HIS Radeon HD 3850 IceQ 3 TurboX 512MB card design

Core Clock: 735MHz
Memory Clock: 1,960MHz
Warranty: Three years (parts and labour)

I'm sure the name gave it away, but you'll be pleased to know that HIS has moved away from the reference cooler and kitted the card out with one of its highly sought after IceQ-series coolers – in this case, it's a third generation design. It's characteristically silent and glows blue under ultra-violet light.

HIS uses the words 'Ultra Silent' to describe the fan and that's not at all wrong, even though there is a slight hum from the movement of air. Even then, we couldn't hear this above our Thermaltake MaxOrb CPU cooler which is not exactly noisy itself.

But of course, ultra silent isn't exactly quantifiable and we'd prefer the company use 'inaudible' for something that has an active cooling solution because something that moves is always going to make a little bit of noise, even if most of us cannot hear it. I know I'm nitpicking here, but I'd much rather reserve phrases like ultra silent to passive cooling solutions.

HIS Radeon HD 3850 IceQ 3 TurboX 512MB HIS Radeon HD 3850 IceQ 3 TurboX 512MB
Click to enlarge

Air is drawn in through the radial fan at the end of the card over a large chunk of copper above the GPU core and is then exhausted out through the PCI bracket. Both the memory and PWMs are cooled with copper heatspreaders and to our approval; they are securely attached to the PCB with screws. Above the top memory heatspreader, there is a single heatpipe that comes out of the base of the aforementioned chunk of copper and takes that heat to the copper fins closest to the grilled PCI bracket.

Like all Radeon HD 3850s, HIS's card supports PCI-Express 2.0 but in order to maintain backwards compatibility, only 75W of power is drawn through the interconnect. As a result, the card has a supplementary 6-pin PCI-Express power connector and, while we're mentioning that, it's worth noting that there is no 6-pin PCI-Express to Molex adapter in the bundle – I think this is something that will become an increasing trend for graphics cards that only have a single power connector, because any recent power supply will have the necessary connectors built in.

HIS Radeon HD 3850 IceQ 3 TurboX 512MB HIS Radeon HD 3850 IceQ 3 TurboX 512MB
Click to enlarge

Moving to the PCI bracket on the card, HIS has continued on with its 'HD' concept. While the combination of the gold-plated and black DVI connectors and the boltgun PCI bracket look fantastic compared to the standard aluminium and white DVI connectors, we don't believe they're going to make any difference to the signal quality. After all, the signal is a digital one and it's either there or it's not.

Of course, you could argue that it'll improve signal quality over time because the gold plating will act as an anti-corrosive material, but when was the last time you saw a DVI connector suffer from corrosion? Yeah, I can't remember either...

Warranty

HIS offers a three year limited warranty on all of its products that covers parts and labour. During the first year, this warranty is held with the retailer where you purchased the card and the remaining two years are handled by the manufacturer.

One thing that is definitely noteworthy is the fact that the warranty doesn’t start when you purchase the card, instead it starts from the day when the card was manufactured – that’s not ideal if the card is going to sit in a warehouse for six months. Despite that though, a good thing with HIS’s warranty terms is that you’re able to transfer this warranty should you choose to sell the card at a later date – this should sweeten the deal a little bit even if you’re put off by when the warranty term starts.
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