Despite a generally disappointing 2007 brought about by the less than spectacular R600 core, ATI salvaged the situation somewhat by quickly moving to a 55nm manufacturing process by the latter half of the year and launching the Radeon HD 3800 series as a competitive mid to high-end product competing on price rather than purely performance. This meant that the top GPU from ATI - the RV670 based Radeon HD 3870 - is not significantly any faster than the Radeon HD 2900 XT which uses the original R600.
What it does bring about however includes a core that produces less heat, aided by power saving technologies like ATI PowerPlay and with the Universal Video Decoder that was unfortunately missing on the Radeon HD 2900 XT. Support for new standards like DirectX 10.1, PCIe Express 2.0 are also much welcomed, if only for the sake of preparing for the future.
Together with its competitive pricing, the Radeon HD 3800 series has probably stopped the hemorrhaging of ATI's market share. It may not be a breakthrough success but it is nevertheless a respectable release. To win back the performance crown however, ATI is relying on a dual GPU implementation of the RV670 that is expected to be available in the coming weeks. We hope to bring you more details of this upcoming GPU soon but meanwhile, the healthy state of the Radeon HD 3800 series in the market is good news for the market and reflecting that, we have an overclocked 'turbo' version of the Radeon HD 3870 in our hands today from GeCube.
Featuring its custom X-Turbo III cooler to support its overclocked frequencies, this new card from GeCube faces stiff competition on the performance front, with NVIDIA and its legion of board partners pushing the better performing GeForce 8800 GT 512MB. Can its higher clock speeds narrow the gap enough that consumers start considering its lower price tag? Are the temperatures lower than the reference model? We answer these questions after the jump.