Diamond Viper Radeon HD 3650 1GB

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While the average PC enthusiast may gawk endlessly over pages of reviews of high-end power-hungry graphics cards, jaw-slackened by the frame rates and 3DMark score that he or she might find there, at the end of the month it is the low to mid-range card that is purchased most often than not.  Price typically comes into consideration, but it's not the only concern.  Availability, compatibility, and other issues factor in to a buyers decision as well.  Sometimes it simply boils down to the fact that the average Joe clearing stages in Peggle or watching the latest videos on YouTube simply doesn't need all of that horsepower.

AMD's Radeon HD 3650 is one of the few cards out there that can satisfy mainstream user needs yet still cost less that a hundred dollars.   Based on the RV635, and off-shoot of the RV670, the HD 3650 is architecturely similar to the more powerful HD 3850 and HD 3870 models, but with a narrower memory interface and far fewer stream processors.  It too is built on a 55nm process, requiring less power than previous AMD/ATI cards and, as a result, radiating less heat. 

With sales predictions for this card being high, and production costs low, it's almost a no-brainer than many of ATI's partners would look into adding an HD 3650 to their line-up.  Diamond Multimedia has, with the release of the Viper Radeon HD 3650 1GB, added not just one but two different variants.  The first stuck with default specifications including clock speed and memory buffer, but at launch we hinted that there would be many models to choose from.  Today we take a look at their second issue, which raises the total amount of memory to 1GB, but in doing so, uses lower cost, slower GDDR2 chips.  In the pages ahead, we'll aim to find out if additional on-board memory really impacts performance more so than a smaller footprint of faster GDDR3 memory.

Diamond Viper Radeon HD 3650 1GB
Specifications and Features

  • 378 million transistors on 55nm fabrication process
  • PCI Express 2.0 x16 bus interface
  • 128-bit DDR2 memory interface
  • Microsoft DirectX 10.1 support
    • Shader Model 4.1
    • 32-bit floating point texture filtering
    • Indexed cube map arrays
    • Independent blend modes per render target
    • Pixel coverage sample masking
    • Read/write multi-sample surfaces with shaders
    • Gather4 texture fetching
  • Unified Superscalar Shader Architecture
    • 120 stream processing units
      • Dynamic load balancing and resource allocation for vertex, geometry, and pixel shaders
      • Common instruction set and texture unit access supported for all types of shader
      • Dedicated branch execution units and texture address processors
    • 128-bit floating point precision for all operations
    • Command processor for reduced CPU overhead
    • Shader instruction and constant cache
    • Up to 40 texture fetches per clock cycle
    • Up to 128 textures per pixel
    • Fully associative multi-level texture cache design
    • DXTC and 3Dc+ texture compression
    • High resolution texture support (up to 8192 x 8192)
    • Fully associative texture Z/stencil cache designs
    • Double-sided hierarchical Z/stencil buffer
    • Early Z test, Re-Z, Z Range optimization, and Fast Z Clear
    • Lossless Z & stencil compression
    • Lossless color compression
    • 8 render targets (MRTs) with anti-aliasing support
    • Physics processing support
  • Dynamic Geometry Acceleration
    • Programmable tessellation unit
    • Accelerated geometry shader path for geometry amplification
    • Memory read/write cache for improved stream output performance
  • Anti-aliasing features
    • Multi-sample anti-aliasing (2, 4 or 8 samples per pixel)
    • Up to 24x Custom Filter Anti-Aliasing (CFAA) for improved quality
    • Adaptive super-sampling and multi-sampling
    • Temporal anti-aliasing
    • Gamma correct
    • Super AA (ATI CrossFireX configurations only)
    • All anti-aliasing features compatible with HDR rendering
  • Texture filtering features
    • 2x/4x/8x/16x high quality adaptive anisotropic filtering modes (up to 128 taps per pixel)
    • 128-bit floating point HDR texture filtering
    • Bicubic filtering
    • sRGB filtering (gamma/degamma)
    • Percentage Closer Filtering (PCF)
    • Depth & stencil texture (DST) format support
    • Shared exponent HDR (RGBE 9:9:9:5) texture format support
  • OpenGL 2.0 support

ATI Avivo HD Video and Display Platform

  • Dedicated unified video decoder (UVD) for H.264/AVC and VC-1 video formats
  • High definition (HD) playback of both Blu-ray and HD DVD formats
  • Hardware MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and DivX video decode acceleration
  • Motion compensation and IDCT
  • ATI Avivo Video Post Processor

    • Color space conversion
    • Chroma subsampling format conversion
    • Horizontal and vertical scaling
    • Gamma correction
    • Advanced vector adaptive per-pixel de-interlacing
    • De-blocking and noise reduction filtering
    • Detail enhancement
    • Inverse telecine (2:2 and 3:2 pull-down correction)
    • Bad edit correction
    • Two independent display controllers Drive two displays simultaneously with independent resolutions, refresh rates, color controls and video overlays for each display
  • Full 30-bit display processing
  • Programmable piecewise linear gamma correction, color correction, and color space conversion
  • Spatial/temporal dithering provides 30-bit color quality on 24-bit and 18-bit displays
  • High quality pre- and post-scaling engines, with underscan support for all display outputs
  • Content-adaptive de-flicker filtering for interlaced displays
  • Fast, glitch-free mode switching
  • Hardware cursor
  • Two integrated DVI display outputs

    • Primary supports 18-, 24-, and 30-bit digital displays at all resolutions up to 1920x1200 (single-link DVI) or 2560x1600 (dual-link DVI)
    • Secondary supports 18-, 24-, and 30-bit digital displays at all resolutions up to 1920x1200 (single-link DVI only)
    • Each includes a dual-link HDCP encoder with on-chip key storage for high resolution playback of protected content
  • Two integrated DisplayPort outputs
  • Supports 24- and 30-bit displays at all resolutions up to 2560x1600
  • 1, 2, or 4 lanes per output, with data rate up to 2.7 Gbps per lane
  • Two integrated 400 MHz 30-bit RAMDACs
  • Each supports analog displays connected by VGA at all resolutions up to 2048x153623
  • HDMI output support
  • Supports all display resolutions up to 1920x1080
  • Integrated HD audio controller with up to 2 channel 48 kHz stereo or multi-channel (5.1) AC3 enabling a plug-and-play cable-less audio solution
  • Integrated AMD Xilleon HDTV encoder
  • Provides high quality analog TV output (component/S-video/composite)
  • Supports SDTV and HDTV resolutions
  • Underscan and overscan compensation
  • MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, WMV9, VC-1, and H.264/AVC encoding and transcoding
  • Seamless integration of pixel shaders with video in real time
  • VGA mode support on all display outputs
  • ATI PowerPlay

    • Advanced power management technology for optimal performance and power savings
    • Performance-on-Demand

      • Constantly monitors GPU activity, dynamically adjusting clocks and voltage based on user scenario
      • Clock and memory speed throttling
      • Voltage switching
      • Dynamic clock gating
    • Central thermal management – on-chip sensor monitors GPU temperature and triggers thermal actions as required
  • ATI CrossFireX Multi-GPU Technology

    • Scale up rendering performance and image quality with two GPUs
    • Integrated compositing engine
    • High performance dual channel bridge interconnect


    The Bundle and A Note On Overclocking:

    Sporting an emphasis on keeping costs low, the package contents for Diamond's Viper HD 3650 1GB offers only the card, setup manual and CD, and a single VGA-to-DVI dongle.  Again, the target demographic that Diamond's trying to hit probably doesn't need or want a bunch of extra cables or other doo-dads that aren't going to get used, so why bother including them?  We were, however, hoping to get a little extra out of the card in the way of overclocking, but all efforts were dead-ended.  ATI's Overdrive was functional, but unlocking the utility showed sliders with the lower and upper end both remaining at the default clock of 725MHz for the core, and a paltry 400MHz for the DDR2.  Installing ATI Tray Tool initially seemed to help, as a range of speeds was shown to be available, but moving the slider and applying the changes had no effect.  Thus, we were left testing our entire suite of benchmarks at the Diamond Viper HD 3650 1GB's default settings. 

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