Hightech Information System (HIS) has been building a reputation for themselves lately. They've gathered quite a following by producing some of the most sought after products in the industry, particularly receiving a lot of attention for their IceQ line of cards with the Arctic VGA Silencers. Continuing with the success of the original IceQ line, HIS has upped the ante with the Radeon X800 IceQII series of cards.
When the IceQII cards were first revealed a few months ago they caused quite a stir. Not only were these cards using ATI's latest graphics core, the R420, but they also featured a mysterious new cooling unit that looked somewhat similar to the Arctic VGA Silencer found on the IceQ cards. Suspicions were confirmed when Arctic Cooling announced a new line of VGA coolers sometime later. As it turns out, the cooler HIS is using for their IceQII cards is known as the Arctic ATI Silencer 4.
In this review I'll be checking out the HIS Excalibur X800 Pro IceQII VIVO Limited Edition. That's quite a mouthful for quite a video card. Not only does it feature the ultra-silent and ultra-efficient Arctic ATI Silencer 4 and a full spec X800 Pro VPU along with 256MB GDDR3 memory, it also has a Rage Theater chip soldered on the back to provide Video-In/Video-Out (that's where VIVO comes from) functionality. You'd better hurry though if you are interested in one of these cards because as the name suggests, only a limited number of these cards will be available. In fact only 1,000 of them are being produced for the entire worldwide market.
A Limited Edition card wouldn't be very impressive if it didn't include a nice bundle. HIS has stepped up to the plate and are providing a lot of cool software and some interesting other bits that make this bundle stand out from the rest.
On the software side, they bundle two full games: Counter-Strike: Condition Zero and Arx Fatalis. CS:CZ is of course the retail, single-player stand-alone version of the first-person shooter mod Counter-Strike for Half-Life. Arx Fatalis is best described as a fantasy Role Playing Game that pays homage to the early 90's first-person perspective Ultima Underworld. Both CS:CZ and Arx Fatalis are good games, but they are also kind of long in the tooth and don't really have the graphical pop that you'd expect from games that are bundled with a card like the X800 Pro IceQII. Also bundled is a "Game Collection" CD that includes additional five games, a copy of VideoStudio 7 SE for making use of the VIVO features of the card, and a full copy of Cyberlink's PowerDVD 5 software DVD player. Rounding out the Limited Edition software bundle is a copy of PictureEZ Premium Digital Photo Suite 3.1, a digital photo imaging application.
The cables included are pretty much what you would expect from a VIVO card of this nature. You will find an S-Video/Composite wiring harness for video in and out, your standard DVI-to-VGA adapter, and a power splitter to hook up the card's power connection to one of your power supply leads. An interesting inclusion is a Component-out (YPbPr) adapter that connects to the cards video port out to your HDTV's component-in. No need for cumbersome and expensive HDTV adapters here.