Sapphire HD3650 Overclocked Video Card

Posted by on Sunday, June 28, 2009 - 5:34am

smallThere are some people out there that want a decent performing video card that comes with a price that won’t put a huge dent in their pocket books. My soon to be wife is one of those folks that want to be able to play her games like the Sims and now and then she will venture into something that is a bit more graphic intensive. She also works a lot with video that comes via a multi-million dollar scope at her lab. Now Nvidia and AMD have solutions that could meet her needs. Each one of these companies has cards that can be represented in the decent performance at a great price point category. Coming from Nvidia, you have cards like the 8600 series and if you are an ATI fan then you have cards like the HD3650. Each card performs well for being in the under $100 price range.

 

Overview

Introduction

There are some people out there that want a decent performing video card that comes with a price that won’t put a huge dent in their pocket books. My soon to be wife is one of those folks that want to be able to play her games like the Sims and now and then she will venture into something that is a bit more graphic intensive. She also works a lot with video that comes via a multi-million dollar scope at her lab. Now Nvidia and AMD have solutions that could meet her needs. Each one of these companies has cards that can be represented in the decent performance at a great price point category. Coming from Nvidia, you have cards like the 8600 series and if you are an ATI fan then you have cards like the HD3650. Each card performs well for being in the under $100 price range.

Sapphire has been around long enough to know how to put out a great video card. Just a few weeks ago we took a long look at the Toxic 3870 which is an overclocked 3870 with a single slot cooling system. Yeah that was a good one. But now we are here to take a look at the budget HD3650 from Sapphire. But this budget card has an added punch to its core and memory clocks as it is overclocked as well, just like the Toxic 3870.

This Sapphire HD3650 card has all the features that you have heard about like the DX10, Shader 4.0 and 5.1 audio support. All this is fine and dandy but does it stack up to the competitor’s card? All that has to be seen. Read ahead and see how well it does.

What Sapphire has to say

Play the Vista™way! Ignite your imagination with the technology that makes distant worlds erupt with vibrant textures rendered in High-Definition clarity a reality. The SAPPHIRE HD3650 is Microsoft VISTA™ compatible with awesome power of 120 stream processing units, accelerates next generation DirectX® 10 games while remaining best in its price vs. performance class. Support for the latest Shader Model 4 boost the level of realism provided by the HD3650 to new heights and the available on board memory of 256MB or 512MB of DDR/GDDR ensures a smooth frame rate in all of today's hot titles and applications. Enhance the way you play not the amount you pay.


 

Packaging and contents

The 3650 comes in a traditional Sapphire box which is always black and red with a fearless female warrior gracing the cover. But we all know it is about what is on the inside.

Packaging front

Packaging back

And what is inside is a plenty of CDs containing programs like PowerDVD, other Power products and Futuremark 3DMark06. And for hardware, all various forms of connectors are supported like DVI, HDMI, S-Video and RCA. The 3650 has the making for a great HTPC.

Contents

Features

512MB GDDR3
128-bit memory interface
Core / Memory Clock – 725 / 900
PCI Express® 2.0 x16 bus support
DirectX® 10.1 / Shader Model 4.1 support
ATI CrossFireX™ multi-GPU support
Unified Video Decoder (UVD) for Blu-ray™ and HD DVD at full HD 1080p
HDMI with 5.1 surround sound audio


 

Closer look

We stated this card is an overclocked version of the original AMD chipset and in this case the core is rated at 800 MHz while the ram is running at a blazing 900 MHz. These specifications mixed with the current architectural feature of PCI Express 2.0 and supporting DirectX 10.1 and Shader 4.1 should make your gaming experience pretty decent. And for you movie buffs out there, you get full 1080P visualization when using Blue-Ray and HD-DVD compliant hardware.

Card front

There isn’t too much to say about the 3650 OC visually that can’t be said about other video cards. But if I had to start somewhere, it would be with the thin cooler that cools the RV635 chipset. Sapphire was able to overclock the card and maintain a single slot cooling solution.

Cooler

Cooler fan

Cooler aluminum

The PCB and the cooler are in a creamy blue color that is refreshing to see. Unlike the green and the typical red colors we are accustom to seeing from ATI based card. Sapphire is fond of the female space age warriors and one graces the cooler as well.

Card back

The overall length of the cooler is nothing compared to the 3870 we once reviewed. So adapting it to the smaller rigs should be no problem whatsoever. Also extremely powerful power supplies are not needed as well as it requires no PCIe power connection; power is gathered thru the mainboard.

Card bridge

And like what was stated earlier, this card is ideal for HTPC systems as indicated by the multiple DVI ports and single S-Video connections. Remember the card comes with a HDMI-to-DVI adapter as well.

Card slots


 

Testing Hardware and Software

Testing Hardware:
Intel Core2Duo E8400
ASUS P5E3 Deluxe
OCZ PC14000 Titanium
Maxtor 100GB SATAI
Thermalright Ultra 120
Thermaltake TP1000

Testing Software:
Futuremark 3DMark06
Half Life: Episode 2
Crysis
Far Cry
Prey
F.E.A.R.

Competition:
Zotac 8600GT
Zotac 8600GTS

Video install

Results

Futuremark 3DMark 06
Futuremark 3DMark06 Build 1.0.2 3DMark®06 is the worldwide standard in advanced 3D game performance benchmarking. A fundamental tool for every company in the as well as PC users and gamers, 3DMark06 uses advanced real-time 3D game workloads to measure using a suite of DirectX 9 3D graphics tests, CPU tests, and 3D feature tests. 3DMark06 tests include all new HDR/SM3.0 graphics tests, SM2.0 graphics tests, AI and physics driven single and multiple cores or processor CPU tests and a collection of comprehensive feature tests to reliably measure next generation gaming performance today. Futuremark's exclusive Online ResultBrowser tracks and compares 3DMark06 scores.

results

Sierra Entertainment F.E.A.R.
“Gamespot’s PC Shooter of the Year is coming to the Xbox 360™ gaming and entertainment system with new levels, new weapons, and more explosive online action - Coming Fall 2006. 
F.E.A.R. ™ (First Encounter Assault Recon) is a paranormal action thriller presented entirely in first-person. An unprecedented adrenaline rush of close quarters combat seamlessly melded with the spine-tingling, shocking intensity of the paranormal unknown.
Already a critical and commercial smash on the PC, F.E.A.R. will bring a new level of FPS game play to Xbox 360 with brand new single-player content designed to immerse the player deeper in the world of the F.E.A.R. team, as well as brand new multiplayer content created to fully utilize Xbox Live®.”

results

3D Realms Prey
“Tommy is a down-on-his-luck garage mechanic, stuck in the middle on who-knows-where on some forgotten reservation, where Native Americans are tucked away out of sight, out of mind.
And then the unthinkable happens! Earth becomes prey to the galaxy's largest predator, a space bound Texas-sized alien that's looking to satiate its hunger with the organic goodness that most populates Earth: Us. And the first course is a certain forgotten reservation.
Tommy and his girlfriend have become prey, his grandfather killed, and hundreds of his tribal nations have been abducted through space-warping portals. Freeing himself, all Tommy cares about is saving Jenny. But the spirit of his grandfather beckons him to embrace his heritage, accept the ancient teachings, and prepare to battle the menace that threatens to destroy all the planet's life.  It's a choice between love and responsibility. It's a choice that cannot be made easily.”

results

Electronic Arts Crysis
“Earth, 2019. A team of US scientists makes a frightening discovery on an island in the South China Sea. All contact with the team is lost when the North Korean Government quickly seals off the area. The United States responds by dispatching an elite team of Delta Force Operators to recon the situation. As tension rises between the two nations, a massive alien ship reveals itself in the middle of the island. The ship generates an immense force sphere that freezes a vast portion of the island and drastically alters the global weather system. Now the US and North Korea must join forces to battle the alien menace. With hope rapidly fading, you must fight epic battles through tropical jungle, frozen landscapes, and finally into the heart of the alien ship itself for the ultimate Zero G showdown.”

results

Ubisoft Far Cry
“A tropical paradise seethes with hidden evil in Far Cry, a cunningly detailed action shooter that pushes the boundaries of combat to shocking new levels.
Freelance mariner Jack Carver is cursing the day he ever came to this island. A week ago, a brash female reporter named Valerie had offered him an incredible sum of cash to take her to this unspoiled paradise. Shortly after docking, however, Jack's boat was greeted by artillery fire from a mysterious militia group swarming about the island.
With his boat destroyed, his money gone, and the gorgeous Valerie suddenly missing, Jack now finds himself facing an army of mercenaries amidst the wilds of the island, with nothing but a gun and his wits to survive. But the further he pushes into the lush jungle canopy, the stranger things become.
Jack encounters an insider within the militia group who reveals the horrific details of the mercenaries' true intentions. He presents Jack with an unsettling choice: battle the deadliest mercenaries, or condemn the human race to a maniac's insidious agenda.”

results

Valve Half Life 2: Episode Two
‘Half-Life® 2: Episode Two is the second in a trilogy of new games created by Valve that extends the award-winning and best-selling Half-Life® adventure.
As Dr. Gordon Freeman, you were last seen exiting City 17 with Alyx Vance as the Citadel erupted amidst a storm of unknown proportions. In Episode Two, you must battle and race against Combine forces as you traverse the White Forest to deliver a crucial information packet stolen from the Citadel to an enclave of fellow resistance scientists.
Episode Two extends the award-winning Half-Life gameplay with unique weapons, vehicles, and newly-spawned creatures.”

results

Inserts taken from respective developer's website.


 

Conclusion

For the price, the Sapphire HD3650 can’t be beaten. It offers moderate gaming performance at a price point of about $120 or less if you do some competitive shopping. This version of the R635 is one that will play most games at a decent frame rate on a 22 inch or less monitor. In simple terms, this budget card is for budget minded people that want to do some gaming along with some high definition movie watching.

And if you plan on using this card for a home theater setup there is no need for a high wattage power supply. Nor does the card have to be fitted in a large case either. The HD3650 is a low wattage card that could be ran on a good quality 350 watt power supply. And when it comes to size, the 3650 is a dwarf to our cards currently available. And should fit in any SFF or HTPC casing. I would say this is the best situation for this card as it offers all the connections that are associated with today’s hi-def televisions and monitor.

The Sapphire HD3650 is definitely a keeper if you aren’t looking to break the bank. And if one card doesn’t suit your gaming needs, you can always couple it with another 3650 for increased performance.

We definitely would recommend the Sapphire HD3650 to any of the individual that fit into the above two categories. Good job, Sapphire.

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