HIS HD7870 IceQ Turbo and IceQ X Turbo X Review

Today we are looking at two of the latest graphics cards from HIS, the confusingly named HD7870 IceQ Turbo and the IceQ X Turbo X. Both of these cards feature custom cooling solutions and are supplied in a pre-overclocked state. We have been impressed with the IceQ coolers in the past, especially in regards to low noise levels, so we have hopes that these cards will prove a tempting solution for the discerning enthusiast gamer.
HIS have some of the most dramatically designed coolers on the market. While companies such as XFX and MSI opt for distinguished metallic coolers, HIS have designed their ICE-Q coolers in the past with bright plastic aqua blue and transparent colour schemes. The appearance will certainly split opinion, however technically they are actually in the top 10% of cooling solutions on the market.
Above, the HIS HD7870 ICEQ Turbo and ICEQ X Turbo X. No longer have they bright blue semi see-through coolers. Good move, we say.
ProductAMD HD7970AMD HD7950HIS HD7870 IceQ X Turbo XHIS HD7870 IceQ Turbo
Core Clock speed925mhz800mhz1000mhz (1100mhz)1000mhz (1100mhz)
Transistors4.31 billion4.31 billion2.8 billion2.8 billion
Stream Processors2,0481,7921,2801,280
Compute Performance3.79 TFLOPS2.87 TFLOPS2.56 TFLOPS2.56 TFLOPS
Texture Units1281128080
Texture Fillrate118.4 GT/s89.6 GT/s80 GT/s80 GT/s
Pixel Fillrate29.6 GP/s25.6 GP/s32.0 GP/s32.0 GP/s
Memory Clock1,375mhz1,250mhz1,200mhz (1,250mhz)1,200mhz
Memory Data Rate5.5 GBps5.0 Gbps4.8Gbps (5.0Gbps)4.8 Gbps
Memory Bandwidth264 GB/s240 GB/s153.6 GB/s153.6 GB/s
The HIS HD7870 ICEQ Turbo and ICEQ X Turbo X are both shipped with a 100mhz core clock increase from 1,000mhz to 1,100mhz. The ICEQ X GDDR5 memory also receives a boost, from 1,200mhz (4.8Gbps) to 1,250mhz (5.0Gbps).
The HIS HD7870 IceQ ships in a rather forgettable blue and white box. An image of the actual card would help sell the product.
The card is protected between thick foam on all corners.
The bundle includes literature on the card, a software disc, Crossfire connector and video adapter.
The card ships with a black plastic, oversized cooler with offset fan at the far edge. Heatpipes are visible at the top of the card. The PCB is blue.
The cooler overhangs the edge of the card by a couple of centimeters, which makes it slightly ungainly to handle.
The card takes power from two 6 pin PCI E power connectors. Due to the oversized cooler the cables can be difficult to remove as you have to prise your finger between the cooler and the clip.
The HD7870 IceQ Turbo is Crossfire capable in 2 way configurations only.
The card is a dual slot design with a single full sized DVI port and a single HDMI port with two mini DisplayPort connectors. It is Eyefinity capable. It can simultaneously output multiple, independent audio streams from the HDMI and mini Displayport connectors at the rear.
The cooler is held in place by the four GPU mounting screws. The heatsink is oversized so it can cool the memory as well. The cooler is comprised of four thick heatpipes which run into two separate rack of aluminum fins on either side of the base.
A basic overview of the hardware which we discussed earlier in the review. The Pitcairn GPU is manufactured on 28nm technology and this specific board features 32 ROPS and 2GB of GDDR5 memory which is connected via a 256 bit memory interface. The core clock is increased from 1,000mhz to 1,100mhz. The card has 1,280 shaders.
On this page we present some super high resolution images of the product taken with the 24.5MP Nikon D3X camera and 24-70mm ED lens. These will take much longer to open due to the dimensions, especially on slower connections. If you use these pictures on another site or publication, please credit Kitguru.net as the owner/source. You can right click and ‘save as’ to your computer to view later.
The HIS HD7870 IceQ Turbo X box is smaller than the lower clocked card on the previous pages. It uses the same bland artwork however.
The card is protected within a thick padding of foam.
The bundle includes literature on the product, a software disc, Crossfire cable, video converter and a ‘weight lifter’.
We have looked at the weight lifter accessory with other HIS cards. It is designed to support the card in the case, removing the weight from the socket completely. I do feel this is a gimmick as there is absolutely no need for a weight supporting device with such a light card. Still, it is better than including a free, old game which many people will already own.
The HIS HD7870 IceQ Turbo X is exactly how we would imagine Victoria Beckham would design a video card. The large central fan is surrounded by a very shiny ‘jewel’ like surround. The rest of the cooler is black. The PCB is blue.
Four thick heatpipes are visible from a top down view.
The card takes power from two 6 pin PCI E ports. The cooler is flush to the PCB with this design.
The HIS HD7870 IceQ Turbo X is Crossfire capable in a 2 way configuration only.
The card is a dual slot design with a single full sized DVI port and a single HDMI port with two mini DisplayPort connectors. It is Eyefinity capable. It can simultaneously output multiple, independent audio streams from the HDMI and mini Displayport connectors at the rear.
The cooler is different on this card, with the larger fan centrally placed, directly above the copper base. There are four thick heatpipes which separate into pairs, feeding into two rack of aluminum fins.
A basic overview of the hardware which we discussed earlier in the review. The Pitcairn GPU is manufactured on 28nm technology and this specific board features 32 ROPS and 2GB of GDDR5 memory which is connected via a 256 bit memory interface. The core clock is increased from 1,000mhz to 1,100mhz and the memory also receives a clock boost from 1,200mhz (4.8Gbps effective) to 1,250mhz (5.0Gbps). The card has 1,280 shaders.
On this page we present some super high resolution images of the product taken with the 24.5MP Nikon D3X camera and 24-70mm ED lens. These will take much longer to open due to the dimensions, especially on slower connections. If you use these pictures on another site or publication, please credit Kitguru.net as the owner/source. You can right click and ‘save as’ to your computer to view later.
To test today we are using our long standing Core i7 970 system, which is overclocked. We have a variety of hardware benchmarked on this system this year which will make for an interesting market comparison.
Main Test System:
: Core i7 970 @ 4.6ghz
Graphics: HIS HD7870 IceQ Turbo and IceQ X Turbo X
Cooling: Coolit Vantage
Motherboard: MSI X58A-GD65
Chassis: Thermaltake Level 10 GT
Power Supply: Corsair AX1200
Memory: 6GB ADATA @ 2133mhz 9-10-9-32
Storage: Kingston SSDNow V+ 512GB Gen 2 SSD (Storage) / Crucial RealSSD C300 256GB (OS boot)
Comparison Cards:
MSI R7970 Lightning Edition
MSI R7950 Twin Frozr III 3GD5/OC
Sapphire HD7870 Overclock Edition
HD6990 (880 core)
Sapphire HD7770 1GHZ OC Edition
XFX HD7770 Black Edition S CFx
HD7770 CFx
Sapphire HD7750 Ultimate Edition
GTX590 SLi
GTX580 SLi
Monitors: Dell U3011
Windows 7 Enterprise 64 bit
Unigine Heaven Benchmark
3DMark Vantage
3DMark 11
Fraps Professional
Steam Client
Alien V Predator
Dead Island
Tom Clancy HAWX 2
Resident Evil 5
Far Cry 2
F1 2011
Total War: Shogun 2
Battlefield 3
Mass Effect 3
All the latest BIOS updates and drivers are used during testing. We perform generally under real world conditions, meaning KitGuru tests games across five closely matched runs and then average out the results to get an accurate median figure. If we use scripted benchmarks, they are mentioned on the relevant page.
Some game descriptions are edited from Wikipedia.
Unigine provides an interesting way to test hardware. It can be easily adapted to various projects due to its elaborated software design and flexible toolset. A lot of their customers claim that they have never seen such extremely-effective code, which is so easy to understand.
Heaven Benchmark is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on advanced Unigine engine from Unigine Corp. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. Interactive mode provides emerging experience of exploring the intricate world of steampunk.
Efficient and well-architected framework makes Unigine highly scalable:
  • Multiple API (DirectX 9 / DirectX 10 / DirectX 11 / OpenGL) render
  • Cross-platform: MS Windows (XP, Vista, Windows 7) / Linux
  • Full support of 32bit and 64bit systems
  • Multicore CPU support
  • Little / big endian support (ready for game consoles)
  • Powerful C++ API
  • Comprehensive performance profiling system
  • Flexible XML-based data structures
We use the following settings: 1920×1080 resolution. Anti Aliasing off. Anisotrophy 4, Tessellation normal. Shaders High. Stereo 3D disabled. API: Direct X 11.
Performance from both cards is excellent, with the Turbo X version taking a very minor lead, less than a frame per second. Both cards are only around 3 frames per second slower than the R7950 Twin Frozr III from MSI.
Futuremark released 3DMark Vantage, on April 28, 2008. It is a benchmark based upon DirectX 10, and therefore will only run under Windows Vista (Service Pack 1 is stated as a requirement) and Windows 7. This is the first edition where the feature-restricted, free of charge version could not be used any number of times. 1280×1024 resolution was used with performance settings.
Both HD7870 ICEQ cards slot in behind the Nvidia GTX580, scoring 25,517 and 26,092 points.
3DMark 11 is designed for testing DirectX 11 hardware running on Windows 7 and Windows Vista the benchmark includes six all new benchmark tests that make extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading.
After running the tests 3DMark gives your system a score with larger numbers indicating better performance. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.
If you want to learn more about this benchmark, or to buy it yourself, head over to this page.
A standard HD7870 scores around 6,500 points in this benchmark. The HIS HD7870 IceQ Turbo scores around 500 points more, and the IceQ X Turbo X scores a further 100 points.
HQV Benchmark 2.0 is an updated version of the original tool and it consists of various video clips and test patterns which are designed to evalute motion correction, de-interlacing, decoding, noise reduction, detail enhancement and film cadence detection.
There are two versions of the program, standard definition on DVD and high definition on Bluray. As our audience will be concentrating on HD content so will we.
This has a total of 39 video tests which is increased from 23 in the original and the scoring is also up from a total of 130 to 210. As hardware and software gets more complicated, the software has been tuned to make sure we can thoroughly maximise our analysis.
Read our initial analysis over here
HIS HD7870 IceQ Turbo cards
Dial with static pattern5
Gray Bars5
Stadium 2:25
Stadium 3:25
Horizontal Text Scroll5
Vertical Text Scroll5
Transition to 3:2 Lock5
Transition to 2:2 Lock0
2:2:2:4 24 FPS DVCAM Video
2:3:3:2 24 FPS DVCam Video
3:2:3:2:2 24 FOS Vari-Speed
5:5 FPS Animation
6:4 12 FPS Animation
8:7 8 FPS Animation
Interlace Chroma Problem (ICP)
Chroma Upsampling Error (CUE)
Random Noise: Sailboat
Random Noise: Flower
Random Noise: Sunrise
Random Noise: Harbour Night
Scrolling Text
Roller Coaster
Ferris Wheel
Bridge Traffic
Text Pattern/ Scrolling Text
Roller Coaster
Ferris Wheel
Bridge Traffic
Luminance Frequency Bands
Chrominance Frequency Bands
Vanishing Text5
Resolution Enhancement
Theme Park
Ferris Wheel
Skin Tones
A score of 196 points is class leading right now, the ideal solution for high definition media playback on a big screen.
F1 2011 is the newest Direct X 11 racing game from industry pioneers CodeMasters. The 2011 Formula One season is the 62nd FIA Formula One season. The original calendar consisted of twenty rounds, including the inaugural running of the Indian Grand Prix before the cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix. Pirelli returns to the sport as tyre supplier for all teams, taking over from Bridgestone. Red Bull Racing are the reigning Constructor’s Champions. Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel is the defending Drivers’ Champion, one of five World Champions appearing on the grid.
F1 2011 performance from all of the high end AMD discrete cards is excellent. The two overclocked HIS cards deliver similar performance to the overclocked HD7950 from MSI.
Homefront’s PC version was developed by Digital Extremes, a Canadian developer responsible for numerous Unreal Tournament games and Bioshock ports. It received mixed reports, although Kitguru really likes the single player aspect of this title. The engine isn’t the most demanding on the market, but it requires decent partnering hardware for solid frame rates at 1080p.
Very closely matched results, averaging 65-66 frames per second.
Aliens V Predator has proved to be a big seller since the release and Sega have taken the franchise into new territory after taking it from Sierra. AVP is a Direct X 11 supported title and delivers not only advanced shadow rendering but high quality tessellation for the cards on test today.
To test the cards we used a 1080p resolution with DX11, Texture Quality Very High, MSAA Samples 1, 16 af, ambient occulsion on, shadow complexity high, motion blur on. We use this with most of our graphics card testing so cards are comparable throughout reviews.
A demanding Direct X 11 title, but these high end cards have no problems powering through the engine, averaging 72 frames per second at these settings.
Dead Island is a first person horror action-adventure video game developed by Techland and published by Deep Silver for Microsoft Windows. It is centered on the challenge of survival on a zombie-infested open world island with a major emphasis on melee combat. It is rather good fun, for a short while, but it becomes repetitive.
Not the most demanding engine, especially for these cards. Both Turbo cards average around 145 frames per second at these settings.
Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. 2 is an arcade-style flight action game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft. After the events of the first game, the H.A.W.X squadron is sent to Middle East, where a high level of violence is being registered, and the appearance of various insurgents leaders in various hotspots. The team also has to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Russian nuclear weapons. The player will be controlling three groups: one American (Hunter), one British (Munro) and one Russian (Sokov), each with its own pilots and supporting characters. There will also be references to other characters in the Tom Clancy universe.
We are testing in full DX11 mode with all settings to maximum.
Great performance from both of the IceQ cards, averaging between 105 and 110 frames per second.
Resident Evil 5, known in Japan as Biohazard 5, is a survival horror third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on March 5, 2009 in Japan and on March 13, 2009 in North America and Europe for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. A Windows version of the game was released on September 15, 2009 in North America, September 17 in Japan and September 18 in Europe. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.
Within its first three weeks of release, the game sold over 2 million units worldwide and became the best-selling game of the franchise in the United Kingdom. As of December, 2009, Resident Evil 5 has sold 5.3 million copies worldwide since launch, becoming the best selling Resident Evil game ever made.
Strong performance again, averaging 150 frames per second.
Far Cry 2 (commonly abbreviated as “FC2 or “fc2″) is an open-ended first-person shooter developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It was released on October 21, 2008 in North America and on October 23, 2008 in Europe and Australia. It was made available on Steam on October 22, 2008. Crytek, the developers of the original game, were not involved in the development of Far Cry 2.
Ubisoft has marketed Far Cry 2 as the true sequel to Far Cry, though the sequel has very few noticeable similarities to the original game. Instead, it features completely new characters and setting, as well as a new style of gameplay that allows the player greater freedom to explore different African landscapes such as deserts, jungles, and savannas. The game takes place in a modern-day East African nation in a state of anarchy and civil war. The player takes control of a mercenary on a lengthy journey to locate and assassinate “The Jackal,” a notorious arms dealer.
Far Cry 2 is still a popular game and the open world environment can be taxing on even the latest hardware available today.
Settings: 1920×1200, D3D10, Disable Artificial Intelligence(No), Full Screen, Anti-Aliasing(8x), VSync(No), Overall Quality(Ultra High), Vegetation(Very High), Shading(Ultra High), Terrain(Ultra High), Geometry(Ultra High), Post FX(High), Texture(Ultra High), Shadow(Ultra High), Ambient(High), Hdr(Yes), Bloom(Yes), Fire(Very High), Physics(Very High), RealTrees(Very High).
Still a great looking game, especially at these high quality settings. Both cards almost average 90 frames per second, just behind the reference clocked HD7950.
Shogun 2 is set in 16th-century feudal Japan, in the aftermath of the Ōnin War. The country is fractured into rival clans led by local warlords, each fighting for control. The player takes on the role of one of these warlords, with the goal of dominating other factions and claiming his rule over Japan. The standard edition of the game will feature a total of eight factions (plus a ninth faction for the tutorial), each with a unique starting position and different political and military strengths.
We are using the built in benchmark which is available via the STEAM client for this game.
If you want to play Shogun 2 in High Definition at maxed image quality settings, these are the cards you want. Perfectly smooth 60+ frame rates throughout.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an action role-playing open world video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks. Skyrim‘s main story revolves around the player character’s efforts to defeat Alduin, a Dragon god who is prophesized to destroy the world. Set two hundred years after Oblivion, the game takes place in the fictional province of Skyrim, upon the continent of Tamriel, and the planet of Nirn. The open world gameplay of the Elder Scrolls series returns in Skyrim; the player can explore the land at will and ignore or postpone the main quest indefinitely. Skyrim has received universal acclaim from critics, selling more than 3.5 million copies within the first 48 hours of release.
Both cards average around 50 frames per second, maintaining perfectly smooth frame rates at all times, even at the native resolution of our 30 inch screen.
Mass Effect 3 is an action role-playing game developed by BioWare and published by Electronic Arts. The game’s endings have been controversial with many fans. Criticisms include the lack of variation in the endings in view of the player’s choices over the previous two games, as well as a general lack of closure and perceived plot holes.
Good performance from both cards, averaging 48 frames per second and 47 frames per second at these settings.
According to EA, Battlefield 3 garnered 3 million pre-orders by the day of its release. It is unknown at present whether these figures are worldwide or just for the US. The pre-order total makes it “the biggest first-person shooter launch in EA history”, according to the publisher. The engine is beautiful on the PC and very demanding of the partnering hardware.
Solid performance at these demanding settings, averaging 68 frames per second.
The tests were performed in a controlled air conditioned room with temperatures maintained at a constant 24c – a comfortable environment for the majority of people reading this.
Idle temperatures were measured after sitting at the desktop for 30 minutes. Load measurements were acquired by playing Crysis Warhead for 30 minutes and measuring the peak temperature. We also have included Furmark results, recording maximum temperatures throughout a 30 minute stress test. All fan settings were left on automatic.
The results are interesting for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the larger, less elegant looking cooler on the ordinary Ice Q Turbo gives slightly better cooling performance, running around 3c lower than the streamlined Ice Q X Turbo X version. More importantly, both are significantly better than the reference cooled card we have in our labs, which runs around 5-12c hotter under the same conditions.
We have changed our method of measuring noise levels. We have built a system inside a Lian Li chassis with no case fans and have used a fanless cooler on our CPU. We are using a heatpipe based passive power supply and an Intel SSD to keep noise levels to a minimum. The motherboard is also passively cooled. This gives us a build with completely passive cooling and it means we can measure noise of just the graphics card inside the system when we run looped 3dMark tests.
Ambient noise in the room is around 20-25dBa. We measure from a distance of around 1 meter from the closed chassis and 4 foot from the ground to mirror a real world situation.
Why do this? Well this means we can eliminate secondary noise pollution in the test room and concentrate on only the video card. It also brings us slightly closer to industry standards, such as DIN 45635.
KitGuru noise guide
10dBA - Normal Breathing/Rustling Leaves
20-25dBA – Whisper
30dBA - High Quality Computer fan
40dBA - A Bubbling Brook, or a Refridgerator
50dBA - Normal Conversation
60dBA - Laughter
70dBA - Vacuum Cleaner or Hairdryer
80dBA - City Traffic or a Garbage Disposal
90dBA - Motorcycle or Lawnmower
100dBA - MP3 player at maximum output
110dBA - Orchestra
120dBA - Front row rock concert/Jet Engine
130dBA - Threshold of Pain
140dBA - Military Jet takeoff/Gunshot (close range)
160dBA - Instant Perforation of eardrum
Both coolers are fantastic, mirroring previous results with IceQ coolers we tested in the past. The X Turbo X version is actually a little quieter, thanks to the larger, centrally positioned fan. Both fans idle between 800rpm and 900rpm, meaning they are almost silent under normal, light load use.
To test power consumption today we are using a Keithley Integra unit and we measure power consumption from the VGA card inputs, not the system wide drain. We measure results while gaming in Crysis Warhead and record the results.
In such an energy aware climate, AMD are making a big deal out of their new ‘ZeroCore Power’ technology. Many solutions today use power gating, clock gating and memory compression to reduce idle power requirements, but ZeroCore power technology can completely power down the core GPU while the rest of the system remains active.
Both cards have been tweaked a little in regards to overall power consumption, dropping by around 2-3 watts under load.
For overclocking today we are using Catalyst Control Center.
Both cards overclock well, with the IceQ X Turbo X reaching a 1,240mhz core clock speed. Very impressive. Both cards achieve at least a further 10% on the core clock. The GDDR5 memory can be pushed to 1,400mhz+ on both cards, which is an effective speed of 5.6Gbps (5.76Gbps on the Turbo X).
The cards respond very well to overclocking, falling in slightly behind a reference clocked HD7970. This is very impressive, especially when considering the price differences between the ranges.
There are no shortage of custom cooled HD7870 cards available today as manufacturers fight to get market share. Despite some confusing naming conventions, both of the IceQ cards deliver fantastic value for money when compared against the somewhat listless reference solution.
It would be easy to assume that the IceQ Turbo and IceQ X Turbo X cards would be almost identical, but HIS have dramatically opted for a completely different cooler for both.
Surprisingly, the slower IceQ Turbo has the more substantial cooler design, although it overhangs the PCB by several centimeters near the power plugs. If we are being completely honest, this seems a little inelegant as it takes up a lot of physical space inside a case and can make the removal of the PCI E power headers slightly difficult.
The actual performance of the cooler is without reproach however, dropping core temperatures and maintaining an impressive 57c variable when gaming. Noise levels are not intrusive, although it is audible when dealing with the synthetic Furmark stress test.
The more expensive IceQ X Turbo X (note the ‘X’s) is based around a more compact cooler with HIS deciding to adopt a larger, centrally mounted fan for this particular design. The cooler isn’t actually as effective as the plain Turbo version, running 2-3c hotter under the same conditions. That said, the larger fan emits less noise under load, meaning this version is ideal for those gamers who want to reduce the noise emissions as far as possible.
Both cards are supplied with a hefty 100mhz core clock boost, and the Turbo X version also receives a 50mhz GDDR5 memory increase (200mhz effective). Obviously the Turbo X is slightly faster, although the differences would not be noticeable in the real world.
They both respond well to manual overclocking, with the IceQ and IceQ X hitting a 1,210mhz and 1,240mhz core clock respectively. This pushes performance close to the reference clocked HD7970 in 3DMark 11. The IceQ X Turbo X for instance only scores around 100 points less than the AMD single GPU flagship. A heck of an achievement, considering the HD7970 is still retailing for around £360+ inc vat.
Finding these cards in the United Kingdom now is quite difficult however, with only the non turbo HD7870 Ice Q available at OCUK for£269.99 inc vat. We would expect the Turbo version to cost £10 more, and the Turbo X with larger fan to be just shy of £300 inc vat. These are not confirmed, but just educated guesses on our behalf.
We think both of these cards are great, but I would opt for the IceQ X Turbo X version as it ships with a quieter, more compact cooler.
  • Run cooler than the reference design.
  • Fantastic performance.
  • Good ‘out of the box’ clock speeds.
  • Quiet.
  • Manually overclock to over 1,200mhz core.
  • A lot of competition in the market.
  • HD7950 doesn’t cost much more.
  • IceQ Turbo cooler is a little unwieldy.
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