Passive cooling silences PowerColor's SCS3 Radeon HD 7850

PowerColor has developed a new spin on AMD's Radeon HD 7850 graphics card. The simply named SCS3 HD7850 has stock clock speeds and 1GB of GDDR5 memory, so it won't set any benchmark records. However, it's probably the quietest 7850 around. This puppy is passively cooled.

Six heatpipes snake through the card's dual-slot cooler. The main radiator is substantial, extending beyond the top of the card to meet a second fin array hanging over the top edge. The height added by the cooler could complicate clearance in smaller, HTPC-style cases. Unfortunately, dimensions provided on Powercolor's site don't appear to take the radiator's height into account.

Under the mass of finned aluminum, the SCS3 has all kinds of supposedly swanky electrical components. The chokes have ferrite cores, the solid-state capacitors are rated for 50,000 hours, and the PowerPAKSO-8 power delivery system apparently has a peak efficiency of 82%. Higher-grade components are probably a good idea for a passively cooled card, which is likely to run hotter than an equivalent design with active cooling. You can probably forget about overclocking unless your chassis has a lot of ambient airflow, though.

With DisplayPort, HDMI, and DVI outs, the SCS3 is capable of driving a three-screen Eyefinity config. It also has a single six-pin power connector and comes bundled with a DVI-to-VGA dongle. Although AMD's Never Settle Reloaded bundle isn't mentioned on PowerColor's site, the SCS3 should include a trio of fresh games. Folks who buy the Radeon HD 7850 are entitled to free copies of BioShock Infinite, Tomb Raider, and Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon.

There's no word on availability or pricing, but I'd expect the SCS3 HD7850 to pop up online shortly. PowerColor's standard 7850 2GB card sells for $175, and this passive offering will probably be in the same ballpark. It's just too bad PowerColor didn't add a second gig of RAM.

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