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The HD 6850’s GPU and architecture are much the same as those of its larger sibling. It has fewer stream processors – 960 rather than 1,120 – and although the memory bus remains at 256-bit, the memory speed has been reduced slightly to 1,000MHz. The most significant change is the GPU’s core clock speed, which has been reduced by 125MHz to 775MHz.The HD 6850 still provides plenty of power

 

Despite these differences, we had to look to our tougher tests to separate this card’s performance from that of the HD 6870. Running Crysis at 1,920×1,080 with 4x anti-aliasing gave us a score of 42.6fps – just 4fps below the HD 6870’s score. The gap widened in our DX11 STALKER test, with the HD 6850 producing 33.3fps compared with 38.8fps from the more powerful card. The HD 6850 achieved a higher score than the GTX 460 1GB in all our tests.

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Our initial reaction to the launch of the new 6000-series Radeon graphics cards was one of mild disappointment. That’s probably not quite whatAMD was hoping for, especially when it has finally retired the ATI name in favour of its own three-letter moniker. Radeon 5000-series cards have dominated our awards in the last year, and we were hoping for a leap forward in performance, matched no doubt by a serious price hike. Instead, with the new HD 6870 and HD 6850,AMD has decided to refine its current architecture and release a pair of good-value, power-efficient cards.

 

 

 

The real gains have been made by an increase in the clock speed, which has shot up from 725MHz on the HD 5850 to 900MHz on the HD 6870. The smaller GPU is largely what makes this possible, as it stays cooler.

 

The HD 6870 has been optimised for DX11 with its range of fancy new graphical effects.A new tessellation engine, which automatically scales the amount of detail required in any 3D object depending how far it is from the camera, is the key element here. It works, too, with the HD 6870 scoring 10fps more than its predecessor in our STALKER test.

Nvidia has lacked a credible mid-range graphic card for too long, with ATI’s 4000- and 5000-series cards taking all the plaudits for the past two years. The GTX 460 marked Nvidia’s return to serious competition with arch-rival ATI. Gigabyte’s GV-N450-1GI is based around Nvidia’s new GeForce GTS 450 chipset.

 

The key change is a significant reduction in the number of processing cores: the GTX 460 has 336, while the GTS 450 has 192. This fall in parallel processing power is partly offset by a higher GPU clock speed of 810MHz, up from the GTX 460’s 675MHz. The card has a 128-bit bus, which is half that of the 1GB GTX 460. This reduces the card’s ability to move data between the memory and the GPU.What’s more, its 1GB of RAMr uns at 902MHz, which is much slower than the HD 5770’s 1.2GHz memory. So although both cards have 128-bit memory buses, the GTS 450’s bandwidth is 57.7GB/s, while the HD 5770’s is 76.8GB/s.

The D-Link MyPocket is a 3G wireless router the size of a smartphone, with no Ethernet ports. Sliding off the back cover, you find a SIMcard slot, a microSD card slot and a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that lasts for a couple of hours when using 3G, and for just over four when used simply as a wireless hub. It can also be used as a simple 3G dongle, and the contents of the memory card can be shared across your network. Setting up the MyPocket is reasonably simple. It comes with a Quick Start guide on CD, which you’ll need to read to find out that the connection manager software only installs correctly when the MyPocket is in modem mode. Once installed, the software lets you choose from a huge list of pre-configured connection profiles, so you don’t have to know your 3G carrier’s details.

 

You can also connect to the MyPocket over WiFi, accessing the setup web page at 192.168.0.1. You can set the router up manually or using the wizard. Wireless support is the key feature for portable routers, as it lets you access the internet on the move from any wireless device, such as an iPod Touch.

 

Support for Dynamic DNS is included, and you can use either D-Link’s own service or the popular DynDNS service, both of which are free. You can also specify an IP address from which you can connect remotely. These are useful
if you use the MyPocket as your main router at home, although you’d need to leave it plugged in to a power socket.

BILLION BiPAC 5200W

The Billion 5200W is one such N-lite router.it’s far from the cheapest router, but then it’s designed for business rather than home use. For this reason the 5200W has a feature-filled web interface that some could find confusing. Thankfully, there’s also an easy-to-use wizard that walks you through the basics. Small business users will appreciate the wealth of features, if they can decipher the poorly translated menu system. However, the organisation of sections within is fairly logical: this first section is split into Internet, LAN and Wireless sub-sections, while the Advanced Setup tab handles firewall, routing, NAT, QoS and advanced ADSL settings. The Wireless section lets you change the wireless channel, which is worth considering if you’re in an area with many wireless networks, although we found the Auto mode fairly reliable. You should also select 20MHz only under 11n Settings to turn off
channel bonding

 

 

Speeds started well but tailed off at long range. At 1m, Billion’s own BiPAC 3011W adaptor managed 42.75Mbit/s, and at 10m we saw respectable speeds
of between 32Mbit/s and 37Mbit/s.

ASUS Xonar DG

The Xonar DG is the cheapest PCI sound card Asus has ever released, but it still has 5.1 analogue surround sound, a mic/line-in port, a dedicated S/PDIF output and variable impedance settings for optimising its analogue stereo output for different types of headphone. It comes with a full-size backplate attached, but a low-profile backplate is also provided, which is handy if you want to use the card in a compact media centre PC.

 

This makes little difference to anyone else. No MP3s, CDs or film and game soundtracks are likely to use anything more than the standard sample rates of 44.1KHz or 48KHz. Blu-ray audio has a native sample rate of up to 192KHz, but only devices that support Protected Audio Path can take advantage of it. The Xonar DG doesn’t.

Nvidia has announced its NVS 300 business graphics solution, a graphics processor designed to deliver visual fi delity across up to eight displays, while consuming minimal power. The NVS 300 graphics processor offers versatile display connectivity in a low-profi le, space-saving graphics card design.Compatible with LCD, DLP, and plasma display types and standard tower, work station, and small-form-factor system confi gurations, the NVS 300 supports VGA, DVI, DisplayPort, and HDMI at resolutions as high as 2560×1600.

The new graphics processor features Nvidia nView desktop management software and new Nvidia Mosaic technology, which provides seamless taskbar spanning and transparent scaling of any application across as many as eight displays.

 

 

The NVS 300 is built for demanding enterprises that require high reliability, improved manageability, and tremendous value.

The NVS 300 graphics processor sports a passive thermal design and built-in power management technology, which intelligently adjusts power consumption based on the applications in use.