What's new
  • Please do not post any links until you have 3 posts as they will automatically be rejected to prevent SPAM. Many words are also blocked due to being used in SPAM Messages. Thanks!

PowerColor HD 6850 1GB SCS3 Passive Review

Status
Not open for further replies.

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
The HD 6850 is one of AMD earliest cards of the current generation but it still provides excellent performance for its relatively low price. Granted, some releases like the GTX 560 have moved people’s focus away from this Barts-based graphics card but there are still plenty of reasons to gravitate towards AMD’s mid priced product. For almost the same price as the reference card, many board partners have now released updated versions which come with higher clock speeds or some wicked custom cooling solutions. Others cater to the budget-minded overclocking crowd by integrating upgraded components onto their PCBs and even offer the software necessary to push these cards to the next level.

PowerColor isn’t a company that you’ve seen a lot of on our pages but their custom designs are instantly recognizable as both unique and well priced. What they’ve come up with this time is something which certain niches have been eagerly anticipating: a passively cooled HD 6850.


Passive cards are usually seen in the lower performance brackets due to the huge challenges posed by efficiently cooling off hotter running, high spec cores and their associated onboard components. The only way to reign in this rampant heat production is to design a massive heatsink which has a large surface area and a fin orientation that benefits from the airflow in a standard ATX case. This is exactly what PowerColor has done with their HD 6850 SCS3 and the third generation of their Silent Cooling System.

The SCS3 is currently one of the highest performance passive cards on the market and PowerColor has also included upgraded components to better cope with the increased temperatures that are associated with fanless cooling. Being part of an exclusive group of performance oriented yet silent cards and the inclusion of an impressive heatsink also leads to this particular HD 6850 going for well above the price for reference-based examples. $205 may not seem cheap in this category but for people who want absolute silence, its allure could be hard to ignore.

 
Last edited:

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
A Closer Look at the PowerColor HD 6850 1GB SCS3

A Closer Look at the PowerColor HD 6850 1GB SCS3



With a passive cooling system, PowerColor can be forgiven for sticking to the reference specifications on this one as any additional core or memory speed bump would have likely added a significant amount of heat.


Gone are the race cars and other oddities of past PowerColor boxes and they’re replaced by a straightforward product shot and some quick marketing points on the flip side.

This particular product needs good interior packaging since the card itself weighs an absolute ton. PowerColor has done exactly that by including high density foam and separate compartments for the included DVI to VGA adaptor and Crossfire cable.


The HD 6850 SCS3 definitely has a unique design and yes, there really is a graphics card under that gargantuan heatsink. When looked at from afar, it seems like the PowerColor has taken a tower-style CPU heatsink, cut a hole into its fin array and then mounted in on the HD 6850’s PCB.


The SCS 3 heatsink uses a pure copper contact plate which disperses its heat into five large 6mm heatpipes which then snake their way up into the high density fin array. The fins themselves are made out of aluminum which has been plated in a black nickel finish to increase their hardness and prevent corrosion over time. PowerColor has also added an anodized backplate which makes direct contact with the PCB behind the core and some rear-mounted GDDR5 memory modules in order to further aid cooling performance.

Truth be told, pictures really don’t do this heatsink any justice. Its construction quality is absolutely top notch, the contact it makes with the core is firm get the mounting pressure it exerts doesn’t bow the PCB and quite a bit of thought was obviously given to its design.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
A Closer Look at the HD 6850 SCS3 pg.2

A Closer Look at the HD 6850 SCS3 pg.2



There is however one small issue that we saw right off the bat. The main fin array is placed at a right angle to a case’s natural airflow direction which means any fresh air will be pushed around the fins rather than through them. As you’ll see later, we highly recommend installing a side panel fan on your case if you’re using the SCS 3 as it will aid performance.


The memory modules on this card are split into two groupings: one above and one underneath the red PCB. The topmost ones have solid copper ramsinks adhered to their faces while the modules below are cooled via a thermal pad interface and the main rear mounted heatsink.

Regardless of PowerColor’s cognizance of space limitations on most motherboards, the still need as much heatsink volume as necessary. The result is a cooler that takes up a shade over three slots but believe it or not, most performance-oriented boards should be able to fit two of these cards in a Crossfire configuration.


The components hidden somewhere underneath the heatsink have been slightly upgraded over the reference design. Low ESR, long life capacitors with a high thermal tolerance have been added along with shielded fully alloy chokes but the PWM layout remains the same at 3+1 phases for the GPU and memory.


The output connector layout has been slightly changed over the reference version. The pair of DVI outputs and the full size single HDMI 1.4a (with stereo 3D certification) connector remain there but the two mini DisplayPort connectors have been replaced with a full size output. Eyefinity compatibility has been retained but you will no longer need to worry about mini-DisplayPort adaptors being needed in some situations.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Test System & Setup

Test System & Setup

Processor: Intel Core i7 920(ES) @ 4.0Ghz (Turbo Mode Enabled)
Memory: Corsair 3x2GB Dominator DDR3 1600Mhz
Motherboard: Gigabyte EX58-UD5
Cooling: CoolIT Boreas mTEC + Scythe Fan Controller (Off for Power Consumption tests)
Disk Drive: Pioneer DVD Writer
Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black 640GB
Power Supply: Corsair HX1000W
Monitor: Samsung 305T 30” widescreen LCD
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate N x64 SP1


Graphics Cards:

PowerColor HD 6850 1GB SCS3

GTX 560 Ti 1GB (Ref)
GTX 560 1GB (Ref)
GTX 460 1GB (Ref)
GTX 460 SE 1GB (Ref)
GTX 550 Ti 1GB (Ref)

HD 6850 1GB (Ref)
HD 6790 1GB (Ref)


Drivers:

NVIDIA 275.20 Beta
ATI 11.4 Preview + CAP 11.2 R4

Note: Even though AMD claims the “AMD Optimized Tessellation” feature since the 11.1a drivers has not yet been implemented, we have changed the setting to “Off” in order to ensure additional, untested optimizations are not enabled.

Applications Used:

3DMark 11
Aliens Versus Predator
Battlefield: Bad Company 2
DiRT 2
F1 2010
Just Cause 2
Lost Planet
Metro 2033
Unigine: Heaven


*Notes:

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT OUR BENCHMARKING PROCESS PLEASE SEE THIS ARTICLE

- All games tested have been patched to their latest version

- The OS has had all the latest hotfixes and updates installed

- All scores you see are the averages after 3 benchmark runs

All game-specific methodologies are explained above the graphs for each game

All IQ settings were adjusted in-game
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
3DMark 11 (DX11)

3DMark 11 (DX11)


3DMark 11 is the latest in a long line of synthetic benchmarking programs from the Futuremark Corporation. This is their first foray into the DX11 rendering field and the result is a program that incorporates all of the latest techniques into a stunning display of imagery. Tessellation, depth of field, HDR, OpenCL physics and many others are on display here. In the benchmarks below we have included the results (at default settings) for both the Performance and Extreme presets.


Performance Preset



Extreme Preset

 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Aliens Versus Predator (DX11)

Aliens Versus Predator (DX11)


When benchmarking Aliens Versus Predator, we played through the whole game in order to find a section which represents a “worst case” scenario. We finally decided to include “The Refinery” level which includes a large open space and several visual features that really tax a GPU. For this run-through, we start from within the first tunnel, make our way over the bridge on the right (blowing up several propane tanks in the process), head back over the bridge and finally climb the tower until the first run-in with an Alien. In total, the time spent is about four minutes per run. Framerates are recorded with FRAPS.


1680 x 1050





1920 x 1200



 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
BattleField: Bad Company 2 (DX11)

BattleField: Bad Company 2 (DX11)


To benchmark BF: BC2 we used a five minute stretch of gameplay starting from the second checkpoint (after the helicopter takes off) of the second single player mission up until your battle with the tank commences. Framerates are recorded with FRAPS.


1680 x 1050





1920 x 1200



 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
DiRT 2 (DX11)

DiRT 2 (DX11)


Being one of the newest games on the market, DiRT 2 cuts an imposing figure in terms of image quality and effects fidelity. We find that to benchmark this game the in-game tool is by far the best option. However, due to small variances from one race to another, three benchmark runs are done instead of the normal two. It should also be mentioned that the demo version of the game was NOT used since after careful testing, the performance of the demo is not representative of the final product. DX11 was forced through the game’s config file. In addition, you will see that these scores do not line up with our older benchmarks at all. This is due to the fact that a patch was recently rolled out for the game which included performance optimizations in addition to new graphics options.

1680 x 1050





1920 x 1200



 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
F1 2010 (DX11)

F1 2010 (DX11)



1680 x 1050





1920 x 1200



 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Just Cause 2 (DX10)

Just Cause 2 (DX10)


Just Cause 2 has quickly become known as one of the best-looking games on the market and while it doesn’t include DX11 support, it uses the full stable of DX10 features to deliver a truly awe-inspiring visual experience. For this benchmark we used the car chase scene directly following the Casino Assault level. This scene includes perfectly scripted events, some of the most GPU-strenuous effects and lasts a little less than four minutes. We chose to not use the in-game benchmarking tool due to its inaccuracy when it comes to depicting actual gameplay performance.


1680 x 1050





1920 x 1200



 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top