Powercolor HD3850 Extreme PCS - AMD 3850 Performance explored

The Card

Powercolor HD3850 with ZEROtherm - close up

Powercolor have gone for a non-standard cooling solution on this card and it looks pretty effective. Rather similar to Zalman coolers, the ZEROtherm solution is a looped heatpipe cooler made of aluminium  with fins aerating from a central copper base. The fan in the centre looks a little bizarre, but seems to do the job.

powercolor hd3850 card

powercolor hd3850 rear
As usual for an ATI card, the 3850 is built around a nice bright red PCB. In comparison to a lot of Nvidia cards we've seen recently, there's actually very little on the PCB. You'll also notice that the memory is uncovered with no cooling at all on it. I'm not sure if this is a money saving exercise or simply due to the fact that the Samsung K4j52324qe 1.8v 1.0ns memory modules that Powercolor ran with should use a little less power than your average GDDR3.
memory pic

The card uses a single PCI-e power dongle in keeping with what seems to be a good response to demand on keeping the power consumption of cards low.
hd3850 power consumption

We can see a little more of the cooler design if we switch angles.
cooler top

Again the cooler looks striking.
powercolor hd3850

Here is where it gets a little more interesting. HDMI, Dual Link DVI and S-Video make up the connectors onboard. This is great and leaves the option for an HDTV with HDMI and HDCP to be connected natively using the HDMI interface. 

The Cooler

So we've seen the card and heard me rattle on about HDMI, HDCP, HDTV and DVI, but what's that rather nice cooler actually like?
 powercolor hd3850 cooler close

cooler side on
Temperature sits around 34°C at idle and a chilly 49°C fully loaded with RTHDRIBL. Reporting to use the 55nm process, the HD3850 won't be filling your case with heat at all.

Sound-wise, the HD3850 is whisper quiet. At full load there's a small whizz of air with that odd looking fan spinning it's heart out, but certainly not noticeable above the noise of an average-to quiet system.
powercolor hd3850 naked

hd3850 nekked clean
As you can see by some gratuitous nekked shots above, the cooler has just the right amount of thermal paste. In fact it was such a good amount that my reseating with AS5 gave a slight rise in temperature. 
hd3850 cooler flatness

I don't think you can actually tell from the photo above, but the surface of the cooler is very flat and mirror-like in appearance, excellent work from Powercolor.
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Most Recent Comments

15-11-2007, 01:55:56

Nice review Kemp. Performance was a little underwhelming but it all depends on the price point really. I think on the first page hard should be harm.Quote

15-11-2007, 12:12:17

Cheers mate. Performance was pretty damn good if you ask me, £135 for a card that nearly performs as well as an 8800GT?Quote

15-11-2007, 12:17:11

Nice review there, I really thought I would have to be canceling my 8800gt order! But not quite. I've never had an Ati card, but I take it the price will be around £130 and up for pre oc'ed cards. Is the powercolor a reasonably middle of the road brand for Ati?

The cooler looks pretty decent, found a link to manufactures of them:


Nice one Quote

15-11-2007, 12:25:29

looks awsome

performs medeocre - reasonable

not bad i guess Quote

15-11-2007, 12:47:35

ATI are back in the game, well sort of. I wonder when places will get them in stock.Quote

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