AMD Radeon HD 3850The lower cost of the two GPUs being released today is the HD 3850, as indicated by the new naming scheme that AMD has setup for their graphics products. The estimated pricing on the 3850 is set at $179 – a number that NVIDIA has desperately been trying to refute. If this price sticks, the main competition to the HD 3850 will be the NVIDIA 8600 GTS and the previous mid-range card from AMD, the HD 2600 XT.
In a very similar way to how AMD’s processors are modeled now, each number will address a specific category. I am sure gamers will appreciate this method more than the various XT, XTX, GT, GS, XL and Pro indicators of the past.
The HD 3850 looks like most standard AMD reference graphics boards and uses a single slot cooler that is heavier than the dual-slot version on its bigger brother. The fan on the card is actually very quiet and was about on par with the noise levels of the new NVIDIA 8800 GT. AMD has stated the cooler is rated at 31 dBA and the peak board power is 95 watts.
I’ve already gone over a lot of the specifications for this board but they are worth touching on again quickly here. The HD 3850 sports 320 stream processors and a 256-bit memory bus using 256MB of GDDR3 memory running at 1.66 GHz on our reference board. The core clock runs at 670 MHz while being able to run at 300 MHz while in 2D mode.
As standard now, the AMD HD 3850 comes with dual dual-link DVI outputs and an HDTV output as well. The same DVI-to-HDMI adaptors will work on this GPU design too enabling HDMI output from any HD 3000 series card.
The CrossFire connectors on the HD 3850 are doubled up allowing for yet another advantage of AMD over their competition – this card will support two, three and four card configurations via a staggered CrossFire connection scheme while only the 8800 GTX and 8800 GTS support more than two-cards for SLI. Even the new 8800 GT card only has a single SLI bridge connector.
The 3850 uses a single 6-pin PCIe power connector for all its power needs.
The packaging for the 3850 was still being worked out when we got our samples but you can expect to find a set of accessories like the ones above: two DVI-to-VGA adaptors, an HDTV output dongle, one CrossFire connector and that DVI-to-HDMI dongle mentioned above.