A Trio from HIS: 7970 IceQ X² GHz Edition, 7950 IceQ X² Boost Clock and 7850 IceQ Turbo X Graphics Cards Review

We continue checking out proprietary graphics accelerators, and today we are going to discuss three Radeon HD based products from HIS IceQ series.

by Sergey Lepilov
02/05/2013 | 02:27 AM

Founded back in 1987, Hightech Information System Limited has always been noted for installing original cooling solutions on its graphics cards. In fact, we suspect the company was the first to introduce original coolers altogether. They are especially proud of the IceQ system which has been constantly evolving to get even more efficient and quieter. Today, we are going to check out two of its variants as implemented on four graphics cards. These IceQ variations are so different that one of them is even referred to as IceQ X2.

 

So, this review covers the following products from HIS: HIS 7970 IceQ X² GHz Edition, HIS 7950 IceQ X² Boost Clock and a couple of HIS 7850 IceQ Turbo X series cards.

Besides our cooling system tests, we will benchmark all of these cards including a CrossFireX tandem built out of two Radeon HD 7850s with AMD’s new Catalyst 13.1 driver. As usual, we will start out by exploring the products’ specs and key features.

Testing Participants

Technical Specifications and Recommended Pricing


* - may vary for each specific graphics card sample.

HIS 7970 IceQ X² GHz Edition 3GB (H797QMC3G2M)

The HIS 7970 IceQ X² GHz Edition is packed into a beautiful azure-colored upright box with the name of the cooling system printed right in the center. HIS seems to consider it the key feature of the whole product.

 

We can learn that the IceQ X2 is 17°C more efficient and 15 dB quieter than the reference Radeon HD 7970 cooler. This information is detailed and added to on the back of the box where you can also find a list of awards the company has collected for its products.

There’s a robust cardboard box inside the colorful wrapper. After opening it, you can see two warnings about how to transport a system case with an installed graphics card properly and how to plug a graphics card into a mainboard slot.

The graphics card is snugly fitted into the tray which is made of a soft but reliable material:

Without a doubt, this packaging ensures adequate protection for the product.

The following can be found at the bottom of the box:

There are no bonuses like free games or something although we can still remember HIS having included screwdrivers with its graphics cards.

Manufactured in China and priced at $420 in retail, the card is shipped with a 2-year warranty.

The new HIS 7970 IceQ X² GHz Edition looks attractive with its large and stylish cooler that covers the entire face side of the PCB. There’s a letter X with the manufacturer’s name in its middle. The name of the cooler itself can be found in its top left.

The whole graphics card is 297 mm long while the PCB is 268 mm long. Being only 42 mm thick, the HIS 7970 IceQ X² GHz Edition can be used in CrossFireX configurations with only one expansion slot in between.

The card offers a standard selection of video outputs: one dual-link DVI-I, one HDMI version 1.4a, and two DisplayPorts version 1.2.

There’s a vent grid in the card’s mounting bracket but some of the air from the fan remains inside the system case anyway.

The HIS 7970 IceQ X² GHz Edition carries two standard MIO connectors, so it can be used in a gaming rig with up to four such graphics cards.

 

This card isn’t standard in terms of power connectors, having two 8-pin plugs instead of one 6-pin and one 8-pin connector. This is indicative of a reinforced power system as we will check out shortly. On the other hand, HIS recommends a 550-watt PSU for a computer with one such card, exactly as is recommended by AMD for the reference Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition.

The cooler is secured with four screws around the GPU. After taking it off, we can see a metallic plate that is responsible for both the memory chips and the power system components. The plate has additional fins in the VRM area which are cooled by one of the IceQ X² fans:

You have to unfasten a dozen small screws to remove the plate and detach it from the thermal pads. Then you can have a clear view of the card's PCB:

It is a copy of the reference design but the original 5-phase power system is replaced with a 6-phase one with solid-state capacitors and DirectFETs:

The GPU voltage regulator is managed by a CHiL CHL8228G controller:

That chip is installed on reference AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition cards, too. There are also two power phases for the graphics memory and PLL.

Manufactured in Taiwan, the 28nm Tahiti XT chip is 365 sq. mm large.

The HIS 7970 IceQ X² GHz Edition has a base GPU clock rate of 1000 MHz whereas its boost GPU clock rate is 1050 MHz. The GPU has a standard Tahiti XT configuration as listed in the table above. According to our monitoring tools, the GPU voltage is 1.255 volts in 3D mode. In 2D applications the voltage and clock rate are lowered to 0.850 volts and 300 MHz.

Like other products of its class, the HIS 7970 IceQ X² GHz Edition is equipped with GDDR5 memory from Hynix Semiconductor. The chips are labeled H5GQ2H24AFR R0C:

They are clocked at their rated frequency of 6000 MHz. With the 384-bit bus, the peak memory bandwidth is 288 MB/s. The memory frequency is lowered to 600 MHz in 2D mode.

Thus, the HIS 7970 IceQ X² GHz Edition has the standard Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition specs:

 

Besides the enhanced power system, this card features the original IceQ X² cooler. Let’s check it out right now.

So, we have a large aluminum heatsink pierced by five nickel-plated heat pipes. The two central pipes are 8 mm in diameter whereas the outermost ones are 6 mm. Each pipe is soldered to the copper base as well as to the aluminum heatsink fins.

There are two depressions in the heatsink in which two fans are secured on metal supports.

The 11-blade fans from NTK Limited have a diameter of 86 mm.

The FD7010H12D model runs on two ball bearings and supports PWM-based regulation. According to our monitoring tools, the peak speed of the fans is 3750 RPM. Their peak power consumption is 4.36 watts at 0.36 amperes.

There’s a metallic plate with thermal pads on the memory chips and power system components:

The perforated top of the plate is cooled by the fans to lower the temperature of the memory chips. Let’s now check out how efficient the HIS IceQ X² cooler is:

To test the thermals of the reviewed graphics cards we are going to use five consecutive runs of  a pretty resource-consuming Aliens vs. Predator (2010) game with the highest image quality settings in 1920x1080 resolution with 16x anisotropic filtering and MSAA 4x antialiasing.

We used MSI Afterburner 2.3.0 and GPU-Z 0.6.6 as monitoring tools. This test was performed inside a closed system case at 25°C room temperature. All thermal tests were carried out before we took the card apart, i.e. with its default thermal interface still intact, as well as with the default thermal interface replaced with ARCTIC MX-4.

First let’s check out the temperature of the card with the cooler’s fans regulated automatically or set at their maximum speed.


Auto fan mode

Maximum fan speed

So, we have 69°C at 2560 RPM in the automatic regulation mode and 65°C at the maximum 3750 RPM. The numbers are okay since the reference AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition can get as hot as 90°C in the automatic mode of its single radial fan.

The HIS IceQ X² performs even better with the high-efficiency ARCTIC MX-4 thermal interface:


Auto fan mode

Maximum fan speed

The peak GPU temperature is now lower by 3°C and 4°C in the automatic and max-speed modes, respectively. The speed of the fans is somewhat lower, too. So, we’ve made sure that the HIS IceQ X² is very good at its job. Let’s move on to other matters now.

After some experimenting, we found out that the card was stable if its GPU and memory clock rates were increased to 1165 and 6960 MHz, respectively.

That’s very good, in our opinion. Unfortunately, increasing GPU voltage didn’t help us get any higher, so we stopped at 1165/6950 MHz:

When overclocked, the HIS 7970 IceQ X² GHz Edition only got 3°C hotter in the automatic fan regulation mode (with the default thermal interface).

So, the HIS 7970 IceQ X² GHz Edition is quite an interesting product with an enhanced power system, modest overclocking potential and a very efficient cooler. We have no doubt the other products from HIS will prove to be no less exciting.

HIS 7950 IceQ X² Boost Clock 3GB (H795QMC3G2M)

The packaging of HIS 7950 IceQ Boost Clock 3 GB is designed in the same style as that of the senior model except for the product name and the lack of specific advantages of the original cooler over the reference one.

 

There’s a Boost Clock badge in the bottom right of the box, but its information disagrees with our monitoring data as well as with the product specs from the official website.

The packaging, accessories, country of origin and warranty are the same as with the HIS 7970 IceQ X² GHz Edition, but the HIS 7950 IceQ X² Boost Clock comes to retail at a cheaper price of $319.

The new HIS 7950 IceQ X² Boost Clock is indistinguishable from its senior cousin visually, having the same size, video interfaces and cooler.

The only difference we could find was the 6- and 8-pin power connectors instead of two 8-pin ones.

We can remind you that the reference Radeon HD 7950 has two 6-pin power connectors. The HIS version has the same power requirements as the reference card: a peak power draw of 200 watts and a 500-watt or better PSU.

The HIS 7950 IceQ X² Boost Clock is similar to the HIS 7970 IceQ X² GHz Edition in its PCB design except for certain elements which are not very easy to spot.

The card seems to use the same DirectFETs, solid-state capacitors and 6+1+1-phase power system with a CHiL CHL8228G controller:

The manufacturer’s official website talks about a 4+1+1 power system (GPU+memory+PLL), yet we are inclined to disagree.

There’s nothing unusual about the Tahiti Pro chip on the HIS 7950 IceQ X² Boost Clock. Its marking can be read from the metallic frame on the GPU:

The GPU has a base clock rate of 850 MHz but we never spotted this frequency during our tests. It was always 950 MHz (the so-called boost mode, hence the card’s Boost Clock designation). That’s quite impressive factory overclocking, by the way. The voltage is 1.25 volts in 3D mode and 0.806 volts in 2D mode. The GPU is clocked at 300 MHz in 2D applications.

The card is equipped with 3 gigabytes of GDDR5 memory in 12 Elpida memory chips located on the face side of the PCB:

Basing on our experience, we prefer Hynix to Elpida in terms of overclocking potential. HIS must have tried to cut the cost by installing the cheaper variant. Labeled W2032BBBG-50-F, the memory chips are rated for 5000 MHz. They are indeed clocked at that frequency, providing a peak bandwidth of 240 GB/s via a 384-bit bus.

 

The HIS 7950 IceQ X² Boost Clock carries the same cooler as the flagship HD 7970:

We won’t describe it again, so let’s move on to checking out its performance. First, with the default thermal interface:


Auto fan mode

Maximum fan speed

As the IceQ X² did well on the high-speed Radeon HD 7970, it should have no problems with the HD 7950. Indeed, the GPU is 70°C hot in the automatic fan regulation mode (2640 RPM) and 66°C hot at the maximum speed of the fans (3880 RPM).

The temperature lowered by 4 to 5°C in every mode after we had replaced the default thermal interface with ARCTIC MX-4.


Auto fan mode

Maximum fan speed

We can also add that the speed of the fans decreased from 2640 to 2470 RPM in the automatic regulation mode, so they produced somewhat less noise. The practical benefits of replacing the default thermal interface are obvious.

We checked out the card’s overclocking potential with its default thermal interface, though. The GPU clock rate could be increased from 950 to 1140 MHz, which is 34.1% higher than the GPU frequency of the reference AMD Radeon HD 7950, but the memory chips were a letdown, reaching only 5960 MHz.

So, the resulting clock rates of our HIS 7950 IceQ X² Boost Clock were 1140/5960 MHz:

As with the HIS 7970 IceQ X² GHz Edition, the peak GPU temperature increased by 3°C at 2830 RPM at the overclocked frequencies.

 

HIS 7850 IceQ Turbo X 2GB (H785QT2G2M)

We’ve got two identical HIS 7850 IceQ Turbo X cards for our tests. Designed like the boxes of the senior products from HIS, the packaging provides information about the graphics card and supported technologies.

 

The box contents are the same except for the graphics card proper. The HIS 7850 IceQ Turbo X costs $200, which is somewhat more expensive than regular Radeon HD 7850s, but the HIS version has a number of advantages we’ll tell you about right now.

The original cooler covers the face side of the PCB and goes out beyond its dimensions even.

The card is 297x140x44 mm large, but the last number refers to the thickness in its middle whereas the cooler’s fan housing is over 50 mm thick.

Therefore, the HIS 7850 IceQ Turbo X can only be used in a CrossFireX configuration with a gap of at least two expansion slots from the other graphics card. You should take this into account if you’re going to use it in a CrossFireX tandem. 

Like every other Radeon HD 7850, the HIS 7850 IceQ Turbo X is equipped with one MIO connector for building CrossFireX configurations.

 

The manufacturer has tweaked the power system again, so the card is equipped with not one but two 6-pin power connectors. Its power draw is specified to be 150 watts. A 500-watt or better PSU is recommended for a computer with one HIS 7850 IceQ Turbo X inside.

Let’s take a look at its PCB now:

If you’ve seen some Radeon HD 7870 and HD 7850 cards, you may be able to identify that the HIS 7850 IceQ Turbo X uses the HD 7870’s 5+1+1-phase power system (GPU+memory+PLL) whereas the reference HD 7850 has one GPU power phase less. It also features high-quality DrMOS MOSFETs with improved service life.

The power system is managed by a CHiL Semiconductor CHL8225G controller.

The Pitcairn XT chip is 212 sq. mm large. It was manufactured in Taiwan on the 34th week of 2012.

The HIS 7850 IceQ Turbo X is pre-overclocked to a GPU frequency of 1000 MHz (+140 MHz or 16.3%). According to our monitoring tools, the GPU voltage is 1.075 and 0.806 volts in 3D and 2D mode, respectively. The clock rate is dropped to 300 MHz in 2D applications, too.

The card is equipped with the same Elpida W2032BBBG-50-F memory chips we’ve seen on the HIS 7950 IceQ X² Boost Clock:

Clocked at 4800 MHz, they provide a bandwidth of 153.6 GB/s via a 256-bit bus.

 

Besides the enhanced PCB and pre-overclocked GPU, the HIS 7850 IceQ Turbo X features the original cooler HIS IceQ:

It consists of a copper 115x94mm base, four nickel-plated copper heat pipes soldered to the aluminum fins (the two central pipes are 8 mm in diameter and the other two are 6 mm), and a plastic casing with a radial fan.

The plastic casing is designed in such a way that the air from the fan goes through the heatsink and is then exhausted out of the system case, cooling the card’s power circuitry along the way.

The radial fan is 58 mm in diameter. Its rated service life is 50,000 hours. Its speed is PWM-regulated in a range of 1000 to 3150 RPM.

The original cooler copes well with the pre-overclocked HIS 7850 IceQ Turbo X:


Auto fan mode

Maximum fan speed

When the fan was regulated automatically, its speed reached 1670 while the GPU was no hotter than 56°C. At the maximum speed of 3150 RPM the temperature was 10°C lower. Replacing the default thermal interface with ARCTIC MX-4 helped us lower the temperature in each mode by a couple of degrees more.


Auto fan mode

Maximum fan speed

The HIS IceQ cooler is impressive indeed. It just calls for more GPU overclocking. So, we guess it’s the right time to mention the exclusive HIS iTurbo utility which is meant for overclocking, monitoring and managing the graphics card.

We used the latest available version 1.3.1 dated the 19th of November 2012. HIS iTurbo has four tabs in its main window. The Info tab provides information about the graphics card including its serial number. The Overclock tab is where you can increase the card’s GPU and memory frequencies as well as the Power Limit parameter and core voltage:

 

Besides, you can create up to four overclock profiles and quickly enable them whenever you want.

The Fan Control tab is for setting up the speed of the fan and monitoring that speed as well as temperature.

 

And the last tab of the iTurbo utility offers the rest of setup options including the option to disable the power-saving UPLS mode (HIS recommends doing so if you overclock your card).

We tried to overclock our two samples of the HIS 7850 IceQ Turbo X card using iTurbo and found them to be identical in terms of memory frequency. We managed to increase it to 5750 MHz. The GPUs were stable at 1090 and 1035 MHz.

 

That’s not much of overclocking, especially as the GPU clock rate of the first card had to be eventually reduced by 20 MHz to avoid visual artifacts.

 

The temperature of the cards didn’t change much when we had overclocked them.

 

 

Noise Level

We measured the level of noise using an electronic noise-level meter CENTER-321 in a closed and quiet room about 20 sq. meters large. The noise measurements were taken outside the system case, when the only noise source was the cooling system and its fans. The noise-level meter was set on a tripod at a distance of 15 centimeters from the graphics card cooler fan rotor. The mainboard with the graphics card was placed at the edge of a desk on a foam-rubber tray. The bottom limit of our noise-level metering device is 29.8 dBA whereas the subjectively comfortable (not low, but comfortable) level of noise when measured from that distance is about 36 dBA. The speed of the graphics cards’ fans was changed with the help of a special controller supporting 0.5 V voltage adjustment increments.

For comparison purposes we included the noise measurements of a reference AMD Radeon HD 7970 and of one of the quietest graphics cards of this class – Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 OC Dual-X. The vertical lines on the graph indicate the fan rotation speed range for automatic mode during our temperature tests for default coolers before we replaced the thermal interface with ARCTIC MX-4. Let’s see which graphics card of the three turned out the quietest:

First of all, it must be noted that every card with original cooler is quieter in this test than the reference AMD Radeon HD 7970 cooler. That’s good, yet we expected more from the IceQ X2 and IceQ. The fans of the top-end HIS cards work at 1620 RPM even in idle mode, which is already above the subjectively comfortable level. Even though the HIS 7970 IceQ X² GHz Edition and HIS 7950 IceQ X² Boost Clock are barely audible inside a computer case in 2D mode, we can’t call them silent. And there’s no silence and comfort at all when these cards accelerate their fans to 2650 RPM in 3D mode.

The automatic regulation range of the cooler installed on the HIS 7850 IceQ Turbo X lies lower compared to the IceQ X2, yet that cooler isn’t silent in 3D mode, either. Its fan rattles quietly even at low speeds, making itself always audible. This problem was observed with each of our two samples of the HIS 7850 IceQ Turbo X, so it must be peculiar to the entire series. Compared to the HIS coolers, the Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 OC Dual-X sounds softer and provides more acoustic comfort. HIS is yet to find the balance between fan speed and temperature or change its fan supplier.

Power Consumption

We measured the power consumption of our testbed equipped with different graphics cards using a multifunctional Zalman ZM-MFC3 panel which can report how much power a computer (without the monitor) draws from a wall outlet. There were two test modes: 2D (editing documents in Microsoft Word or web surfing) and 3D (three runs of the Metro 2033: The Last Refuge benchmark at 2560x1440 with maximum image quality settings, but without antialiasing).

Besides the today’s testing participants and a CoressFireX configuration with two HIS 7850 IceQ Turbo X graphics cards, we also added the results of our power consumption tests for for ASUS GeForce GTX 660 Ti DirectCU II TOP. Let’ see what we got:

There’s nothing extraordinary about these numbers. The configuration with one Radeon HD 7850 is the most economical, consuming a little more than 360 watts at peak load. The system with an overclocked GeForce GTX 680 is second best. The difference between the two top-end cards from HIS is about 20 watts. The CrossFireX configuration built out of two HIS 7850 IceQ Turbo X cards consumes 100 watts more than the system with only one such device. Every configuration needs about the same amount of power in idle mode, so we want to single out the CrossFireX tandem in which the second card is simply turned off in 2D mode. A high-quality 550-watt PSU would be quite sufficient for every PC configuration covered in this test.

Testbed Configuration and Testing Methodology

All participating graphics cards were tested in a system with the following configuration:

As we have already mentioned above, besides the individual graphics accelerators, we will also test the performance of a CrossFireX configuration built with two HIS 7850 IceQ Turbo X graphics cards:

There were no problems during the driver installation for this configuration, the CrossFireX mode was enabled automatically:

For comparison against HIS 7970 IceQ X² GHz Edition and HIS 7950 IceQ X² Boost Clock we also included one of the fastest graphics cards on GeForce GTX 680 - Asus GeForce GTX 680 DirectCU II TOP 2 GB (GTX680-DC2T-2GD5):

In order to lower the dependence of the graphics cards performance on the overall platform speed, I overclocked our 32 nm six-core CPU with the multiplier set at 37x, BCLK frequency set at 125 MHz and “Load-Line Calibration” enabled to 4.625 GHz. The processor Vcore was increased to 1.49 V in the mainboard BIOS:

Hyper-Threading technology was enabled. 16 GB of system DDR3 memory worked at 2 GHz frequency with 9-10-10-28 timings and 1.65V voltage.

The test session started on January 17, 2013. All tests were performed in Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1 with all critical updates as of that date and the following drivers:

We ran our tests in the following two resolutions: 1920x1080 and 2560x1440. The tests were performed in two image quality modes: “Quality+AF16x” – default texturing quality in the drivers with enabled 16x anisotropic filtering and “Quality+ AF16x+MSAA 4(8)x” with enabled 16x anisotropic filtering and full screen 4x or 8x antialiasing if the average framerate was high enough for comfortable gaming experience. We enabled anisotropic filtering and full-screen anti-aliasing from the game settings. If the corresponding options were missing, we changed these settings in the Control Panels of Catalyst and GeForce drivers. We also disabled Vsync there. There were no other changes in the driver settings.

Since we have already reviewed quite a few Radeon HD 79xx and HD78xx based graphics cards with different driver versions by now, the list of games and applications used in this test session was shortened and included one popular semi-synthetic benchmarking suite and 9 latest games of various genres with all updates installed as of the beginning of the test session date:

If the game allowed recording the minimal fps readings, they were also added to the charts. We ran each game test or benchmark twice and took the best result for the diagrams, but only if the difference between them didn’t exceed 1%. If it did exceed 1%, we ran the tests at least one more time to achieve repeatability of results.

Performance

3DMark 2011

The GeForce GTX 680 (in its ASUS implementation today) remains the leader among single-GPU solutions in 3DMark 2011, yet the HIS 7970 IceQ X² GHz Edition is very close behind. The HIS 7950 IceQ X² Boost Clock is 15-17% slower than the latter while the HIS 7850 IceQ Turbo X is slower by an additional 22-30%. Meanwhile, the pair of junior cards in CrossFireX mode easily beats the top-end single-GPU solutions, including the ASUS. And we can’t even say that CrossFireX is efficient here as it only adds 67 to 84% to the performance of the single card. Anyway, the CrossFireX tandem built out of two HIS 7850 IceQ Turbo X cards scores a confident win in 3DMark 2011.

Metro 2033: The Last Refuge

AMD-based solutions have been traditionally strong in Metro 2033: The Last Refuge, so the ASUS GeForce GTX 680 DirectCU II TOP can only compete with the cheaper HIS 7950 IceQ X² Boost Clock while the HIS 7970 IceQ X² GHz Edition enjoys a substantial lead over the other single-GPU products. The CrossFireX tandem built out of two HIS 7850 IceQ Turbo X is even faster, although the CrossFireX technology is only 72-76% efficient here.

Total War: SHOGUN 2 – Fall of the Samurai

The overall picture is similar to what we’ve seen in Metro 2033: The Last Refuge, but the Nvidia-based solution looks more confident. The HIS 7850 IceQ Turbo X transforms completely as soon as you add a second card to it. It is only with enabled antialiasing that the CrossFireX tandem cannot beat the ASUS GeForce GTX 680 DirectCU II TOP, the CrossFireX technology being over 90% efficient.

Crysis 2

Crysis 2 is interesting for the fierce competition between the GeForce GTX 680 and the Radeon HD 7970 as well as for the peculiar behavior of the CrossFireX tandem. The CrossFireX technology is 66 to 67% efficient when full-screen antialiasing is off. But as soon as it is turned on, the two HIS 7850 IceQ Turbo X cards slow down and are hardly faster than the single such card. Graphics cards with a large amount of memory are the best choice for multi-GPU configurations, so it looks like 2 gigabytes isn’t enough for the Radeon HD 7850s in CrossFireX mode with antialiasing enabled.

Battlefield 3

CrossFireX shows its best in the less heavy application. The tandem built out of two HIS 7850 IceQ Turbo X cards is unrivalled here. The GeForce GTX 680 goes neck and neck with the Radeon HD 7970, both being closely followed by the Radeon HD 7950.

Sniper Elite V2 Benchmark

The two top-end Radeons are ahead of the GeForce in Sniper Elite V2, yet they are all rather slow, especially with enabled antialiasing. CrossFireX being 100% efficient, the two HIS 7850 IceQ Turbo X cards easily beat their opponents.

Sleeping Dogs

This test shows us the same picture as the previous one:

F1 2012

CrossFireX doesn’t work in F1 2011. The tandem is even slower than the single card. Otherwise, there are no surprises in this test.

Borderlands 2

It is the second and last time in this test session when the CrossFireX technology fails to work properly. The GeForce wins expectedly here.

Hitman: Absolution

The CrossFireX tandem shows its worth again in Hitman: Absolution. The Radeons are generally superior to the GeForce series here.

Here is a table with the full test results:

Let’s discuss performance summary diagrams now.

Summary Diagrams

The first pair of diagrams helps you compare the HIS 7970 IceQ X² GHz Edition and the ASUS GeForce GTX 680 DirectCU II TOP, the latter serving as a baseline.

As we can see, the graphics cards are in fact equal in Crysis 2 and Battlefield 3 and do not differ much in 3DMark 2011. The winner depends on the graphics quality settings in Total War: SHOGUN 2 – Fall of the Samurai and F1 2012. Then, the GeForce GTX 680 wins in Borderlands 2 whereas the Radeon HD 7970 is ahead in Metro 2033: The Last Refuge, Sniper Elite V2, Sleeping Dogs and Hitman: Absolution.

The second pair of our summary diagrams shows you the efficiency of the CrossFireX technology with two HIS 7850 IceQ Turbo X graphics cards:

If you’ve glanced through the individual tests, you won’t find any surprises in the diagrams. CrossFireX doesn’t work in F1 2012 and Borderlands 2 and also has low efficiency in Crysis 2 with enabled antialiasing. On the other hand, this technology doubles the speed in such games as Battlefield 3, Sniper Elite V2, Sleeping Dogs and Hitman: Absolution.

Conclusion

The three graphics cards from HIS we’ve covered in this review are interesting products in their respective categories. Each of them features an enhanced power system with high-quality durable components and an original high-performance cooler. The HIS 7970 IceQ X² GHz Edition, HIS 7950 IceQ X² Boost Clock and HIS 7850 IceQ Turbo X are also a little faster than the respective reference solutions due to pre-overclocked GPUs. Added to that are the reliable and informative packaging and the exclusive utility iTurbo. The graphics cards can please you with their looks, too. Although they are usually hidden from view inside the computer case, it is a real pleasure to just hold such a stylish product in your hands.

That said, we still cannot call them absolutely perfect, even though they are competitively priced. Our main concern is the rather high level of noise of the original IceQ coolers. Although quieter than the reference Radeon HD 7970 cooler, we wish it were a little better. HIS engineers should optimize the correlation between fan speed and temperature as the noise could be lowered easily at the expense of a few extra degrees of GPU temperature. Moreover, the HIS 7850 IceQ Turbo X has rattling fans which might be replaced with better ones. And to make these products really perfect, we wish they came with a few useful bonuses such as were included with earlier products from HIS.