In the past year and a half we have seen Nvidia dominating the high end of video cards, much to the dismay of ATI. The thing to remember is that the high end is not where the bulk of the profits are made, so while the flagship products look great, ATI is competing very well in the mid-high end segment. The new bread and butter from ATI is the HD 3870 and Legit Reviews covered its launch in December. Here we are in the middle of April 2008 and Nvidia has all sorts of “new” video cards on the market, a complete line-up makeover from top to bottom in fact. With no new architecture available for a few months, we are seeing price drops on the 3870 and 3850 in an effort to keep the bang for the buck. Without a high-end part, there are only a few options for ATI’s add-in-board partners looking to woo those with giant LCD screens, which brings us to today’s article. Diamond has sent Legit Reviews an impressive card based on the popular 3870 but with a little twist. Instead of the typical 512MB of GDDR4 memory that keeps the 3870 performing, they have blessed this recently announced video card with 1GB of GDDR3 memory. Some of you may have read our review of the Palit 8800 GTS 1GB where it was found the extra memory and clock speeds help boost performance over that of the standard 8800 GTS 512MB, we’re hoping that Diamonds 3870 1GB is able to pull the same feat over its 512 counterpart as well.
Diving right into this card we see that Diamond is much like Palit in that they build their own PCB’s and offer an upgraded cooling solution over standard reference cards. Our Diamond 3870 heat sink really does not appear to be much of a departure over the standard cooler, but that is where you would be wrong. This cooler is able to drop temperatures a solid 20c at both idle and load compared to the reference cooler. What makes this even more impressive is that the core clock speed is higher at 825MHz vs. 777MHz of the standard 3870.
The other difference and the whole reason behind this article is the 1GB of memory. The only drawback to the additional memory is that the clock speeds have had a significant drop, 900MHz vs. 1350MHz of the standard card. This is due to using GDDR3 for 1GB whereas the reference 3870 512MB uses GDDR4. The 1GB card has a the same exact 256-bit bus as the 512MB. The Qimonda memory IC’s on this card are rated for 900MHz.
Our Diamond 3870 1GB still fits into the same power envelope of the standard 3870 and with a 450W power supply you should have no problem powering either card.
We see here the card has the standard connections, two Dual Link DVI with HDCP (HDMI + Audio with the included adapter) and HDTV out.
On to the back side of the card and we really don’t see anything too exciting here, however you can see the two CrossFire interconnects at the top of the card. The bottom card in this photo is the Diamond 3870 1GB.