Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Asus EAH3870 TOP Review

Santa must have had some renovations done to his workshop, in order to accommodate all of the new video cards that came out over the last two months. It all started around Halloween, which had a little extra bang to it this year, with the release of NVIDIA's 8800 GT.  While that card might of attracted the lion's share of the spotlight, AMD/ATI released its response, its own 'killer-card' around the mid-two hundred dollar price point, about two weeks later: the HD 3870.

Today we are going to look at a factory-overclocked HD 3870 from Asus: the Asus EAH3870 TOP. A few weeks ago, I was impressed with the combination of performance and price found in PowerColor's HD 3850 Xtreme PCS video card. Maybe the HD 3850 bigger brother will be just as impressive.

Asus EAH3870 TOP left, Powercolor HD3850 Xtreme PCS right.

Alright, let's take a look at this bad-boy. 

The Asus EAH3870 is more on the hefty side of cards, than the slight. It was a double-slot cooler and feels a lot heavier than you'd guess it would, judging from looks. Which much thicker than its nemesis, the 8800 GT, the HD 3870 is about the same length, at a little under 9 inches. You can see some resemblance between the HD 3870 and the HD 2900 XT, but not that much -- in a way, the HD 3870 looks like a 'HD 2900 XT Lite.'

As for the cooler, through the red plastic, you can see a solid block of aluminum fins mounted to the centre of the board. This stretch of GPU-cooling heat-fins are all aligned so that air is expediently pushed through, flowing over the card and out the rear. While the Asus EAH3870 heat sink doesn't have nearly as much metal as a HD 2900 XT, or say, 8800 GTS does, the amount it does have does look substantial enough to provide adequate cooling. Unlike some HD 3850 cards that I have seen, this HD 3870 also has copper-colored aluminum heat sinks on the memory, connected by thermal tape.

A standard-sized fan dominates the right side of the PCB, ready for both duties: cooling the heat sink, and getting air flowing off of the memory as well.

The Asus EAH3870 features a Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts decal on the cooler, on which a German Panzer-commander stares off to the right side of the video card (perhaps dreaming of ledenhosen and blitzkrieg'ing), and a Canadian artillery officer stares off to the left (perhaps dreaming of hockey and incendiary grenades.) Besides the decal, there isn't all that much apparent difference between this Asus video card and the reference board design.

The HD 3870 has 320 stream processors (same amount as the HD 2900 XT), as well as 16 TAUs, and 16 ROPs. Being an TOP edition, Asus has overclocked this video card. The GPU clock is set to 850 MHz, while the 512MB of GDDR4 memory is clocked to 1143 MHZ. Unlike the HD 2900 XT, the HD 3870 has a 256-bit memory interface. A 256-bit memory bus was sufficient to allow for some great performance from the 8800 GT cards, so, hopefully this will hold true for the HD 3870 as well.     

On the back end of the card we have the standard double DVI outputs, which support resolutions up to 3840x2400.

Read the full story here

No comments: