HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 Turbo Graphics Card Review
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HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 Turbo Graphics Card Review

December 11th, 2013 Mike Leave a comment Go to comments



Over the next two weeks I shall be playing with the HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 Turbo (H280XQMT3G2M) Graphics Card. Something I have to admit I’m a little excited about, having not tasted AMD’s previous 7970 or 7970GHz edition (for those that are unaware, the R9 280X is in fact a re-branded 7970).

The HIS (or Hightech Information Systems Limited) R9 280X in question features iPower, this allows the card more power (40% more power!) to give us more stability and a higher potential overclocks, the HIS IceQ X2 cooler that claims to be cooler and quieter than the AMD reference design (are there any reference R9 280X yet?), a core clock of 850MHz and boost clock of 1050MHz (a little higher than the 1000MHz boost of the reference design), 3GB DDR5 (6000MHz effective), dual BIOS for those of us who like to tinker and potentially kill one… Oh, and a special metal rib to add strength to the PCB (the card is pretty big after all).


HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 TURBO - box front HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 TURBO - box back


On the front of the box we have a refreshingly ice cool looking design (quite a nice change from the dark power-centric imagery on most gpu boxes I’ve seen). The box clearly states the HIS (faster, cooler, quieter) brand, IceQ X2 cooler logo, the card model (handy that), iPower details, iTurbo details, Turbo (factory OC), then specifications such as PCI Express 3.0, 3GB GDDR5, 4Kx2K Ultra HD, HDMI and of course AMD Radeon R9 series.

Then on the back of the box lists the specifications and features (see below) and also highlights many of the HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 Turbo technologies, as follows:


  • Eyefinity Technology
  • Crossfire Technology
  • GCN Architecture
  • APP Acceleration Technology



  • Cooler – HIS R280x IceQ X2 is cooler than the reference cooler.
  • Quieter – HIS R9 280X IceQ X2is quieter than the reference cooler
  • 5 Heatpipes – Optimize cooling performance by removing heat from the core area, providing ultimate solution for professional gamers and HTCP users.
  • IceQ X2 – The super large 29.5 x 11.2cm dual axial fans draw massive amount of cool air to cool the GPU directly.

    High Quality Components

  • 6 Dynamic Phase Control PWM IC – HIS cards are something more! The 6 Dynamic Control PWM IC phases provide extra power, stability and overclocking capability to the card!
  • Full Solid State Capacitors – These capacitors of the highest quality and durability extends the lifespan of the card. You can count on HIS cards to game hard 24/7/365 for years!
  • Solid State Choke – Using only the finest material. HIS cards offer outstanding stability and power capacity- making the best out of power and unleashing clock speeds to the limit!

    HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 TURBO - inner box HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 TURBO - inner boxopen


    Upon opening the box we find a a black inner-box with the HIS logo printed on it. Inside we find some dense foam, under which hidden underneath is the card itself.


    HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 TURBO - box contents


    Inside the inner box we’d also normally find an installation guide, driver & utilities disc, HIS Power Up sticker, DVI to VGA adapter and a Crossfire bridge. However this is a review sample, so we received just the bridge and adapter.

    At the time of this review the HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 Turbo Graphics Card is retailing for approximately £300 and comes with a 2 year warranty.



    courtesy of HIS

    Model Name HIS R9 280X iPower IceQ X² Turbo Boost Clock 3GB GDDR5 PCI-E DLDVI-I/HDMI/2xMini DP
    Chipset AMD Radeon R9 280X
    Memory Size 3072 MB
    Memory Type GDDR5
    Core Clock 1000 MHz (Boost Clock 1050 MHz)
    Memory Clock 6000 Gbps
    Memory Interface 384 bit
    Power Supply
    750Watt (or greater) power supply with two 150W 8-pin PCIe power connectors recommended
    1000Watt (or greater) power supply with four 150W 8-pin PCIe power connectors
    Max. Resolution
    (per Display)
    DisplayPort 1.2 – 4096×2160
    HDMI – 4096×2160
    Dual-link DVI with HDCP – 2560×1600
    Interface PCI Express 3.0 x16
    Outputs DLDVI-I + HDMI + 2xMini DP

    * Additional details available here


    First Impressions


    HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 TURBO


    So now I’ve torn the box apart and ripped open the anti-static bag, lets have a look at the card itself. The first thing you’ll notice is the size, it’s pretty big (311x150x42mm. This makes my MSI 680 Lightning edition look inadequate…), but it’s thankfully still only a dual slot graphics card.


    HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 TURBO - front HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 TURBO - back


    The IceQ X2 cooler dominates the front of the card and looks good (even cool… bad pun I know), very good . In fact, with the black shroud and fans (89mm) and with the honeycomb silver X it would not only suit, but most likely complement any rig. Although personally I feel it could have done without the three stickers. This card certainly looks the business though, let’s hope it can perform just as well.

    The Underside (or top in your typical rig) is not hugely exciting, the PCB seems a slightly odd, but likeable dark aqua colour and the GPU has a retention bracket.

    HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 TURBO - left HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 TURBO - right

    Over on the left (the bit you’ll be gazing admiringly at) you’ll see the black shroud with the silver HIS logo, the three 6mm heat pipes, two Crossfire connectors, the bios switch (very useful this, especially if you ever get into trouble after a bios flash), and the two 8 pin power connectors.

    On the right of the card you’ll see the PCI-E connector, two 8mm heatpipes and ermmm… not a lot really (it’s the dark side of the card that you’ll never see! 😉 ).

    HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 TURBO - outputs HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 TURBO - end

    At the back end of the card, we can see the outputs. The HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 Turbo has a total of four outputs. Two DisplayPort, one HDMI and one DVI-D. The only other thing you’ll notice here is the exhaust vent.

    Again the far end of the card doesn’t have much to show, just the end of what seems to be an incredibly large heatsink!


    Hardware Installation


    Installing into the Test Rig (see below) and into the MSI Z87-G45 GAMING motherboard was nice and easy, even with the cards mammoth size. Plugging the two 8 pin power connectors was again easy enough (later I found the opposite when removing them, largely thanks to my fat sausage fingers, but I’d like to think the connectors are perhaps a little too close to the shroud).

  • Test Rig Setup

  • Case Cooler Master HAF XB Power Supply Corsair AX760i
    Motherboard MSI Z87-G45 GAMING CPU Intel Core i5-4670K
    CPU Cooler Raijintek Themis RAM Kingston HyperX Beast 8GB 2400MHz
    Graphics Card HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 Turbo SSD (mSATA – on-board port) ADATA SX300 (64GB)


    HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 Turbo - angle HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 Turbo - above


    Testing Methodology/Setup


    The Test Rig had a fresh install of Windows 7 Home Premium 64Bit (Service Pack 1) and all associated drivers, nice and clean for the HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 Turbo Graphics Card. AM​​D Catalyst™ 13.11 Beta 9.2 Driver was then installed and used throughout testing (during testing several further beta revisions were of course released!).
    For all benchmarking tests, both HIS iTurbo (here) and MSI Afterburner (here) were installed. HIS iTurbo will of course be included with the retail card.


  • Overclocking the HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 Turbo via HIS iTurbo


    HIS iTurbo - Info HIS iTurbo - Basic HIS iTurbo - Advanced (Overclock)


    For those already familiar with MSI Afterburner, you will notice that HIS’s iTurbo software is very similar in appearance when in Advanced mode. We’ll concentrate on the nice and simple basic menu (the round one that looks like a silver Record, or for all you younger generation, a DVD).

    With a simple click you can set the card to Quieter mode, Cooler mode or more importantly iTurbo mode! This is an instant overclock for an already factory overclocked card (good eh!?). So straight away set iTurbo on! This provides a 1060MHz GPU boost clock and a 1515MHz (6060MHz effective) Memory clock. Bare in mind the stock overclock is already 1050MHz GPU boost clock and 1500MHz (6000MHz effective) memory! Had I missed something? After several try’s apparently not, seems a little pointless, but in the name of research we’ll press on and test it anyway…


  • Overclocking the HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 Turbo via MSI Afterburner

    MSI Afterburner - Stock
    MSI Afterburner - Overclocked


    Afterburner however tells a slightly different story…

    1200MHz GPU clock and 1600MHz (6400MHz effective) memory clock. That’s an increase of 150MHz to the GPU, which may not seem a huge jump (ED: Well I think it’s a huge jump!), but when you consider that AMD’s reference card is clocked at 850MHz (that’s +350MHz from the reference Base Clock and +200MHz up on the Boost Clock!)? That’s simply incredible. The memory received a relatively small increase in clock speed with 100MHz. This overclock was of course achieved in the most technical and complicated way possible (voltage and power sliders to the right (MAX)). The reason I did this? Stability. I found that without moving the sliders up, my current favourite game (Battlefield 4) would crash out more regularly or not even boot past the load screen!

    Even under heavy load HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 Turbo Graphics Card is very cool. The IceQ X2 was very quiet at stock and I hadn’t noticed any significant gain when overclocked (or any in fact). The IceQ X2 is even quieter than my own MSI 680 lightning with it’s TwiNFrozr IV cooler, which as any TwiNFrozr owner can tell you, no mean feat at all.


  • Benchmarks Used:


  • Games Played:

    • Battlefield 4
    • Metro Last Light
    • Tomb Raider


    Hardware Performance


  • HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 Turbo – Stock Settings (Boost Clock: 1050MHz / Memory: 6000MHz (effective))
  • Benchmark Ambient Temperature Max GPU Temp Delta Temp Result
    3DMark (Fire Strike) 21.00 69.00 48.00 7279
    UNiGiNE Heaven 22.50 67.00 44.50 FPS 37.1 Score 935
    UNiGiNE Valley 22.00 69.00 47.00 FPS 45.2 Score 1889
    Tomb Raider 22.00 67.00 45.00 65.2 FPS (average)
    Metro Last Light 20.00 68.00 48.00 55.67 (average)


  • HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 Turbo (HIS Turbo – iTurbo on) (Boost Clock: 1060MHz / Memory: 6060MHz (effective))
  • Benchmark Ambient Temperature Max GPU Temp Delta Temp Result
    3DMark (Fire Strike) 21.50 70.00 48.50 7203
    UNiGiNE Heaven 23.00 66.00 43.00 FPS 37.2 Score 937
    UNiGiNE Valley 21.50 70.00 48.50 FPS 45.2Score 1889
    Tomb Raider 22.00 66.00 44.00 64.6 FPS (average)
    Metro Last Light 21.50 70.00 48.50 55.33 (average)


  • HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 Turbo – Overclocked Settings (Boost Clock: 1200MHz / Memory: 6400MHz (effective))
  • Benchmark Ambient Temperature Max GPU Temp Delta Temp Result
    3DMark (Fire Strike) 21.50 74.00 52.50 7955
    UNiGiNE Heaven 21.00 72.00 51.00 FPS 41.3 Score 1040
    UNiGiNE Valley 21.00 74.00 53.00 FPS 56.3 Score 2104
    Tomb Raider 20.50 71.00 50.50 72.8 FPS (average)
    Metro Last Light 23.00 72.00 49.00 61.67 (average)


    As you can already tell from the results, this is one great card with a lot of overclocking headroom, so much so that I’m pretty certain it’ll go higher! Even better still it does this quietly.

    The HIS iTurbo software was pretty simple to use and I especially liked the ‘one click overclock’ approach, but the minimal gain in performance really wasn’t worth while. HIS iTurbo also has it’s own custom fan settings whilst overclocked and I found that the fans could get pretty loud using this profile, which is a shame and unnecessary I believe, because….

    MSI Afterburner was a totally different kettle of fish. Leaving the fans on the auto setting seemed to leave the IceQ X2 cooler almost silent when overclocked, which I find staggering given the massive performance increase achieved (Boost Clock: 1200MHz/Mem: 6400MHz).

    Something I had noticed was an audible odd electric clicking/screeching sound (had the same effect on me as someone scratching a blackboard (ED: James thinks Mike has super human hearing myself!). This was at it’s most noticeable when leaving the Unigine benchmark software (i.e. when the card’s memory was being cleared). This it seems is totally harmless and relatively common for not only 7970, 7970GHz and R9 280X cards, but many AMD based graphics cards.

    Battlefield 4 is a game that many of you will already be playing, you’ll all have noticed the game is undeniably good, but does have a few issues. The biggest of note for me seems to be the games performance on NVIDIA cards. We here at pcGameware have had the opportunity to game on the NVIDIA 660, 670, 680 and 780 (and SLI courtesy of James’ gaming rig). Yet all of them suffer from a slight stutter, various crashes and frame rate issues. Well the good news is the HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 Turbo runs the game smoother than butter! Drivers eh!?

    We try to make every benchmark as exact as possible, hence I’m not including the FRAPS results within the benchmark tables as I don’t feel I can give you a solid enough result, but I was averaging between 68/75fps on Hainan Resort, in a 32 player server on Ultra settings. James recently reviewed the MSI Radeon R9 280X GAMING (OC Edition) and he found the game engine seemed to prefer the AMD card as well. Just to clarify again for myself, I also had a quick run out on the HIS Radeon R9 270X iPower IceQ X2 Turbo (review coming soon) and again one incredibly smooth performance. Is this a driver related issue? Perhaps the game is optimized to run far better on AMD cards!? I really don’t know, but the difference in real the world gaming experience between the red and green team is huge, so much so that for the best experience possible AMD for now has is licked! And that’s before we get to take a look at what AMD Mantle has to offer… 😉


    Final Thoughts


    The HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 Turbo graphics card is something a little bit special. It looks cool, it’s quiet and has a good factory pre-overclock straight out of the box, then with a few simple tweaks courtesy of MSI Afterburner it performs flawlessly.

    It is the fastest card I’ve had the pleasure of using. At the time of press the 280X iPower IceQ X2 Turbo is available for approximately £300, which is very near the top of the R9 280X pricing tree. I regard this as an ‘ok’ price at stock speeds, but throw in the impressive 1200MHz GPU Boost Clock and 1600MHz Memory overclocks? Would I want one? Hell yes! You’d be daft not to…



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    Kingston HyperX 3K SSD 240GB 2.5


      Design/Quality pcGameware awards the HIS Radeon R9 280X iPower IceQ X2 Turbo a Gold

    Many thanks to HIS for providing this sample for review


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