Need a videocard but find yourself cramped for space? Unfortunately for you, many of today's mid-range to high-end graphics cards take up two slots, a necessary evil in order to cool today's increasingly power (and power hungry) GPUs. Fortunately for you, most board partners also like to experiment with their own designs, ditching reference blueprints in favor of their own cooling creations. It was this mindset that led Powercolor to launch the first single-slot Radeon HD 6850 videocard.
As rumored, Nvidia slashed the price of its GeForce GTX 470 videocard today, and did so by more than 25 percent, at least in terms of MSRP. The GTX 470, which was originally marked at $349, can now be found for as little as $260.
That's about $20 more expensive than the lowest priced AMD Radeon HD 6870 videocards (you can read our review of the XFX HD 6870 here, and the HD 6850 here), all without any mail-in-rebate shenanigans.
So out of the two, which should you get? You could flip a piece-of-eight and be happy with the result no matter how it lands. The GTX 470 is slightly faster than the HD 6870, while the latter costs a little less. If a warranty is what matters most, out of the $260 and under cards, only the EVGA GTX 470 comes with a lifetime backing (provided you register the card within 30 days). XFX also offers a lifetime backing on its cards, which one-ups EVGA's by being transferable to a second owner, but the XFX HD 6870 runs for $280.
Are you planning to upgrade to one of these new cards? If so, which one? Even if you're not, which do you think is the better buy out of these: HD 6870, HD 6850, GTX 470, GTX 460.
Recent rumors suggest AMD has settled on calling its upcoming Barts XT and Barts PRO videocards the Radeon HD 6870 and 6850, respectively. That would make sense, except for one not-so-minor detail: these cards are intended to replace AMD's Radeon HD 5700 series, not the 5800 series.
That won't affect Maximum PC readers, but for gamers who don't have the time or desire to keep up with such things are likely to end up confused thinking the 6870 and 6850 trump the 5870 and 5850. That's not going to be the case.
Now we're hearing chatter that AMD plans to dub its Cayman XT and Cayman PRO variants Radeon HD 6970 and 6950, respectively. These will be AMD's top-end graphics cards, but unlike the Radeon HD 5970, these are both single-GPU parts.
The Cayman parts are expected to launch in late November.
By hanging out at the rumor mill, we recently learned AMD plans to ship its next-generation HD 6870 and HD 6850 graphics cards on October 22nd, just over a week from today. Before we left, we heard some more interesting chatter.
Keep in mind that none of this is coming from AMD, but it appears the company who killed off the ATI brand is playing shenanigans with the upcoming cards' model numbers. At a glance, you would expect the 6870 and 6850 to replace the 5870 and 5850, but you'd be wrong, through no fault of your own. Placing logic in a burlap sack, beating it senseless, and throwing it into a river, AMD's 6870 and 6850 will reportedly replace the Radeon 5700 series.
Chinese-language website XFastest.com has the skinny on the new parts. According to XFastest, the 6870 has a 900MHz core clock, 960 stream processors, a 256-bit memory bus, and GDDR5 cranked up to 4200MHz (effective). This one will likely end up selling for $250.
As for the 6850, this one features a 775MHz core clock, 800 stream processors, and GDDR5 clocked at 4000MHz (effective), as well as the same 256-bit memory bus.
XFastest has the 6870 scoring below a 5870 in 3DMark Vantage (P17,924 versus P16,270), while the 6850 scored below a 5850 (P15,593 versus P14,872).
If you can hang tight for another week and a half before upgrading your GPU, you'll have more options to play with. That's assuming news and rumor site Fudzilla is correct in saying AMD's HD 6870 and HD 6850 will launch next Friday, October 22nd.
AMD purportedly has already begun shipping parts to vendors, meaning this won't be a paper launch. How well the cards end up selling, however, will depend on how well they compete with current-gen parts.
Both cards are being built around AMD's Barts core (PRO  and XT ), with the faster Cayman core reserved for high-end parts later this year, likely the HD 6890 and/or 6970/6950. Both the 6870 and 6850 are expected to ship with 1GB of GDDR5, HDMI, DVI-I, DVI-D, and DisplayPort outputs (two DisplayPorts on the 6870).