If you don't mind sacrificing some smoothness in exchange for a lower price, experts say the overclocked MSI R6850 Cyclone Power Edition/OC is a solid video card. While it doesn't play games at silky-smooth 50-plus fps rates like the MSI N560GTX-Ti Twin Frozr II/OC (*Est. $245), benchmark testing shows the R6850 can play virtually any game at a very playable 30-fps clip on all but the biggest computer monitors. MSI's proprietary Cyclone fan keeps thermal temperatures very low and runs almost silently. Reviewers say that the Cyclone cooling system, compared with MSI's bundled Afterburner tweaking utility, makes the card a pleasure to overclock.
Users call MSI's customer service slow and aggravating, but say it eventually resolves most issues. The company covers its cards for three years from the date of manufacture using a serial number-based system, which is a plus if you misplace your proof of purchase. A number of publications review and appreciate the stock Radeon HD 6850, but only HardOCP.com, Bit-Tech.net, TechPowerUp.com and Guru3D.com evaluate the MSI R6850 Cyclone Power Edition/OC directly. All subject the card to extensive testing.
TechPowerUp.com is known for its lengthy reviews, and its coverage of the MSI R6850 Cyclone Power Edition/OC is no different at 32 pages long. The card's whisper-quiet cooling system and large out-of-the-box overclock help it earn an Editor's Choice award.
Review: MSI HD 6850 Cyclone Power Edition, "W1zzard", Jan. 20, 2011
British website Bit-Tech.net subjects the MSI R6850 Cyclone Power Edition/OC to several benchmark tests, then concludes with a helpful performance analysis and ratings in a handful of categories. The card earns a Recommended award and is called the best choice in its price range, especially after factoring in its high overclocking potential.
Review: MSI R6850 Cyclone Power Edition Review, Harry Butler, April 1, 2011
HardOCP.com is highly impressed with the MSI R6850 Cyclone Power Edition/OC, saying it delivers top-of-class performance with a "middle of the pack" cost. "With the R6850 Cyclone, MSI has delivered a technical masterwork with an amazing price tag," Mark Warner writes en route to giving the video card an Editor's Choice Gold Award.
Review: MSI R6850 Cyclone Power Edition Video Card Review, Mark Warner, Feb. 8, 2011
Guru3D.com gives the MSI R6850 Cyclone Power Edition/OC a Recommended award for its blend of cool temperatures, near-silent running and good graphics performance. However, Hilbert Hagedoorn likes the card's high overclocking potential more than anything else.
Review: MSI Radeon 6850 Cyclone Power Review, Hilbert Hagedoorn, Dec. 24, 2010
Most owners of the MSI R6850 Cyclone Power Edition/OC seem very pleased. About 75 percent of the more than 60 who weigh in give the graphics card a perfect score, and overall it earns 4 eggs out of 5. A few users get cards that disappoint, or that fail out of the box or shortly thereafter. In several of those cases, an MSI representative reaches out to help resolve the issues.
Review: MSI R6850 Cyclone PE/OC Radeon HD 6850, Contributors to Newegg.com, As of April 2012