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

Heat, Power, Overclocking, Noise

Our test platform is an detailed below:

HIS Radeon HD 7870 IceQ X Turbo

Test Platform

Component Specification
Mainboard ASUS P8P67 WS Revolution
Processor Core i7-2600K [4.5GHz]
Graphics Card HIS Radeon HD 7870 IceQ X Turbo
  AMD Radeon HD 7870 At 1GHz Edition
  2x4GB Crucial DDR3-1333 @ DDR3-1600 9-9-9-25 2T
Audio Realtek ALC892
PSU Corsair HX850
Case Cooler Master HAF X w/ Add'l 200mm Top Exhaust
Storage Drives 2ea Corsair Force 120 + 2ea Seagate 15K4 SAS 146GB
Heatsink/Fan Noctua NH-D14
Display 3x Dell P2210H
Operating System Windows 7 64-bit Ultimate SP1
Driver Catalyst 12.4
HIS Radeon HD 7870 IceQ X Turbo

Product Specification Comparison

  HD 7870 AT 1GHz HD 7870 IceQ X Turbo
SEP (USD) $349 $359 (-$20MIR)
Engine Clock 1000MHz 1100MHz
Cores 1280 1280
Architecture Pitcairn GCN Pitcairn GCN
Memory Capacity 2GB 2GB
Memory Speed 1200MHz / 4.8Gbps QDR 1200MHz / 4.8Gbps QDR
Bus Width 256-bit 256-bit
Power [Idle/Avg Game/Limit] <3W / 180W /215W <3W / 180W /215W

HIS has their own overclocking software now, known as iTurbo. This appears to be the same core application as Sapphire TRIXX, but with a couple of welcome tweaks. Upon loading, the application presents itself as a disc with four options, offering information, advanced options, a quieter preset and a cooler preset. This is a little redundant as the advanced and info options take you to the same place, an info screen of the application.

iTurbo allows for overclocking adjustments of memory and GPU engine clocks, as well as voltage adjustments but not Powertune level. Four OC profile save slots are provided, which can be loaded at startup if required. Two custom fan profiles can be created, saved under the Cooler and Quieter presets mentioned earlier. The fan profile is very configurable, with fan ramp up full adjustable from 20% to 100% at whichever temperature you prefer.

In our testing we found the voltage wall - the point where small increments in clock speed require disproportionately more and more voltage, was at 1265MHz on the GPU. Without memory voltage control, and no heat sinks cooling the BGA memory chips, we topped out well above the rated 5Gbps of the Hynix RAM, at 1425MHz. In our extended stability testing, our highest final stable speeds were an engine clock of 1250MHz (13.6% increase over shipping clock, 25% above reference specification speeds) and a memory clock of 1420MHz / 5.68Gbps (18.3% increase over reference speeds).

  HIS IceQ X Turbo HIS IceQ X Turbo O/C  
Engine Clock 1100MHz 1250MHz +13.6%
Memory Speed 1200MHz / 4.8Gbps QDR 1420MHz / 5.68Gbps QDR +18.3%

Overclocking under Crossfire requires the Ultra Low Power State function to be disabled, something that can be done from the iTurbo application. This obviously removes the GCN architecture Zero Core Power feature, and so bumps up idle power use considerably. Once ULPS is disabled, the second GPU can be PowerTune adjusted in the Vision Engine Control Center / Catalyst Control Center. Once this is done you can close VECC/CCC and open iTurbo to overclock both cards together.

Crossfire Power and Temps

All our Crossfire results were performed with both cards at the same speeds, with the reference HD 7870 matching the HIS IceQ X Turbo speeds.

The HIS IceQ cooler is silent at idle clock speeds, keeping the HD 7870 cooler than the reference design heatsink and fan. Under load is where it really shines, a muted whoosh of air the only evidence it's working compared to the reference design blower fan's whine. The HIS HD 7870 IceQ X Turbo isn't silent but certainly is quiet and the cooler lets you make the most of the ASIC underneath. The memory overclock was surprising given the lack of cooling on the chips other than airflow but not outstanding, either.