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

Package & Card Examined

The HIS box art is the normal, fairly conservative design we've come to expect from them, focusing on details about the card specifications and not fantasy girlies with improbable figures. Inside the box, the card is protected in a form fitting foam surround with lid, making opening the box a nice experience.

HIS Radeon HD 7870 AT 1GHz Edition IceQ X Turbo

Along with the card you'll find some interesting accessories, including a new one from the typical ones - a GPU support bracket. This adjustable height bracket is made from plastic and features self-adhesive mounting feet, designed to take the load of your mobo's PEG slot by supporting the card.

HIS HD 7870 AT1 GEd. IceQ XT
HIS HD 7870 AT1 GEd. IceQ XT

The HIS Radeon HD 7870 IceQ X Turbo is customized from the AMD HD 7870 reference design in two important ways: the cooler and the clocks. This performance enthusiast that this card is aimed at is typically most interested in gaming performance, overclocking ability, robustness, and noise. To address these concerns, the GPU is factory overclocked to 1.1GHz, 10% (100Mhz) faster than reference, with a stock memory clock. The reference blower-style fan on vapor chamber heatsink is removed and replaced with a copper base four heatpipe design with full length fin array, cooled by a centrally mounted axial fan.

HIS HD 7870 AT1 GEd. IceQ XT
HIS HD 7870 AT1 GEd. IceQ XT

HIS products sold in North America are covered by a 2-year warranty, although this does not cover 'operation of the product outside HIS recommended parameters' which presumably means shipping specifications. However, overclocking is an out-of-the box feature for the IceQ X Turbo, featuring HIS' new iTurbo software. iTurbo is a tweaked version of the software Sapphire have used for their TRIXX application, with a couple of innovations. The first is a mini mode for simple preset use, and the second is two fan profiles, one for 'cooler' and one for 'quieter' operation. The fan control can be set to automatic (managed by the card firmware), manual fixed speed or from custom fan profile. A single click activates either profile, allowing simple and easy switching from media consumption or web surfing in quietude to full on gaming. iTurbo also offers four overclocking profiles, covering GPU clock, memory clock and voltage adjustment, and the option for auto starting with Windows and loading an OC profile.

HIS HD 7870 AT1 GEd. IceQ XT
HIS HD 7870 AT1 GEd. IceQ XT

The PCB design is the same as the reference one, only the cooler is changed. The dual 6-pin PCI-E power inputs remain at the back end and sideways mounted, and the VRM's and chokes are at the front between the GPU and display outputs. The full slot exhaust configuration is retained with the stock output configuration of DL-DVI, HDMI and 2 mini-DP outputs in a single line on the rear of the card.

HIS HD 7870 AT1 GEd. IceQ XT
HIS HD 7870 AT1 GEd. IceQ XT

The card is equipped with Hynix H5GQ2H24MFR-T2C memory chips which are rated for 5Gbps operation (1250Mhz) so they're underclocked for the 4.8Ghz / 1200Mhz specification used here. The HIS IceQ X cooler doesn't make contact with them, so they are air cooled without heatsink but are directly under the fan. This configuration will likely restrict memory overclocking a little.

HIS HD 7870 AT1 GEd. IceQ XT
HIS HD 7870 AT1 GEd. IceQ XT

AMD recently made a lot of changes to their supported products list, as well as their driver update policy. The net result is if you're running a Radeon HD 4000 series or older, then you're likely to get driver updates once a quarter or so, and those won't be anything other than minor fixes. For newer card users, AMD has changed their monthly cadence of WHQL driver release to releasing drivers when each release delivers a 'substantial benefit'.