3850 1gb vs 3870 512mb

Hey Folks,

First of, I love the site and I used it extensively to run my new graphics card buying possibilities down to
- ATI HD3850 1 GB
- ATI HD3870 512 MB

I was wondering, which to choose. It basically comes down to more performance and less memory or the other way around.

Some side-points:
- There is no price difference
- My motherboard only has PCIe 1.0 (old graphics card gave up and it seems buying a new PCIe 1.0 card is not worth it - if you have another opinion please shoot :) )

To help you out:
- Tom's 3DMark06 v1.1.0 3DMark Score: however, it only lists 3850 256MB (can I expect a -big- difference with 1GB?)
- Comparison table of ATI card specs

Thanks in advance! ;)
And happy holidays for all!
15 answers Last reply
More about 3850 3870 512mb
  1. Can i just ask some questions,
    Why a 3 series and not a 4 series card ?
    Can you list spec's Ideally including Screen size and resolution and PSU, make and size/Wattage.
    I can get a better idea where your needs lie then.

  2. Well that's quick! :)

    I decided on the above 3 series higher end cards because of my budget, which is about 80-90 euro. For that money I can also get a 4670 but it has worse performance.

    My PC:
    - Dell Dimension 9200
    - Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 2,13 GHz met 2MB L2-cache @ 1066 MHz FSB
    - 2048 MB (2 x 1024 MB) Dual Channel DDR2 @ 533 MHz (4 slots, max 4096 MB)
    - Windows XP Media Centre 2005 (Windows Vista capable)
    - Screen 20" 1600x1200
    - PSU Dell N375P.00 375W max (I'm surprised to find such a low power PSU in this PC...)
    Current dying graphics card:
    - 256MB NVIDIA GeForce 7900GS (2 x DVI, 1 x S-Video) PCIe 1.0

    Because of you asking for my PSU wattage, I am suddenly wondering if my graphics card is really dying or if it is just lacking the proper power feed. However, I chose the card when I bought the PC.

    Current graphic card problems include: red-green-blue dotted artifacts, missing or red-green-blue coloured textures, stretched-to-infinity pixels, ... A problem which other users also experienced with this card. And the only solution is replacement. :pt1cable:

  3. ive seen alot of post regarding 7900s and artifacting.
    probably the card thats showing its age. but a new psu is a must too..
  4. Dell PSU's are actually very good PSU's even though their overall wattage is low, they have strong 12 volt rails, and that is where it counts.
    Check out the forums at Dell, a lot of people are running pretty strong GPU's on Dell 350 and 375 watt PSU's. (4650's, 4830's, even 8800 series)
    According to the Dell Forums "The 375 watt Dell PSU has Dual +12 Volt rails of 18 and 17 Amps and a combined +12 volt amperage rating of 30 Amps."

    Oh, and the extra 512 meg of memory on that card will not do anything for you.
    The 3870 with 512 meg of memory is simply the better card.
  5. To answer the OP's question, the 3870 will give you better results than the 3850. Any games that will require more than 512MB of video RAM will probably have even the 3870's GPU on its knees, let alone the 3850. If you can, take a look at the 4830's, they are cheap and will probably give you even better results.
  6. That's good news! :) So I shouldn't wonder about my PSU.

    Back on track: can you expalin why 512mb of extra memory won't do anything for me? Some questions that arise:
    - Wouldn't it be usefull to lower the communication over my PCIe interface, since I only work at half the speed with my PCIe 1.0 motherboard?
    - Some extra memory to load textures always helps in game, no?

    I know the 3870 is stronger. But will it perform better on a PCIe 1.0 slot with half the memory when compared to the 3850?
  7. The forum won't allow me to edit my own message, so here's a nice double post. :p

    Apparently you are all lightning fast and so my questions were answered before I posted them. :D
    Thank you people! :)
  8. By the time you turn up your graphics far enough to begin to make use of over 512 meg of memory on a 3800 series GPU, the GPU is going to fall on it's face. The 1 gig on these cards becomes a little more beneficial when you put them in Crossfire, (only a very little bit) and the resolution can be turned up higher, but by themselves, the extra memory is simply useless. The faster core of the 3870 will give you better results in this range of cards than extra memory will.
    The added memory is simply a sharp marketing technique, especially on lower and midrange cards.
  9. agree with above, the extra memory will only cause slight extra idle power usage and heat.
  10. The extra 512MB will not be useful for 2 reasons:
    Might not even be used; most games are designed with 256-512MB in mind.
    To reach the 512BM mark in recent games, people have to combine high resolution (like 1920x1200) and Anti-Aliasing (AA), but if you get there with a 3850 or even a 3870, you will probably get <10FPS unless you play older games like HL2 which makes it unlikely they will use more than 512MB.
    Memory is good as long as you have the processing power to use it...
  11. And the bandwidth of a PCIe 1.0 slot is more than plenty for GPU's in this catagory as well.
  12. I agree with Zenthar as far as the 4830 goes its definitely the better option it will use the same power as the 3870 and is a way better card. The extra ram only counts at higher resolutions and or higher texture counts. However as said the cards are plenty powerful enough with 512mb. Basically the 3870 and 4830 are faster cards so can perform more operations than the 3850 regardless of how much ram the 3850 has, that is a very simplistic description but i think it works.
    The PCIE slot being 1.0 isn't an issue. the cards wouldn't be noticeably slowed unless the slot was cut to about X4 so a single X16 isn't a problem. the cards and slots are backwards compatible so a 2.0 card runs in a 1.0 slot and vice versa.
    As jitpublisher says Dell PSU's are solid units so take the advice to check the forums then make your mind up.
    Here is a good review to help you decide. Unfortunately all the cards are 512mb but trust me a lower spec card with more ram will loose out to a faster card with less ram, most of the time.

  13. I just ordered the 3870 512. :) I checked the Dell fora, but of course the specific card and PSU wattage combination is not there. I will take the risk and go with it.

    Thanks for all the quick and helpfull replies! Now it's waiting for the package... :bounce:
  14. Thanks for letting us know, be sure to come back here and post how things go, how you like the new GPU. Have a great day.
  15. Hey Guys!

    First off: happy 2009!! :)

    Of course you are all as thrilled as I am when I tell you I got my card two days ago. And you all want to hear how it's been doing. ;)

    Now before you get your hopes up to the quality expectations of tom's reviews, I'm not the kind of guy who runs benchmark tests. But still, I have some inspiring words for you:

    Beside the obvious and overwhelmingly greatness of missing hitchups, glitches, pixels stretched to infinity and the lack of missing textures, it fulfils even my highest expectations! :D

    In recent games like Tomb Raider Underground:
    Before: almost not playable at the lowest settings at 1024x768 (with artifacts)
    Now: perfect performance at the highest settings at 1600x1200 (no AA, let's not exagerate ;) )

    And to my greatest surprise:
    GTA IV is very playable at 1600x1200 with good average settings!

    This is one happy dude! And you earned an extra thank you note for pointing me in the right direction. Game on! :)
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