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.
EVGA 680i SLI (Supplied by EVGA)
Intel Core 2 Duo 6800 Extreme edition (Supplied by Intel)
OCZ FlexXLC PC2 9200 5-5-5-18 (Supplied by OCZ)
while testing CL5-5-5-15-CR2T 1066MHz at 2.2V
OCZ Silencer 750 Quad Black ( Supplied by OCZ)
Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 80GB SATA (Supplied by Seagate)
Freezer 7 Pro (Supplied by Artic Cooling)
Artic Cooling - Artic Fan 12 PWM
Artic Cooling - Artic Fan 8 PWM
We tested Diamond HD 3850 512MB card but bear in mind, when viewing the results, that reference HD 3850’s have 256MB of memory. Overclocking was simple enough and we managed to reach stable 735MHz core and 980MHz memory speed. Faster card with more memory easily outperformed the reference one. The cooler performed well and the temperature was below 70 degrees Celsius, no matter the workload, and that’s 20 degrees less than reference HD 3850’s score.
Diamond HD 3850 Ruby Edition card scores well in 3DMarks and it constantly beats 8800 GS, and after we overclocked it, it ended up being on par with reference HD 3870.
Diamond HD 3850 did a good job doubling the memory on their card. If you’re gaming at 1280x1024, the performance increase will not be that great, but as soon as you go for higher resolutions, it definitely pays off - so we see the performance increase of 15%. Geforce 8800 GS beats Diamond’s card, but by such a small margin that it’s negligible. At lower resolutions with antialiasing on, 8800 GS has the edge, but when AA is off, HD 3850 takes the cake.
In F.E.A.R., Radeon HD 3850 beats 8800 GS by a small margin. These two cards go at it hammer and tongs in €150 market segment. Diamond’s 512MB card beats 256MB reference card by up to 9%, and it’s slightly less than the 15% increase we had in Company of Heroes.
World in Conflict did a good job utilizing the graphics memory so we see Diamond’s card easily beating the reference HD 3850 256MB card. Diamond HD 3850’s core ran at 735MHz core and 980MHz memory speed.
In Crysis, Diamond failed to deliver at 1280x1024 and antialiasing on. The card simply couldn’t take this beast on. Not even the 512MB of memory helped, and it performed almost identically to 256MB version. Still, HD 3870 didn’t fare better either and at 1600x1200, it scored the same as Diamond HD 3850. Geforce 8800 GS is slightly better than HD 3850, but we still think that the main problem is ATI’s drivers for XP.
Diamond did a good job with their dual slot HD 3850 with 512MB, and the dual-slot cooler attempted to attract gamers and those who don’t like the single-slot 256MB version. The card runs at reference 668MHz core and 830MHz memory, but Diamond’s cooler will make overclocking easy. Actually, the cooler is what makes this card special, and the GPU temperature during gaming reaches only 63 degrees Celsius. For those who want a 100% noise-free card, Diamond’s cooler might not be the answer, but it will do the trick for an average user. For this price we expeced a higher clocked card.
We’ve seen what Diamond HD 3850 512MB Ruby Edition can do, and it’s definitely more than HD 3850 256MB can, and since this card supports DX 10.1 and PCI Express 2.0, you can most certainly look forward to some of the next-generation games coming our way. As far as multimedia goes, HD 3800 will satisfy most current demands. UVD engine takes care of BluRay and HD DVD reproduction, so your CPU power will not be an issue here.
The price is right - $174 in U.S. and about the same numbers just with € as a currency in Europe. That being said, this card is a really good solution for those on a budget that want a cool and fast enough card.