Each of the described cards has a non-standard cooling system which is a simplified version of the popular VF700-AlCu from Zalman.
This system was used by Gigabyte before, e.g. on the GV-NX7795T512H-RH model. A junior model in Zalman’s GPU cooler line-up, the VF700-AlCu is itself a variation of the classic design of Zalman’s CNPS7x00 series of CPU coolers with a radial placement of the ribs. Gigabyte’s version differs from the original VF700-AlCu as it has a two-wire fan connection and a simplified fastening mechanism without a back-plate. Besides, there are no heatsinks on the memory chips. The fan’s ball bearings mean a higher level of noise but a longer service life than sleeve bearings. The heatsink is fastened to the card with two brackets screwed to the two metallic poles installed on the PCB. The fastening doesn’t look secure to us and we don’t recommend you to hold the card by the cooler to avoid damaging the GPU die.
The Zalman VF700-AlCu used to cope easily with an Nvidia GeForce 7950 GT, so we have no reason to think it won’t do its job on the Radeon HD 3850/HD 3870. The only potential drawback is the high level of noise you cannot diminish by adjusting the fan speed. We’ll check this out in the next section.