GeCube HD3870: faster than the standard
Our guest today is Radeon HD3870 by GeCube which would rather be referred to as a "gift edition". At the price of a regular Radeon HD3870, the company offers an improved version with a more powerful cooling system and increased frequencies. You shouldn't forget though that many manufacturers often offer overclocked versions of their video cards which may afterwards end their service lives at guarantee repair shops, so we need to find out how good the novelty product has proved.
The look of the box makes you involuntarily recall the "Robocop", "Terminator", and "Superman" films, because the "macho man" on the front side looks very much like the Superman in Robocop's attire. The red eye is right like that in the Terminator One. Looking aside from the image of the "macho man", you can see the labels of the video card's model, capacity and type of the onboard memory, notes on the factory overclocking, as well as the intriguing "X-Turbo 3" label whose meaning is as mysterious as that of the first letter "X" inside it. As they said in "X-Files", the truth is somewhere out there...
The reverse side of the box traditionally displays the specifications of the contents, i.e. the video card. Basically, all that can be found in the Internet and the manufacturers does not disclose anything "out of the ordinary", however, that will be interesting for newbies. Maybe that will urge someone on a more detailed examination into the computer?
To prevent unlawful acts upon the GeCube HD3870 and the buyer, the manufacturer has sealed the box. On the other hand, you shouldn't take the labels for granted and better explore the contents of the package.
We unwrap the box and remove the gift and the contents containing the following items:
- 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;
- drivers CD;
- user’s manual.
As we can see, the box contains all the items necessary to plug in the video cards and varied peripherals. Although, it is somehow strange that the manufacturer hasn't put one or two games into the package bundle. On the other hand, it is no good adding to the price because of excessive items.
The first thing what you notice is the non-standard cooling system that differs from the regular system in two heat pipes, more massive fan, and a greater number of fins by the radiator. Its operating principle hasn't changed - the air coming out of the computer runs through the fins and is expelled outside. The heat pipes provide delivery of heat from the GPU and its uniform distribution over the fins, which generally allows rejecting more heat from the chip rather than in the case of using a standard cooling system. Since the standard cooling system is quite capable of doing its job, the new product should perform its task trouble-free, and we'll certainly find out if that is true. By the way, we have seen a cooling system like that in GeCube HD2600XT.
The reverse side of the video card does not contain anything special to attract much of attention. The fastening of the cooling system is made with a standard frame which is in fact a successful solution.
We unwind the four screws from the reverse side of the card and remove the cooling system. As the thermo-interface the manufacturer used a heat-conductive paste which externally looks as the familiar "silver paint", as well as soft thermo-spacers made of a rubber-like material.
After five minutes with tweezers and cotton wool in hands resulted in a clean board of GeCube HD3870. As is easy to notice, the video card is a precise replica of the reference Radeon HD3870.
Like all Radeon HD3870 cards, this card by GeCube is equipped with 512 MB memory assembled of eight Samsung GDDR4 chips of 0.8 ns access time. OK, then, let's move on from a regular card to the unusual cooling system.
The copper insert contacting the GPU has not proved to be well-polished the way it was with GeCube HD2600XT that has been to our test lab. However, that does not at all mean that the cooling system will fail in doing its job efficiently.
Externally, the video card looks like it is fully made of copper, but that is not so. In fact, copper is used in only the insert contacting the GPU, and in the heat pipes, whereas all the other components are made of aluminum (or its alloys) painted in copper color for attraction. That is roguery of course, but not because the cooling system does its job in a poor way - simply because copper is not in fashion these days. Some erroneously think that a copper radiator is much better than that made of aluminum - in choosing the material it is the design that plays the decisive part. At the same time, aluminum cuts down the weight, which prevents the video card from sagging and reduces the probability of its damage.
It is easy to see that the edges of the fan's impellers are interlinked with a frame from the bottom. That is made to prevent deformation of the impellers or even worse than that – their breakdown, which would be highly probable while the fan is running, in case a wire or a foreign object falls into it.
The fan is made by Everflow, an eminent manufacturer whose produce is quite popular on the market of fans.
It's now high time we ran the card through a "test drive" which we start with the cooling system. Off we go!
||CPU & Memory: