Pros: Fastest AGP card we've seen
Cons: Does not support HD audio through
Bottomline: Impressive in that it's not the normal cut-down afterthought card for AGP users
Buy it online at:
You might think motherboards using an AGP slot are things of the past, but there's huge chunk of the population still using platforms based on it. Indeed, some motherboard companies, such as Asrock, still offer boards combining Intel’s 775 socket and an AGP slot.
One company that offers current graphics technology for AGP users is Sapphire, and its latest card is the HD3850 AGP. Sapphire also offers an AGP version of the HD3650.
Far from being just a half-hearted attempt at simply offering something for this market segment, Sapphire has actually tinkered with the HD3850 AGP and increased its core and memory clocks.
As standard, the HD3850 comes with 670MHz core and 825MHz memory clocks. But for this AGP card, Sapphire has upped the core to 700MHz while the 512MB of GDDR3 memory runs at 846MHz (1,692MHz effective).
The rest of the specifications are as per a standard PCI Express card; 320 stream processors and support for both Shader Model 4.1 and DirectX 10.1. There’s also ATI’s Powerplay technology that reduces power consumption depending on what the card is doing.
Due to the lack of available bandwidth with AGP, the card doesn’t support recording of HD audio through. However, it still offers support for HDCP thanks to the dual dual-link DVI ports.
Sapphire has used a single-slot cooler on the HD3850 AGP, with a passive heatsink over the power regulators. The AGP bus can’t supply the voltage required by the RV670 core (this uses a eight-pin PCI Express power connector), although a six-pin cable will supply enough power. If your power supply has neither, Sapphire supplies a four-pin Molex to six-pin power adaptor in the box.
On the CD you'll find Cyberlink Power DVD 7 and DVD Suite, along with a copy of Futuremark’s 3DMark06 benchmark.