Merry Xmas Review: The fastest Radeon HD 3850 around
HIS HD 3850 IceQ 3 TurboX owes its name to two things – the famous Ice Q 3 cooler, and 735MHz, hence the suffix TurboX. Just in case you've been living on Mars and don't know about IceQ 3, it's HIS's ace cooler, and they use it on their champion cards.
HIS once again proved their excellence when it comes to ATI cards. Besides Radeon HD 3850 IceQ 3 TurboX, there is a bit slower version that runs at 720MHz core, and 1820MHz for the memory. TurboX, on the other hand, runs at 1960MHz memory speed, but not even that will push the limits on Samsung memory; the aforementioned memory has 1ns access speed, and that accounts for 1000MHz (effective 2000MHz). We all want our graphics cards to run ever faster, and HIS lets you have it straight out of the box.
HD 3850 reference speeds are 670MHz core and 1660MHz memory. This card packs 512MB GDDR3 memory, and since newer games are quite hungry for memory, it looks like you’re good to go.
The card also has UVD engine (Unified Video Decoding) that decodes HD video entirely on the GPU, thus ridding the CPU of this tiresome task. RV670 also packs 5.1 audio which means DVI to HDMI dongle will handle video and sound at the same time, thus enabling full HD experience. Some ATI HD 3850 cards have a built-in HDMI connector, but that’s not the case with this card.
To minimize interference when the signal is transferred to the dongle, HIS glazed their Dual DVI outs with a thin layer of gold and we know that gold is the best conductor. Of course, that doesn’t mean that this DVI out will work any better than any other DVI out, but when it comes to interference, you simply never know.
IceQ 3 cooling technology is not only quiet but it significantly lowers the temperatures, so HIS dared to overclock the card, and sell it as such. The cooler also has a small heatpipe that helps transfer the heat to the cooler fins.
The cooler is UV sensitive, so if you have a UV sound source within your case, you can enjoy in a pleasing blueish color of the cooler. It’s easy to mount and take off, but there will be no need to take it off as we’ve measured temperatures of up to 18 degrees Celsius cooler compared to the reference HD 3850 cooling solution.
Memory cooling is handled by a large passive cooling component that stretches over all eight memory modules. There are eight modules in total, and each has 64MB of memory (512MB in total).
This is a DirectX 10.1 and Shader Model 4.1 card, which means that this card will definitely last. Any day now you should be able to use it in CrossFireX mode, chaining four identical cards and harnessing their power. If you want to use only two, CrossFire is already enabled.
PowerPlay is a feature that will handle power consumption depending on your GPU’s workload, and it’s rapidly becoming a trend. If you care for power consumption, then this is the card for you, because it will consume less power in idle mode than Nvidia’s cards do. Maximum consumption that we measured was 242 Watts, while in idle mode that number dropped to 138 Watts.
GPU runs at 735MHz, but in idle mode GPU goes down to 297MHz. Downclocking also goes for the memory that runs at 830MHz in idle mode, and if the need arises it overclocks to 980MHz.
IceQ 3 cooler does a great job, and you can see it for yourself in the tables below.
In the box you’ll get a wonderful gift – it’s a pen, screwdriver, LED lamp and a spirit level (bubble level) in one convenient gadget. There are no new games, but if you register you’ll get Half Life 2: Last Coast and Half Life 2: Deathmatch. You don’t get the Black Box voucher.