ATI Radeon HD Refresh: The 3650 and 3450 Arrive

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Our Test System and 3DMark06

HOW WE CONFIGURED THE TEST SYSTEMS: We tested all of the graphics cards used in this article on either an EVGA nForce 680i SLI motherboard (NVIDIA GPUs) or an Asus P5E3 Deluxe (ATI GPUs) powered by a Core 2 Extreme QX6850 quad-core processor and 2GB of low-latency Corsair RAM. The first thing we did when configuring the test systems was enter their respective BIOSes and set all values to their "optimized" or "performance" default settings. Then we manually configured the memory timings and disabled any integrated peripherals that wouldn't be put to use. The hard drive was then formatted, and Windows Vista Ultimate was installed. When the installation was complete we fully updated the OS, and installed the latest DX10 redist and various hotfixes along with the necessary drivers and applications.

The HotHardware Test System

Core 2 Extreme Powered


Motherboard -

Video Cards -

Memory -

Audio -

Hard Drive

Hardware Used:
Core 2 Extreme QX6850 (3GHz) 

EVGA nForce 680i SLI
nForce 680i SLI chipset

Asus P5E3 Deluxe
X38 Express 

ATI Radeon HD 3650
GeForce 8600 GTS

Radeon HD 3850
Radeon HD 2600 XT

2048MB Corsair PC2-6400C3
2 X 1GB
2048MB Corsair DDR3-1333 C7
2 X 1GB

Integrated on board

Western Digital "Raptor"

74GB - 10,000RPM - SATA

OS - 

DirectX -

Video Drivers

Synthetic (DX) -
DirectX -
DirectX -
DirectX -
DirectX -
OpenGL -

Relevant Software:

Windows Vista Ultimate

DirectX 10

NVIDIA Forceware v169.09
ATI Catalyst v8.1

Benchmarks Used:
3DMark06 v1.0.2
Company of Heros - DX10
Crysis - DX10
Half Life 2: Episode 2*
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars*

* - Custom Test
(HH Exclusive demo)

Performance Comparisons with 3DMark06 v1.0.2

3DMark06 is the most recent addition to the 3DMark franchise. This version differs from 3Dmark05 in a number of ways, and includes not only Shader Model 2.0 tests, but Shader Model 3.0 and HDR tests as well. Some of the assets from 3DMark05 have been re-used, but the scenes are now rendered with much more geometric detail and the shader complexity is vastly increased as well. Max shader length in 3DMark05 was 96 instructions, while 3DMark06 ups that number to 512. 3DMark06 also employs much more lighting and there is extensive use of soft shadows. With 3DMark06, Futuremark has also updated how the final score is tabulated. In this latest version of the benchmark, SM 2.0 and HDR / SM3.0 tests are weighted and the CPU score is factored into the final tally as well.

According to 3DMark06's default benchmark, the new Radeon HD 3650 finishes just behind the Radeon HD 2600 XT.  The more expensive, and more powerful Radeon HD 3850 doubles the 3650's performance, and the GeForce 8600 GTS outpaces it by about 1800 points.

If we drill down and look at 3DMark06's individual results, we see how the Radeon HD 3650 fared in the shader model 2.0 and shader model 3.0 / HDR tests.  Once again, the new Radeon finishes just behind the 2600 XT regardless of which shader model is used.

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