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The HIS X700 Pro IceQ Turbo VIVO 256MB PCIe Video Card
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Date: Jan 25, 2005
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: Jeff Bouton
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Introduction and Product Specifications

One of the major up and comers in the video card industry is HIS.  In recent months, HIS has garnered some attention with several impressive additions to their product line.  They put a major emphasis on overclocking, cooling and stability, while providing competitive performance.  With such innovations as oversized, yet quiet cooling solutions and the ability to monitor and throttle fan speeds based on temperature, HIS is catering to enthusiasts who don't like to compromise.

Today, we are going to take a look at the HIS X700 Pro IceQ Turbo 256MB PCIe Video Card.  Building on their experience with previous IceQ models, HIS introduces something new with this product, namely iTurbo.  Along with a solid cooling package, iTurbo allows for instantaneous overclocking, while staying within pre-determined limits HIS has designated for the card.  Let's take a closer look and see what HIS has to offer this time around.

Specifications of the HIS X700 Pro IceQ Turbo VIVO 256MB PCIe Video Card
It's Got Moxy

             

Model Name: HIS X700 Pro IceQ Turbo VIVO 256MB PCIe
Chipset: Radeon X700 PCIe Series
ASIC: RV410
Pixel Pipelines: 8
Vertex Engines: 6
Manu. Process (Micron): 110nm
Transistor: 120M
Fill Rate: 3680MTexel/s
Memory Size (MB): 256
Memory Type: GDDR3
RAMDAC (MHz): 400
Engine CLK (MHz): 460 (iTURBO)
Memory CLK (MHz): 960 (iTURBO)
Memory Interface (bit): 128
Memory Bandwidth: 15.36GB/s
Max. Resolution: 2048x1536
Bus Interface: PCIe
VGA: Yes
2nd VGA: Yes
DVI: Yes
2nd DVI: No
TV-out: Yes
HDTV (YPrPb component output): Yes
Video-in: Yes
TV Tuner: No
FM Tuner: No
  • Fast: iTURBO mode: Simply press the iTURBO button to boost your graphic card to 460MHz core / 960MHz memory
  • Quite: Silence mode: Adjusts fan speed to silence mode and achieve less than 20dB noise level
  • Cool: TURBO Fan speed provides maximum cooling power
  • ALL Cool: A.I. Cooling technology: Automatically adjusts the fan speed base on VPU temperature to achieve the best cooling effect
  • Platinum packing with software bundle
  • Professional customer service and technical support

 


  • User's Manual
  • Counter Strike
  • ARX
  • Demo
  • DVD
  • 3D Album
  • Video Studio
  • DVI to VGA Adaptor
  • S-Video Cable
  • Cable Mini-Din to RCA
  • VIVO Cable
  • HDTV Output cable

 


HIS pulled together a terrific bundle to accompany the X700 Pro, including a detailed installation manual and setup CDs. The first CD provided the necessary drivers to get the card installed and working properly. The second disk included the iTurbo software which enables the card to run at a predetermined overclocked rate and allows for manual overclocking as well. Additionally, HIS included a series of software titles, including Video Studio, 3D Album and Counter Strike: Condition Zero.

Also included in the package were HDTV component cables, an S-Video Cable and a DVI-to-VGA adapter.  The X700 Pro, with the included adapter, can be connected to an HDTV ready TV, or a traditional set with either the S-Video or Mini-Din to RCA cable.  HIS gives plenty of useful options to connect the X700 Pro to a wide range of external components, further expanding its overall functionality.

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The HIS X700 Pro IceQ Turbo VIVO 256MB Up Close
The HIS X700 Pro IceQ VIVO Turbo 256MB Up Close
Closer Inspection

The HIS X700 Pro IceQ Turbo VIVO is an impressive looking video card.  Naturally, with such a large cooler installed, the X700 pro is a two slot solution, as one would expect.  The cooler has a finned design that includes a very quiet fan backed by a sizeable base of solid aluminum.  This aims to keep the 425MHz, 8 Pixel Pipeline X700 Pro VPU operating within normal limits, even while pushing the MHz higher via iTurbo.

    

The fan draws air from inside the case, moves it across the fins and exhausts it out of the rear of the case.  HIS made the fins as wide as possible to move the most air while keeping rotation noise to a minimum.  In our experience, this is the quietest oversized fan design we've seen on a video card.  Even with the card overclocked and the fan running at full speed, it was very, very quiet.  Adding to the aesthetics, HIS also added a blue LED to give the card a "cool" look.

Topping off the cooler, HIS mounted aluminum heatsinks on all surfaces of the card's 256MB of 860MHz GDDR3 memory.  This was done on both sides of the card, leaving no chip exposed.  More so, the entire fan and ramsink construction and implementation was solid.  The sinks appeared to be applied with epoxy and the fan assembly used a simple tension clip to hold it securely in place.

    

The back side of the unit sports the familiar VGA, DVI, VIVO ports we're used to seeing on this type of card.  Utilizing the included cables, the card can be used to output to a standard TV as well as an HDTV, while also accepting inputs for video capture.

Aside the from physical card having its own unique feel, HIS also includes their useful iTurbo overclocking utility. The card was designed to run at default 425/860 clock speeds, but can also be bumped up to 460/960 by simply clicking the iTurbo button.  This is the highest speed HIS is willing to endorse for this card, although the sliders can be adjusted to a maximum 475/1000, which we will test later.  The iTurbo software also allows for manual control of the fan speed, if desired.  Overall, we found the software worked quite well and did everything it was supposed to do. We also liked the clean, easy to follow interface.  Additionally, the application is configured to load with Windows, so your overclocking settings can be set to run at all times.  All of the programs features are quite configurable, giving us a feeling of total control over its behavior.

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HH Test Bed and Final Fantasy XI Benchmark 3
HotHardware's Test System
Not all are created equal...

SYSTEM 1:
Socket T - Pentium 4 530 (3GHz)
A Foxconn 925XE7AA-8EKRS2 Motherboard
I925XE Chipset
PQI24200-1024GDB
HIS X700 Pro IceQ Turbo VIVO 256MB
Radeon X600 XT
Radeon X600 Pro
GeForce PCX5750
On-Board 10/100/1000 Ethernet
On-Board Audio
WD 30GB Hard Drive
7200 RPM PATA
Windows XP Pro SP2
ATi Catalyst 4.12


Performances Comparisons With Final Fantasy XI Benchmark 3
A Classic Console Franchise On The PC

Final Fantasy XI
The Final Fantasy franchise is well known to console gamers, but Squaresoft has since made the jump to the PC with a MMORPG version of this classic. The Final Fantasy XI benchmark 3 runs through multiple scenes from the game and displays a final score every time a full cycle of the demo is completed. Although the demo is meant the check an entire system's readiness to play the game, the number of frames rendered scales when different video cards are used. Lower scores indicate some frames were dropped to complete the demo in the allotted time. The scores below were taken with the demo set to its "High Resolution" option (1024x768), with anti-aliasing disabled.

For a frame of reference, we pulled together several comparison cards to show where the X700 Pro fits within the performance landscape.  Here, we see the X700 Pro easily exceed 5000 frames with Final Fantasy.  The next closest competitor was an X600XT which came in roughly 15% slower.

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Benchmarks With Halo
Benchmarks With Halo
Halo - All Patched & Ready To Go!

Halo
For many gamers, the release of Halo marked the end of a long wait, since it was originally released as an Xbox exclusive a few years back. No additional patches or tweaks are needed to benchmark with Halo, as Gearbox has included all of the necessary information in their README file. The Halo benchmark runs through four of the cut-scenes from the game, after which the average frame rate is recorded. We patched the game using the latest v1.06 patch and ran this benchmark twice, once at 1024x768 and then again at 1600x1200. Anti-aliasing doesn't work properly with Halo at the moment, so all of the test below were run with anti-aliasing disabled.

 

At both resolutions, the X700 Pro had the muscle to make Halo playable.  The card maintained a 15 FPS advantage over the X600 XT at 1024x768 and continued to hold a significant advantage over all cards at 1600x1200.  Clearly, the advantages of 8 Pixel pipelines can be seen over the 4 Pixel pipeline cards, especially with the resolution running at higher settings.

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Performances Comparisons With Splinter Cell
Performances Comparisons With Splinter Cell
Stealthy Combat

Splinter Cell
Splinter Cell's version 1.2 patch includes three pre-recorded demos and incorporates a previously unavailable benchmarking tool. The demos included with the patch are somewhat limited by CPU performance, however, so we opted for the custom Oil Rig demo created by the folks at Beyond 3D to test with this game. Beyond 3D's demo removes two CPU intensive routines while increasing dependence on Pixel Shader performance. Shaders are used to render realistic looking ocean water surrounding an Oil Rig in the demo, as well as simulating a night vision effect for a brief period. Also note that anti-aliasing doesn't work with Splinter Cell. Due to this fact, we do not have any AA scores listed in the graphs below.

 

Again, the X700 Pro from HIS was the top performer, while the X600 XT was a reasonably close second place contender.  In each case, the pattern remained consistent, with the X600 Pro and GeForce PCX 5750 taking third and fourth position respectively. 

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Performance Comparisons With Aquamark 3
Performance Comparisons With Aquamark 3
DX8 and DX9 Shaders

Aquamark 3
Aquamark 3 comes to us by way of Massive Development. Massive's release of the original Aquanox in 1999 wasn't very well received by the gaming community, but it was one of the first games to implement DX8 class shaders, which led to the creation of Aquamark 2 - a benchmark previously used by many analysts. Since the Aquamark benchmarks are based on an actual game engine, they must support old and new video cards alike. Thus, the latest version of Aquamark, Aquamark 3, utilizes not only DirectX 9 class shaders, but DirectX 8 and DirectX 7 as well. We ran this benchmark at resolutions of 1024x768 and 1600x1200 with no anti-aliasing followed by 4X AA and 8X anisotropic filtering.

 

Once again, the advantage of the 8 Pixel pipelines and fast memory can be seen with the X700 Pro.  Here, the card was the best overall performer by a wide margin.  At the 1024x768 resolution, the X700 Pro maintained a 15 FPS lead over the X600 XT with no AA enabled.  That lead dropped slightly at 1600x1200, narrowing to 13 FPS.  Once we enabled AA and Anisotropic Filtering, the X700 Pro really shined, surpassing the performance of the X600 XT, and others, with no AA enabled.

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Head-to-Head Performance With Unreal Tournament 2004
Head-to-Head Performance With Unreal Tournament 2004
Epic's Next Smash Hit!

Unreal Tournament 2K4
Epic's "Unreal" games have been wildly popular, ever since the original Unreal was released in the late '90s. Unreal, Unreal Tournament, and then Unreal Tournament 2003, rapidly became some of our favorites, for both benchmarking, and for killing a few hours when our schedules allowed it! Epic recently released the latest addition to the franchise, Unreal Tournament 2004. We used the demo version of the game to benchmark these cards at resolutions of 1024x768 and 1600x1200, without any anti-aliasing, followed by 4X AA and 8X anisotropic filtering.

With UT2004, we saw more of the same, with the X600 XT taking a fairly distant second place compared to the HIS X700 Pro.  Once again, the virtues of 8 Pixel pipes vs. 4 is clearly illustrated, especially with AA and Anisotropic Filtering turned on in the drivers.  Here, the X700 Pro just fell short of the X600 XT no AA test results when we enabled the AA/Aniso filtering.   At 1600x1200, the X700 Pro manage to double the AA/Aniso scores of the X600 XT at the same resolution.

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Benchmarks / Comparisons With Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory
Benchmarks / Comparisons With Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory
Q3 Engine Based Freebie

Wolfenstein: ET
We also ran through a batch of timedemos with the OpenGL game Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory. Wolfenstein: ET is a free, standalone multiplayer game that is based on the excellent Return to Castle Wolfenstein, that was released a few years back. It uses a heavily modified version of the Quake 3 engine, which makes it a very easy to use benchmarking tool. We created our own custom demo and used the built-in timedemo feature to check each card's frame-rate. The tests below were run at 1024x768 and again at 1600x1200, without anti-aliasing and again with 4X AA and 8X aniso filtering enabled concurrently.

This is one of those older tests that is becoming less and less taxing on today's video hardware.  This time we saw a rare stance by the PCX 5750, which took a second place spot at 1600x1200.  Nonetheless, this was still the X700 Pro's show, maintaining a minimum of 20 FPS over its closest competitor at either resolution.  When we enabled the AA and Anisotropic Filtering, the differences were a few frames short of double in most cases.

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Benchmarks & Comparisons With Far Cry
Benchmarks & Comparisons With Far Cry
DX9 Effects Galore.

Far Cry
If you've been on top of the gaming scene, you probably know that Far Cry is one of the most visually impressive games to be released on the PC to date.  Although Doom 3 and Half Life 2 have both arrived, Far Cry still looks great in comparison, especially with the new v1.3 patch installed and some special effects turned on.  Far Cry came along and gave us a taste of what was to come in next-generation 3D gaming on the PC.  We benchmarked the graphics cards in this review with a custom-recorded demo run taken in the "Catacombs" area checkpoint at various resolutions without AA or Aniso Filtering enabled and then with 4X AA enabled along with 8X anisotropic filtering.  Geometry instancing and normal map compression were enabled for these tests, but HDR rending was disabled.  The default pixel shader code path was used.

 

FarCry is an excellent game for taxing a video card and is one of the few that has the ability to slow even the most powerful of cards.  In this test, all three comparison cards struggled, with only the X700 Pro breaking the 60 FPS barrier at 1024x768.  Once we switched to 1600x1200, the X700 Pro more than doubled the results of the competition, even with AA and Anisotropic Filtering turned on.

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Benchmarks & Comparisons With Doom 3 - Single Player
Benchmarks & Comparisons With Doom 3 - Single Player
In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb.

Doom 3
id Software's games have long been pushing the limits of 3D graphics.  Quake, Quake 2, and Quake 3 were all instrumental in the success of 3D accelerators on the PC.  Now, years later, with virtually every new desktop computer shipping with a 3D accelerator, id is at it again with the release of the visually stunning Doom 3.  Doom 3 is an OpenGL game using extremely high-detailed textures and a ton of dynamic lighting and shadows.  We ran this benchmark using custom demos with Doom 3 set to its "High-Quality" mode, at resolutions of 1,024 x 768 and 1,600 x 1,200 without any AA and then with 4X antialiasing and 8X anisotropic filtering enabled.  Note: Doom 3 enabled 8X anisotropic filtering automatically when set to "High Quality" in the game's control panel.

 

Doom 3 is another one of those games that can severely tax a video card.  Here, we ran our custom demo with the High Quality setting enabled and as you can see, the X700 Pro was the only card that came close to playable performance scores.  The PCX 5750 did make another rare stand against the ATI X600 cards at 1024x768, but that was soon quelled when we increased the resolution to 1600x1200.  At this resolution, even the X700 Pro stands to benefit from reducing image quality to bring performance up to playable levels.

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Benchmarks & Comparisons With Doom 3 - Multi-player
Benchmarks & Comparisons With Doom 3 - Multi-player
The Wait Is Over!.

Doom 3
The first round of Doom 3 focused on single-player performance.  In this round we'll run a series of multiplayer tests and see how things unfold.  These timedemos were run with our custom "HH_Frag2" demo, which is a recording of a five-player online match that took place in the "Frag Chamber" map area. We ran benchmarks with Doom 3 set to its "High-Quality" mode at resolutions of 1,024 x 768 and 1,600 x 1,200 without any anti-aliasing enabled and then with 4X AA and 8X Aniso enabled concurrently.  Note: Doom 3 enabled 8X anisotropic filtering automatically when set to "High Quality" in the game's control panel.

With Doom 3 multiplayer testing, all of the cards showed increased performance, but the X700 Pro put up the best scores of all.  At 1024x768, the X700 Pro exceeded 60 FPS and managed to top the X600 XT no AA scores with AA and Anisotropic enabled.  When we increased the resolution to 1600x1200, the X700 Pro maintained its solid lead over the other cards, leaving the X600 XT at a distant second spot.

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Benchmarks & Comparisons With Half-Life 2
Benchmarks & Comparisons With Half-Life 2
It Shipped!  And it's GOOD!


Half Life 2
Thanks to the dedication of millions of gamers and a huge mod-community, the original Half-Life became one of the most successful first person shooters of all time.  So when Valve announced Half-Life 2 was close to completion in mid 2003, gamers the world over began chomping at the bit.  Unfortunately, thanks to a compromised internal network; the theft of a portion of the game's source code; a couple of missed deadlines; and a tumultuous relationship with the game's distributor, Vivendi Universal, we all had to wait until November 2004 to get our hands on this gem.  We benchmarked Half-Life 2 with a long, custom- recorded timedemo that takes us along a cliff and through a few dilapidated shacks, battling the enemy throughout.  These tests were run at resolutions of 1,280 x 1,024 and 1,600 x 1,200 without any AA or aniso and with 4X anti-aliasing and 8X anisotropic filtering enabled concurrently.

 

When it came to Half-Life 2 performance, the HIS X700 Pro card performed very well.  Using our custom demo, we had no trouble exceeding triple digits at 1024x768 with the highest image quality set in-game.  Even at 1600x1200 the card did very well, only dipping below 60 FPS with AA and Aniso enabled.  The next best performer was the X600 XT, which did well at 1024x768, but struggled at 1600x1200.

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Overclocking And Conclusion
Overclocking The HIS X700 Pro IceQ Turbo VIVO 256
Making The Fast Even Faster.

As we covered earlier, the X700 Pro IceQ Turbo VIVO is designed to run overclocked right out of the box.  By clicking the Turbo button within the iTurbo utility, the card automatically ramps up to 460/960, compared to the default 425/860.  Naturally, we wanted to see how much more headroom there was, so we loaded the latest version of Powerstrip and got to tweaking.

Interestingly enough, the highest speed we could reach with this card using Powerstrip was 475MHz core and 1000MHz DDR memory.  What makes this interesting is that these are the top settings available in the iTurbo utility as well.  This is a sizeable increase in clock speed that added 12 FPS to our Half-Life 2 AA/Anisotropic test results at 1600x1200 resolution.

The video card market is somewhat saturated with a multitude of brands and models, making it hard for any one company to stand out from the rest.  There are a few that stand out based on name recognition alone, but others need to find other innovative ways to get some attention.  HIS is one of those companies.

The HIS X700 Pro IceQ Turbo VIVO 256 is an impressive card on all fronts.  While we're not typically fond of products that take up two slots, it's hard not to like the X700 Pro.  The performance of this card was solid at its stock speeds and its excellent overclockability overshadowed the two slot issue.  We also like the ramsinks included in the overall cooling design of the card as well as its extremely quiet fan assembly.  Combine all of these features with VIVO, iTurbo overclocking and a great retail bundle, and we walk away thinking this is one of the better X700 Pros available on the market today.  We think this is a high-quality package in every way.  The only downside is the availability of the card here in the States.  However, if you are lucky enough to come across it, grab it, you will not regret it if you are looking for a solid mid-range PCIe solution.

We give the HIS X700 Pro Turbo VIVO 256 with IceQ a Hot Hardware Heat Meter of 8.5...

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