This was already true 10 years ago: Passively cooled mid-range graphics cards have become rare exotics. Often enough, the power loss to be dissipated and thus also the heat generated are too great. Passively cooling these cards requires not only a sophisticated cooling solution, but also the right operating environment. Powercolor has not changed anything about the clock rate in the SCS3, but offers the full performance of a normal Radeon HD 6850, just without its own cooler. Of course, we were very interested in whether this really works in practice. So, we did not only give this card to the market, but also tested it in different cases to question the practicality of the passive solution. We also installed a very quiet fan to test the differences to active cooling.
Without wanting to anticipate the conclusion – in summer, this card is in an unsuitable case right before the thermal abyss and in the worst case, already with one leg in the air. How to prevent the crash and whether the whole thing makes sense at all under which circumstances, that shall be the content of this article besides the measurement results.4
Powercolor’s HD 6850 SCS3 is the first passively cooled Radeon 6850 ready for the market and thus also the first current mid-range graphics card without an additional fan. The technical specifications do not differ from those of the conventional solutions and the clock has also been left as it is intended for reference. The passive solution presented here is based on a huge 3-slot design, which could already limit the handling and use of this card to some extent. The price, on the other hand, is not really surprising, with an average surcharge of more than 40 Euros.
HD 6850 SCS3
GTX 560 Ti
|Memory||1024 MB||1024 MB||1024 MB||1024 MB||1024 MB||1024 MB|
|Memory bandwidth||256 bit||256 bit||256 bit||256 bit||256 bit||256 bit|
|GPU clock||840 MHz||775 MHz||775 MHz||900 MHz||810 MHz||823 MHz|
|Memory clock||1050 MHz||1000 MHz||1000 MHz||1050 MHz||1002 MHz||1002 MHz|