Review: PCS cooling and loads of memory
After launching their standard and overclocked lines of HD 3850 and HD 3870 graphics cards, PowerColor announced an HD3850 with 1GB of memory. We quickly managed to get our hands on their HD 3850 PCS 1GB GDDR3 and take it out for a spin. With this card, PowerColor aims at mid-range customers who still want a slightly better card and are willing to spare couple of extra bucks for something exotic. This card features an overclocked GPU running at 720MHz (compared to reference 668MHz), and the icing on the cake is the total of 1GB of memory and ZEROtherm's Professional Cooling System (PCS) cooler.
HD 3850 PCS 1GB GDDR3 uses only eight Qimonda HYB18H1G321AF-11 DDR3 chips and it’s one of the first cards that uses only 8 chips to get a total of 1GB. Previous 1GB cards had to have 16 chips in order to brag about the memory quantity.
The card’s memory kept the reference speed of 829MHz, but since Qimonda’s HYB18H1G321AF-11 memory runs at reference 900MHz we were hoping it would overclock easily. The copper heatspreader does the job of cooling the memory and the heatspreader is cooled by the fan.
The heatspreader on the memory didn’t get hot, not even during overclocking. Qimonda's 1Gb density modules are a perfect fit for the space taken up by 512Mb or 256Mb density modules so we can soon expect 2GB cards. On the other hand, who needs 2GB of memory on their card anyway ?
Using reference cooling, the chip’s temperature often reached up to 89 degrees Celsius, but PCS ZEROTherm (PCS) cooler kept it in check and we measured maximum of 56 degrees Celsius. The cooler didn’t automatically adjust speed to the temperature so the fan noise was constant and audible. We measured 39 degrees Celsius in idle mode.
In the small but quite appealing box you’ll find an HDMI adapter, driver CD, CrossFire bridge adapter and a couple of additional cables.
You can mix this or any other HD 3850 card with a stronger HD 3870 card and get Hybrid CrossFire.