GeCube HD3850: new attire
The moment of announcement of AMD's new family of video cards has long gone, and the market is flooded with new video cards. They have grown up in numbers so that even NVIDIA resting on laurels allowed its partnering companies to manufacture GeForce 8800GT on boards of simpler design to make the products cheaper. Clearly, this idea hasn't caught the partnering companies' fancy. Until a compromise has been found, new video cards by AMD (Radeon HD3850 and Radeon HD3870) have taken quite a good position on the market attracting customers with the balanced price/performance ratio, which will be a pain in the neck to managers at NVIDIA for many more days. In view of the possible shortage for GeForce 8800GT cards in some regions, video cards by AMD may prove to be the only affordable option. Indeed, the RV670 chip by AMD is a bit slower that the competing G92 by NVIDIA, but with the price being 1.5 times as less (in the Radeon HD3850 version), the speed is often receded into the background.
You must have been aware already that in this review we are talking about a video card that is tempting by its low price, good performance and better consumer properties. So, meet GeCube Radeon HD3850.
The package for GeCube HD3850 looks almost the same as that of the recently reviewed GeCube HD3870. There is no wonder about that, most importantly – you can't miss it because the differences are only in the model name of the video card and the type of the onboard memory. In all the other respects, all is as before - the big and strong character, and the "O.C. Edition" label.
The rear side of the package nor makes any difference from that of GeCube HD3870. It displays a lot of specifications, which most manufacturers will ignore and add their slogans like "our video card is the best". So we should give credit to GeCube at that - the specified data can be indeed useful to not only newbies but advanced users.
The package has proprietary stickers which should protect the buyers against negligent sales assistants. But the stickers are easy to unglue, so you shouldn't trust them much.
The package bundle is the same as that for GeCube HD3870:
- power supply adapter for PCI-Express video cards;
- CrossFire bridge;
- 1.4 m S-Video>S-Video+RCA extension cord;
- S-Video>Component out adapter;
- DVI>D-Sub adapter;
- DVI>HDMI adapter;
- CD with drivers and utilities, user's manual.
Albeit not abundant, the package bundle is not scarce and the user gets all the required items for using the video cards, whereas the lack of games and other "add-ons" allows pushing the price down.
This is how the video card looks. Externally, it almost makes no difference from GeCube HD3870. There are differences of course upon a closer inspection, but nobody stated there were absolutely no differences. But nobody told about the better cooling system than than in the reference Radeon HD3850, so its presence over there was a pleasant surprise to us.
The cooling system is fastened with AMD's standard frame that uniformly presses the GPU to the radiator, which is quite a smart solution. In all the other respects, the reverse side of the video card is not remarkable. Let's take a closer look at the video card.
Grey thermo conductive paste and soft pads of a rubber-like material are used as the thermal interface.
The radiator for cooling the power components has turned bigger and now covers not only transistors but throttles as well. It should be noted that the radiator is made by GeCube itself, because the reference cooling system is monolithic and does not contain a separate radiator to cool the power components.
The PCB is made following the reference design. The already familiar RV670 chip is in the center of the board, with the 512 MB of video memory assembled of eight GDDR3 chips and mounted on the front side only. However, its layout offers some distinctions from the previously reviewed specimen of Radeon HD3850.
The video card is equipped with memory of 1.0 ns access time, which is faster than that of AMD's reference card, and is able tuning at 2000 MHz. We'll certainly verify if that is true, but now we are examining the cooling system.
Indeed, the cooling system of GeCube HD3850 is absolutely the same as that of GeCube HD3870. Unfortunately, that also applies to the polishing of the radiator's base, which is not up to the mark, however, that was not an obstacle for GeCube HD3870, so it shouldn't for GeCube HD3850 as well.
The radiator is also made of copper and aluminum parts. The insert contacting with the GPU and the heat pipes are made of copper, with the remaining parts - of aluminum or its alloys. In fact, as we already stated, there is nothing bad about that. That GeCube has painted aluminum in the copper color is just a tribute to fashion and should not be treated as a disguise of the "poor" material.
The fan also has a great number of blades to generate a stronger air flow, and to protect the blades as a result of penetration of a foreign matter and decrease of deformations during the rotation, they were fastened to one another over the edges.
The fan is made by Everflow, a company popular enough on the market of fans.
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