Asus beefs up its stock Radeon HD 5850 for better overclocking
All of the Radeon cards tested here are based on AMD’s reference design, including this Asus card. However, Asus includes Smart Doctor software, which allows you to easily overclock its card.
You can use the app to auto-tune the clock speeds, though this typically gives you a conservative up-clock that results in a relatively modest performance gain. When we used the auto-overclock feature, we saw gains of 8 percent in 3DMark Vantage, and a couple of frames per second in STALKER and Far Cry 2. If you have the patience, you can tweak voltage settings, core clocks, and memory clocks manually, which could boost performance more substantially.
The Asus EAH5850 is a double-wide card, and is 9.5 inches long. It will fit comfortably in most PC cases, although it requires a second slot. This is a more power-efficient card than the higher-end Radeon HD 5870s; our system idled at 138W, and maxed out under load at 260W—that’s about 55W less than the Radeon HD 5870 cards. If you use Smart Doctor to push up the voltage on the card, you’ll consume more power, so make sure you have a robust power supply in your system.
At stock clock speeds, performance was on par with the other Radeon HD 5850 cards in the roundup, but the addition of Smart Doctor is a definite distinguishing characteristic. The $260 Asus card was even with or better than the fastest last-generation card, EVGA’s 285 GTX SSC.
Asus offers a three-year warranty, better than all other manufacturers except XFX.