Sapphire Radeon HD 3870

Written by Tim Smalley

December 10, 2007 | 07:31

Tags: #3870 #8800 #benchmark #bios #crysis #evaluation #geforce #gt #hd #oc #overclock #overclocking #performance #radeon #review #rv670

Companies: #nvidia #sapphire

Sapphire Radeon HD 3870 512MB

Manufacturer: Sapphire
UK Price (as reviewed): £139.98 (inc. VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $239.95 (ex. Tax)

Core Clock: 775MHz
Memory Clock: 2.25GHz
Warranty: Two years (parts and labour)

Just the other week, we had a rather in-depth look at AMD’s ATI Radeon HD 3870 graphics card. We found that—although it’s not quite as fast as Nvidia’s GeForce 8800 GT—AMD’s partners have priced it pretty attractively so that it’s actually very tempting to pocket the difference between the 3870 and the 8800 GT.

Of course, you’ll have to put up with a slightly lower performing product, but at the same time you’ll have a card that supports all of the next-generation features that Microsoft will bring to the table with DirectX 10.1 – something that will arrive with Windows Vista SP1 in the first half of 2008.

We covered the features during our architectural analysis and there are some cool new features and refinements that will help to make game developers' lives easier. That’s not all though, because the Radeon HD 3800-series also introduces some pretty nifty power saving technologies that we’re hoping we’ll see more of in the future.

Sapphire Radeon HD 3870 Sapphire Radeon HD 3870
Click to enlarge

During our technology and architectural review, we promised that we’d be looking at Sapphire’s implementation shortly afterwards, as the company sent us a full-retail package ahead of the launch. That’s what we’re here to do in this article – we’re going to cover the bundle, the retail card and how well it overclocks. So, without further ado, it’s time to get on with the grilling!

Box and Bundle:

It seems like Sapphire’s box design has been around for ages – there have been some minor changes, but the design’s ethos is essentially the same and it comes with a bit of T&A on the box. This is something that seems fairly commonplace in this day and age – whether or not this is a good thing is something that we'll leave you to decide.

Even despite the T&A, the design is functional and lists all of the key features on the front of the box in easy-to-identify points. As you can probably see from the photos, Sapphire highlights the fact that the card has 512MB of GDDR4 memory, support for HDMI, HD Audio and PCI-Express 2.0 and a there’s also a copy of 3DMark 06 included in the box for the budding benchmarketeers out there.

Sapphire Radeon HD 3870 Sapphire Radeon HD 3870
Click to enlarge

Inside the box, there is a decent selection of accessories that should satisfy even the most needy PC users out there. In terms of connectivity, there is a 6-pin PCI-Express power adapter and converters for TV-Out to Composite, TV-Out to Component, DVI-to-VGA and DVI-to-HDMI.

The DVI-to-HDMI connector also accepts audio too, as every ATI Radeon graphics card since the Radeon HD 2900 XT features built-in support for 5.1 audio over HDMI. To round off the cables and connectors supplied in the box, there is the obligatory CrossFire connector, which will come in handy if you ever buy a second Radeon HD 3870 later down the line.

That’s not all that comes in the box with Sapphire’s Radeon HD 3870 card though, as there is also a good selection of software. It includes a coupon for The Black Box, CyberLink DVD Suite 5, PowerDVD 7 and the full version of 3DMark 06. You’ll probably be thinking the Valve coupon is useless after the developer cancelled The Black Box, but thankfully that’s not the case because Valve stated publically that the ATI coupons are valid on Steam, as only the retail DVD package was cancelled.
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