Unsurprisingly at this early stage, Sapphire’s card looks just like the Gigabyte card we photographed for our original ATI Radeon HD 3870 review. Sapphire has added its personal touch with a few Sapphire-branded stickers – one on the plastic heatsink shroud and one on the 6-pin PCI-Express power adapter.
The sticker on the heatsink shroud features the same character that’s on the front of the box and if you like red, you’ll love the card’s design because, aside from the copper memory heatspreader (which has a reddish tinge itself) and aluminium PCI bracket, this card is red. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it’s so red that it’ll glow like a fireball inside your case if you’ve got some nice red CCFL lighting.
Thankfully though, the RV670 chip under the heatsink won’t glow like a fireball because it’s actually a pretty efficient GPU. AMD transported one of its notebook-orientated power saving technologies—known as PowerPlay—to the desktop with RV670, and the Radeon HD 3870 uses it to great effect as we found out during our original architectural review.
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While I’m mentioning the heat reduction and power saving technologies in passing, I think it’s worth quickly talking about the heatsink design once more. If you read our original look at the card, you’ll know by now that I really like the heatsink design on this card – it works well because it’s quiet and efficient.
Of course, the downside is that it’s not a single slot solution like the one on the GeForce 8800 GT, but the benefit of it not being a single slot solution is that the heat produced by the card is exhausted out of the case and isn’t left inside to warm up other hardware in your machine. I think it’s a case of horses for courses – some will see benefits to having a single slot cooling solution, while others will see the benefits of having a dual-slot cooler – it just depends on what suits your needs the best.
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With this early version of the card, Sapphire hasn’t messed with AMD’s reference clock speeds, meaning that the core is set to run at 775MHz and the 512MB of GDDR4 memory is set to 2.25GHz. We’ll be having a look at overclocking towards the end of this article, so we’ll see how much headroom there is in both the core and the memory.
The Sapphire Radeon HD 3870 comes complete with a two-year warranty that includes cover for parts and labour. During the first year of the product’s life, your point of contact should be the retailer. However, if you’re having problems getting hold of the retailer (or the retailer goes out of business), you should contact Sapphire’s support team directly. During the second year of the warranty period, you should talk directly with Sapphire.
This warranty is nothing special, but to be fair to Sapphire it’s inline with what most other AMD partners offer and the warranty period is consistent in every corner of the world.