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You know you have bought a good card when one of the latest games sets itself to ultra!
The 7850 Core is the lower end of the 7800 range from AMD/ATI. The single fan version is the 'Core' edition in most cases, although I believe vendors can and do change the setups so check the part numbers if you are buying specifically.
The 7800 range however is far from low end, this IS a serious gaming card and a serious range of AMD's! I will not cover the specs because they are there for you to see but what I will point out is that its big brother the 7870 (at least some variation of the 7870s) are not so far different, which is why at the price point, it's my opinion that this card is good if not great value. The 7870 seems to have a faster stock clock and memory bus. Again here is where the price point hits, for a lot less you can pick this card up and use the built in overdrive features to clock up. Not that I have needed to however as its running all games fast on stock settings!
The card is giving me 60 to +100FPS on a core i5 in a recent software title, don't read too much into the numbers since everyones kit differs, just use this as a comparison with my old card 6670 which really did struggle with anything higher than Low/Medium graphics settings on the same setup, not to mention that I am running HD 1080 now as opposed to 720 on the 6670. A move to ultra settings and jump in resolution is no small change, yet the 7850 keeps up.
The card runs quite hot, under load it will reach 60/70 degrees and the fan gears up in those ranges, its quite loud. Some cards have 2GB of RAM but using some monitoring software I have yet to see a title address anything near 2GB, I sense it's a bit of built in future proofing or a selling point...?
No analog VGA so keep that in mind when buying, DVI and HDMI with multi output support...great!
All in all a fast card in my opinion, everyones kit differs, however; I sense most users would be really very pleased with this gaming card. It's not to be confused with the lower range that AMD offer, this card is high spec! With good performance for the price point I have to say I would without doubt recommend this card to a friend. Would I purchase it again? YES without doubt I have bought a very capable card with the ability (using software from AMD...so its legit) to overclock the card. As everyone does...you look for a little bit of future proofing in your purchases and I sense I got some of that with this purchase (at the time of writing of course).
Form factor is quite small in fact, some cards of lower specs of yesteryear would have taken up more room. Fits into a gaming case quite nicely! Double PCI bracket taken up so watch out when using with MINI ATX formats. Make sure you have enough room!
BAD points: Fan is loud when it spins up, but I feel safe in Overclocking it a little when the temperatures are managed well, so...it's a trade off that I am happy to accept.
Other points to note: The card needs a meaty power unit, 500watts power unit is what was recommended to me, and I sense the card takes a good amount of that overhead without leaving me too much change, so if you're building a system maybe consider an even higher wattage if the rest of your rig is demanding too.