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

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


After the Radeon HD 3870 was already able to convince in our last review and finally an alternative to the Nvidia graphics cards (upper middle class/lower high-end class)is now followed by the ATi Radeon HD 3850. As mentioned, this graphics card is not positioned against a competing model, but in a market niche: The price of the 3D accelerator is around 140 euros and therefore good in the mid-range segment, the performance but is without a doubt higher than anything that has ever been available for so little money.

Without anti- The small RV670 graphics card does very well in 1280x1024 with aliasing and anisotropic filtering. The gap to the GeForce 8800 GTS is only four percent, while the GeForce 8800 GTS 320 is well under control with a lead of 13 percent. The Radeon HD 3870 can pull 22 percent of it. The Radeon HD 3850 loses a bit of performance in 1600x1200, but the graphics card is still more than acceptable. The GeForce 8800 GTS renders nine percent faster, while the 320 MB version of the Nvidia accelerator can move up to nine percent. The Radeon HD 3870 pulls up and away with a difference of 26 percent.

With the two quality-increasing features, the ATi graphics card breaks down further, but it can still stand up to the GeForce 8800 GTS 320 with flying colors defend. The GeForce 8800 GTS and the Radeon HD 3870 are a good 26 percent ahead of the Radeon HD 3850, while the GeForce 8800 GTS 320 is four percent ahead of the ATi graphics card. In 1600x1200, the GeForce 8800 GTS 320 catches up a bit, but the GeForce 8800 GTS and above all the Radeon HD 3870 are now finally pulling away. With eight anti-aliasing, the Radeon HD 3850 can consistently sit between the GeForce 8800 GTS 320 and the GeForce 8800 GTS. But here the rule is that the speed is usually no longer sufficient.

ATi Radeon HD 3850

In theThe ATi Radeon HD 3850 also does well in Direct3D 10 applications, even if the Nvidia graphics cards deliver slightly better results compared to Direct3D 9 games. Without anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering, the GeForce 8800 GTS 320 lags behind by ten percent, while the GeForce 8800 GTS is only four percent behind the ATi Radeon HD 3800 card. With anti-aliasing and anisotropic texture filtering, the 320 MB version moves closer to two percent, while the GeForce 8800 GTS moves into an unreachable distance with a difference of a full 40 percent.

One or the other reader has certainly asked himself at this point why we haven't mentioned the GeForce 8600 GTS, which is only a little cheaper. Well, very simple: the Nvidia graphics card never managed to come even close to the performance range of the Radeon HD 3850. That is why it is almost impossible for us to make a reasonable comparison.

The single-slot cooling system on the Radeon HD 3850 can be described as successful. The fan works extremely quietly under Windows so that we were unable to hear the propeller from the rest of the PC components. But the fan is not intrusive even under load. You may not achieve the excellent level of a Radeon HD 3870, but you are not far from it. The ATi Radeon HD 3850 is therefore suitable for a silent PC without any restrictions.

The Radeon HD 3870 already knew how to impress in the power consumption category thanks to the new energy-saving mechanism. Due to the probably lower core voltage and the halved memory, the Radeon HD 3850 can go one better and undercuts its sister card in this discipline again. Only a Radeon HD 2400 XT requires even less power. Logically, the energy-saving mode no longer works under load, but it still explodesPower consumption is not infinite. Instead, the PCIe 2.0 standard belongs more to the category “nice to have, but certainly not a must”. There will be no advantages in games in the near future with the new standard. The integration of the unified video decoder on the Radeon HD 3850 has been successful and is in no way inferior to the derivative on the Radeon HD 3870.


So that's it, the Radeon HD 3850, ATi's miracle weapon in the mid-range segment. And there is no doubt that the Radeon HD 3850 deserves the title of price-performance champion and rightly so. For around 140 euros you won't get such a performance anywhere else - neither from Nvidia nor from ATi itself. The GeForce 8600 GTS costs only 18 euros less, but it is in a completely different performance class. The GeForce 8800 GTS 320, on the other hand, costs significantly more, but the performance is not higher than that of the Radeon HD 3850, the Nvidia graphics card is often even beaten!

If you use the resolution 1280x1024 when using AA and AF does not leave, or, if you want more pixels, can do without the two quality-enhancing features below 1600x1200, you can't go wrong with the Radeon HD 3850. But if you insist on anti-aliasing and anisotropic texture filtering in 1600x1200, or even want to play with eight-fold anti-aliasing, then you should use a Radeon HD 3870 or GeForce 8800 GT. Otherwise, the Radeon HD 3850 is a perfect graphics card that can display most games with maximum details without any problems. It is worth considering, however, instead of using the 256 MB version for the 512 MB version. Future titles in particular will be grateful for this.

In addition, the volume of the Radeon HD 3850 is very good, and the power consumption is excellent. Thanks to the UVD, you are equipped with any processor for HD videos of all kinds and thePCIe 2.0 standard is offered as a nice plus. A competing card for the Radeon HD 3850 for around 140 euros? Doesn't exist - at least not yet. Due to the services shown for a reasonable purchase price, we are giving the ATi Radeon HD 3850 256 MB our ComputerBase recommendation.

Recommendation (11/07)

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