ATI Radeon HD 3870 & 3850: A Return to Competitionby Anand Lal Shimpi & Derek Wilson on November 15, 2007 12:00 AM EST
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Dramatically improved is the Radeon HD 3800's power consumption over its predecessor, for obvious reasons. Despite being on a smaller manufacturing process however, the Radeon HD 3870 consumes slightly more power than the GeForce 8800 GT under load. At idle however, the 3800's smaller manufacturing process and new PowerPlay features give it the definite advantage. HTPC users will really appreciate that aspect of the Radeon HD 3800 series power consumption.
Moving to load power use, the difference between the new NVIDIA and AMD offerings is negligible. When you include the fact that the 8800 GT is faster, the Radeon HD 3870 actually has worse performance-per-watt than the competition. Under normal usage (e.g. not in a super hot case), both the 3870 and 3850 ran very quiet. We didn't have time to test how the coolers behaved under high heat conditions.