[nextpage title=”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.

[nextpage title=”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 TOPFigure 1: ASUS EAH5850 TOP

ASUS EAH5850 TOPFigure 2: ASUS EAH5850 TOP

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

ASUS EAH5850 TOPFigure 3: Video connectors

[nextpage title=”The ASUS EAH5850 TOP (Cont’d)”]

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 TOPFigure 4: Video card with the cooler removed

ASUS EAH5850 TOPFigure 5: The GPU cooler

ASUS EAH5850 TOPFigure 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 TOPFigure 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 TOPFigure 8: Accessories

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

[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]

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

  • Graphics chip: AMD ATI Radeon HD 5850 running at 765 MHz
  • Memory: 1 GB GDDR5 memory (256-bit interface) from Samsung (K4G10325FE-HC04), running at 1.25 GHz (4.5 GHz, QDR)
  • Bus type: PCI Express x16 2.0
  • Video Connectors: One DVI-D, one HDMI, and one DisplayPort
  • Video Capture (VIVO): No
  • Cables and adapters that come with this board: One DVI-to-VGA adapter, one HDMI-to-DVI adapter, one power adapter, and one CrossFireX bridge
  • Number of CDs/DVDs that come with this board: One
  • Games included: None
  • Programs included: None
  • More information: https://www.asus.com
  • Average Price in the US*: USD 310.00

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

[nextpage title=”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

  • Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
  • Video resolution: 2560×1600 @ 60 Hz

Driver Versions

  • AMD/ATI video driver version: Catalyst 10.7
  • NVIDIA video driver version: 258.96
  • Intel Inf driver version: 9.1.1.1019

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.

[nextpage title=”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, 1680×1050, 1920×1200, and 2560×1600. 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 1680×1050 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 1920×1200 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 2560×1600 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 1680×1050 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 1920×1200 Di
fference
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 2560×1600 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%

[nextpage title=”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, 1680×1050, 1920×1200, and 2560×1600, 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 1680×1050 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 1920×1200 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 2560×1600 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%

[nextpage title=”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, 1680×1050, 1920×1200, and 2560×1600, 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 1680×1050 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 1920×1200 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 2560×1600 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%

[nextpage title=”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 1680×1050 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 1920×1200 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 2560×1600 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%

[nextpage title=”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 1680×1050, 1920×1200, and 2560×1600 resolutions, with low texture settings, x8 anisotropic filtering and x4 anti-aliasing.

ASUS EAH5850 TOP Video Card Review

Aliens vs. Predator 1680×1050 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 1920×1200 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 2560×1600 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%

[nextpage title=”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 1680×1050, 1920×1200, and 2560×1600 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 1680×1050 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 1920×1200 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 2560×1600 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%

[nextpage title=”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 1680×1050 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 – 1680×1050 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 – 1680×1050 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 – 1680×1050 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%

[nextpage title=”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.