AMD's Radeon HD 6870 and HD 6850 graphics cards are here, but they might not be what you expect -- though alphanumerics suggest they'd succeed the lauded Radeon HD 5870 and 5850, these new "Bart" chips are actually a pair of solid plays for the PC gaming mainstream. $180 buys you a Radeon HD 6850 with 960 stream processors, a 775MHz core clock and 1GB of GDDR5 memory at a 1GHz effective rate, and $240 nets the HD 6870 with 1120 stream processors and 900MHz / 1,050 MHz clocks respectively. On paper that puts them a good bit behind the finest, but a collection of reviews show they can keep up with the pack, as the 6870 consistently manages to surpass the framerates possible with NVIDIA's $200 GeForce GTX 460, and even the cheaper 6850 can do the same in certain games. Some reports indicate they run a good bit hotter than their predecessors, however, so despite the bevy of ports they're probably not right for your next HTPC. Hit up the reviews below for some promising benchmarks, and if you aren't turned away by AMD's lipsticking of the pig, you'll find ten varieties already for sale at our source link. PR after the break.

Update: NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 460 768MB now sells for $170, so there's definitely still some mid-range muscle in the green camp.

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AMD Aims to Deliver "Perfect Graphics Cards" for Gamers with New AMD Radeon™ HD 6800 Series

Next-generation graphics cards introduce unprecedented levels of game performance, best-in-class energy efficiency, and an unmatched feature set starting at $179


SUNNYVALE, Calif. -10/21/2010

AMD (NYSE: AMD) today introduced the next generation of PC gaming, the AMD Radeon™ HD 6800 series, designed to be "perfect graphics cards" for gamers by delivering unprecedented game performance starting at $179 SEP.2 The new AMD Radeon™ HD 6800 series graphics cards provide more than 30 percent greater game performance than competing products, harnessing AMD's second-generation Microsoft DirectX® 11-capable architecture, best-in-class energy efficiency, and an unmatched feature set, including AMD Eyefinity multi-display technology. The AMD Radeon™ HD 6800 series is available immediately from etailers worldwide.

"AMD is the market share leader by a landslide in DirectX® 11 graphics," said Matt Skynner, corporate vice president and general manager, GPU Division, AMD. "Through our sweet spot strategy and our open, industry standards approach, we've worked to deliver the best possible experience for gamers. Today, our laser focus on gamers continues with the introduction of what we think is far and away the best graphics card series today, the AMD Radeon™ HD 6800 series. With exceptional game performance, an unrivaled feature set including breathtaking DirectX® 11 gaming, AMD Eyefinity multi-display technology, AMD Accelerated Parallel Processing, and more, the AMD Radeon™ HD 6800 series will have all gamers wanting to get Radeon™ in their systems."

"One of the great advantages of PC gaming is the rapid pace at which the experiences evolve and improve, and the AMD Radeon™ HD 6800 series delivers on the promise of DirectX® 11 gaming with significantly improved visuals and enhanced performance," said Craig Owens, marketing director, EA. "With Medal of Honor, EA is pushing the boundaries of gaming technology to deliver a whole new online experience, and it only makes sense that we leverage the latest DirectX® 11 technology supported by AMD Radeon™ graphics cards to deliver an amazing experience for gamers."

Leading DirectX® 11 Performance and Eye-Definition Graphics
Ultimate efficiency for ultimate performance: With the AMD Radeon™ HD 6800 series, AMD aims to recreate the same incredible value proposition of the original "sweet spot" products, the ATI Radeon™ HD 4800 series graphics cards. Taking full advantage of AMD's experience with DirectX® 11, the AMD Radeon™ HD 6800 series is AMD's second-generation DirectX® 11-enabled chip designed to deliver more than 30 percent greater game performance over the closest competing products in their class and even faster tessellation for a more realistic gaming experience.1,3 The AMD Radeon™ HD 6800 series' architectural efficiency and advances in power management technology deliver in best-in-class energy efficiency.1

New and improved image quality features: AMD Radeon™ 6800 series graphics cards feature improved image quality, including all-new morphological anti-aliasing compatible with DirectX® 9, DirectX® 10, or DirectX® 11 applications, and improved anisotropic filtering.

Built for DirectX®11 games and more: DirectX®11 has quickly become the new standard for PC games. The majority of game developers chose AMD Radeon™ graphics cards as their development platform of choice for their DirectX® 11 games, and today AMD continues to enjoy strong relationships with those developers and many more. Beyond DirectX® 11 games, the AMD Radeon™ HD 6800 series also delivers an exceptional game play experience in DirectX® 9, DirectX® 10, DirectX® 10.1 and OpenGL titles in single card or multi-card AMD CrossFireX™ configurations.4

Expand Your Experience with AMD Eyefinity Technology and Leading Display Technologies
Continued industry leadership in multi-display computing: The AMD Radeon™ HD 6800 series graphics cards are the first in the industry to offer support for both DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 1.4a, providing PC users with expanded options for multi-monitor configurations, display selection, and new DisplayPort audio features.

Simple, flexible, affordable multi-display computing with AMD Eyefinity: AMD Eyefinity technology continues to be the most affordable multi-display solution available, offering incredible choice in display compatibility and configurations.5 More than 45 game titles have been AMD Eyefinity-validated or are AMD Eyefinity-ready titles, and there are hundreds of more games that are AMD Eyefinity-compatible. Additionally, continuing improvements to AMD Catalyst™ graphics drivers may unlock new functionality and flexibility in AMD Eyefinity features and configurations.

AMD HD3D technology for even more choice in 3D entertainment: With the AMD Radeon™ HD 6800 series graphics cards, AMD is introducing AMD HD3D technology, the result of our open 3D initiative for stereo 3D gaming and movies. AMD HD3D technology supports over 400 titles through its partners, and AMD's open 3D ecosystem approach encourages the broadest selection of 3D solutions, available at the most affordable cost.6

Live Life at EyeSpeed with AMD Accelerated Parallel Processing
Do more, faster with AMD Accelerated Parallel Processing (APP) technology: Enjoy new features, functionality and improved performance in top media, entertainment and productivity applications made possible by AMD APP technology.7

Enhanced video quality features: The AMD Radeon™ HD 6800 series graphics cards features Unified Video Decoder 3 (UVD), a dedicated video playback accelerator that enables users to get the most out of Blu-ray™ 3D movies, other HD video formats, and online video, while enjoying video quality improvements such as advanced post-processing and scaling, dynamic contrast enhancement, color correction and more.

Extensive support of industry standards: The AMD Radeon™ HD 6800 series graphics cards fully support both DirectCompute and OpenCL™, ensuring broad application support.

Partner Support
The AMD Radeon™ HD 6800 series graphics cards is supported by a dozen add-in-board companies, including ASUS, Club 3D, Diamond Multimedia, Force3D, GIGABYTE, HIS (Hightech Information Systems), MSI, PowerColor, SAPPHIRE Technology, VisionTek and XFX.

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ATI Radeon HD 6870 and HD 6850 reviewed, deemed worthy of the midrange