PowerColor AX3650 512MD2

Apr 18th, 2008 | By

Print this article

PowerColor AX3650 512MD2

: 04/18/08 – 03:36:53 AM


: Video Cards

Page 1 : Index


Most of us have friends or family that asks for advice on building a computer and there is usually a stringent budget attached to this request. It comes as a shock to some of us that not everyone is looking to spend $200 or more on a discreet video card. Among the release of current high end cards like the Radeon 3870X2 are the lesser known entry level cards in the 3600 series. Here in lies cards that are packed with many features and can handle some gaming as well.

OC Online Image

PowerColor doesn't really need any introduction here at Overclockers Online, as over the years we have reviewed quite a few of their video cards. We once again have a visit from the fine folks at PowerColor with their Radeon HD 3650. PowerColor has several variations of their 3650, today I have the AX3650 512MD2 sporting 512MB of DDR2 memory. Read on to find out more about this surprising video card.

Page 2 : Package

Let us first start by exploring the box and accessories.

OC Online Image

The front of the box shows the product name along with a female fantasy character. Attached is a sticker indicating the amount of memory and the memory bus interface. PowerColor uses the same box for the DDR2 and DDR3 variations of this card.e.

multiple OC Online Imagemultiple OC Online Image

The sides of the box list system and power requirements as well as the serial number and specific product code. Listed here also is the footnote about the DDR3 version being needed for a CrossFire system and the DDR2 is not CF supported.

OC Online Image

Finally on the back of the box are some product specifications and some key features. Again it lists CrossFire X though this version of the card does not support it according to the footnote. A discussion with PowerColor has begun to sort this matter out. See our update shortly!

Page 3 : Specifications

I grabbed a chart off of Powercolor's website that sums up the specifications nicely for the AX3650 512M2.

OC Online Image

As you can see the AX3650 sports 512MB of DDR2 running at 400MHz x2 on a 128bit interface. As you can see the 3650 is DirectX 10.1 compliant, something even some high end NVIDIA cards can't claim at this point. It's really a moot point as any benefits of the 10.1 standard will probably never be experienced by the HD 3650. You'll notice that you are pretty much covered for any output you would want to use, from HDMI to standard TV out. It's important to note that while it lists a DVI to HDMI converter, my package did not include one.

There is a long list of features for the PowerColor AX3650 512M2 located here, so if you want a complete technical breakdown you can head over there.

After soaking in all of that information, you can see this card is packing quite a few features for a small price. Let's move on to open up the package and take a look inside.

Page 4 : Contents

After removing the outer graphics covering, it is time to open up the inner box.

multiple OC Online Imagemultiple OC Online Image

After opening the lid you can see there are two sections, one holding the card and the other containing the rest of the accessories. Included with the AX3650 512MD2 is the driver CD, a quickstart manual, DVI to VGA converter and an S-Video to composite adapter.

multiple OC Online Imagemultiple OC Online Image

The AX3650 comes enclosed in an antistatic bag. The small size of the heatsink and fan is almost a shock after being used to the full length solutions used on the mid to higher end cards. Two of the memory chips are located towards the top of the card. There is a small jumper for selecting either PAL or NTSC formats for television output.

OC Online Image

On the backside you can see the remaining four memory chips. The four screws holding the heatsink on stick out about 1/4 inch and shouldn't pose any problems with other components.

OC Online Image

The AX3650 512M2 comes with two dual-link DVI allowing support for monitors with resolutions up to 2560×1600. Situated in the middle of the DVI ports is the S-Video port.

Page 5 : Installation and Overclocking

The HD 3650 has a rather small footprint, so no issues should occur during installation.

OC Online Image

As expected PowerColors AX3650 goes in without any issues and also doesn't require a PCI-e power cable. It is a much shorter card than the mid to upper range cards and therefore will make a much easier fit in any case.

Now that we have the card installed, I am going to first see what kind of overclock I can get. For some reason I was not able to get ATITool to work with the AX3650, so for overclocking and temperature readings I used Rivatuner v2.07.

OC Online Image

After a good many hours of tinkering and testing, I was able to get a 75 MHz overclock on the core and a 65Mhz (130Mhz DDR) on the memory. Nothing Earth shattering, but still respectable for the stock cooler.

OC Online Image

Temperatures are always a concern for any computer hardware, but the PowerColor AX3650 seems to handle the overclock pretty well. Overclocked temperatures never exceeded 61C, which is only 5C warmer than the stock load temps.

Page 6 : Testing Setup

Below are the system specifications that will be used for testing.

CPU: Athlon64 5000+ Black Edition
MB: Foxconn nForce 570 Sli
RAM: Mushkin 2x1GB PC8400
PSU: Ultra X3 1000W
HD: Seagate 1TB SATA
DVD-Rom: LG 18x DVD Burner – SATA
Case: Lian Li G70B
Ambient Temperature: 24-25C

Video Cards:

PowerColor AX3650 512MB (Catalyst 8.3)

Biostar 9600GT 512MB (Forceware 174.16)

I'm going to preface this with the fact that the 9600GT is not in the same class as the 3650 and therefore will outperform it in these benchmarks by quite a margin. I didn't have the time to acquire a suitable card for comparison, so this is being included just as a point of reference.

Page 7 : 3DMark06 Professional

First out of the gate is 3DMark06, a synthetic benchmark that is the standard for synthetic benchmarks. Synthetic benchmarks don't necessarily translate to real world performance, but give us a good comparison between cards with a standard scoring system.

OC Online Image

I don't expect to be breaking any 3DMark06 records with the AX3650 and numbers are about where I expected them to be. Here is the first look at the gains made by the overclock, averaging around 500 points. Good results for a low price card.

Page 8 : FarCry and Half Life 2: Lost Coast

Next up is FarCry, while it may not be the cutting edge game it was when it first took gamers by storm, it still is a good test for new video cards. All settings were put to their maximum with 8x AA and 8x Anisotropic filtering. I used the built in timedemo on the Regulator map.

OC Online Image

While the 9600GT easily takes the competition as expected, the HD 3650 is fairly far behind. I really expected the 3650 to do better with the older engine of FarCry, though it seems the 128 bit memory bus really hampers the card here. Overclocking the 3650 gains us anywhere from 2 to 4 frames per second.

Next up is Half Life 2: Lost Coast. I expect decent numbers from the 3650 as the Half Life 2 engine is one of those rare games that scales well with almost any hardware. Settings were all set to their highest with 6x MSAA and 16x Anisotropic filtering.

OC Online Image

Pretty much as expected PowerColor's HD 3650 spits out some pretty good numbers in this benchmark. At the lowest resolution the HD 3650 is right there with the 9600GT, but as the resolution increases the difference widens greatly. While the numbers are behind, they are still solid numbers and would give anyone a good experience with any game using the HL2 engine. We see a bit better gains from overclocking here with a gain of 6 to 9 frames per second.

Page 9 : Company of Heroes and Crysis

Next up for testing is Company of Heroes. I used the in games built in performance test with all settings at their max.

OC Online Image

Results are pretty close to what we saw with FarCry. The AX3650 puts up decent numbers at lower resolutions but fades a bit as the resolution gets higher.

Crysis really needs no introduction as it was perhaps the most anticipated game graphically last year and still continues to punish even the high end video cards. All details were set to high with no AA. The included GPU benchmark was run and average result was taken.

OC Online Image

I expected the 3650 to get punished and it certainly was. The numbers certainly don't look great and even the overclock on the 3650 only nets us about 2-3 frames per second. Nothing to write home about but I certainly don't expect someone looking for an exceptional experience with Crysis to be purchasing an entry level video card.

Page 10 : Conclusion

It has been quite some time since I have taken an entry level gaming card for a spin and PowerColor's AX3650 512MD2 has really surprised me. While you can't expect outrageous performance from a $70 card, you get pretty good gaming performance and a load of features to go with it. Overall great value. The 3650 is a perfect card for the entry level PC user who likes to play some games. The inclusion of HDCP compliance and HDMI support through a DVI to HDMI converter (sold separately) the AX3650 also makes a strong argument to reside inside an HTPC. There really isn't anything bad to say about this card other than it's not the strongest performer in games, but I didn't expect it to be. I must say that I came away pleased with my all around experience with the PowerColer AC3650 512MD2.

OC Online Image


  • Inexpensive

  • Quiet
  • Loaded with features


  • Not the strongest in games

Overclockers Online would like to thank PowerColor for supplying the AX3650 512M2 for review.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.