You have read that right: a brand new graphics card with an AGP interface. Practically because the big two in the dedicated graphics card market would have you believe differently, AGP is still much exist.
As a matter of fact one or two motherboard vendors still bring out AGP boards, and at least one mixes it with Intel’s Socket 775. Not just that, but a large number of people still have not upgraded to a PCI-E system since, because the older saying goes, if it ain’t broke out, do not fix it.
Not just has Sapphire bothered to bring in an AGP version for its line-up of Sapphire HD3850 cards, the company has yet established it slightly speedier clocks than standard. Sapphire HD3850 core clock runs at 700MHz, an addition of 30MHz across the reference design, while the 512MB of GDDR3 memory jogs along nicely at 846MHz, a small addition over the basic design’s 825MHz.
Altogether the characteristics of the equivalent PCI-E card are present; 320 stream processors, 512-bit internal memory ring, support for shader model 4.0 and DirectX 10.1. As well the GPU features ATI’s PowerPlay, technology that cuts down power consumption depending on what the card is doing.
The one thing you can not do with the HD3850 - and its nothing to do with the card itself - is record HD through the bus, as there simply Is not enough bandwidth with AGP.
As with other cards in the category, the Sapphire HD3850 AGP edition is a single slot cooled design with a passive heat-sink over the voltage regulators. It’s not a bad looking card, built upon a blue PCB with a matching blue cooler adorned by a female figure not a million miles in appearance from a certain Miss Croft.
Since the AGP slot can’t render sufficient voltage for the HD3850 core, the HD3850 uses an eight-pin PCI-E power connector, but the standard 6-pin connector will provide enough voltage. If you haven’t got either, do not panic, because Sapphire HD3850 comes with a 4-pin Molex to 6-pin PCI adaptor in the box.
As you may expect when it comes to performance, Sapphire’s HD3850 is the fastest AGP card on the block, scoring 7,200 and 2,210 in 3DMark05 and 06 respectively when tested at a 1,024 by 768-pixel resolution.
But of more concern is the real life gaming performance. At the same resolution, with all the game details set to maximum, the Sapphire HD3850 produces an average frame rate in F.E.A.R of 70fps, and a respectable 45fps in Half Life 2. It struggles a bit in Company of Heroes, hitting an average of just 39fps, but dropping the game details down a notch would produce a faster frame rate.
Sapphire should be complimented for not leaving a sizeable chunk of the population who still have and use AGP-based systems. If you’re among that crowd, then Sapphire’s HD3850 AGP will break your system an instant performance boost when gaming.
If you’re currently using Microsoft Windows Vista™, there is no need to worry because Sapphire HD3850 are Microsoft Windows Vista™ Premium certified. The Sapphire HD3850 is also supported by the ATI Catalyst® suite of software.
Model: Sapphire HD3850 AGP
Graphics Processor: ATI Radeon HD 3850
Form Factor: ATX 231.19 x 111.99 mm
Bus Interface: AGP 4X/8X
Memory: GDDR3 512MB / 256-bit Interface
Clock Speed: 702Mhz core / 846MHz Memory
Cooling System: Single Slot Active Fan Cooler
Bracket: Full Height
Display Support: DL DVI-I / TVO / DL DVI-I, HDTV Cable
External Power: PCIe Graphic External Power (2×4Pin)
Regulatory Standards: CE; FCC; UL
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