Recently I built a new computer. This monster rig sports a core-i7 and 16GB ram along the rest of the offerings you would expect from a moderately priced self build. At that time (months ago), I decided to skip on a new video card. My reasoning behind this was pretty simple and practical. My 8800GT still worked great! Besides, my days of hardcore gaming were a thing of the past. So I thought, why "waste" the money on a component which wouldn't be utilized very often. Instead, I opted to spend the money on more memory and more processing power. Boy, did I ever miscalculate!
I have just watched some HD video on my all-time favorite online first-person shooter game, Battlefield 3. All I can say is, "Wow!" This game looks amazing. When their commercial says, "Is it real or is it Battlefield 3?", they're not kidding. Now, I cannot be persuaded by the eye-candy alone, I'm not that easy; however, after reading and watching a few reviews, I am ready to pony up the dough. The consensus is, the single player campaign sucks, to put it bluntly. But any true Battlefield fan knows this makes little difference. The Battlefield franchise has always been the online bahemoth. I have spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours playing online since its inception back in 2002. However great this single game looked, I needed more to convince me to grab a new video card.
Enter The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim! It wasn't until today when I watched some HD videos of the various ins-and-outs the game has to offer that truly piqued my interest to look for a new video card. Prior to today, I was indeed impress by the stunning visuals coming from Bethesda (creators of TES V); but not quite sold. It takes a bit more that the eye-candy to sell me. I wanted more. I wanted to see if the problems with the previous game were addressed. And from what I can tell, they were (at least mildly in most cases.)
I won't delve into these games more because, this post is not a game review nor preview.
Now I know I need a new video card. So, off to my research I went. After digging through website reviews, buyers' comments and plenty of performance charts, I found the one. The AMD Radeon-HD 6850, and here's why: I wasn't looking for a super-high-end budget busting card, nor was I looking for a basic, low-end, inexpensive card either. The 6850 offered exactly what I was looking for... excellent performance, and a price less than a "buck-fifty." Firstly, this card scored in the top 15 of all cards today, including those that cost more than 3 times as much. Secondly, I have continuously read many positive consumer reviews. And finally, the price is right.
If you are in the market for a new video-card without "breaking-the-bank", look no further than the AMD-Radeon HD 6850.
(Now the hard part — convincing my wife.)
[UPDATE 11.08.2011] The latest "rumors" concerning the next Radeon Series [7xxx] say there will be some shipments in December with production ramping-up in Q1 2012. The next series could be up to 48% faster than the fastest single GPU card on the market today. It could be a good idea (if you can) to hold off on this purchase until the 7xxx Series is released. By Q2 2012 the prices of the 6900 Series will undoubtedly drop in price. Although in my experiences, the drop isnt drastic during the first few months of a new series release and for some, not worth the wait.
Also, video card reviews with Battlefield 3 are rolling out. It looks as though the 6850 is very "playable" [30+ fps] with this card; however, not on max settings [@1920x1080] It IS very early and AMD and nVidia are both updating their graphic drivers, but the first round of card reviews shows this 6850 is playable on medium and a couple high settings only. If you are looking to play on "Ultra Settings", the 6850 definitely is not for you.
I will update this post again after the release [11.11.11] and initial video card reviews using Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
[UPDATE 11.17.2011] According to TomsHardware.com this card will play The Elder Scrolls - Skyrim at a decent rate of approx. 33fps minimum and about 48fps on average at the highest settings. Other sites are reporting similar results.
Also, worthy of mentioning, the AMD Radeon 7850 & 7870 Series graphics cards will be out in December 2011. the AMD Radeon 7950 & 7970 will be out in January 2012.