Powercolor HD3850 Extreme PCS - AMD 3850 Performance explored
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.
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.
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.
We can see a little more of the cooler design if we switch angles.
Again the cooler looks striking.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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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