Review: Better than reference HD 3850 and cool
This time around we decided to test Diamond’s dual-slot HD 3850 card with 512MB of GDDR3 memory, and this baby is no reference design. Diamond opted for 512MB of memory, and it’ll definitely come in handy. However, it struck us as a bit odd that this card still runs at reference speeds, whereas Diamond claims on their Website that this is an overclocked piece of hardware. We had a reading of 670MHz core and 830MHz memory speed, which are reference speeds for Radeon HD 3850. Diamond HD 3850 packs a dual-slot cooler capable of cooling the GPU that runs at greater speeds than these, but we’ll talk about that a bit later.
The design of the card is slightly different that the reference one, and although the PCB wasn’t moved, the rest of the components are. GPU was pushed a bit to the right, whereas VRM is closer to CrossFire connectors than the power connector. This won’t affect the end user because your HD 3850 uses maximum 100W, and when in idle mode, PowerPlay will reduce your consumption depending on the GPU usage.
The card is dual-slot, but due to the cooler’s design, the hot air will stay in the case. One big 80x80mm fan blows air directly on the block that leans on the GPU.
The fan is Y.S.Tech FD128015ML but we couldn’t find any specs. Its speed was constant during tests, and although it’s quieter than HD 3850’s or 8800 GT’s cooler, it’s still too loud for those who crave absolute silence. Still, it cools the GPU flawlessly, even when it’s under a workload, and our readings were maximum 63 degrees Celsius.
The card features 8 memory modules, each packing 64MB of memory, and it adds up to 512MB of GGDR3 in total. Diamond uses Samsung K4J52324QE-BJ1A memory and you can easily overclock it even further. We had no trouble pushing it up to 980MHz but we also pushed the graphics core up to 735MHz. These are not impossible speeds, and we know that HIS sells their HD 3850 IceQ3 TurboX at these speeds for saucy €195. Diamond’s fan was did well and ran at constant speeds, and most importantly – the temperature didn’t exceed 70 degrees Celsius.
Radeon HD3850 is a DirectX 10.1, Shader Model 4.1 and PCI Express 2.0 card, so it’ll be a good investment for next generation of DX10.1 games. Memory interface is 256bit and the RV670 GPU brings HD video/audio support. You can directly connect your HD TV trough the HDMI adapter that comes bundled with the card, and there’s no need for additional cabling mess because the same cable will carry the audio signal as well. Smooth and simple playing of HD DVD or BluRay content are courtesy of the card’s UVD engine and HDCP.