HIS 7850 IceQ X 2GB Review
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HIS 7850 IceQ X 2GB Review

July 14th, 2012 David Leave a comment Go to comments

Overview

 

Today I will be looking at the HIS 7850 IceQ X 2GB which at the time of this review is currently retailing for approximately £192. HIS (Hightech Information System Limited) have been around since 1987 and currently have a wide range of graphics cards available, with this one forming part of their Radeon HD 7800 mid range series, which is based around the recent 28nm GCN GPU Architecture by AMD.

The HIS 7850 IceQ X comes with a Core Clock of 860MHz and 2GB of GDDR5 memory clocking in at 4800MHz effective. There is also support for PCI-Express GEN 3.0 should you have a compatible motherboard and processor. The card comes with an integrated HD audio controller which comes with 7.1 channel surround sound over HDMI with no additional cables required and also supports up to four displays using AMD Eyefinity 2.0.

HIS also manufacture the 7850 IceQ X Turbo X Edition (this is currently their top of the range 7850 offering), which comes factory overclocked with a Core Clock of 1000MHz and Memory Clock of 5000MHz effective.

 

HIS 7850 IceQ X - box front HIS 7850 IceQ X - box back

 

The HIS 7850 IceQ X comes supplied in a stylish cardboard box with white and various shades of blue making up the design. Various details about the card are actually embossed on the sides of the box which is a nice touch. The front of the box provides information on some of the features including PCI Express 3.0, 2GB GDDR5 Memory, HDMI and iTurbo which is the graphic card assistant software that makes one click overclocking possible, just one click of the iTurbo button! The rear of the box contains more in depth details of the improvements HIS has made to the reference card design like the IceQ Cooling Technology together with a list of all the features that the card supports. The sides of the box contain details about the included contents and the system requirements for the card respectively.

 

HIS 7850 IceQ X - box open

 

On opening the lid of the box you can see that the HIS 7850 IceQ X comes well packed and secured within black foam padding. Although not shown in the picture, a black foam lid also sits on top of the card, allowing it to be fully enclosed and well protected from damage during transit. Lifting the card and the foam padding out of the box reveals a black cardboard cover beneath with a white HIS logo. Underneath this cover is the rest of the box contents.

 

HIS 7850 IceQ X - box contents HIS 7850 IceQ X - wallet contents

 

Inside the box is a DVI-I to VGA Adapter, CrossFire Bridge Interconnect Cable, iTurbo Graphics Card Assistant Software CD (v1.1.0), Warning and Precaution Leaflet and a cardboard type slip wallet (with a nice picture of a sword on!). Opening the wallet reveals a Graphics Card Driver CD (v1207), HIS Power Up Sticker and a Multi-Language Quick Installation Guide. The HIS 7850 IceQ X also comes with a two year limited warranty and Premium Online Customer Support.

 

Specifications/Features

courtesy of HIS

Model Name HIS 7850 IceQ X 2GB GDDR5 PCI-E DVI/HDMI/2xMini DP
Chipset Radeon HD 7850 PCIe Series
ASIC Radeon HD 7850 GPU
Manu. Process (Micron) 28nm
Memory Size (MB) 2048
Memory Type GDDR5
Engine CLK (MHz) 860MHz
Memory CLK (Gbps) 4.8Gbps
Memory Interface (bit) 256bit
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
HDMI Yes
DVI Dual-link DVI-I
VGA No

* Additional details available here

 

First Impressions

 

Initial impressions after removing the HIS 7850 IceQ X from its packaging were good. The design did seem to be fairly simple however and the outer casing was made of plastic (a metallic casing with more of the internals showing would have given the card that extra wow factor in my opinion). I also wasn’t quite sure how I felt about the metallic honeycomb type mesh around the fan area, it’s nice enough but just seems a bit out of place, although it does give the card some of its own uniqueness with regards to looks.

 

HIS 7850 IceQ X HIS 7850 IceQ X vs MSI N560GTX-Ti Twin Frozr II (size comparison)

 

Comparing the HIS 7850 IceQ X to My Rig’s current card (MSI N560GTX-Ti Twin Frozr II), the card is noticeably shorter in length measuring in at 215mm x 120mm x 35mm compared to the 252mm x 127mm x 41mm dimensions of my existing card. The card is also significantly lighter weighing in at approximately 454 grams compared to the 689 grams of the MSI N560GTX-Ti Twin Frozr II, a difference of 235 grams! This could be mainly due to the larger heatsink and additional fan on the MSI N560GTX-Ti Twin Frozr II…

 

HIS 7850 IceQ X - outputs

 

The HIS 7850 IceQ X comes with the following connections: x2 Mini DisplayPort (1.2), x1 HDMI (1.4), x1 Dual-Link DVI which allows for support for up to four displays using AMD Eyefinity 2.0 technology (this does require a DisplayPort-capable panel or an AMD Eyefinity validated dongle though).

The rear of the card also contains a large exhaust port that allows any hot air to be externally exhausted by the inherent design of the IceQ X cooler.

 

HIS 7850 IceQ X - heatpipes HIS 7850 IceQ X - power connector

 

The HIS 7850 IceQ X comes with an IceQ X cooler which features a large aluminium/copper heatsink, two 8mm nickel plated copper heatpipes and a single 9.2cm PWM fan. The design of the cooler allows the HIS 7850 IceQ X to run 15 degrees cooler and 15db quieter than the reference cooler according to the manufacturer. Hopefully the thermal results will show how well the cooler does actually cool the GPU when under load.

The card also comes with one Crossfire connector which allows for a maximum of 2-way Crossfire (the card itself is dual slot). As mentioned previously, a single CrossFire Bridge Interconnect Cable is supplied in the box should you wish to connect two cards together.

A single 75W 6-Pin PCI-E power connector is attached to the rear of the card. This quite surprised me at first as my existing MSI GTX 560-Ti Twin Frozr II 1GB requires two power connectors, so it will be interesting to see what the difference in power consumption is between my existing card and this one.

Now let’s try installing the HIS 7850 IceQ X and then see how it actually performs…

 

Hardware Installation

 

Installing the HIS 7850 IceQ X into my rig was a fairly simple process. Once the existing MSI GTX 560-Ti Twin Frozr II had been removed it was just a case of inserting the HIS 7850 IceQ X into the same PCIe 2.0 x16 slot and then attaching a single power cable to the 6-Pin PCI-E power connector (the power connector is slightly covered by the overhanging outer casing though which does make it a bit more difficult to remove).

As shown in the pictures below, there were no issues installing the card into my test rig’s Corsair Carbide Series 300R case, especially since the card itself is not particularly large. The overall black and silver design also matches well with the rest of my rig.

 

HIS 7850 IceQ X - installation HIS 7850 IceQ X - installation

 

Testing Methodology/Setup

 

Since the HIS 7850 IceQ X requires a new set of AMD drivers to be installed, my rig was updated with a fresh installation of Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (service pack 1) together with all the latest relevant drivers and software prior to testing. The latest Catalyst Software Suite v12.6 for Windows 7 was installed which can be downloaded here.

MSI Afterburner v2.2.2 will be used to monitor the GPU temperatures, with the following benchmarks being run to evaluate the GPU’s performance:

3DMark 11
Unigine Heaven
Metro 2033
Batman: Arkham City

GPU performance testing was carried out by running each benchmark multiple times and then recording the maximum GPU temperature along with the benchmark result for each run. Testing was carried out with the GPU Core/Memory speeds initially set to stock settings (860Mhz/4800Mhz) and then overclocked to a maximum stable overclock without causing any artifacting or other graphical errors/crashes.

The following games were also played during the period of the review to ensure there were no issues or crashes with the overclocked settings applied during gaming.

  • Diablo 3
  • Batman: Arkham City

Overclocking was carried out using the latest version of the iTurbo software (v1.1.3) which can be downloaded here. The software is easy to install and can be set to run any overclocked settings upon loading Windows using saved profiles.

 

HIS 7850 IceQ X - iTurbo overclock settings

 

Since there is a TurboX Edition of the HIS 7850 IceQ X which comes factory overclocked with a Core Speed of 1000MHz and Memory Speed of 5000MHz effective, I decided initially to set the overclocking to be the exact same values using the iTurbo software. This should already be a proven stable overclock to work from which can then be improved upon even further hopefully.

 

HIS 7850 IceQ X - iTurbo final overclock settings

 

Unigine Heaven 3.0 was then used to find the approximate maximum stable overclock. Each time the Base Clock or Memory Clock speeds were altered, the overclock settings were run through the benchmark and if no artifacting or graphical glitches were noted, the speeds were dialled upwards slightly.

As shown above, I managed to overclock the Core Speed to a maximum of 1090MHz and the Memory Speed to 5800MHz effective. This was as far as I could go without the benchmark starting to freeze or crash. This is however a substantial overclock (approximately 26% and 20% respectively) from the stock core and memory speeds so hopefully the results should show quite a good increase in performance; nice!

 

Hardware Performance

 

Now it’s time to evaluate how the HIS 7850 IceQ X actually performs. The GPU results obtained will then be compared against those for my existing test rig card (MSI GTX 560-Ti Twin Frozr II). A comparison will then be made with regard to performance, maximum GPU temperatures, noise and power levels.

 

  • GPU Results – HIS 7850 IceQ X
Core Memory Benchmark Ambient Temp Max GPU Temp Delta Temp Result
860 4800 3DMark 11 26.4 49.0 22.6 4873
860 4800 Metro 2033 26.4 49.0 22.6 22.0 FPS
860 4800 Unigine Heaven 25.9 51.0 25.1 720 (28.6 FPS)
860 4800 Batman: Arkham City 26.0 50.0 24.0 48.0 FPS
1000 5000 3DMark 11 24.4 49.0 24.6 5317
1000 5000 Metro 2033 24.4 49.0 24.6 24.33 FPS
1000 5000 Unigine Heaven 24.4 50.0 25.6 822 (32.7 FPS)
1000 5000 Batman: Arkham City 24.4 48.0 23.6 53.0 FPS
1090 5800 3DMark 11 24.0 49.0 25.0 5584
1090 5800 Metro 2033 24.0 50.0 26.0 25.33 FPS
1090 5800 Unigine Heaven 23.7 51.0 27.3 890 (35.4 FPS)
1090 5800 Batman: Arkham City 24.1 49.0 24.9 56.0 FPS

 

  • GPU Results – HIS 7850 IceQ X vs MSI GTX 560-Ti Twin Frozr II
Graphics Card Core Mem 3DMark11 Metro 2033 Unigine Heaven Batman: AC Max GPU Temp
MSI GTX 560-Ti Twin Frozr II (Stock) 880 4200 4490 22.33 FPS 691 (27.4 FPS) 47.0 FPS 68.0
MSI GTX 560-Ti Twin Frozr II (OC) 975 4500 4841 23.67 FPS 750 (29.8 FPS) 51.0 FPS 72.0
HIS 7850 IceQ X (Stock) 860 4800 4873 22.00 FPS 720 (28.6 FPS) 48.0 FPS 51.0
HIS 7850 IceQ X (OC) 1000 5000 5317 24.33 FPS 822 (32.7 FPS) 53.0 FPS 50.0
HIS 7850 IceQ X (OC) 1090 5800 5584 25.33 FPS 890 (35.4 FPS) 56.0 FPS 51.0

 

  • Graphics Performance
  • The GPU results while running at stock speeds gave comparable readings during the real world tests to my existing MSI GTX 560-Ti Twin Frozr II, if not slightly better (1 FPS in Metro 2033) in some. Bear in mind that the HIS 7850 IceQ X does also have a slower stock Clock Speed of 860MHz compared to the 880Mhz of the MSI GTX 560-Ti Twin Frozr II. During the synthetic benchmark tests the HIS 7850 IceQ X saw approximately an 8.5% increase over the MSI GTX 560-Ti Twin Frozr II in 3D Mark 11 and a 4% increase in Unigine Heaven, at stock speeds.

    It was when the card was overclocked that it really began to shine though. In the real world tests there was a 2 FPS increase in Metro 2033 and a massive 5 FPS increase in Batman: Arkham City over the overclocked MSI GTX 560-Ti Twin Frozr II. In the synthetic benchmarks there was approximately a 15% increase over the overclocked MSI GTX 560-Ti Twin Frozr II in 3D Mark 11 and an 18.5% increase in Unigine Heaven. These results basically speak for themselves and really shows the overclocking potential of this card! I also never experienced any artifacting or crashes while playing both Diablo 3 and Batman: Arkham City, the card worked perfectly at these overclocked speeds.

     

  • Thermal Performance
  • The HIS 7850 IceQ X performed exceedingly well when it came to GPU temperatures. The IceQ X cooler definitely seemed to be working well and when idle the temperature was measured at around 27 degrees. Under load both at stock and overclocked speeds again the cooling was exceptional and a maximum of 51 degrees was measured, a whole 21 degrees less than the maximum measured when using my existing MSI GTX 560-Ti Twin Frozr II!! Considering my existing card also has two fans, the IceQ X cooler technology and the new 28nm GCN GPU Architecture certainly seem to be reducing the temperatures significantly.

     

  • Acoustic Performance
  • The HIS 7850 IceQ X was certainly very quiet. While idle and running at a fan speed of 20% the fan could hardly be heard and even when the card was under full load there was not that much of a noticeable increase. Manually ramping up the fan speed to 100% however did produce a fair amount of noise albiet with an additional extra 5 degrees cooling. But you really won’t need to adjust the fan settings considering how cool the GPU runs anyway. The iTurbo software allows you to set the fan speed of your choice and save it under either a Quieter or Cooler profile. With the press of a button, the fan speeds will then be set to your chosen values, so if you do require the additional cooling it’s only one button press away.

     

  • Power Consumption
  • While running the benchmarks, the maximum power drawn was also measured. My existing MSI GTX 560-Ti Twin Frozr II drew a maximum of 368W during testing while the HIS 7850 IceQ X drew a maximum of only 264W, a saving of 104W! The actual card itself was drawing approximately 129W of power under load.

     

    Final Thoughts

     

    The HIS 7850 IceQ X 2GB has certainly impressed me during my time with it and is definitely deserving of the highest award available here at pcGameware.

    The overall build quality is simple but practical and the honeycomb design around the fan area is certainly going to be a matter of preference. The black plastic outer casing could have been made a bit more stylish or even made metallic (like my existing card) and the slight difficulty in removing the power connector due to the overhang of the casing lets it down a bit which is a bit of a shame. The card is significantly lightweight compared to my existing one and is also smaller in size which is also an added bonus.

    Peformance wise the results speak for themselves when it comes to both the GPU and thermal performance. Although some of the benchmarks started off comparable when running at stock speeds, the card really began to shine when overclocked. The substantial overclocking ability of the card (far better than my existing card) provided quite a boost in performance (Batman: Arkham City saw an 8 FPS (16.5%) increase over stock speeds!) with the card also drawing far less power when under load than my existing one. The difference of 21 degrees more in cooling was outstanding and the fact that the card never went over 51 degrees was just amazing! Considering there is only one fan and the fan itself was not particularly noisy either also just adds to the wow factor.

    The HIS 7850 IceQ X 2GB is currently retailing for approximately £192 on Overclockers.co.uk which seems considerably well priced considering what you are getting for your money when it comes to its performance, overclocking ability, cooling and power consumption.

    Overall, if your looking for a well priced mid-range AMD graphics card that comes with plenty of performance while remaining ultra cool and can be overclocked substantially, then the HIS 7850 IceQ X is definitely the card for you!

     

    Verdict

     

      Design/Quality pcGameware awards the HIS 7850 IceQ X 2GB a Gold
    Performance
    Value
    Overall

     



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