PowerColor HD 6850 1GB SCS3 Passive Review
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.
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