ATi Radeon HD 3850 in the test: Another price-performance hit?

ATi Radeon HD 3850 in the test: Another price-performance hit?


After AMD had to cover a tough dry spell with the ATi Radeon HD 2900 XT and was only able to convince in rare cases against the strong competing products from Nvidia, ATi has itmanaged to make up for some of the lost ground with the Radeon HD 3870. The basis of the new graphics card is the RV670 GPU, which is still closely related to the R600, but brings some improvements: an energy-saving 2D mode, the Unified Video Decoder (UVD), PCIe Gen2, support for Direct3D 10.1 -API and, last but not least, some efficiency improvements that could noticeably increase the speed when using anti-aliasing despite halving the memory interface. ATi's Radeon HD 3870 is quite well positioned against the GeForce 8800 GT. However, the faster graphics cards, the GeForce 8800 GTX and the GeForce 8800 Ultra, are still left behind.

Upwards, the end of the flagpole seems to have been reached with a single RV670 GPU for the time being and so ATi tried to penetrate other, deeper realms at the same time as the presentation of the Radeon HD 3870. And this could definitely work, because Nvidia currently has very little to offer in the price segment below a Radeon HD 3870. With the GeForce 8600 GTS, a graphics card that costs around 120 euros has been placed in the mid-range segment, but it is in a completely different performance class. The Canadians have to exploit this weakness with the ATi Radeon HD 3850. As the new naming scheme reveals, the Radeon HD 3850 can be classified under the Radeon HD 3870 in terms of speed, even if the graphics card comes from the same 'model family' ('8'). The official price recommendation for the 3D accelerator is around 150 euros. Thus, in terms of price, the Radeon HD 3850 actually fights more or less against the Nvidia GeForce 8600 GTS. The market price of the Radeon HD 3850 is currently between 135 and 150 euros and the first copies are already available.

ATi has the Radeon HD 3850 refrained from castrating the GPU and deactivating some functional units. TheGraphics card can therefore use the entire RV670. Instead, you put the red pencil on the clock rates; Both the GPU and the GDDR3 memory (more expensive but faster GDDR4 memory is installed on the Radeon HD 3870) work at a sometimes significantly lower frequency than the Radeon HD 3870. In addition, the Radeon HD 3850 is also available in a variant the storage volume is reduced. While the bigger brother generally starts with a 512 MB VRAM, it is reduced to 256 MB for the smaller card in the standard model. In addition, there is also a 512 MB version, which is around 30 to 40 euros more expensive (and not yet available).

AMD kindly gave us an ATi Radeon HD 3850 with 256 MB for a test provide. The graphics card is based on the ATi reference design and, according to AMD, is the new price-performance champion. We put the 3D accelerator through its paces in our test course and are curious to see whether the Radeon HD 3850 can deliver what AMD promises. Namely, a lot of performance at a low price.


On the next page: Technical data