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HIS Radeon X850 XT and Radeon X800 XL - IceQ II Turbo
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Date: Mar 20, 2005
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: Dave Altavilla
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Introduction and Hardware Specfications

 

In January we took a look at the HIS X700 Pro IceQ Turbo because it piqued our interest with its somewhat unique cooling solution.  HIS took a page from the book of "OTES", which stands for Outside Thermal Exhaust System, a thermal management approach pioneered by Abit Computer, that has been out on the market in various incarnations for a couple of years now.  The HIS approach also employs a cooling scoop and shroud design in which a large fan at the rear of the assembly pushes air across the GPU and RAM heatsink plate, and out through a rear slot plate in the PC chassis.  While this design does consume two motherboard/chassis slots of real estate, the benefits are well worth the added bulk because virtually all of the heat dissipated off the front side of a graphics card can be completely eliminated from inside the case, in addition to improving chassis airflow and ventilation in general.

What impressed most about the HIS X700 Pro IceQ back then, was not only how well the HSF assembly cooled the card, but how wonderfully quiet it was with its relatively low-speed, large-bladed fan pushing a fair amount of air across the sink and out of the case.  The next two cards we received from HIS take us up a notch on the performance scale, however.  The HIS Radeon X850 XT IceQ II and Radeon X800XL IceQ II are high-end ATi based solutions with a buffed up second coming of the IceQ cooling system we've come to really appreciate here in the HotHardware labs.  Here's to efficient, quiet cooling for high end 3D Graphics.  Let's see if these two new entrants from HIS are cut from the same cloth as their predecessors.

Specifications of the HIS X850 XT IceQ II Turbo - Dual DVI and VIVO Edition
Standard X850 XT with killer cooling

Specifications:

Graphics Processor
- ATI Radeon X850 XT VPU - 540MHz (Turbo), 520MHz (stock) - R480 0.13um process
- 16 parallel pixel pipelines
- 6 vertex shader process engines

Memory Configuration
-256MB GDDR3 memory -
1.18GHz (Turbo), 1.08GHz (stock)
-256-bit memory interface

RAMDAC
-Dual integrated 10-bit per channel palette DACs operating at up to 400MHz

Bus Interface
- PCI Express
(R) x16 lane native support

Connectors
- Integrated TV Output support up to 1024x768 resolution

- YPrPb component output for HDTV display connection
- Single and dual link external TMDS transmitter support for high resolution and/or multi-monitor DVI configurations
- Compatible with ATI's THEATER™ video decode and capture devices for VIVO (Video Input / Video Output)
- Dual DVI + VIVO

Cable / Adapter Bundle
- VIVO Cable
- HDTV Output cable
- 2 DVI to VGA Adaptors

Features:

- Fast: HIS's intelligent Cooling technology automatically adjusts IceQII fan speed base on the X850's loading and temperature to achieve best performance
- Quiet: Less than 20dB
- Cool: -11oC cooler than original cooling fan
- All Cool: Outstanding IceQII cooling performance extends the card life with UV Sensitive effect
- HIS iTURBO: Overclock the graphic card safety, with the balance of the best performance and cooling effect
- Platinum packing with software bundle
- Professional customer service and technical support

Software Bundle:
- FlatOut Full
- Microsoft Dungeon Siege Full
- PowerDVD 6
- PowerDirector 3 SE Plus
- Power2Go 4
- 3D Album PicturePro

Specifications of the HIS X800 XL IceQ II Turbo
.11 micron X800 XL quiet and low power
Specifications:

Graphics Processor
- ATI Radeon X800 XL VPU - 432MHz (Turbo), 400MHz (stock) - R430 0.11um process
- 16 parallel pixel pipelines
- 6 vertex shader process engines

Memory Configuration
-256MB GDDR3 memory -
1GHz (Turbo), 980MHz (stock)
-256-bit memory interface

RAMDAC
-Dual integrated 10-bit per channel palette DACs operating at up to 400MHz

Bus Interface
- PCI Express
(R) x16 lane native support

Connectors
- Integrated TV Output support up to 1024x768 resolution

- YPrPb component output for HDTV display connection
- Single and dual link external TMDS transmitter support for high resolution and/or multi-monitor DVI configurations
- Compatible with ATI's THEATER™ video decode and capture devices for VIVO (Video Input / Video Output)
- Dual DVI + VIVO

Cable / Adapter Bundle
- VIVO Cable
- HDTV Output cable
- DVI to VGA Adaptor

Features:

- Fast: HIS's intelligent Cooling technology automatically adjusts IceQII fan speed base on the X800's loading and temperature to achieve best performance
- Quiet: Less than 20dB
- Cool: -11oC cooler than original cooling fan
- All Cool: Outstanding IceQII cooling performance extends the card life with UV Sensitive effect
- HIS iTURBO: Overclock the graphic card safety, with the balance of the best performance and cooling effect
- Platinum packing with software bundle
- Professional customer service and technical support

Software Bundle:
- FlatOut Full
- Microsoft Dungeon Siege Full
- PowerDVD 6
- PowerDirector 3 SE Plus
- Power2Go 4
- 3D Album PicturePro


A couple of notables before we move on to a closer look at the cards.  First, the X850 XT we tested is not a Platinum Edition, it's a standard XT with a 520MHz GPU core speed and 1.08GHz Memory interface speed.  This puts the card on par with a Radeon X800 XT Platinum Edition, in terms of its speeds and feeds.  However, with the single touch of HIS' iTurbo software (more later on this), the card cranks up to X850 XT Platinum Edition speeds with 540MHz Core and 1.18GHz Memory clocks.

The X800 XL operates similarly with HIS iTurbo but the card itself is clocked at "stock" X800 XL speeds out of the box.  Activating iTurbo essentially takes you further into overclocking territory with a 432MHz Core clock.  Beyond that, things are fairly straight forward.  With the exception of HIS' innovative IceQ II cooling design, these cards are stock ATi reference board layouts, with Dual DVI and VIVO connections for the high end X850 XT and DVI with standard D-Sub VGA connectors for the X800 XL.

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X850 XT IceQ II Turbo Product and Package Detail

 

The HIS X850 XT IceQ II Turbo is a fully decked out ATi X850 design, with Dual DVI connections and VIVO (video in/video out) functionality.  Next, we'll drop down for a closer look at the entire package offering.

HIS X850 XT IceQ II Turbo - Dual DVI and VIVO Edition
A closer look and the bundle

     

The bundle for this product covers just about any complement an end user could wish for to go with a new high end 3D Graphics card such as this.  On the software side of things,  PowerDVD 6 and two full game bundles, BugBear's "Flat Out" and Microsoft's "Dungeon Siege", are great ways to take advantage of the capabilities of this new card, right out of the box.  In terms of hardware support, the cabling bundle is also top notch, with 2 DVI to VGA converters, an HD Component Video cable and a VIVO cable, in addition to the six pin PCIe power splitter cable that is included, to assist with non-PCI Express compliant power supply hook-ups.

    

    

The card itself utilizes a standard reference design PCB with a highly modified HSF assembly.  Inside the clear plastic shroud is a thin finned aluminum heat sink with a copper plate that interfaces with both the VPU and RAM.  The large blue fan at the back end of the plastic shroud spins at a relatively low RPM and is very quiet, but due to its large flat blade area, it pushes a lot of air across the sink and out through the exhaust plate of the card. With this design, you'll also note that the fan and shroud assembly encroaches on the six pin PCIe power connector a bit.  This makes it hard to pull the power connector back off because you can't easily get in and squeeze the release clip enough to break the lock.  This was a minor inconvenience that was remedied fairly easily by inserting a small flat head screwdriver and pushing down on the power connector release clip.

The back side of the card has a heat sink retention plate on it that basically acts like a heat spreader.  This does help to dissipate some of the heat from the BGA RAM chips, but under normal operating conditions that plate gets almost too hot to the touch.  We personally would recommend good airflow inside your case when running with this card but that's no different than what we would recommend for virtually any other high end graphics solution on the market.  Lastly, ATi's Rage Theater chip provides VIVO (Video In/Video Out) functionality for the card.

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X800 XL IceQ II Turbo Product and Package Detail

 

The HIS X800 XL IceQ II Turbo is built a lot like its high end X850 brethren but with a .11 micron X800 XL VPU under the hood and no need for an external power source.

HIS X800 XL IceQ II
A closer look and the bundle

     

    

  

Again we see that HIS has gone with their signature implementation of the HSF on this card with a cooler designed by Artic Cooling, that is identical to the cooler that is used on their X850 XT card.  The good news is the X800 XL VPU itself, with its smaller .11 micron based die, radiates a lot less heat, so this cooling solution keeps up with the load that much easier, and should make for excellent overclocking.  We'll cover overclocking in detail later, no worries.

Beyond that, the bundle is also identical to that of the X850 XT from HIS, with full copies of Dungeon Siege and Flat Out, along with a myriad of cabling for literally any output option that is available on the card, even high def YPrPb component output.

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Software Utilities and Game Bundle Screen Shots

 

As we mentioned earlier, HIS includes a number of useful and fun software utilities and game titles with both the X850 XT IceQ II Turbo and X800 XL IceQ II Turbo cards we received for evaluation.   Here are two of the feature titles from that offering.

HIS Radeon X850 XT and X800 XL Game Bundle and Utilities
Well appointed

iTurbo Overclocking Software:

"iTurbo" is HIS' overclocking utility that also provides a base level of health monitoring functionality and fan speed control.  One touch of the  iTurbo button and the card is ramped up to preset overclocked speeds that are known to be stable and tested at the factory.  Below are stock and iTurbo speeds for each card we tested.


X800 XL IceQ II Turbo
Stock Speed

X800 XL IceQ II Turbo
iTrubo Speed

X850 XT IceQ II Turbo
Stock Speed

X850XT IceQ II Turbo
iTurbo Speed

At stock speed, the HIS X800 XL is clocked at 399MHz Core and 984MHz Memory, which are roughly standard X800 XL standard speeds with a little PLL clock drift factored in.  At iTurbo speed the X800 XL ramps to 432MHz core and 998MHz memory speeds, which is basically just an overclock of the VPU itself and a small tweak to the memory speed.  The HIS X850 XT's stock speeds are 519MHz core and 1080MHz DDR memory, with 540MHz core and 1180MHz memory iTurbo speeds, which puts this card on par with X850 XT "PE" (Platinum Edition) speeds and feeds.  You can then push the clock sliders up from there manually if you like to see where the overclock limit is for each board.  We'll cover more on this later in our Overclocking section.

  

BugBear's "Flat Out":

Just for a little taste of eye candy for you here, we fired up BugBear's "Flat Out" Stock Car Racing and Crash-up Derby game, which is a really nice addition to these two 3D Graphics/Gaming card bundles.

    

    

  

With DX9 level graphics, this game engine is fairly impressive in terms of scenery, modeling and overall rendering effects.  It's also a seriously fun game to play and is really a hoot for the kids and grown-up kids alike.  We especially like the "Driver Throw" competition where you literally launch your car off a steep ramp and then eject your driver through the windshield in an effort to see how far you can toss the poor fellow.  This feature is specifically what we would rate a "PG" level of game play, so make sure the young ones have Dad or Mom around so little Johnny knows not to try this at home. We have to commend HIS for dropping this game into the bundle with these two cards.  Not only does this game allow you to showcase the graphical impact and capabilities of one of these new power-house graphics cards but it's also a full version of a very solid and thoroughly enjoyable game.

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Test Setup And Halo

 

We configured an i925XE Pentium 4 based system with the help of an Asus P5AD2-E motherboard and some Corsair XMS2 DDR2 DRAM.  Take note of the system specs below for relative performance comparisons.

The HotHardware Test System
Intel-Powered
Intel Pentium 4 560 3.6GHz - LGA775
 
ASUS P5AD2-E

i925XE Motherboard
 
2x512MB Corsair XMS2 DDR2 533 PC2-4300

CL 3, 3, 3, 8

HIS X850 XT IceQ II
HIS X800 XL IceQ II
 

NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra
NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT
 

On-board 10/100 Ethernet
On-board Audio
 
WD "Raptor" 36GB Hard Drive
10,000 RPM SATA
 
Windows XP Pro SP2

ATi Catalyst 5.2
NVIDIA Forceware v71.84
DirectX 9.0c
Benchmarks With Halo
Halo - All Patched & Ready To Go!

Halo
No additional patches or tweaks are needed to benchmark with Halo, as Gearbox has included all of the necessary information in its 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 v1.06 patch and ran this benchmark twice, once at 1,024 x 768 and then again at 1,600 x 1,200. Antialiasing doesn't work properly with Halo, so all of the tests below were run with antialiasing disabled.

 

 

The HIS X850 XT seems to be the overall strongest of the contenders in our Halo test, while the 6800 Ultra and GT seem to have the most efficient drivers.  At the lower resolution, the GF 6800 Ultra is slightly in the lead but turn up the resolution and fill-rate demands and the HIS X850 XT pulls ahead.  The HIS X800 XL brings up the rear at both high and mid range resolutions however, with a 10% to 15% performance shortfall versus its closest competitor.

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Unreal Tournament 2004 Benchmarks

 

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 permitted. Epic recently released the latest addition to the franchise, Unreal Tournament 2004. We used a patched (v3323) full version of the game to benchmark these cards at resolutions of 1,024 x 768 and 1,600 x 1,200, without any anti-aliasing and with 4x AA and 8X aniso enabled together.  In addition, we used a custom recorded demo of an on-line multi-player match for our benchmark runs.

 

At 1024X768 the entire performance field is bunched up pretty tightly as a result of these graphical settings becoming more CPU bound than anything else.  There is a slight edge to the HIS X850 XT but beyond that comparable cards are pretty much nip and tuck.

 

When we turn up the resolution things begin to spread out a bit but within each performance class, X850 XT versus GeForce 6800 Ultra and X800 XL versus GeForce 6800 GT, it's pretty much a photo finish.  Let's move on to some more demanding tests.  Clearly if you're a UT2004 player any of these cards will offer top notch performance.

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Half Life 2 Benchmarks

 

Half Life 2 has a DX9 based game engine with impressive pixel shader effects.  Our custom time demos with this game are up next.

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

Half Life 2
Thanks to the dedication of thousands 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, 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.

 

Interestingly enough, the HIS Radeon X850 XT and X800 XL are right on top of each other at the 1024X768 resolution but a solid 6-7 frames per second ahead of the fastest GeForce 6800 card.  Let's see what turning up to high res does to the situation.

The HIS cards dominate this test pretty well and even a GeForce 6800 Ultra can't pull ahead of the mid range HIS X800 XL card.  The HIS X850 XT barely budged at 1600X1200 versus the scores it put up at lower resolution.  Regardless, once again this is a gaming benchmark and game engine that simply doesn't stress these high end graphics cards all that much.  OK, so we'll really roll up our sleeves now and bring out the big guns.

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Far Cry v1.3 Testing

 

Far Cry is certainly a bit more demanding on the Graphics processor than Half Life 2.  The Crytek game engine that powers the game is also one of the few on the market these days that can compete with the likes of Doom 3 and Half Life 2 in terms of visual splendor and impressive shader effects.

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 all the special effects turned on.  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.

 

Things scale a bit more as we expected in this benchmark but the advantage definitely goes to the ATi based HIS X850 XT and X800 XL cards.  At 1024X768 it's impressive to see the X800 XL maintain a frame rate comfortably above 60 fps, even with 4X AA and 8X Aniso Filtering turned on.  At 1600X1200 with AA and AF things begin to drop into what we would consider the borderline range in terms of playable frame rates, with the exception of the HIS Radeon X850 XT.  It also interesting to see that the X800 XL still shows serious muscle here, besting even the GeForce 6800 Ultra at high res with AA and AF turned on.  At a suggested MSRP of $349 it's hard to beat the value the X800 XL brings to the table, time and time again either competing with or surpassing its competition in comparable architecture versus NVIDIA and for much less.  However, we all realize the historic supply issues that ATi has experienced with its newly released VPUs in the channel.  Here's hoping that ATi steps things up a bit because what good is a competitively priced card if you can't buy it at that competitive price or even find them available in retail?

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Doom 3 Benchmarks - Multiplayer

 

If DX9 based games like Half Life 2 and Far Cry can be observed favoring ATi based cards like the HIS X850 XT and X800 XL, then the antithesis can be said when it comes to OpenGL performance with Doom 3 engine based games.  Let's see how far ATi has closed the gaps with our Multiplayer and Single Player version benchmark runs in Doom 3.

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

Doom 3
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.

 

Playable frame rates are observed for all cards at any resolution with or without additional pixel processing factored into the equation.  However, in general these ATi Radeon X800 series based HIS cards fall short of GeForce 6800 performance by as much as 10 - 25%.  Our Multiplayer custom time demo isn't as taxing on the graphics pipeline as our Single Player demo, however, so let's fire that up next and see how things shake out.

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Doom 3 Benchmarks - Site3 Map Single Player

 

Our Site3 map area based Doom 3 custom time demo is a bit more strenuous for the Graphics Processor.  It is comprised of a heavy fire-fight between the main player and countless hell spawn creatures from the Doom 3 environment.  Texture detail, shader and lighting effects are rich in this area, which is much more indicative of what we would term a "classic" Doom 3 gaming experience.

Benchmarks & Comparisons With Doom 3 - Single Player
The Wait Is Over!.

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.

 

In this benchmark run with Doom 3, things are a bit more competitive with a narrower but still significant lead margin of 13 - 20% for the GeForce 6800 series cards.  The HIS X850 XT and X800 XL show excellent frame rates at all settings when running at 1024 res.  However, at high res with AA and AF on the X800 XL falls into a frame rate range that probably wouldn't be too conducive to the type of fast action game play involved in Doom 3.  Next we got some testing done with one of the first third party games to arrive on the market that utilizes the Doom 3 engine.  Chronicles of Riddick - Escape From Butcher Bay is next.

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Chronicles of Riddick Escape From Bucher Bay

 

There are two words we would use to describe Star Breeze Studios' recently released Chronicles of Riddick, "great game".  The game combines elements of a First Person Shooter along with Role Playing and Strategy elements.  It's definitely R rated with it's "Mature" rating but for adults and older teens, this game has a lot more "playability" going on in our opinion than Doom 3, even though it is built on the same game engine.

Chronicles of Riddick
Doom3 Engine Based Gaming

We've taken the liberty to capture a few action shots from within the frames of our custom recorded time demo.  To benchmark with Riddick, things follow the very same flow as benchmarking Doom 3.  Pull down the console (control/alt/~), type recorddemo and the name of your demo, then type timedemo demoname 1 (the "1" is to enable precaching) and let it rip.  An average frame rate score will be displayed.

      

Graphics within the game are somewhat more impressive in certain areas than even Doom 3 itself because the developers chose a more brightly lit palette to work with in the game's environment.  Gamers are not just feeling around in the dark waiting for something to jump up and say boo, since there is a fair amount of light in many of the rooms.  And where a flashlight is required, the effect feels more natural as in tunnel areas or a dark bulkhead for example.  The game is also a lot more immersing for the end user. The plot and story line develop more clearly early on and throughout the rest of the game.  In terms of graphics processing demands, Riddick puts a heavy load on even the most powerful modern GPUs.  We took the following benchmark scores with all details in the  game turned up to maximum.

Above we see the ATi Radeon X800 series based HIS cards trail the GeForce 6800s by a significant margin.  However, we should point out that even with 4X AA and 8X AF turned on, the game is completely playable for all cards involved.  Game play with Riddick has pockets of fast action shoot-outs coupled with stealth like maneuvering ala Splinter Cell style as you move in for the kill, so flat-out frame rate performance is not always going to make or break the action.  In any event it's clear that ATi still has some brushing up to do on their Doom 3 based gaming performance.  Finally, take note that we tossed in a score at the X800 XL's "iTurbo" clock speed settings just for good measure.  Which leads us to our next segment, overclocking these new HIS graphics cards.

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Overclocking

 

Before we completed our testing, we spent a little time overclocking the HIS X850 XT IceQ II Turbo and X800 XL IceQ II Turbo to see what they had under the hood.  First we tried our hand with HIS' own iTurbo utility and then took things even further with the use of Entech's PowerStrip.

Overclocking The HIS X850XT IceQ II and X800 XL IceQ II
Quiet Overclocking

HIS X850 XT iTurbo Clock Speed = 540MHz Core/1180MHz Memory  (520/1080 stock)
HIS X800XL iTurbo Clock Speed = 432MHz Core/1000MHz Memory (400/980 stock)

We were able to chalk up another 6-7% performance gain with the simple one-touch button interface of the iTrubo setting with these two cards.  As the old saying goes, "easy money"... But is there more headroom here?



X800XL IceQ II Turbo Max OC = 460MHz Core/1080MHz Memory
X850 XT IceQ II Turbo Max OC = 570MHz Core/1230MHz Memory

With a blistering 570MHz max core speed the HIS X850 XT is one of the most overclockable X850 cards we've seen to date.  In addition, the HIS X800 XL with its highest overclock is able to edge past even the GeForce 6800 Ultra in our Far Cry benchmark, with a 5% performance advantage over the flagship NVIDIA card and a 460MHz max stable core speed.

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Performance Summary and Conclusion


Benchmark Summary: If you've been astute enough to take note in many of our recent 3D graphics articles, it's probably obvious to you that in many DX9 based games, like Far Cry and Half Life 2, ATi cards have an edge in performance.  On the flip side, when it comes to Doom 3 and OpenGL based gaming, NVIDIA cards tend to rule the roost.  Our testing in this showcase told very much the same story, with these new HIS cards winning the newer DX9 based tests, falling behind in the Doom 3 and Riddick benchmarks, while striding neck and neck in legacy title game tests with the likes of Unreal Tournament 2004.

 

These two new HIS graphics cards are great examples of enhancements and innovation over standard ATi Radeon X850 XT and X800 XL reference designs.  Both cards also exhibited excellent stability and headroom to spare for overclocking whether at factory tested "iTurbo" speeds or pushed even further beyond.  What impressed us the most was how quiet yet very effective the cooling solutions are on these cards.  At no point during testing did either card spin up fast enough that the fans were even audible above our stock Intel P4 cooler.  They were easily the quietest high-end cards we've had the pleasure of not hearing in our test lab thus far.

In terms of value, the call is an easy one in favor of the HIS X800 XL IceQ II Turbo.  Or is it?  This card should list somewhere in the mid $300 price range but unfortunately we are currently completely unable to find it or its X850 XT big brother at any of HIS' US retailers.  As a matter of fact finding either of these cards at an on-line retailer currently may be like finding a needle in a haystack.  We've been told that MSRP for the X850 XT IceQ II Turbo is $499 and $349 for the X800 XL.  However, lack of availability is obviously a huge draw-back.  Sorry folks. We've urged the folks at HIS to get things together in the retail channel but we'll see how things pan out in the weeks ahead.  For now, based on their overall design, quality and performance, we're giving these new HIS cards the following scores on the HotHardware Heat Meter...

HIS Radeon X800 XL IceQ II Turbo

 

HIS Radeon X850 XT IceQ II Turbo

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