HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition Review
Home > Reviews > Graphics Card Reviews > Gold Award > HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition Review

HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition Review

July 2nd, 2012 Mark Leave a comment Go to comments



What we have here is the HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition graphics card. This version comes with 2048MB of GDDR5 memory with a stock speed of (Core: 1000Mhz GPU & Memory: 1200Mhz).


HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition - box front HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition - box rear


The front of the box provides information about the card indicating that it is PCI Express 3.0 compatible and is HDMI compliant. It also informs you that you are in receipt of ‘iTurbo, the graphics card assistant’ which ‘makes it easy to talk to your graphics card’ and that you can ‘experience overclocking by one click on iTurbo button’. The rear of the box provides additional information showing the improvements that have been made to this card over and above the standard 7800 reference design. These include:

  • Cooler – HIS 7870 IceQ is cooler than the reference cooler.
  • Quieter – HIS 7870 IceQ is quieter than the reference cooler.
  • 4 Heat Pipes – Optimize cooling performance by removing heat from the core area, providing ultimate solution for professional gamer’s and HTCP users.
  • Black Hole Impeller – Cool air is drawn from both sides of the fan to thereby enhance the cooling efficiency.
  • IceQ Cooling Technology – HIS innovative air-cooling technology that can dramatically decrease the GPU temperature together with your PC components.


HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition - box packaging


Inside the box you find a black HIS cardboard box (with the HIS logo on the top) which when opened shows the graphics card in its well protected foam padding. Under the card is an additional cardboard layer (not shown) which has additional box contents and instructions.


HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition - box contents HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition - instructions


The additional box contents consist of the following:

  • Driver & Installation Guide
  • VGA to DVI adapter
  • Cross Fire adapter
  • iTurbo Graphics Card Assistant CD
  • Support and Transportation Leaflet (not shown)

At the time of writing the HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition is retailing for approximately £275 and comes with a 2 year limited warranty.



courtesy of HIS

Product Code H787Q2G2M
EAN Code 4895139007015
Cooler IceQ
GPU 7870
Core Clock 1000 MHz
Memory Clock 4800 MHz
Memory Size 2048 MB
Memory Type GDDR5
Memory Interface 256 bit
Interface PCI Express 3.0 x16
Card Dimension 14 x 4.4 x 29.7 cm
Box Dimension 34.85 x 18.45 x 9.45 cm
Model Name HIS 7870 IceQ 2GB GDDR5 PCI-E DVI/HDMI/2xMini DP
Chipset Radeon HD 7870 PCIe Series
ASIC Radeon (TM) HD 7870 GPU
Manu. Process (Micron) 28nm
Memory Size (MB) 2048
Power Supply Requirement 500 Watt or greater power
Max. Resolution
  • 4096×2160 per display (DisplayPort 1.2)
  • 2560×1600 per display (Dual-link DVI)
  • 2048×1536 per display (VGA)
Bus Interface PCI Express 3.0 x16
Mini Display Port Yes
DVI Dual-link DVI-I

* Additional details available here


First Impressions


One thing that you can say about HIS is that they like to ensure that their products don’t receive any damage during transport. The graphics card, as shown in the Overview above was well secured in its packaging and required me to squeeze my fingers past the backing plate to safely remove it.

My initial thought was that the plastic cowling covering the top of the card felt rather flimsy, but after comparing it against my current HIS 6850 IceQ X Turbo 2048MB the cowling is actually quite sturdy!


HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition - top view


The card is bigger in most aspects when compared to my HIS 6850 IceQ X Turbo 2048MB and weighs significantly more at 824grams compared to 677grams for the 6850. Its height is the same at the backing plate but increases towards the end of card where the intake fan is situated.


HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition - HIS 6850 IceQ X Turbo vs HIS 7870 IceQ GHz


The backing plate features the card’s main options for video output with 1 x DVI, 1 x HDMI and 2 x Mini Display Ports. The graphics card requires 2 x 6 pin power connectors which can be found at the back of the card just situated between the fan cowling and the main board.


HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition - back plate HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition - x2 6pin power connectors


As noted above the HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition also includes 4 heat pipes for better heat dissipation and an impeller fan for enhanced cooling. The heat from the card is blown out through the backing plate thus removing the heat from the case rather than recirculating it.


HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition - heat pipes HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition - black hole impeller


The instructions provided with the HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition are a generic set of instructions showing the general requirements of how to install a graphics card. In this instance the graphics card shown in the instructions diagrams show a graphics card with 2 x DVI ports rather than the outputs available on this card. Although the instructions should provide a novice with sufficient detail on how to install the card.

The additional help desk support paperwork provides details on how to contact HIS support via Web, email etc and also provides recommended instructions on how to transport your rig once the card is installed. In this instance the paperwork is recommending transporting the rig so that the backing plate on the graphics card is at the lowest point!


Hardware Installation


The hardware installation of the HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition graphics card into my rig was very straight forward once my existing HIS 6850 was removed. As both cards have the 2 x 6 pin power connectors in the same place there wasn’t any requirements to rewire the GPU power cables (phew!).


HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition - installed (top) HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition - installed (side)


Testing Methodology/Setup


As new drivers were required for the HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition card my rig was treated to a fresh install of Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (Service Pack 1) with all associated drivers installed.

As I haven’t overclocked my current graphics card (HIS 6850 IceQ X Turbo) I checked that I was running the same drivers as provided with the HIS 7870 IceQ Ghz Edition as this would then allow me to use my existing benchmark scores to compare the cards before installing the latest drivers (Catalyst Suite 12.4) and begin my GPU overclocking journey.

Overclocking will be conducted using the iTurbo Graphics Card Assistance utility provided with the HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition graphics card. Speedfan will be used to monitor the GPU’s temperature.

The card will be benchmarked using the following utilities:



Each Benchmark will be run 3 times with a reboot between each run.

As well as the above mentioned benchmark utilities the following games were used to test the machine over the 10+ days that the graphics card was installed in my rig. These were used to ensure that the overclocked settings were stable and to see how the card performed in a real world environment (Gaming!) rather than a synthetic one.


  • Battlefield 3
  • Mass Effect 2 (I was a late starter to Mass Effect franchise!)
  • Blacklight Retribution


Hardware Performance


After rebooting my machine and running the first benchmark after the card was installed, I have to say how impressed I was with the colour and clarity of the HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition. Without trying to sound too enthusiastic, it was as if someone had sneaked into my office cleaned the monitor screen and then found my glasses and cleaned them as well, both without me knowing. If the rest of the tests are as impressive I don’t think that I will want this card to be leaving my machine. Anyway on to the benchmark results…


  • HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition Stock Settings (Core: 1000MHz / Memory: 1200MHz )
  • Benchmark Ambient Temperature Max GPU Temp Delta Temp Result
    3DMark 11 24 58 34 6298
    Unigine Heaven 23 57 34 872 (35 FPS)
    Metro 2033 23 57 34 26 FPS
    Batman Arkham City 24 58 34 62


  • Comparing the HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition to a HIS 6850 IceQ X Turbo 2048MB
  • * All of the data shown here is with the cards at their stock speeds

    Graphics Card Driver Version 3DMark 11 Unigine Heaven Metro 2033 Batman Arkham City
    HIS 6850 IceQ X Turbo 2048MB Catalyst Suite 12.3 5395 571 23.50 FPS 37 FPS
    HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition Catalyst Suite 12.3 6139 753 26 FPS 38 FPS
    HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition Catalyst Suite 12.4 6298 872 26 FPS 62 FPS


    The initial comparison between my existing card, a HIS 6850 IceQ X Turbo, and the new HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition shows that the 7870 is far superior in the graphics tests (Unigine Heaven & 3DMark11), but only shows minor improvements in the real world tests (Metro 2033 & Batman Arkham City), although to be fair a 2.5 FPS increase in Metro 2033 does work out to be an increase of just over 10% which for a game like Metro 2033 is impressive. I have to say I was expecting more than the 1 FPS increase in Batman Arkham City.

    After downloading the latest Catalyst Suite (version 12.4) the benchmark tests were run again. This saw a minor improvement in the 3DMark11 test and a larger improvement in the Unigine Heaven test. No further improvement was noted for Metro 2033, but the Batman Arkham City result blew me away sufficiently that I have over the last few days reran the tests several times to see if I could prove the increase was a fluke! I’m happy to say that each run has returned the same result. I haven’t found any mention of a update in the Catalyst Suite 12.4 download specific to Batman Arkham City so I can’t provide a reason for the large increase from 38 FPS to 62 FPS, but when running the benchmark I have to say that I am more than impressed by the visual results.

    Once I had calmed down after the Batman results it was time to see what extra performance I could obtain by overclocking the card. For this I was intending on using the ‘iTurbo graphics card assistant’ which is provided with the card. The assistant comes on a separate disk from the graphics card drivers. After installing the iTurbo assistant I removed my external DVD drive from my machine and as it was late decided to run the overclocking tests the next day (time had literally passed me by whilst I was trying to understand and rerun the new Batman Arkham City results!).

    On the next day I was less than impressed to find that the iTurbo assistant was a standalone EXE rather than an installer. After reconnecting my external DVD and copying the assistant to my hard-drive I was even less impressed when I tried to use its functionality. On its overclocking page whenever I tried to increase the GPU, Memory or Voltage settings I was informed that the card was in its ULPS (Ultra Low Power State) and that I needed to disable this on the settings page and reboot before continuing. After several attempts of ticking the Disable ULPS option and rebooting only to find that the ULPS state has magically re-enabled itself. Therefore I started to investigate the issue via Google. The search results indicated that I wasn’t the only person experiencing this problem. It seemed that the general consensus was that the ULPS couldn’t be disabled using the iTurbo assistant on some cards…

    After checking the HIS Digital web site I found that a later version of iTurbo was available for download (version 1.1.3 compared to version 1.1.0 out of the box). After installing the new version I was then able to overclock the card and that the ULPS functionality was now working. Upon rebooting my machine between tests I found that the card had reset itself back to the default graphics settings (GPU 1000MHz Memory 1200MHz). I decided to check the Catalyst Control Center and was surprised to find the ‘Enable Graphics OverDrive’ option was not set. Once the option was enabled any overclocked settings set via iTurbo were saved successfully and also restored on reboot.

    Regardless of which option you use to overclock the HIS 7870 IceQ GHz graphics card you need to ensure that the ‘Enable Graphics OverDrive’ option is selected in the Catalyst Control Center.


    HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition - Catalyst overclocking HIS iTurbo Overclock Page


    After increasing both the GPU and memory speeds with the same ratio I found that the HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition successfully run all benchmarks at 1150Mhz GPU and 1380Mhz Memory. Any increase after this caused visual issues when running Unigine Heaven, my first choice of benchmark to test the overclock.

    Having managed to overclock the card to this level I began to try an overclock the GPU voltage. Irrelevant of what increase I tried, I was unable to increase the voltage at all without seeing the visual distortion as noted before. I even reset the card to default GPU / Memory settings and attempted to increase the voltage by 0.5%, but this still caused the visual distortion problem.

    Still I must admit I didn’t feel disheartened by not being able to increase the voltage. I have managed to increase the stock GPU and memory speeds by 15%, although to be fair to the card I suspect it’s more its victory than mine!


  • HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition Stock vs Overclocked (Core: 1150MHz / Memory: 1380MHz )
  • Benchmark Ambient Temperature Max GPU Temp Delta Temp Result
    3DMark 11 24 58 34 6298
    Unigine Heaven 23 57 34 872 (35 FPS)
    Metro 2033 23 57 34 26 FPS
    Batman Arkham City 24 58 34 62
    3DMark 11 23 59 36 6865
    Unigine Heaven 22 59 37 1019 (40.5 FPS)
    Metro 2033 22 59 37 28.5 FPS
    Batman Arkham City 23 59 36 68 FPS


    This 15% overclocking increase also provided a significant increase in the benchmark results. For Metro 2033, 3DMark11 and Batman Arkham City the increase was just under 10%, but with a massive increase of 16.5% for Unigine Heaven :).

    In all test runs the HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition never even broke out in a sweat as it only registerd 60 degrees Celsius during the overclocked benchmark runs, previously my existing HIS 6850 X Turbo has averaged 65+ degrees Celsius when running at stock speeds! The HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition also managed to perform this with only a minor increase in power usage. The maximum recorded reading for my rig was 318 watts, which is only 8 watts over what I have recorded from my rig previously. I suspect the HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Editions ability to remain cool is the main reason that I haven’t heard any increase in fan noise levels during the tests.

    On a final note I have to report that while playing the games listed above I saw no artifacts and encountered no driver issues even after the overclock, in fact the graphics card has performed flawlessly throughout the 10+ day testing period.


    Final Thoughts


    The HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition has been a pleasure to work with from start to finish. Admittedly the iTurbo graphics card assistant and poor instructions are the only real negatives (albeit minor), but ignoring these issues the card has been a dream come true. If I could ignore the iTurbo assistant and poor instructions I suspect I would be giving the 1st perfect all 10 pcGameware score. Taking these minor issues into account I must sadly reduce the Design/Quality score :(.

    The crisp colours, impressive clarity and results of the benchmarks for a card that is currently retailing at £275 just blows me away. Add to that its ability to overclock by 15% without any problems and stay running at a cool 60 degrees Celsius or below when overclocked is amazing, especially when it does all of this with only a minor increase in power (when compared to my old card).

    I’m more than convinced this card isn’t leaving my rig any time soon!




    Design/Quality pcGameware awards the HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition a Gold


    1. No comments yet.
    1. No trackbacks yet.