A while back AMD has quietly launched their HD 3400 and HD 3600 Series. The cards are based on the RV620 and RV635 GPUs which are a refresh of the RV610 and RV630. The major features they introduce are support for PCI-Express 2.0 and a transition from a 65nm to a 55 nm manufacturing process. Both feature AMD's UVD for accelerated video decoding and integrated HDCP+Audio support for media PC systems.
The Diamond HD 3650 is one of the first HD3650 cards to feature 1 GB of video memory. Please note that this is DDR2 which is a bit aged already, but probably came at a great price for Diamond so they wouldn't let the opportunity pass.
HD 3650 1GB
|Memory Bus Width
Packaging & Contents
The grey/silver package with Ruby on the front looks extremely stylish. A small window adds to the visual appearance of the box. On the back you find more detailed product information in English and French. The big xDna lettering states that this card supports CrossFire on any chipset including NVIDIA platforms. This is a technology exclusively available from Diamond Multimedia (so far).
You will receive:
- Graphics card
- DVI Adapter
Diamond's HD 3650 has a simple design compared to the complexity of today's high-end cards. The cooler is rather small and covers only four of the eight memory chips. As expected the card has a single slot design because the heat output of ATI's RV635 GPU is really low.
Even though a physical CrossFire connector is not present, this card supports CrossFire via the PCI-Express bus which is fully adequate given the performance of the GPU. You can also run three or four of these cards in CrossFireX, even on NVIDIA chipsets using Diamond's exclusive xDNA technology.
The card has one analog VGA, one DVI and one HDMI port. This is a great combination covering all possible aspects of this card's use. In case you need a second analog VGA port you can use the included DVI adapter. The HDMI port supports HDMI+HDCP+Audio, which allows easy setup of a media PC.
Here are the front and the back of the card, high-res versions are also available (front
). If you choose to use these images for voltmods etc, please include a link back to this site or let us post your article.
A Closer Look
The cooler is very basic and doesn't even need to use a copper base to keep the card cool. Four thermal pads cool the memory, which is kind of pointless because the four DDR2 memory chips on the other side of the card are not cooled at all (and don't need it). A possible reason for such an approach however is that the four thermal pads add extra stability to the heatsink so crushing or chipping the core is much more unlikely during production and use.
A power connector is not needed for this card because it barely consumes any power. The PCI-Express bus can supply the required current easily.
I haven't seen a video card with DDR2 memory in quite some time. The chips are made by Hynix and have the model number HY5PS1G1631CFP-S6. The S6 stands for a cycle time of 2.5 ns (=400 MHz) and a latency setting of 6-6-6 (tCL, tRCD, tRP). Overall a very unimpressive memory selection in my opinion, at least it overclocks beyond 500 MHz.
AMD's new RV635 GPU is tiny (= cheap) thanks to its 55 nm production process.
||Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 @ 3.6 GHz
(Wolfdale, 6144 KB Cache)
||2x 1024MB A.DATA DDR2 1066+ CL4
||WD Raptor 740ADFD 74 GB
||OCZ GameXStream 700W
||Windows XP SP2
GeForce 9600 GT/9800 GX2 tested with 174.53
GeForce 9800 GTX tested with 174.74
ATI: Catalyst 8.3
- All video card results were obtained on this exact system with the exact same configuration.
- All games were set to their highest quality setting
Each benchmark was tested at the following settings and resolution:
- 1024 x 768, No Anti-aliasing, No anisotropic filtering. This is a standard resolution without demanding display settings.
- 1280 x 1024, 2x Anti-aliasing, 8x anisotropic filtering. Common resolution for most gamer flatscreens today. A bit of eye candy turned on in the drivers.
- 1600 x 1200, 4x Anti-aliasing, 16x anisotropic filter. Highest non-widescreen resolution available to a wide range of users. Very good looking driver graphics settings.
- 2048 x 1536, 4x Anti-aliasing, 16x anisotropic filter. Highest non-widescreen resolution available to any consumer video card. Very good looking driver graphics settings.
Please note the new CPU we are using now for our benchmarks. Also all cards were retested on this rig to have comparable scores.
Call of Duty 4
Call of Duty 4
is a first-person shooter that is built on the award winning Call of Duty Series. It is the first version to play in modern times. In a near-future conflict between the United States, Europe and Russia you get to play as a United States Marine and a British SAS operative. The engine is Infinity Ward's own creation and has true dynamic lighting, depth of field, dynamic shadows and HDR. Even though the game plot is scripted you will find yourself in intense battles, often working together with computer controlled team mates.
Company Of Heroes
The real-time strategy game Company of Heroes
is set during World War II where you take two American companies through several fights all over France to liberate the country from German occupation. Company of Heroes is the first game to use Relic's next-generation engine "Essence Engine" which includes support for HDR lighting, Shader Model 3.0, normal mapping, dynamic lighting and shadows. You are able to zoom in from the tactical view of the battle field to see the individual units fighting. Often you catch yourself admiring the detailed animations of the soldiers while the fight around you is raging. We tested the DX9 version of the game at maximum details.
After the tremendous success of Far Cry, the German game studio Crytek released their latest shooter Crysis
in 2007. The game was by far the most hyped and anticipated game in 2007, the forums were full of "Can my system run Crysis?" threads because of the high hardware requirements of this game. Just like in Far Cry the plot evolves on a small island with a thick and richly detailed jungle world. A lot of attention has been given to small details like correct physics. For example when you fire on a tree trunk, it will shatter and the tree will fall over leaving a stump behind. Enemies in a car can be stopped by shooting the tire of the car. The game graphics are by far the best ever seen in a PC game so far, yet the game still runs well on most computers. We tested the DX9 version with graphics set to "High", which is the highest non-DX10 setting in the game.
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
The first-person shooter Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
is set in the science-fiction universe of Quake and requires several classes to work together to achieve certain goals on a map. In the campaign mode you gain experience which you can use to buy upgrades for your class. The player gets to pick from five classes of either the Global Defense Force or the Strogg faction. As underlying game engine, the successful id Software Doom 3 engine has been licensed, but several features like MegaTextures have been added, giving the outdoor world a much more detailed appearance. We tested the DX9 version of the game at maximum details.
was released in early 2004 by the new development studio Crytek. It quickly became a massive success because it was one of the first titles to take you in a beautiful 3D outdoor world. Far Cry was one of the most demanding games at its time. Even with today's video cards you can still see big differences in frame rates, especially at the higher resolutions.
The first person shooter F.E.A.R
, developed by Monolith Game Studios, was released in Fall 2005 and has a great 3D engine that uses a large number of shading and shadow effects to accurately model the game world. In addition to that it features a realistic physics engine that lets you interact with many objects in the game world. The game was voted game of the year by several publications.
is based on a highly modified 3D engine made by id Software. This first person shooter brought a completely new way of gaming to the genre. In many levels you find yourself walking upside down or on the walls. This adds a completely new aspect to the gaming experience in this genre.
The Quake titles are among the most successful first person games. Developed by id Software, the famous game studio that brought you DOOM, you find yourself in a scifi world that is full of aliens and shocking effects. The main focus of the game is the single player story line. Quake 4
puts you on the home planet of the Strogg. In a number of missions you and your fellow marines will encounter all sorts of enemies, including some really huge aliens.
Splinter Cell 3: Chaos Theory
The Splinter Cell Series is endorsed by popular book author Tom Clancy. In the 2005 title Splinter Cell 3: Chaos Theory
you play the NSA agent Sam Fisher who has to use stealth and finesse to make his way through a number of levels mainly set in eastern Asia. The game is based on a modified Unreal 2 engine with support for HDR, normal mapping, parallax mapping and soft shadows. A patch added Shader Model 2.0 support for ATI in addition to the Shader Model 3.0 support which was already part of the original shipping game.
Before its release in 2007, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl
was one of the most hyped games of the last years. This RPG/FPS hybrid game is set a few years in the future, after a nuclear disaster occurs at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. The release of radiation causes strange things like mutations in the nearby area. You take the role of a Stalker who seeks fame and riches in the contaminated area around Chernobyl. The game engine features all the latest buzzwords like HDR, bullet physics, skeletal animation, soft shadows and weather effects. Stalker's vast outside world is richly modeled, you can interact with a large number of objects in the game thanks to the physics engine.
If you hear people talk about a real-time strategy game with "massive numbers of units fighting" you can be sure they are talking about Supreme Commander
. The unofficial successor to the Total Annihilation Series completely redefined some aspects of the RTS genre. In Supreme Commander you can zoom out so far that you can see the whole map on your screen and units are just little blips. This is much needed in fights when several hundred units go at each other. Supreme Commander is also one of the most demanding RTS games with support for up to four CPU cores - a dual-core system with high-end graphics is recommended for optimum game play.
Unreal Tournament 3
The fourth game in Epic's highly successful Unreal Tournament Series is simply called Unreal Tournament 3
. It is based on the all-new Unreal 3 engine which is a major step forward from the previous engine. The game principle is centered about an arena style gameplay where several contestants try to reach a certain kill count or capture a flag for example. As you would expect from a new 2007 title, the graphics are top notch, with large and detailed textures. One major drawback of the way the engine is designed is that there is no support for Anti-Aliasing. While video card vendors like ATI have found ways to force this in their drivers we did all our testing with AA disabled in DX9 at maximum settings.
is the number one player in the world of synthetic benchmarking. The 3DMark series is the most popular test suite for video card testing and is used by gamers, overclockers and manufacturers alike to determine how fast their hardware is. Even though it is a few years old, 3DMark03 can easily stress today's video cards.
Another benchmark from Futuremark
is 3DMark05 which comes with four completely new game tests that make massive use of shaders and lighting effects. 3DMark05 is a great test for modern video card architectures - in some tests you are often close to the 30 fps mark, below which your games will feel sluggish.
Even though it's based on Futuremark's 3DMark05, the new 3DMark06 adds new tests for Shader Model 3.0 and HDR rendering. It is also the first 3DMark to incorporate a CPU score into the final 3DMark score. All tests have received an overhaul, for example in the Canyon Flight test you can now see beautiful sun glare effects with the help of High Dynamic Range rendering.
Cooling modern video cards is becoming more and more difficult, especially when users are asking for quiet cooling solutions. That's why the engineers are now paying much more attention to power consumption of new video card designs.
||Intel Core 2 Duo E6550 2.33 GHz
(Conroe, 2x 2048 KB Cache)
||2x 1024MB A.DATA DDR2 1066+ CL4
||WD Raptor 740ADFD 74 GB
||OCZ GameXStream 700W
||Windows XP SP2
In order to characterize a video card's power consumption, the whole system's mains power draw was measured. This means that these numbers include CPU, Memory, HDD, Video card and PSU inefficiency.
The three result values are as following:
- Idle: Windows sitting at the desktop (1024x768 32-bit) all windows closed, drivers installed.
- Average: 3DMark03 Nature at 1280x1024, 6xAA, 16xAF. This results in the highest power consumption. Average of all readings (two per second) while the test was rendering (no title screen).
- Peak: 3DMark03 Nature at 1280x1024, 6xAA, 16xAF. This results in the highest power consumption. Highest single reading
In the past years users would accept everything just to get more performance. Nowadays this has changed with people being more aware of the fan noise and power consumption of their graphic cards.
In order to properly test the fan noise a card emits we are using a Bruel & Kjaer 2236 sound level meter (~$4,000) which has the measurement range and accuracy we are looking for.
The tested graphics card is installed in a system that is completely passively cooled. That is passive PSU, passive CPU cooler, passive cooling on the motherboard and Solid-State HDD.
This setup allows us to eliminate secondary noise sources and test only the video card. To be more compliant with standards like DIN 45635 (we are not claiming to be fully DIN 45635 certified) the measurement is conducted at 100 cm distance and 160 cm over the floor. The ambient background noise level in the room is well below 20 dbA for all measurements. Please note that the dbA scale is not linear, it is logarithmic. 40 dbA is not twice as loud as 20 dbA. A 3 dbA increase results in double the sound pressure. The human hearing is a bit different and it is generally accepted that a 10 dbA increase doubles the perceived sound level.
In order to reduce costs, Diamond has scrapped the fan control circuit. This means that the cooler will always run at full speed making it an extremely noisy experience. Given the performance of this card I had expected a much quieter fan. I am confident the fan can be modded to run at 5V and the card should still stay cool.
Running the card passive with the fan power disconnected did not work, I tried that.
To create this graph we took all performance results of all benchmarks and all resolutions, threw them together and calculated the relative performance of each card, compared to our review sample.
Performance per Watt
This graph was created by taking the relative performance numbers and putting them in contrast to the average power consumption results. To offset power consumption of the rest of the system we subtracted 50W from the average consumption.
Performance per Dollar
If you are looking for the best bang for the buck, then you will love this graph. We looked up the current USD price of each card on the online shop Newegg and used it and the relative performance numbers to calculate the Performance per Dollar Index.
To find the maximum overclock of our card we used a combination of Rivatuner, ATITool and our benchmarking suite.
The final overclocks of our card are 850 MHz core (17 % overclock) and 504 MHz Memory (25 % overclock). Both overclocks are fair, but not spectacular given that this is a 55 nm ASIC and the memory is running at a really low frequency.
Since the Diamond fan is always running at full speed, the temperatures are low as expected.
Value and Conclusion
- Diamond is selling their 1 GB version of the HD 3650 for a retail price of about $95, a small premium over the $85 of the 512 MB version.
- 1024 MB of video memory
- Native HDMI output
- PCI-Express 2.0 support
- Low temperatures
- Low power consumption
- CrossFireX support
- No fan control
- 1 GB of memory is useless
- Low memory clock
||Diamond's idea behind the HD 3650 1 GB was certainly a good one: Add more memory and an HDMI connector to improve on AMD's reference design. Unfortunately the final product did not turn out that well. Since the card's GPU is already quite weak, adding more memory won't make any difference at all. To even have a scenario that could theoretically benefit from more memory you need to run high resolutions, with lots of anti aliasing and pretty eye candy turned on. With any HD 3650 you won't see playable framerates at those settings. Even if the extra memory could double the performance (which it won't) you'd go from say 3.5 FPS to 7 FPS - still unplayable. The use of slow clocked DDR2 will actually make overall performance worse compared to cards with less, but faster memory. Don't get me wrong, this card will play most current games fine, but you have to accept compromises in resolution and details settings.|
Integrating an HDMI output on a graphics card is an excellent idea in my opinion, especially when the card has HDCP and audio support. Such connectivity would greatly benefit the users of media PC systems, but all this becomes irrelevant with the noisy fan. Nobody wants to hear a constant loud fan whine while watching movies. Since Diamond left out the fan control circuit the fan will always run at full speed, no matter if the card is idle, playing a movie or running an intense 3D application. The cost saving from this is extremely small, all recent ATI GPUs have thermal monitoring AND fan control integrated inside the GPU, all you need are a few dirt cheap parts to drive the fan with sufficient current. Older cards required a separate fan controller, the LM63 for example, which was fairly expensive with prices in the $1 to $2 range.
Overall my recommendation for customers in this segment would be to look for a HD 3650 card with 512 MB or even 256 MB of faster memory, maybe even a passive card.