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Power Consumption, Noise, Temperature, Overclockability and Compatibility

The R3650-T2D512-OC is the first sample of Radeon HD 3650 we’ve ever dealt with, so we perform our standard procedure of measuring its power draw. It is done on a special testbed with the following configuration:

  • AMD Athlon 64 FX-55 CPU (2.6GHz)
  • EPoX EP9-NPA+ SLI mainboard (Nvidia nForce4 SLI)
  • PC3200 (2 x 512GB, 200MHz)
  • Western Digital Raptor WD360ADFD HDD (36GB, SATA-150, 16MB buffer)
  • Chieftec ATX-410-212 PSU (410W)
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate 32-bit
  • Futuremark PCMark05 Build 1.2.0
  • Futuremark 3DMark06 Build 1.1.0

3D load is created by the first SM3.0/HDR test from 3DMark06 running in a loop at 1600x1200 with 4x FSAA and 16 anisotropic filtering. The Peak 2D mode was emulated by the 2D Transparent Windows test from PCMark05. We’ve got the following results:

Click to enlarge

The MSI card differs from ATI’s reference sample with the amount of memory and a slightly higher GPU frequency, so these results are also indicative of the reference card’s power draw. Our estimate of the consumption of RV635-based cards is quite correct: hardly above 40W in the 3D mode. The load is far from the load capacity of the PCI Express slot, which is 75W for PCI Express 1.0 and 150W for PCI Express 2.0. The extremely low result in the idle mode is due to PowerPlay technology which lowers the GPU frequency to 110MHz and the memory frequency to 400 (800) MHz.

The MSI R3650-T2D512-OC uses an original cooler, but we decided to measure its noise level to see if it was right to use such a massive cooler on a GPU with low heat dissipation. We checked this out with a digital sound-level meter Velleman DVM1326 using A-curve weighing. The level of ambient noise in our lab was 36dBA and the level of noise at a distance of 1 meter from the working testbed with a passively cooled graphics card inside was 43dBA. Here are the results:

The card is indeed silent after the OS boots up and loads the Catalyst driver. The cooling efficiency is high as the CPU temperature is only 30°C in idle mode and 53°C under load. In other words, the card can be used in compact system cases. You shouldn’t fear overheat unless your system case has no vent holes at all.

Our attempt to overclock the card using RivaTuner was not successful. The latest official version of that tool does not support the RV635. In the ATI Catalyst settings the core frequency slider is at the maximum by default. The memory frequency slider allows to overclock it by 25MHz only, which cannot have a great effect on the card’s performance.

We found no compatibility issues between the MSI card and mainboards we tried it with. Thanks to the mechanism for PCI Express identification ATI Radeon HD 3000 GPUs start up in PCI Express 1.0 mode and then switch into the faster mode if it is supported by the chipset.

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