Powercolor HD3650 Extreme PCS Edition Page: 1
Introduction
 
ATI recently released a few lower end cards. We gave you a quick preview of the HD3650, along with some technical info here. Now let's take a longer look at the new card that shows ATI are really trying to dominate the mass-market for GPU's.
 
With a custom cooler and high clocks, this card from Powercolor looks the part and should perform fairly nicely. Let's take a further look.
 
Packaging
 
Powercolor have gone with the familiar cyber-woman on their packaging for the HD3650.
 
hd3650 packaging  HD3650 rear box
 
Inside shows a decent amount of protection for your card, although more could have been put in.
 
hd3650 inside box
 
Not a bad go at the packaging then.
 
Package
 
The bundle that comes with the HD3650 is a little sparse, but that is to be expected I suppose as this is a lower end card.
You get:
 
* Quick Install Guide
* S-Video to composite lead
* DVI to VGA cable
* Driver CD (not shown)
 
package
 
A "C" for Powercolor here..."Could do better".
 
Specification
 
Chipset: HD 3650
Edition: Extreme PCS
Chipset Features: ATI CrossFireX™ multi-GPU technology
HDMI Output Support
Microsoft DirectX® 10.1
Shader Model 4.1
GPU Speed: 800 MHz
Memory: 512MB
Memory Bit Rate: 128 Bit
Memory Type: GDDR3
Memory Speed: 1800 MHz
Pipelines/Stream Process:
Cooling: Fan
Interface: PCI-E 2.0 (x16)
Connectivity:2 x Dual Link DVI-I
 
Not a bad speed on the core, let' see what the generic specs say:
 
* 378 million transistors on 55nm fabrication process
* PCI Express 2.0 x16 bus interface
* 128-bit DDR2/GDDR3/GDDR4 memory interface
* Ring Bus Memory Controller
o Fully distributed design with 256-bit internal ring bus for memory reads and writes
* Microsoft® DirectX® 10.1 support
o Shader Model 4.1
o 32-bit floating point texture filtering
o Indexed cube map arrays
o Independent blend modes per render target
o Pixel coverage sample masking
o Read/write multi-sample surfaces with shaders
o Gather4 texture fetching
* Unified Superscalar Shader Architecture
o 120 stream processing units
+ Dynamic load balancing and resource allocation for vertex, geometry, and pixel shaders
+ Common instruction set and texture unit access supported for all types of shaders
+ Dedicated branch execution units and texture address processors
o 128-bit floating point precision for all operations
o Command processor for reduced CPU overhead
o Shader instruction and constant caches
o Up to 40 texture fetches per clock cycle
o Up to 128 textures per pixel
o Fully associative multi-level texture cache design
o DXTC and 3Dc+ texture compression
o High resolution texture support (up to 8192 x 8192)
o Fully associative texture Z/stencil cache designs
o Double-sided hierarchical Z/stencil buffer
o Early Z test, Re-Z, Z Range optimization, and Fast Z Clear
o Lossless Z & stencil compression (up to 128:1)
o Lossless color compression (up to 8:1)
o 8 render targets (MRTs) with anti-aliasing support
o Physics processing support
* Dynamic Geometry Acceleration
o High performance vertex cache
o Programmable tessellation unit
o Accelerated geometry shader path for geometry amplification
o Memory read/write cache for improved stream output performance
* Anti-aliasing features
o Multi-sample anti-aliasing (2, 4, or 8 samples per pixel)
o Up to 24x Custom Filter Anti-Aliasing (CFAA) for improved quality
o Adaptive super-sampling and multi-sampling
o Temporal anti-aliasing
o Gamma correct
o Super AA (ATI CrossFire™ configurations only)
o All anti-aliasing features compatible with HDR rendering
* Texture filtering features
o 2x/4x/8x/16x high quality adaptive anisotropic filtering modes (up to 128 taps per pixel)
o 128-bit floating point HDR texture filtering
o Bicubic filtering
o sRGB filtering (gamma/degamma)
o Percentage Closer Filtering (PCF)
o Depth & stencil texture (DST) format support
o Shared exponent HDR (RGBE 9:9:9:5) texture format support
* OpenGL 2.0 support
* ATI Avivo™ HD Video and Display Platform
o Dedicated unified video decoder (UVD) for H.264/AVC and VC-1 video formats
+ High definition (HD) playback of both Blu-ray and HD DVD formats
o Hardware MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and DivX video decode acceleration
+ Motion compensation and IDCT
o ATI Avivo Video Post Processor
+ Color space conversion
+ Chroma subsampling format conversion
+ Horizontal and vertical scaling
+ Gamma correction
+ Advanced vector adaptive per-pixel de-interlacing
+ De-blocking and noise reduction filtering
+ Detail enhancement
+ Inverse telecine (2:2 and 3:2 pull-down correction)
+ Bad edit correction
o Two independent display controllers
+ Drive two displays simultaneously with independent resolutions, refresh rates, color controls and video overlays for each display
+ Full 30-bit display processing
+ Programmable piecewise linear gamma correction, color correction, and color space conversion
+ Spatial/temporal dithering provides 30-bit color quality on 24-bit and 18-bit displays
+ High quality pre- and post-scaling engines, with underscan support for all display outputs
+ Content-adaptive de-flicker filtering for interlaced displays
+ Fast, glitch-free mode switching
+ Hardware cursor
o Two integrated dual-link DVI display outputs
+ Each supports 18-, 24-, and 30-bit digital displays at all resolutions up to 1920x1200 (single-link DVI) or 2560x1600 (dual-link DVI)2
+ Each includes a dual-link HDCP encoder with on-chip key storage for high resolution playback of protected content3
o Two integrated DisplayPort™ outputs
+ Supports 24- and 30-bit displays at all resolutions up to 2560x16001
+ 1, 2, or 4 lanes per output, with data rate up to 2.7 Gbps per lane
o Two integrated 400 MHz 30-bit RAMDACs
+ Each supports analog displays connected by VGA at all resolutions up to 2048x153622
o HDMI output support
+ Supports all display resolutions up to 1920x108022
+ Integrated HD audio controller with up to 2 channel 48 kHz stereo or multi-channel (5.1) AC3 enabling a plug-and-play cable-less audio solution
* ATI Avivo™ HD Video and Display Platform con't
o Integrated AMD Xilleon™ HDTV encoder
+ Provides high quality analog TV output (component/S-video/composite)
+ Supports SDTV and HDTV resolutions
+ Underscan and overscan compensation
o MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, WMV9, VC-1, and H.264/AVC encoding and transcoding
o Seamless integration of pixel shaders with video in real time
o VGA mode support on all display outputs
* ATI PowerPlay™
o Advanced power management technology for optimal performance and power savings
o Performance-on-Demand
+ Constantly monitors GPU activity, dynamically adjusting clocks and voltage based on user scenario
+ Clock and memory speed throttling
+ Voltage switching
+ Dynamic clock gating
o Central thermal management – on-chip sensor monitors GPU temperature and triggers thermal actions as required
* ATI CrossFireX™ Multi-GPU Technology
o Scale up rendering performance and image quality with two, three, or four GPUs
o Integrated compositing engine
o High performance dual channel bridge interconnect1

1 Bridge interconnect is not required for ATI CrossFireX, and may not be included in all product configurations
2 Some custom resolutions require user configuration
3 Playing HDCP content requires additional HDCP ready components including but not limited to an HDCP ready monitor, Blu-ray or HD DVD disc drive, multimedia application and computer operating system
Let's see what this lot adds up to then.


Powercolor HD3650 Extreme PCS Edition Page: 2
The card itself - Powercolor HD3650 Extreme PCS Edition
 
The card itself looks pretty decent with the usual ATI red PCB and an great looking black cooler. The card is very compact and certainly won't crowd your case, unlike the higher end cards.
 
powercolor hd3850  hd3650 rear card
 
As I said, the card is a good looking little beast.
 
 
ddr3 hd3650
 
As I have stated previously in the article, the Powercolor card comes equipped with a generous 512mb GDDR3 comprised of 8 x 64mb Samsung K4J52324QE-BJ1A DDR3 chips capable of 1000MHz (2000MHz).
 
DVI out
 
 The card has two Dual-Link DVI outputs and a TV-out. The HD3650 is HDCP compatible and so capable of outputting to an HDCP enabled HDTV. Also of note is the fact that these cards also natively support DisplayPort, so expect to see some examples cropping up soon.
 
The cooler
 
The cooler on the Powercolor HD3650 Extreme PCS is an excellent little heatsink/fan combo. Keeping the GPU at 20°C idle (remember this is clocked down to 300MHz using AMD's power saving technology) and a fantastic 39°C 100% load, you can't really ask for more.
 
fan  cooler
 
Couple this with the fact that the fan is whisper quiet and never ever gets ramped up, you are onto a winner.
 


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Test Setup
 
To test all graphics cards, we use the exact same test setup. This consists of the following components:
 
Intel Core2Quad Q6600 @ 3.6GHz
Asus P5E3 DDR3 Motherboard
Kingston HyperX PC3-11000 CL7 DDR3 2gb Kit
OCZ GameXtream 850w
Hitachi 7K160 HDD
Samsung DVD-RW
Silverstone TJ09S Case
Noctua NH-U12P Cooler
Dell 2405FPW Display
 
Please note that we have set the overclock on the Q6600 to be able to keep our test setup fairly consistent as the speeds of CPU's increase in the near future. 
 
Benchmarks Used
 The games and benchmarks we use are to enable us to give our readers a clear view of the old and new games that they may play, in a "real life" situation.
 
games tested
 
Synthetic Benchmarks
 
Please note all Synthetic benchmarks were run at stock settings; just as the free ones would be, as well as 1920 x 1200, with 4 x AA added. All benchmarks are repeated three times for consistency.
 
FutureMark 3DMark03
FutureMark 3DMark05
FutureMark 3DMark06
 
Gaming Benchmarks
 
All gaming benchmarks are run through at a demanding stage of the game with no savepoints to affect FPS. These are manual run-though's approximating 3 minutes and all gaming benchmarks are run three times through the same points for consistency. We hope that this gives an accurate and interesting depiction of "real-life" gaming situations. Note the resolutions and AA each game was run at.
 
All gaming tests were performed in Windows Vista Ultimate, under DX10 if available.
 
Call of Duty 4 - 1368 x 768 2 x AA
Oblivion - 1368 x 768 2 x AA
F.E.A.R. - 1368 x 768 2 x AA
Bioshock - 1368 x 768 maxx settings in game
Unreal Tournament 3 - 1368 x 768 max settings in game
Company of Heroes - DirectX10 patch. 1368 x 768 
Crysis - 1368 x 768, all in-game settings set to "medium"
 
Again, all game run-through's are repeated three times for consistency and accuracy.
 
We hope that this represents a good band of games and benchmarks for people wanting a performance overview of gaming at this current time.
 
Note that for the review of this card I have set the target resolution to 1368 x 769. This is representing 720p, which would be an ideal resolution for most HDTV's.
 
Cards Tested
 
The Gainward Bliss looks like this when we see basic specs:
 
Powercolor HD3650 Extreme PCS Edition. GPU: 800MHz. Memory: 900MHz (1800MHz). Stream processor clock: 1440MHz.
 
Unfortunately we do not have a huge choice of lower-end cards in the labs at the moment, so I am benchmarking the Powercolor HD3650 Extreme PCS by getting the best looking settings I can at the chosen resolution. Synthetic benchmarks will be compared to the following cards:
 
Powercolor HD3850 Extreme PCS Edition. GPU: 720Mhz. Memory: 900MHz (1800MHz). Stream processor clock: 690Mhz.
 
Gainward 8600 GT Bliss PCX. GPU: 625MHz. Memory: 900MHz (1600MHz). Stream processor clock: 1440MHz.

Drivers used were the most up to date as of the time of posting.
 
Nvidia: 169.25 Forceware
ATI: ATI Catalyst 8.1


Powercolor HD3650 Extreme PCS Edition Page: 4
FutureMark 3DMark03

3DMark03 is a benchmark that uses mainly a DirectX 8 featureset including several pixel fillrate tests. I included this test in the review to see an approximation of how well old games will play on the current gen cards, as well as how well each card copes with the fillrate tests.
 
3dmark03
 
FutureMark 3DMark05

3DMark05 is a benchmark based on DirectX 9 with more advanced shading and bump-mapping techniques, as well as a tough CPU test integrated.
 
3dmark05
 
FutureMark - 3DMark06

3DMark06 is a more complex 3D benchmark, using many of the more advanced techniques found in DirectX 9.0c such as utilising Shader Model 3.0 and HDR lighting to create a tough benchmark that stresses the GPU and CPU. 
 
3dmark06
 
In all three tests the HD3650 comes off fairly well, although never quite topping the 8600 GT.


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Call of Duty 4

Call of Duty 4 is a stunning DirectX 9.0c based game that really looks awesome and has a very full featureset. With lots of advanced lighting, smoke and water effects, the game has excellent explosions and is fast and furious, perfect for our test suite.
 
COD 4
 
Call of Duty 4 handled nicely with some AA at 1368 x 768
 
F.E.A.R.

F.E.A.R. is a game based on the Lithtech Jupiter EX engine. It has volumetric lighting, soft shadows, parallax mapping and particle effects. This is a fairly old game but was a very testing one at the time of release and still looks fantastic, so we've kept it in.
 
FEAR
 
The HD3650 did very well in F.E.A.R. outperforming the 8600GT at points.
 
Bioshock

Bioshock is a game based on the Unreal Engine 3. It uses some DirectX10 features such as awesome water and smoke effects. The detail level in the game, combined with a frantic pace makes for an excellent benchmark.
 
Bioshock
 
Bioshock was more than playable at this resolution on the HD3650.


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Oblivion

Oblivion is a game that really taxed all of the cards at the time of it's release. Well over a year on and the current generation of cards simply fly through it. However, with advanced HDR, excellent draw distances, detailed grass and scenery as well as fantastic water/magic effects it's a good game to gauge performance for those who love RPG's.
 
oblivion
 
The little ATI card made the challenging Oblivion a nice experience, although notice no AA was applied to the scene.
 
Company of Heroes

Company of Heroes is a WWII-based RTS game that has an enormous amount of world detail. I played a DirectX patched version of the game that gives modern GPU's a bit of a workout.
 
CoH
 
The HD3650 struggled a little with Company of Heroes, perhaps because it has a few more DX10 features.


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Unreal Tournament 3

I have included UT3, even though it is another UE3 game as it is a fast, frantic and furious multiplayer mash-up experience. Using advanced DirectX 9.0c features, the Unreal Engine looks fantastic and runs on almost all half-decent modern GPU's making it an ideal all-round test.
 
UT3
 
Again the HD3650 handled the Unreal Engine 3 and was good fun to play.
 
Crysis

Crysis has to be our most challenging benchmark to date. Running under Windows Vista and using DirectX 10 path, Crysis is currently limited to using "High" settings, rather than "Very High" using any of today's single cards. I also ramped down the resolution to 1680 x 1050 to make sure that I was happy with the framerates.
 
Crysis
 
Crysis was found a little more of a challenge for the HD3650 and got a little laggy in places. You will notice, though, that the HD3650 managed a higher average frame rate in this DX10 intensive game than the 8600 GT.


Powercolor HD3650 Extreme PCS Edition Page: 8
Overclocking
 
Unfortunately Rivatuner does not yet support the HD3650, so I was forced to use the in-built ATI overclocking facility in the Catalyst drivers. I feel this and the beta nature of the drivers has held back the overclock a bit.
 
overclock
 
The card doesn't overclock nearly as much as the "Golden Sample" Gainward, but gets a decent overclock. With more mature drivers and perhaps a new Rivatuner we would see better results.
 
3DMark06 Overclocked
 
I ran a 3DMark06 benchmark to see how this would affect performance.
 
3dmark06 overclocked
 
A decent improvement of around 250 3DMarks isn't too bad for the modest overclock.
 
I feel there might be more in this card to come.


Powercolor HD3650 Extreme PCS Edition Page: 9
Conclusion
 
The HD3650 is a good solid low-mid range card that should do well in terms of sale figures for AMD. With PCI-e 2.0 support as well as a whole host of little extra features such as power saving and possible DisplayPort support, the HD3650 just edges it over the slightly faster 8600 GT.
 
The range are also to be considered excellent value for money, starting at around £46 at time of release, the card tested is set at  around £65.
 
I think the Powercolor HD3650 Extreme PCS deserves an Overclock3D "Recommended" Award, although had it been a slightly cheaper version I would be adding a "value for Money" tag as well.
 
recommended award 
 
The Good
 
+ Great performance for a low-end card
+ Excellent DirectX support
+ Great looking
+ Cool as a cucumber
+ Quiet
 
The Mediocre
 
* Outperformed by a fast 8600 GT in most things
 
The Bad
 
- This higher end version slightly out of low-mid price-range
 
Thanks to Powercolor for the review sample
 
Thinking of plugging an HD3650 into your PC? Tell us in the Forums!