1000MHz. The core clock buzzes along at 725MHz, and the unit offers 1440 Stream Processing Units. Adding AMD Eyefinity in addition to DirectX 11 support opens the door to a new generation of gaming. Cutting to the chase, we're talking about a serious gamers card at a great price --one that's likely to come down by spring.

The reviews are already coming in less than a week after the HD 5850 hit the shelves. Over at Newegg ratings are holding steady at Excellent while the review at PC Perspective concludes, " the new Radeon HD 5850 is definitely the best card you can get in the $250 price range today and I think it is my best overall pick for all gamers." TechReport weighs in with "the Radeon HD 5850 manages to outshine the fastest single-GPU GeForce card overall while costing less, drawing less power, and producing less noise."

It's new, it's reasonably priced, it's sexy, and people love it. So what are you waiting for?

ATI Radeon HD 5850 Nuts and Bolts:

  • Transistors: 2.15 billion
  • Core Clock: 725MHz
  • Memory: 1GB GDDR5
  • Memory Clock: 1000MHz
  • Max resolution: 2560x1600