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HIS Radeon HD 2600 Pro IceQ Turbo 512MB
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Date: Aug 27, 2007
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: Paul Jastrzebski
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Introduction

If you have ever been in the market for a graphics card, you are undoubtedly familiar with the constantly changing graphics card market. About every 8-10 months, new GPUs are introduced by NVIDIA and ATI, and after their introduction, dozens of graphics cards built by their add in board partners come to market. Because these add in board partners all use the same graphics chips supplied by the two major graphics card companies, they have to use their marketing savvy to create extra value and incentive for consumers to buy their products.

Over the years we’ve seen companies bundle the hottest new games, add new video connections, new cooling units, and even build their cards on unique colored PCBs. All of these strategies help to differentiate products from one another, and a company that has been doing this since their first line of X800 graphics cards is HIS, short for Hitech Information Systems. HIS has become widely known for using premium cooling solutions and pre-overclocking their graphics cards to provide a considerable amount of value and performance to gamers and enthusiasts alike.

Today we’ll be looking at one of the newest additions to the HIS product line, the ~$130 HIS Radeon HD 2600 Pro IceQ Turbo 512MB PCI Express graphics card. Join us as we take a closer look at the card and see how it stacks up to the competition in the $100-$150 graphics card space.

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HIS Radeon HD 2600 Pro IceQ Turbo 512MB
Specifications & Features
Model Name
HIS HD 2600 PRO IceQ Turbo 512MB/256MB DDR2 PCIe
Chipset
Radeon HD 2600 PCIe Series 
ASIC
Radeon™ HD 2600PRO GPU 
Pixel Pipelines
120 stream processing units* (Unified) 
Vertex Engines
120 stream processing units* (Unified) 
Manu. Process (Micron)
65nm 
Transistor
Fill Rate
Memory Size (MB)
512 / 256 
Memory Type
DDR2 
RAMDAC (MHz)
400 
Engine CLK (MHz)
650
Memory CLK (MHz)
1050
Memory Interface (bit)
128
Memory Bandwidth
Max. Resolution
2560*1600
Bus Interface
PCI-Express x16
VGA
No
2nd VGA
No
DVI
Yes
2nd DVI
Yes
TV-out
No
HDTV (YPrPb component output)
No
Video-in
Yes
TV Tuner
No
FM Tuner
No


  • quipped with the strongest mainstream air-cooling technology – IceQ
  • Factory pre-overclocked Turbo speed
  • Gold-plated ports and black panel plate – HD concept
  • 390 million transistors using 65nm fabrication process
  • Superscalar unified shader architecture
  • 120 stream processing units
  • 128-bit DDR2 memory interface
  • Comprehensive DirectX® 10 support
  • High-speed 128-bit HDR lighting
  • Up to 24x Custom Filter Anti-Aliasing
  • ATI Avivo™ HD Video and Display architecture
  • Built-in HDMI and 5.1 surround sound
  • Support for the ATI Radeon™ DVI to HDMI adapter
  • Unified Video Decoder (UVD) for Blu-ray™ and HD DVD

  • Equipped with the strongest mainstream air cooling technology – IceQ
  • Factory pre-overclocked Turbo at Brand-new HD concept - Black panel plate and gold-plated output ports to cope with the new “HD” concept of the new Radeon™ HD Series
  • HIS Radeon™ HD 2600 delivers remarkable gaming performance for Windows Vista™ and DirectX® 10
  • HIS Radeon™ HD 2600 features hardware HD video processing and HDMI with built-in 5.1 surround audio ATI Avivo™ HD technology delivers sharp images and vibrant color fidelity from playback of Blu-ray™ and HD DVDs movies
  • HIS Radeon™ HD 2600 delivers powerful graphics performance to enhance the stunning Windows Vista™ user experience

 

 


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When we opened the HIS Radeon HD 2600 Pro IceQ Turbo’s box we found that the card shipped with a DVI to VGA adapter, an S-Video Cable, HDTV output cable, and an HDMI adapter. The HDMI adapter is a new addition to the Radeon HD 2000 series of graphics cards and allows you to output 5.1 audio and video to a HDMI ready television. Also included in the bundle is the standard user manual and driver disk, along with a paper that gives you access to Half-Life 2: Lost Coast and Half-Life 2: Deathmatch through Valve’s Steam service.

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The HIS Radeon HD 2600 Pro IceQ Turbo 512MB

Upon initial inspection, one of the first things you'll notice is the fact that HIS has kept true to their IceQ Turbo line of cards and added a large, two slot, UV reflective, Arctic Cooling heatsink to their Radeon HD 2600 Pro card. The card uses HIS’ unique teal colored PCB and even has black colored DVI connectors with gold plating.

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When we take a look at the card's on-board 512MB of GDDR2 memory, we can see that the huge heatsink actually doesn’t cover any of the onboard memory chips, just the card’s GPU. There is no external power source needed with the 2600 series from ATI, the power in the PCIe x16 slot is sufficient for the card to run at maximum performance. It’s important to note that the HIS Radeon HD 2600 Pro IceQ Turbo has 512MB of GDDR2 memory, double that of ATI’s reference design.

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For comparison, we pictured the reference ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro with 256MB memory with the HIS Radeon X2600 Pro IceQ Turbo that we are testing today. The most obvious difference between the two is of course how small the reference design heatsink is in comparison to the IceQ Turbo heatsink that HIS is using with their card. The Radeon 2600 series run relatively cool by today’s standards, so it might be a little overkill putting on such a large heatsink on the card.

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It’s also important to note the price difference between the cards. The reference design Radeon HD 2600 Pro with 256MB of memory sells for about $90-$95 while the HIS Radeon HD 2600 Pro IceQ Turbo with 512MB of memory is currently priced at around $130. And on another side note, neither the reference nor the HIS Radeon HD 2600 Pro cards come with Crossfire connectors. Most of ATI’s add in board partners are choosing to add Crossfire connectors to their Radeon HD 2600 XT cards and not the Radeon HD 2600 Pro.

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Test System & Overclocking

To test the HIS Radeon X2600 Pro IceQ Turbo, we set up a new test rig equipped with Intel’s new 1333MHz FSB Core 2 Duo E6750 CPU. We built our system on EVGA’s 680i SLI motherboard and used Corsair’s XMS PC2-8500 DDR2 memory. Since the HIS Radeon HD 2600 Pro IceQ Turbo comes factory overclocked and is equipped with a huge Arctic Cooling heatsink fan, we will try to see how high the card can stably overclock and we will compare the card’s performance to that of the reference 256MB ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro ($90-$95) and the reference 256MB NVIDIA GeForce 8600GT ($105-$115). We’re using the latest drivers, Windows Updates, and patches for our games. To do our testing, we turned all our games to high quality and ran 60 second FRAPS sequences three times, averaging the score you see in the tests.

HotHardware Test System
Intel Core 2 Duo E6750


Processor -

Motherboard -

 

Video Cards -

 

 

Memory -


Audio -

Hard Drive -

Hardware Used:
Intel Core 2 Duo E6750

EVGA nForce 680i SLI
nForce 680i SLI chipset

HIS Radeon HD 2600 Pro IceQ Turbo (512MB) 
ATI Radeon HD 2600 Pro (256MB) 
NVIDIA GeForce 8600GT (256MB)

2048MB Corsair XMS PC2-8500 RAM
CAS 3

Integrated on board

Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9
120GB - 7200RPM - SATA


OS -
Chipset Drivers -
DirectX -

Video Drivers
-



Relevant Software:
Windows XP Professional SP2
nForce Drivers v9.53
DirectX 9.0c

NVIDIA Forceware v162.18

ATI Catalyst v7.8


Benchmarks Used:
Battlefield 2 v1.4
F.E.A.R. v1.08
Half-Life 2: Episode 1
Rainbow Six: Vegas v1.02

 

Overclocking the Radeon HD 2600 Pro
Turbo engaged...

Before we start to talk about our overclocking experience with the card, it’s important to note that the HIS Radeon HD 2600 Pro IceQ Turbo is factory overclocked right out of the box. The card ships with a core clock speed of 650MHz, up from the 600MHz reference clock, and with a memory clock speed of 525MHz, up from a reference speed of 500MHz.

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To find the maximum stable overclocking frequency, we used Overdrive, the built in overclocking utility found in ATI’s Catalyst driver suite. We started the overclocking process by first finding our maximum core clock speed, jumping up by 20MHz, running a handful of tests, and then jumping up 20MHz more. Our magic core clock number turned out to be 740MHz, and with the same process, we found our optimal memory overclock frequency to be 595MHz. To ensure that the card was stable, we ran gaming tests on the card overnight. If we take into account that the card ships overclocked from the factory, the core overclock on the HIS Radeon HD 2600 Pro IceQ Turbo was 140MHz and the memory overclock was 95MHz, two high and very respectable overclocked freqencies.

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Performance Comparisons with Battlefield 2

Performance Comparisons with Battlefield 2
Details: www.battlefield2.com
 

Battlefield 2
Battlefield 2 remains one of the most frequently played games on the internet. A personal favorite of ours, we put quality settings on High and ran through a locally hosted server running the very popular Road to Jalalabad Map. These tests were run at resolutions of 1,280 x 1,024 and 1,600 x 1,200 with both no anti-aliasing and no anisotropic filtering enabled and again with 4X anti-aliasing and 8X anisotropic filtering enabled concurrently.

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In our Battlefield 2 tests with no AA or AF enabled, we see that the all three cards are able to handle the game well, with the NVIDIA GeForce 8600GT coming out on top at both resolutions. Our overclocked card gave us an extra 3 frames per second in both tests.

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When we turned up the quality settings to have 4X AA and 8X AF enabled, we saw the 8600GT once again come out on top, running much faster than even the overclocked Radeon HD 2600 Pro. At 1600x1200 with AA and AF turned on, the 8600GT ran 12 FPS faster than the HIS Radeon HD 2600 IceQ Turbo at stock speeds, and 9 FPS faster than it when it was overclocked.

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Performance Comparisons with F.E.A.R.

Performance Comparisons with F.E.A.R
More Info: www.whatisfear.com/us/

F.E.A.R
One of the most highly anticipated titles of recent years was Monolith's paranormal thriller F.E.A.R. Taking a look at the game's minimum system requirements, we see that you will need at least a 1.7GHz Pentium 4 with 512MB of system memory and a 64MB graphics card in the Radeon 9000 or GeForce4 Ti-classes or better, to adequately run the game. Using the full retail release of the game patched to v1.08, we put the graphics cards in this article through their paces to see how they fared with a popular title. Here, all graphics settings within the game were set to their maximum values, but with soft shadows disabled (Soft shadows and anti-aliasing do not work together currently). Benchmark runs were then completed at resolutions of 1,280x1,024 and 1,600x1,200, with two testing having anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering enabled and two tests with the settings disabled.

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Our F.E.A.R. tests with no AA or AF enabled show the GeForce 8600GT once again coming out on top of the HIS Radeon HD 2600 Pro, this time by an even larger margin.

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When we turned on AA and AF, the game became extremely choppy and unplayable on all three cards. However, the 8600GT still maintained a distinct advantage over the overclocked Radeon HD 2600 Pro, running 7 FPS faster at 1280x1024 and 6 FPS faster at 1600x1200.

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Performance Comparisons with Half-Life 2: Episode 1

Performance Comparisons with Half-Life 2: Episode 1
Details: www.half-life2.com/

Half Life 2:
Episode 1
Thanks to the dedication of hardcore PC gamers and a huge mod-community, the original Half-Life became one of the most successful first person shooters of all time.  And thanks to an updated game engine, gorgeous visual, and intelligent weapong and level design, Half Life 2 became almost as popular.  Armed with the latest episodic update to HL2, Episode 1, we benchmarked the game with a long, custom-recorded timedemo that takes us through both outdoor and indoor environments. These tests were run at resolutions of 1,280 x 1,024 and 1,600 x 1,200 with and without 4X anti-aliasing and 8X anisotropic filtering enabled concurrently, and with color correction and HDR rendering enabled in the game engine as well.

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Our Half-Life 2: Episode 1 tests without AA or AF enabled show the NVIDIA GeForce 8600GT and the overclocked HIS Radeon HD 2600 Pro much closer together, but the edge still goes to the 8600GT.

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HL2-1600-aa.gif

When we turn AA and AF on, the overclocked HIS Radeon HD 2600 Pro is virtually tied with the NVIDIA GeForce 8600GT, but at stock speeds, is still significantly slower.

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Performance Comparisons with Rainbow Six: Vegas

Performance Comparisons with Rainbow Six: Vegas
Details: www.rainbowsixgame.com/us


Rainbow 6: Vegas

Released this past December, Rainbow Six: Vegas is a classic squad based first person shooter based on the Unreal 3 Engine. Combining great graphics with stellar gameplay, Rainbow Six: Vegas has been one of the best reviewed games in the past year. We put quality settings on High and with FRAPS, ran through a locally hosted server running the very popular Calypso Casino Map. These tests were run at resolutions of 1,280 x 1,024 and 1,600 x 1,200 with no anti-aliasing and no anisotropic filtering enabled and with both 4X anti-aliasing and 8X anisotropic filtering enabled concurrently.

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In the Unreal Tournament 3 powered Rainbow Six: Vegas game,  we see more of the same with  the reference NVIDIA GeForce 8600GT beating out the Radeon HD 2600 Pro cards by significant margins.

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With AA and AF turned on, Rainbow Six: Vegas caused trouble for all of our cards, with the average frame rates of the cards ranging from 22.9-15.6 frames per second. And once again, we see the GeForce 8600GT take the lead and come out on top.

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Performance Summary & Conclusion

Performance Summary: Overall, the HIS Radeon HD 2600 Pro IceQ Turbo 512MB trailed the NVIDIA GeForce 8600GT.  In all of the games and at all of the various quality settings and resolutions we tested, the HIS Radeon HD 2600 Pro was outpaced by a reference 8600GT, with the card only coming close to the 8600GT while highly overclocked in Half-Life 2. 

 

When we evaluated the Radeon HD 2600 and HD 2400 series of cards back in June, we were impressed with their multimedia features and their reasonable price tags. However, after using the HIS Radeon HD 2600 Pro IceQ Turbo 512MB for a few weeks, our impression is less positive. From a performance standpoint, the HIS Radeon HD 2600 Pro IceQ Turbo 512MB lags behind the GeForce 8600GT, even when it is overclocked 90MHz over its stock clock speed, which itself is 50MHz higher than ATI's reference design. We weren’t able to crank up the core clock speed past 740MHz, and suspect that the memory could have overclocked a bit higher as well, if the card’s huge heatsink would have made contact with the memory chips. Also, we saw only a slight performance improvement when going from the 256MB Radeon X2600 Pro to the 512MB HIS version, even though the HIS product already had a 50MHz overclocked core and 25MHz overclocked memory frequency.

Although the IceQ Turbo line has been very successful for HIS, bringing its features to the Radeon HD 2600 Pro might have taken things a step too far. Although we were able to use the IceQ cooler to significantly overclock the card, the results still put it behind the stock GeForce 8600GT. Although the heatsink is very quiet, the HIS Radeon HD 2600 Pro IceQ Turbo 512MB is a hard sell to any gamer looking for solid performance. The card uses a two slot GPU cooler, is more expensive, and yet slower than the GeForce 8600GT.

It is nice that HIS is including Half-Life 2: Deathmatch and Half-Life 2: Lost Coast (via Steam), but those two games are now available to anyone with an ATI Radeon graphics card. The Radeon HD 2400 and 2600 series are being targeted to more mainstream users with a distinct multimedia focus, but it seems as though HIS is trying to stretch the target audience to gamers and enthusiasts on a budget, and unfortunately, the HIS Radeon HD 2600 Pro IceQ Turbo 512MB doesn’t offer the best value to users in these groups.

  • Good Overclocker
  • Quiet Cooler
  • Gold Plated DVI Outputs
  • Decent Bundle
  • Relatively Expensive
  • Performance Trailed the Competition

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