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Frontpage Slideshow | Copyright © 2006-2010 orks, a business unit of Nuevvo Webware Ltd.
Tuesday, 22 April 2008 14:30

Affordable MSI R3650 with 512MB of GDDR3 tested

Written by Sanjin Rados

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Review: Plays some basic games



This time around we've got a tiny, but an important card. We're saying important, because ATI and Nvidia rake in a lot of dough on low and mid-range card sales, such as Radeon HD 3650. This tiny card is good enough for casual gamers that don’t use maximum detail settings (you can forget about antialiasing) or resolutions higher than 1024x768. Its HD decoding capabilities and low power consumptions are just some features that would make us think about buying this card if we’re running at a tight budget.

MSI’s version of Radeon HD 3650 is called R3650 T2D512. The core kept reference core speeds of 725MHz and it packs 512MB of GDDR3 memory running at 800MHz (1600MHz effectively).

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MSI R3650 T2D512 is just one of the cards based on RV635 graphics chip; the same chip HD 3600 series are based on. This graphics chip is built in 55nm and it’s a step forward from RV630 (65nm). HD 3600 is here to replace HD 2600 cards (RV630), but it also brings some novelties. Now we have PCIe 2.0 x16 support, PowerPlay technology, Shader Model 4.1, DirectX 10.1 and DisplayPort (the new audio/video interface that’ll replace HDMI). Although DisplayPort is natively supported on HD 3600 cards, MSI decided not to turn it on, which is understandable since DisplayPort monitors are still not common.

Still, one of the low points of the previous chipset is still here. We’re talking about the 128-bit memory interface that’s proven to be too slow for today’s game graphics. Hardware specifications of Radeon HD 3650 are more or less identical to those on HD 2600 XT, so we see 4 ROP units and 120 stream processors. Optimization of RV635 core resulted in 12 million transistors less, so now there’re 378 million transistors in total. RV630 doesn’t get too hot so the fan is also smaller. It also consumes less power so there’s no need for an additional power connector. PowerPlay technology is also featured, and it does a good job of reducing power consumption depending on GPU workload. In idle mode, HD 3650 will noticeably consume less power than when running under a heavy load.

In case you didn’t get a chance to see how core and memory speeds are dynamically altered to suit the needs of various tasks – the picture below speaks for itself. In gaming mode (3D) the card runs at 725MHz, whereas idle mode results in speeds of only 110MHz.

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We see that the core temperature is 53 degrees Celsius. The cooler was quiet and stayed that way, even when we put it through some serious paces. The fan is 5.5cm in diameter and, together with the heatsink, it takes up most of the space on this tiny card.

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512MB of GDDR3 Qimonda memory is equally distributed on both sides of this card. The front and back feature 256MB of memory each, and the memory is not cooled because MSI decided there was no need for that. The memory runs at 800MHz, but Qimonda specifications list this memory running at 1000MHz.

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In order to see the memory better, we took the cooler’s metal part off, and found out that the cooler isn’t as large as it seems. It measures 8cm in diameter, and you couldn’t fit a bigger cooler on this tiny PCB even if you wanted to. The cooler’s fins route the air to the memory chip.

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Two CrossFire connectors say that you can use it in CrossFireX mode, but it’s too fast to be used in Hybrid CrossFire (technology that allows combining integrated graphics and some low-end cards in order to get better results). DisplayLink and HDMI connectors are supported, but the card features only two dual-link DVI outs and TV (HDTV) out.

HD 3650 has PCI Express 2.0 interface, but, naturally, it’s compatible with PCI Express 1.0. Although the card features HDMI with 5.1 sound support, you don’t get the HDMI adapter in the box, so if you need it – you’ll have to go buy it.

The card is wrapped in a simple little box with some key features written on it.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 23 April 2008 06:42
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