HIS Radeon HD 7870 IceQ X Turbo Video Card Review

Product: HIS Radeon HD 7870 IceQ X Turbo
Company: HIS
Author: James Prior
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: July 4th, 2012

Summary & Conclusion

The HIS Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition IceQ X Turbo aims to be a premium product for the enthusiast gamer. Currently selling for ~$20USD more than reference design cards, you get a large upgrade in features and performance. A healthy factory overclock with a very effective custom heatsink and fan makes hits the two main selling points, out of the box speed, temperatures and noise. Added value comes from the included iTurbo software and the support bracket, and finally you currently receive a download code for the new Codemasters DiRT Showdown game when it releases.

The competition for the AMD Radeon HD 7870 comes from NVIDIA's last generation second tier high end, the GeForce GTX 570. In performance terms, the HD 7870 is the winner over the GTX 570 in most cases and the HIS Radeon HD 7870 IceQ X Turbo extends that leadership, courtesy of its factory overclock, but AMD doesn't yet have an answer for NVIDIA's new driver features like adaptive v-sync.

The card itself is well built and the cooling solution robust, allowing the faster clocked HIS card to run cooler under load that the reference design, whilst being much quieter. The overclocking capabilities of the card were the same, with our AMD engineering sample and the HIS card both hitting the voltage wall at 1265MHz and 1.268v. If you're a brave soul and want to start pushing harder, the HIS iTurbo software (uncannily similar to Sapphire's TRIXX) will let you dump a lot more voltage and clock speed into the card, with a nifty profile option as well. This lets you activate your OC via hotkey for when your gaming but original 3D clocks for less demanding scenarios like using GPGPU applications or games that just don't need the full horsepower unleashed.

The included support bracket is pretty puzzling, it's a great idea and seemingly well executed in isolation but in practice hard to make a positive impact. The theory of supporting the floating edge of the card to reduce the load on the PCI-Express Graphic (PEG) slot is a good one, but we really struggled to make it do anything other than get in the way of our fans and cables, and then removed it when we wanted to add a second card.

Being based on AMD's Southern Islands GCN architecture, the HIS Radeon HD 7870 has a number of stand-out features which may be useful if the performance, pricing and power efficiency aren't the whole basis of your purchase decision. As a side effect of AMD's push for heterogeneous computing, AMD's discrete GPU's gain a number of useful benefits like OpenCL acceleration of mainstream applications (Adobe CS6, WinZip etc.). Applications to take advantage of the included video codec engine (VCE) are due to appear soon, although it's disappointing the feature hasn't been leveraged since it's introduction to the market more than 6mo ago. If you're using your gaming PC as a home theater station as well, you'll like the hardware acceleration of video decoding and positional audio features, plus the unmatched flexibility of the Picture Perfect HD video post processing adjustments.