Touching base with RV670 RV670 is the codename for the graphics chip under the hood of the Radeon HD 3850 & 3870 graphics cards. Make no mistake, both cards make use of exactly the same graphics processor, making that 3850 a very interesting to purchase graphics card (150-179 USD) Yes, that price is almost creepy isn't it? Back to the dirty tech talk though. The new RV670 is basically an updated R600 graphics processor, yet by all means is not just a die-shrink of it. It fixed a lot of inefficiency issues that ATI faced with R600 (Radeon HD 2900). The processor is now manufactured at a much smaller 55nm process and entails a significant number of improvements. Let's walk through the more important ones.
For me personally the biggest improvement of the Radeon HD 38xx series GPU is two-fold. You'll get near same performance as that HD Radeon 2900 XT at more than half the price and secondly, half the power consumption (thus lower wattage). Do you guys remember that the 2900 cards had two power connectors (one 75W 6-pin & one 150W 8-pin) ? That's completely obsolete. Just a 6-pin connector will be sufficient as the fastest model announced today (HD 3870) uses merely half the Wattage of that 2900 XT at roughly 105 Watt (peak).
Next to that smaller die-size AMD also incorporated ATI Powerplay (known from their mobile products) into the GPU which seems to do wonders in power consumption as it can regulate voltage levels and clock speeds on the fly. Pretty nice, we'll show you some results later on.
The Diamond Viper Radeon HD 3850 Ruby edition
Goodness .. that's a long name isn't it? Alright, let's compare the basic reference card against this Diamond Ruby edition model.
First let me tell you the default specifications of a Radeon HD 3850 reference design card - the lower-end yet mid-range Radeon HD 3850 reference model cards will feature a silent single-slot cooler. The cards have an optional 256MB or 512MB onboard GDDR3 memory configuration. The 3850 will be running at a 825 MHz memory frequency (1650 MHZ effective), and will have a core frequency of at least 660 MHz. Now please understand that board-partners will release pre-overclocked models of these cards, so did Diamond.
GPU: Radeon HD3850
Bus Type: PCI-Express
Core Clock: 725 MHZ
Memory Size: 512MB
Memory Configuration: 16Mx32 GDDR3
Memory Interface: 256-Bit
Memory Speed: 900 MHz
x2 Dual Link DVI + HDTV-out with (HDMI support through adapter)
This is where we stumble into the Diamond Viper Radeon HD 3850 Ruby edition.
S slightly different product. The PCB differs and the color is still shiny red yet there are some optimizations done for sure. On top of the card we see a huge dual-slot cooling unit. But even so important, we notice that the core and memory clocks run higher than reference. We see a core frequency of 725 MHz and the memory clocked at 1800 MHz (effective). That's slightly slower than a Radeon HD 3870. To cut costs the card is back to GDDR3 memory at a 256-bit memory bus. Expect the 256MB version to sell for roughly 130-150 USD and the 512 MB version from 179 USD which still is good value for the money considering you have a fully working RV670 GPU on that card.
Once we open up the box we spot that the graphics card is coming with the usual complementary output ports and accessories ranging from a single DVI-to-VGA adapter and a DVI-to-HDMI adapter.
if you still life in the analog era, you'll love the of composite, component, and S-Video output cables. No complementary game was included.
We can see that the full RV670 core is being utilized, all 320 Shader Processors are active. Not a bad deal in this price-range, no Sir.
Bundled with this card thou shall find:
DVI to VGA Dongle x 1
DVI to HDMI Dongle x 1
S-Video to Composite adapter
Crossfire bridge x 1
3-way RCA component adapter
6-pin to Molex power connector
Pretty standard bundle. But let's dive into the product technology again. Next to shrinking that die-size ATI did make another clever move; the move back to the 256-bit memory bus (still using the 512-bit ring-bus). It's much cheaper to work with memory and less expensive to integrate. So combining these factors can make the overall products less expensive. RV670 also makes the move towards PCI-Express 2.0 compatibility which doubles the bus (PCIe) data rate towards 16GB/s. Not that we need it at this time though ... although with CrossfireX it might make a difference.
Diamond Viper Radeon HD 3850 Ruby edition Today we review the Diamond Viper Radeon HD 3850 512Mb Ruby edition, a lovely product. It's a Radeon HD 3850 colored with a red PCB, a custom cooler slapped on top of it and they pre-overclocked it to get closer the Radeon HD 3870 performance level.