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Old 9th December, 2007, 04:28 AM
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AMD 3850 GPU review

Preface
This review is a bit different from the other reviews you're going to find. The card's performance and price/performance ratio has been beaten to death. I thought I'd bring to you an unscientific, but interesting test I ran with the stock GPU fan.

First let me say this thing is night and day with my 8600GTS. The reviews are correct.

The specs to the PC are determinable from the pictures. The case is an Antec 900 with all fans (2 120mm front, 1 top 140(?)mm, 1 rear 120mm, and 1 side 120mm over the video card area), all fans are set on medium with the exception of the fan over the GPU area, which is plugged into the power supply (full 12V), and the stock 3850 cooler

Background.
The card's overclocks are visible in the pictures, and are probably borderline stable (I'll touch on that as I go).


When I read the reviews of the x1900 series, and their leaf blower cards, I was reminded of the FX5800. Since I had my 7900GT I was happy staying where I was. Now that the card is long gone (shame on me), I needed something better and the 8600GTS, which I got from the RMA of the 7900GT wasn't cutting it. I decided to pick up an AMD HD3850. My choice was influenced by the high price of the 8800GT, and that I know its not coming down any time soon. Also, I knew that I game much less than I used to, so I could settle for less than top of the line. After reading all the reviews for the new AMD cards, I saw the 3870 and the 3850 were little different, and the price wasn't justified to me, the avid overclocker.

The Test

For this test I decided to load the CPU with 1 instance of prime95. The reason for this is that the GPU was being heated with RTHDRIBL, and this doesn't really heat up the CPU much. Since its real that the CPU will contribute to the heat within the case when gaming, it only makes sense to have it making at least some heat. This will help everyone get a good idea of how much heat these things make, and can better anticipate how it will effect their upgrade.

(Since I can't remember how to put the pictures into the thread, I'll simply be referencing them mods feel free to change if you want)

65% GPU fan speed
This was where I began my test, because it was the highest comfortable noise level which I had already determined. There is nothing noteworthy for this picture.

50% GPU fan speed
I decided that the best place to go was down. The noise was inaudible below 74% when compared to my case fans. This is really a tribute to how much these fan's speeds vary. Also if you notice the temperatures, this is load by the way, they are extremely low! AMD has these cards safe to over 90 degrees. At this fan speed there is no problem.

35% GPU fan speed
This was the killer for me. I set the fan to 35% and left the room to play some Rock Band with my roommates. About 2 songs later I came in to see what you see in the pictures. The RTHDRIBL had stopped putting out video but was still making heat! I believe that I might have put my card at risk, but clearly running the fan this low at these clocks is completely unacceptable. You will see a time jump from this picture to the next. This is because my computer had to be restarted to allow RTHDRIBL to render again. Also my computer takes literally that long to restart, thats a whole other issue.

Auto GPU fan
Here is the fun one. After I restarted I allowed Prime95 to warm things up a bit again before continuing. This helped to keep things relatively consistent. At these speeds the card began artifacting, after leaving it run for a few minutes. This was the one I had to let run the longest since the fan is automatically adjusting to the levels that you can see in Riva, it obviously will hover at 1 threshold while the fan changes speeds. As a result of the artifacts, I had to restart RTHDRIBL again once the screen shot was taken.

75% GPU fan
Little difference here, other than that its at this point I begin to hear the fan over my other fans. The 2oC difference over the 65% was really impressive to me.

Screamer!
I figured that since the fan is audible at 75, there is no point at notching it between 76 and 100, so I went for the gold. Now I would never recommend this setting to anyone. Over my music and games I can hear this thing screaming like a jet engine. The good news is the card will almost NEVER get this loud, other than when you first turn it on. The results are quite impressive however, the temperatures get to a ridiculous 49.5oC and never higher! That is considerably lower than my 8600GTS card of the same dimensions, which hit high 80's with hardly any overclock!

Follow-up

Take this information however you want, this was a short and simple test I conducted because of something that caught my attention. From what you can see this thing can really cool quite well, and is a huge step up over the 2900, which was built with a 512-bit memory interface, and in short...due to the complexity, made insane amounts of heat, and increased cost. This revision is a great step for in the right direction for AMD.

Something I wanted to note as an after-thought, is that when I restarted and fired up RTHDRIBL the card became unstable at a setting which it had been previously stable. This tells me these overclocks are not 100% stable. However, I was playing Crysis at these very settings for over an hour and saw NO error. Above this the game would black out, produce color-salad, and then come back in and re-render everything.

Also, another thing I noticed which isn't entirely evident from the screenshots, but I noticed quite a bit over the few minutes I tested, was that the GPU usage decreased with GPU temperature. This reinforces that if you overclock the card too hard, you will ruin your returns by making the card repeat processes. Immediately after the card's fan speed was changed, the temperature began to drop dramatically, and took very little time to settle. During this short time, the GPU usage typically dropped, and may have slightly increased again thereafter.

Please feel free to discuss and ask questions about any of my hardware, critique my settings if you want.
Attached Thumbnails
AMD 3850 GPU review-35-percent-gpu-fan.jpg   AMD 3850 GPU review-50-percent-gpu-fan.jpg   AMD 3850 GPU review-65-percent-gpu-fan.jpg   AMD 3850 GPU review-75-percent-gpu-fan.jpg   AMD 3850 GPU review-screamer-gpu-fan.jpg  

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Last edited by XeroHouR; 9th December, 2007 at 04:43 AM.
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Old 9th December, 2007, 04:30 AM
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Here is the auto fan setting mentioned above.
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