Sapphire Radeon HD3850 Ultimate

Sapphire Radeon HD3850 Ultimate
  • Sapphire Radeon HD3850 Ultimate
  • Sapphire Radeon HD3850 Ultimate
  • Sapphire Radeon HD3850 Ultimate
  • Expert Rating

    3.75 / 5


  • Silent heat-pipe


  • Not for high-end gamers

Bottom Line

An excellent choice for casual gamers who care more about noise than getting the best performance out of the latest games.

Would you buy this?

Special Offers

Of ATI's new HD3000 series cards the HD3850 is the low-end, competing with NVIDIA's 8800 GTS 320MB cards. It may not be the most potent performer available, and certainly isn't the best choice if you want to see games like Crysis running at full capacity. However, its cooler operational temperatures allow it the opportunity to run on a passive heat sink, such as with the Sapphire HD3850 Ultimate we had the pleasure of testing.

The HD3000 range supersedes the HD2000 series, bringing a far more acceptable level of performance than the previous generation could muster. Although the HD3870 is the top player so far from the new family, the HD3850 is still a decent choice, especially considering the silent heat-pipe option.

It offers 512MB of GDDR3 RAM on a 256-bit external memory bus. The core clock runs at 668MHz while the memory puffs along at a bizarre 828MHz (1656MHz effective speed). Unlike NVIDIA's GPU (graphics processor unit), the 320 stream processors on all ATI Radeon cards run at the core clock speed, rather than on a separate frequency. All of this is achieved on a nice, power efficient 55-nanometre architecture.

Among its new features the Sapphire Radeon HD3850 runs the latest DirectX 10.1 API (application programming interface), a minor upgrade to DirectX 10. Although it's a bonus, this is not a feature to buy on, as it is only a small scale update to the API. The Sapphire HD3850 Ultimate also offers Crossfire X support, allowing up to four boards to be linked up in a daisy-chain (requires a Crossfire X motherboard). This will initially allow for displays on a maximum of eight screens while still offering support for only two GPUs, but will eventually support four GPUs in a Crossfire configuration.

Probably the coolest thing about this board, however, is simply its silent, passive heat sink. The card is no dud, it will run early 2007 titles at high quality settings in high resolutions, and is capable of running late 2007 titles (and hopefully more into 2008) at medium or at worst, low quality settings at high resolutions. The only caveat is the size of the heat sink, which is almost triple the size of the active stock cooler, taking up two PCI slots. This, unfortunately, is the price of silence, which this card offers in droves.

In our tests, as we've mentioned, the card didn't rock the frames, but it did perform fairly well for its price. For DirectX 9 (DX9) we used Half-Life 2, in which the Sapphire Radeon HD3850 Ultimate averaged 122fps (frames per second) using the maximum resolution of our Samsung SyncMaster 245B (1920x1200) and with all the quality settings turned up to the max. In FEAR it averaged 54fps using the highest quality settings and a resolution of 1600x1200. In 3DMark 2006 it scored 9876.

In DirectX 10 (DX10) tests the Sapphire Radeon HD3850 ultimate was less impressive, but was still able to run the games, and would still be suitable at lower quality settings or at lower resolutions. In the DX10 version of Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, using the default settings, this card managed an average of 47fps, but fell to pieces at the maximum 1920x1200 and with all the DX10 features turned on, averaging just 13fps. Equally, in Crysis using the same resolution and all settings at high this card only managed 16fps. In the Call of Juarez DX10 demo we saw slightly better results with an average of 24fps using the default settings.

It's not going to suit hardcore gamers, but casual gamers will still be able to enjoy most gaming titles, as long as they're willing to sacrifice some of the higher quality visual effects.

Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?