HIS 7950 IceQ BOOST Review
What we have here is the HIS 7950 IceQ BOOST graphics card, in some respects it’s a bigger brother to my current graphics card an HIS 7870 GHz Edition. This version comes with 3072MB of GDDR5 memory and GPU stock speed of (Core: 850MHz Boost: 925MHz Memory: 1250MHz).
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 7900 reference design. These include:
- Cooler – HIS 7950 IceQ is cooler than the reference cooler.
- Quieter – HIS 7950 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 gamers 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.
Inside the box you will 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 which has additional box contents and instructions.
At the time of writing Overcloclers.co.uk are selling the HIS 7950 IceQ BOOST for approximately £240 it comes with a 2 year limited warranty and a 3 game bundle (FARCRY 3, Hitman Absolution, Sleeping Dogs & 20% off MOH Warfighter).
courtesy of HIS
|Model Name||HIS 7950 IceQ Boost Clock 3GB GDDR5 PCI-E DVI/HDMI/2xMini DP|
|Chipset||Radeon HD 7950 PCIe Series|
|ASIC||RadeonTM HD 7950 GPU|
|Manu. Process (Micron)||28nm|
|Memory Size (MB)||3072|
|Engine CLK (MHz)||850MHz (Boost Clock 925MHz)|
|Memory CLK (Gbps)||5Gbps|
|Memory Interface (bit)||384bit|
|Power Supply Requirement||500 Watt or greater power|
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|
When looking at the HIS 7950 IceQ BOOST graphics card and comparing it to my current HIS 7870 IceQ Ghz Edition I’m in the unusual position of trying to find something that I haven’t already said when reviewing the HIS 7870 GHz Edition graphics card.
The cards are identical with the exception that one has 7870 printed on it while the other has 7950! The card is the same size when compared to my HIS 7870 IceQ GHz 2048MB graphics card. The only difference I can physically find is the increase in weight, the HIS 7950 IceQ BOOST graphics card weighs in at 922 grams compared to 824 grams for the 7870.
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 housing and the main board.
As noted above the HIS 7950 IceQ BOOST 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. This is the same architecture as used on all HIS IceQ cards.
The instructions provided with the HIS 7950 IceQ BOOST Edition are a generic set of instructions showing the general requirements of how to install a graphics 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!
The hardware installation of the HIS 7950 IceQ BOOST Edition graphics card into my rig was very straight forward once my existing HIS 7870 was removed. Both cards have the same 2 x 6 pin power connectors in the same place there wasn’t any requirement to rewire the GPU power cables.
As new drivers were required for the HIS 7950 IceQ BOOST Edition card my rig was treated to a fresh install of Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (Service Pack 1) with all associated drivers installed.
The HIS iTurbo software was used to help with overclocking, version 1.2.1 was downloaded and installed, it can be found here.
The HIS iTurbo software consists of 5 main screens:
- Home Here you can keep track of HIS related news as well as updates to the latest AMD Drivers, along with links to HIS Social Media
- Info The second screen provides an array of information regarding the selected Graphics Card, with the ability to save the info to a file
- Overclock The main overclocking screen, with control over Core/Mem speeds as well as Power and Voltages, 5 Profiles are supported
- FanControl This screen allows you to switch between Automatic, Fixed and Custom with 2 Profiles supported (Cooler & Quieter)
- Settings Here you can modify various HIS GPU settings
The following benchmarks will be used to help evaluate the card’s performance:
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.
- Metro 2033
- Call of Duty – Modern Warfare 3
- Blacklight Retribution
After booting the machine and ensuring everything was running ok I started the benchmarks. Initially I didn’t think there was much improvement in the visual display, but after re installing my HIS 7870 GHz Edition card back into my machine I have to admit the HIS 7950 IceQ BOOST visual display is better than my current card. The colours are the same but everything else looks a little sharper. I even checked to ensure that my 7870 was running at the correct resolution (just on the off chance it was running at less than 1920×1080).
|Benchmark||Ambient Temperature||Max GPU Temp||Delta Temp||Result|
|Unigine Heaven||23||64||41||988 (39.2FPS)|
|Metro 2033||24||65||41||33.33 FPS|
|Sleeping Dogs||26||67||41||37.4 FPS|
The iTurbo software comes with the option of selecting the default Turbo settings for the card. For the HIS 7950 IceQ BOOST graphics card it increases the GPU Boost to 934MHz and Memory to 1262Mhz. This represents a 1% increase over the cards stock speeds. Using the iTurbo’s advanced settings I decided to start the process of trying to overclock the card some more to see if any additional overclock was possible. Previous HIS cards reviewed at pcGameware have overclocked above 10% without much effort…
After spending several evenings attempting to overclock the card I settled on a final figure of GPU Boost 952MHz and Memory 1287MHz. This represents a 3% increase over the cards stock speed. Irrespective of my attempts with changing voltages, GPU Boost and Memory speeds I was always receiving artefacts in Unigine Heaven at higher speeds. It isn’t the figure I was hoping for, but it is an increase over the iTurbo’s default overclock of 1%.
|Benchmark||Ambient Temperature||Max GPU Temp||Delta Temp||Result|
|Unigine Heaven||23||67||44||1042 (41.4 FPS)|
|Metro 2033||23||67||44||33.67 FPS|
|Sleeping Dogs||25||72||48||38.6 FPS|
The slight increase to the cards GPU Clock and Memory improved the scores in both 3D Mark 11 and Unigine benchmarks, it also provided a 1 FPS increase in Sleeping Dogs benchmark but did very little for the Metro 2033 benchmark.
Now that I have the maximum stable overclock figures let’s compare them to my current graphics card’s (HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition) overclocked results.
* All of the data shown here is with the cards at their maximum overclocked speeds
|Graphics Card||3DMark 11||Unigine Heaven||Metro 2033||Sleeping Dogs|
|HIS 7950 IceQ BOOST (Core: 850Mhz Boost: 952Mhz Memory: 1287Mhz)||7815||1042 (41.4 FPS)||33.67 FPS||38.6 FPS|
|HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition (Core: 1000Mhz Boost: 1150Mhz Memory: 1380Mhz)||6865||1019 (40.5 FPS)||28.5 FPS||36.3 FPS|
The HIS 7950 IceQ BOOST card beats the HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition in all benchmarks. Admittedly the Unigine test is only a small increase in comparison to the others, but the 3D Mark and Metro 2033 benchmarks are showing a whopping 13.5% and 18% increase respectively, with Sleeping Dogs showing a smaller 6% increase.
The temperatures recorded by the HIS 7950 IceQ BOOST graphics card are significantly higher than those recorded by my current card. A maximum of 72 degrees was recorded for the Sleeping Dogs benchmark, with an average of 67 degrees for all other benchmarks. This compares with 64 degrees for Sleeping Dogs and 59 degrees for the other benchmarks for my current graphics card. The increase in temperature is noticeable, mainly via the increase in noise from the fan as it is louder than the fan in the 7870. Although this is only a slight increase (to my ears anyway) and wasn’t noticeable when I was mid game with my headphones on.
During testing of the HIS 7950 IceQ BOOST graphics card the maximum wattage recorded was 344 watts. This compared to a previous result of 318 watts when running with the HIS 7870 IceQ GHz Edition graphics card.
On a final note I have to report that while playing the games listed above I saw no artefacts and encountered no driver issues even when running overclocked.
The HIS 7950 IceQ BOOST edition has, like all previous HIS graphics cards been a pleasure to work with. HIS have improved the iTurbo assistant and it now provides an alternative way to overclock the graphics card rather than using the AMD Catalyst Control Center.
As noted above when looking at scenes in the various benchmarks the HIS 7950 IceQ BOOST edition looks sharper than the same scenes when run with my current graphics card. I suspect the evolution in chip architecture and the resulting increase in the number of processing cores may have a lot to do with it!? :).
Once overclocked the card showed its performance ability with the benchmark scores, although I was surprised that I could only increase the overclock of the card by 3%, but with artefacts showing in Unigine and having spent 2 full evenings attempting to increase it higher I decided to admit defeat gracefully. This minor overclock and the generic instructions are the only negatives I can report (a limited 3% overclocked and not the benchmark scores). The fact that this card is currently available with a 3 game bundle (worth at current prices just over £100!) and is on sale at present for just under £240 makes it a very attractive deal for anyone looking for a new mid priced graphics card.