MSI Radeon HD 7850 1GB review

November 5, 2012 | 08:16

Tags: #7850 #hd #overclock #radeon

Companies: #msi

Performance Analysis

In Battlefield 3 at 1,920 x 1,080, the MSI HD 7850 1GB was actually able to outperform the 2GB version thanks to its factory overclock, albeit by a single frame per second on the minimum frame rate. This suggests that the 2GB's extra 1GB of GDDR5 is all but useless at this resolution. It also gives it a 20 per cent performance lead over the EVGA GTX 650 Ti 1GB, which actually retails for around £5 more currently. At higher resolutions though, the MSI HD 7850 1GB suffers significantly compared to the 2GB one, falling behind even the cheaper HD 7770 1GB in the three screen test, suggesting that driver issues are coming into play.

MSI Radeon HD 7850 1GB review MSI Radeon HD 7850 1GB - Performance Analysis and Conclusion
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In Crysis 2, the MSI HD 7850 1GB demonstrated a tiny performance jump over the HD 7850 2GB at 1,920 x 1,080. Its minimum frame rate of 40fps in this test puts it leagues ahead of the HD 7770 1GB and GTX 650 Ti, and even places it close to the performance of both the HD 7870 2GB and GTX 660 2GB, both of which cost around £175 at the moment. The card even matches the performance of the HD 7850 2GB at 2,560 x 1,600, only revealing its GDDR5-deficiencies in three screen 5,760 x 1,080 gaming, where both cards are unplayable anyway.

Skyrim saw the MSI HD 7850 1GB trailing the 2GB version's minimum frame rate by 3fps at 1,920 x 1,080. Its own minimum frame rate of 50fps at this resolution was still 19 per cent higher than that of the more expensive EVGA GTX 650 Ti 1GB, but the gap between these two cards was closed at 2,560 x 1,600 to just 2fps. Due to driver issues, the card cannot run Skyrim across three screens, although this is no major loss given the market its targeting.

MSI Radeon HD 7850 1GB review MSI Radeon HD 7850 1GB - Performance Analysis and Conclusion
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In The Witcher 2, the MSI HD 7850 1GB matches the minimum frame rate of the HD 7850 2GB in every test, demonstrating that the extra 1GB of memory in this game is of no benefit With a minimum frame rate of 41fps at 1,920 x 1,080, the card is just 11 per cent slower than the GTX 660 2GB, a card that is nearly 50 per cent dearer.

The Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark placed the card 51 points higher than the HD 7850 2GB, thanks to the small overclock. Again, this saw the HD 7850 1GB outperform the more expensive GTX 650 Ti by a massive margin, and its score only 11 per cent less than the GTX 660 2GB.

Load power consumption is fine, with the 178W of system power consumption placing the slightly overclocked card just above the HD 7850 2GB at stock frequencies. MSI's cooling solution also did a great job of keeping the card cool in both idle and load states, and was very quiet too.

MSI Radeon HD 7850 1GB review MSI Radeon HD 7850 1GB - Performance Analysis and Conclusion
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Our overclocking efforts were not in vain either. Overclocked to a core frequency of 1,050MHz, performance at 1,920 x 1,080 in Battlefield 3 increased by 14 per cent with the new minimum frame rate of 42fps just two fps behind of the GTX 660 2GB's 44fps. In Unigine, the overclocked card was actually able to surpass the more expensive Nvidia card, although only by 30 points.

Conclusion

We have absolutely no qualms in saying that the MSI Radeon HD 7850 1GB is easily the best value card currently available for gaming at 1,920 x 1,080. At just £120 it's an absolute steal, offering value for money that is rarely seen in the hardware market. Shedding 1GB of memory (and thus some of the price) from the HD 7850 2GB has resulted in essentially zero performance degradation in 1080p gaming. The fact that the card overclocks well and also runs cool and quiet is the icing on the cake. Fans of shooters may also be interested to know that buying the card at the moment will also net you a free copy of Far Cry 3.

It's important to add though that the MSI Radeon HD 7850 1GB is not for resolutions exceeding 1,920 x 1,080 or 1,920 x 1,200. Performance degraded rapidly at 2,560 x 1,600 and above in a number of our test games, where the 1GB of missing memory becomes much more evident. Therefore, those with an eye for upgrading their monitor or looking to delve into multi-screen gaming will want to steer clear. HD 7850 2GB cards are also arguably more future-proof than the 1GB version; owners of Nvidia's 8800 GTS 320MB or a GTX 460 768MB know only too well that dropping the amount of GDDR5 can come back to haunt you.

However, those on a budget looking for a card to power 1,920 x 1,080 panels need look no further and should add this card to their shopping lists immediately.
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  • Performance
    31 / 40
  • Features
    26 / 30
  • Value
    29 / 30

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