Overclocking

We overclocked the HIS Radeon HD 3850 IceQ 3 TurboX 512MB using RivaTuner version 2.06 to increase the clock speeds and Crysis under DirectX 10 mode to test for stability.

We increased both the core and memory speeds together in 5MHz increments until the system crashed. When we encountered a crash, we dropped back to the previous setting and ran a two-hour stability test to check that the card was completely stable over prolonged periods of time under load.

As a quick refresher, the HIS Radeon HD 3850 IceQ 3 TurboX 512MB comes clocked at 735MHz core and 1,960MHz (effective) on the memory, while the reference Radeon HD 3850 clock speeds are set at 670MHz core and 1,660MHz (effective) memory.

We thought we’d struck gold initially, as we were able to get the card to work all the way up to 850MHz core and 2,100MHz (effective) memory, but the card crashed our stability test after around an hour of gaming. After spending more time tweaking and stability testing the card, we finally settled on an overclock to 810MHz core and 2,100MHz (effective) memory. These clock speeds represent impressive increases of 10 percent and seven percent respectively.

In terms of performance, the card ended up closing the gap between it and the standard Radeon HD 3870 512MB reference card, delivering around an eight percent increase in frame rate in Crysis using DirectX 10 mode.

Final Thoughts...

The HIS Radeon HD 3850 IceQ 3 TurboX 512MB is an interesting card that improves on the ATI reference design in many areas. In particular, the clock speed increase is an impressive one that takes the card’s performance characteristics up to a level where it’s not too far behind the Radeon HD 3870 reference card in many cases. We also like the cooling solution and for those that are fans of the Arctic Cooling Silencer coolers, you won’t have to spend extra on one if that’s what you’re looking for.

However, the problem with all of this is that it has driven the price up to a level where it’s just too expensive to represent great value for money for everyone. That’s not to say that the card is poor value for money – it’s only going to be attractive to those that see benefits in the cooling solution at over £135. Given that PowerColor’s Radeon HD 3850 Xtreme PCS 512MB (which also features a custom cooling solution and a similar factory overclock) is available for £101.64, it’s hard to recommend the HIS Radeon HD 3850 IceQ 3 TurboX 512MB.

Combine this with the fact that you can buy a Radeon HD 3870 512MB for under £130, and it means that, unless you see value in the cooling solution, there is really little reason to buy the HIS Radeon HD 3850 IceQ 3 TurboX over any other Radeon on the market today.

What adds insult to injury for the HIS card is the fact that you can pick up a GeForce 8800 GT for just over £140 now, and even BFGTech’s factory-overclocked GeForce 8800 GT OC is available for the same price on a ‘This Week Only’ offer. And I’ve not even bothered to mention the GeForce 9600 GT’s pricing here either.

It ultimately goes back to what I pointed out in my recent column – the performance mainstream market is a sea of grey at the moment and if it continues, it is going to stop board partner innovation. It pains me to say that, because there is absolutely nothing wrong with HIS’s Radeon HD 3850 IceQ 3 TurboX 512MB card—in fact, we’re very impressed with it. But in a very competitive market, the price has to hit the mark. Unfortunately for HIS, that hasn’t happened here.

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