The HD6850 that Bjorn3D originally reviewed turned out to be a bit of a mutant, sporting an additional 160 shader units above the 960 that exists in the retail version.  So of course they grabbed a retail model for comparison.  It turns out that the 1120 shader model is noticeably different, it consumes more power and it provides a boost in performance, one that seems to grow compared to the retail model as resolution increases.  It is unlikely that you will have a chance to get a hold of an HD6850 that sports the same number of shader units as the HD6870, nor is their hints as to whether some HD6850’s shipped with disabled shader units but it is still early days for this GPU.

“When AMD launched their Radeon HD6xxx series, we did a review of the Sapphire HD6850. Soon after, we found out that the review sample sent to us contained 1120 shader units instead of the 960 shader units that AMD prescribed for the HD6850. We quickly contacted Sapphire, and confirmed that the review sample did indeed contain 1120 shaders. We did what any reputable product analyst would do, and shipped our review sample back to Sapphire for a retail version of the HD6850 so we could rerun our benchmarks and obtain an accurate result.”

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