ATI HD3850 & HD3870: Improved Acoustics & Power Efficiency

Graphics Cards
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Our sample came straight from ATI bubble-wrapped by itself, without any accessories or retail packaging, both of which will surely vary somewhat depending on the brand and price.

The HD 3850 cooler covers much of the PCB. The section above the GPU core is comprised of many finely machined fins. A centrifugal fan provides airflow.


ATI decided to go with a single slot cooling system for the HD 3850, making it more convenient for those with a limited number of expansion slots.

The HD 3850 comes with a TV-out and dual DVI-I ports. At first glance, the heatsink doesn't have much ventilation other than those for four, claw-shaped holes at the top but...


...a closer examination shows that the end is open. To avoid the heated exhaust air from pooling under the card, it may be advisable to remove the PCI slot cover directly below.

Rod-shaped fins — reminiscent of Alpha and Swiftech CPU heatsinks of yesteryear — protrude from the copper heatsink above the voltage regulation circuitry.


The cooler is fairly easy to remove. There are four spring-loaded screws around the GPU core attached to a square, padded mounting frame to prevent over-tightening. Five more screws hold the heatsink to the rest of the card. Under the hood we can see that a set of nine thermal pads provide contact between the cooler and the memory chips and MOSFETs. Note claw-shaped holes in the copper, matching the holes in the plastic shroud above.

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