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HIS X1650 Pro IceQ Turbo Dual DL-DVI
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Date: Nov 21, 2006
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: Jeff Bouton
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Introduction and Product Specifications

Not long ago, when we reviewed MSI's GeForce 7600 GT, the closest ATI-based competitor available was the Radeon X1600 Pro.  It was far from an apples-to-apples comparison from a technical standpoint, however.  While both models sported the same number of Pixel and Vertex Shaders and had similar prices, the X1600 Pro's performance was hampered by fewer ROPs and DDR2 memory which was clocked significantly lower that the GeForce 7600GT's GDDR3 complement.

With the recent release of the Radeon X1650 Pro, however, ATI now offers a card that matches up better to the GeForce 7600 GT, with faster GDDR3 memory and a higher GPU clock speed. The question remains, however, does the X1650 Pro incorporate enough improvements to better compete with the 7600 GT with regard to performance?

Today, we aim to answer that very question with a review of the HIS X1650 Pro IceQ Turbo Dual DL-DVI 256MB PCI Express video card.  Surely, no one will ever accuse HIS of having a concise naming convention, but we've established the quality of their products in numerous reviews here at HotHardware in the past. With the X1650 Pro IceQ Turbo, HIS tweaked the GPU with an additional 25MHz over ATI's reference specifications, giving it what appears to be a sizable clock speed advantage over the GeForce 7600 GT, as well as the X1600 Pro for that matter. 

HIS X1650 Pro IceQ Turbo Specifications
Specifications
Model Name:  HIS X1650Pro IceQ Turbo
Dual DL-DVI 512/256MB GDDR3 PCIe

Chipset:  Radeon X1650 PCIe Series

ASIC:  RV530 / RV535

Pixel Pipelines:  12

Vertex Engines:  5

Manu. Process (Micron):  90nm / 80nm

Transistor:  157M

Fill Rate:  7.5GPixel/s

Memory Size (MB):  256

Memory Type:  GDDR3

RAMDAC (MHz):  400 Dual

Engine CLK (MHz):  625

Memory CLK (MHz):  1400

Memory Interface (bit):  128

Memory Bandwidth:  22.4GB/s

Max. Resolution:  2560x1600

Bus Interface:  PCIe

VGA:  x2

DVI:  x2

TV-out:  Yes

HDTV (YPrPb component output)  Yes
Chipset Features

* RV530 90nm process
* Vertex and Pixel Shader 3.0
* 10bit Native Display Quality
* Dynamic Flow Control
* 128-bit FP32 Processing
* 1024 instruction slots Shaders
* 128-way Ultra-threaded dispatch processor
* 256-bit Ring Bus
* High Dynamic Range rendering
* All stage Trilinear (16X) Anisotropic Filtering
* Full (HQ) Anisotropic Filtering
* 12X Temporal Max. MSAA
* 6X Adaptive AA
* Parallax Occlusion Mapping
* 12-tap error-free Dynamic Soft Shadows
* RMX/RMC
* H.264 Accelerated
* DL-DVI
* CrossFire support
* DirectX 9 and OpenGL supported

Accessories

* Microsoft Dungeon Siege Full
* CyberLink PowerDirector 5 SE Plus
* CyberLink Power2Go 5 - CD
* CyberLink Medi@Show 3
* GameShadow
* ATI bonus content

Cable/Adapters

* S-Video Cable
* Conversion Cable Mini-Din to RCA
* HDTV Output cable
* DVI to VGA Dongle x2

(Bundle items are subject to change without prior notice)




The retail package of the HIS X1650Pro IceQ Turbo Dual DL-DVI 256MB was similar to other HIS products we've evaluated.  The card came with a brief User's Guide, "PowerUp, Gamers!" drivers CD and a complementary gaming DVD.  The drivers CD came with ATI's Catalyst 6.7 drivers, so users will want to be sure and check ATI's site for the most current release.  The HIS Bonus DVD 3.0 included a full version of Microsoft's Dungeon Siege and demos of such titles as Half-Life 2, RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 and more.  HIS also included full versions of CyberLink PowerDirector 5 SE Plus, Power2Go 5 and Medi@Show 3, and trials of PowerDVD Copy, PowerBackup and other CyberLink products.

Because the card features a double-wide cooler, HIS provides a perforated PCI slot cover to mate with to the card's custom cooling apparatus.  Two DVI-to-VGA adapters are also offered for legacy support of older analog monitor connections.  Lastly, an S-video cable was provided as well as an HDTV output cable for viewing video on a High-Definition Television.

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HIS X1650Pro IceQ Turbo Dual DL-DVI 256MB

HIS X1650Pro IceQ Turbo Dual DL-DVI 256MB GDDR3 PCIe - Close Up
Both Barrels Are Loaded

When we get down to brass tacks, the HIS X1650Pro IceQ Turbo Dual DL-DVI 256MB is essentially the same as an X1600XT with a higher GPU clock.  Both cards are based on the RV530 core which is built on a 90nm fabrication process and comes equipped with 12 Pixel Shaders, 5 Vertex Shaders and a 128-Bit memory bus.  Furthermore, both models support Shader Model 3.0, leaving the memory type and frequency as the only major differences between each model.  The stock X1650 Pro comes with GDDR3 memory clocked at 700MHz (1.4GHz DDR) while the older X1600 Pro is outfitted with 400MHz DDR2 memory chips (800MHz). 

  

ATI's reference design specs the X1650 Pro's GPU speed at 600MHz, a full 100MHz faster than the X1600 Pro which runs at 500MHz.  However, HIS took things a step further, and raised the GPU clock an additional 25MHz, to a default speed of 625MHz.  We should note, however, that when the card was installed in our test system, we did find the clock speeds to be slightly lower than advertised.  In actuality, the GPU runs at 621MHz while the GDDR3 memory was clocked at 688.5MHz (1.37GHz DDR).

To keep the GPU temperatures in check, the HIS X1650 Pro comes with on of HIS' IceQ coolers.  The IceQ cooler is an all aluminum design with an extremely quiet fan solution.  The cooler is ported directly to outside air for maximum cooling, and it's also quieter than the stock reference cooler.

As we mentioned earlier, the HIS X1650 Pro IceQ Turbo Dual DL-DVI 256MB comes with dual link DVI connections as well as a video out port for S-Video and HDTV out.  The only thing "missing" is a CrossFire edge connector, but with this model, a dongle is not required.  Lastly, HIS also offers the HIS X1650 Pro IceQ Turbo Dual DL-DVI in a 512MB version as well.

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Test System & 3DMark06 v1.0.2

The HotHardware Test Systems
AMD Athlon 64 X2 Powered

Processor -


Motherboard -


Video Cards -






Memory -


Audio -

Hard Driv
e -

 

Hardware Used:
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4600+
(2.4GHz x 2)

Asus M2R32-MVP
ATI Radeon Xpress 3200

HIS Radeon X1650 Pro IceQ Turbo
(625/700 - Rated, 621/688.5 - Actual)
Sapphire
Radeon X1600 Pro
(500/810) 
GeForce 7600 GT
(580/700)

2048MB PQI PC24200 Turbo
CAS 3

Integrated on board

IBM Deskstar

82GB - 7,200RPM - IDE

Operating System -
Chipset Drivers -
DirectX -

Video Drivers
-



Synthetic (DX) -
DirectX -
DirectX -
OpenGL -
OpenGL -
Relevant Software:
Windows XP Professional SP2
Catalyst 6.10
DirectX 9.0c (August Redist.)

NVIDIA Forceware v91.47

ATI Catalyst v6.10

Benchmarks Used:
3DMark06 v1.0.2
F.E.A.R. v1.07
Half Life 2: Lost Coast
Prey*
Quake 4 v1.2*

* - Custom Test (HH Exclusive demo)
Performance Comparisons with 3DMark06 v1.0.2
Details: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/

3DMark06
3DMark06 is the latest addition to the 3DMark franchise. This version differs from 3Dmark05 in a number of ways, and now includes not only Shader Model 2.0 tests, but Shader Model 3.0 and HDR tests as well. Some of the assets from 3DMark05 have been re-used, but the scenes are now rendered with much more geometric detail and the shader complexity is vastly increased as well. Max shader length in 3DMark05 was 96 instructions, while 3DMark06 ups the number of instructions to 512. 3DMark06 also employs much more lighting, and there is extensive use of soft shadows. With 3DMark06, Futuremark has also updated how the final score is tabulated. In this latest version of the benchmark, SM 2.0 and HDR / SM3.0 tests are weighted and the CPU score is factored into the final tally as well.

With its 121MHz and roughly 290MHz faster GPU and memory, the X1650 Pro holds a significant advantage over the X1600 Pro.  The overall clock speed increase resulted in an increase of 35% in the default 3DMark06 test. THe Shader Model 2.0 test went up close to 40% and Shader Model 3.0/HDR 36%.  Regardless, the GeForce 7600 GT outperformed both cards by a significant margin in all tests.

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Performance Comparisons with Half Life 2: Lost Coast


Performance Comparisons with Half Life 2: Lost Coast
Details: http://www.half-life2.com/
Half-Life 2:
Lost Coast
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. So, when Valve announced Half-Life 2 was close to completion in mid-2003, gamers the world over sat in eager anticipation. 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 '04 to get our hands on this classic. In this test we benchmarked the add-on 'Lost Coast' at 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200 with 4X Anti-aliasing and 16X Anisotropic Filtering enabled, using the built-in video stress test.

In this test, the X1650 Pro continued to outpace the X1600 Pro by a fair margin overall, but the GeForce 7600 GT was still the top performer.  At 1024x768, the Geforce 7600 GT held a 22 FPS lead over the X1650 Pro, but as the resolution increased, the gap narrowed to 15 FPS at 1280x1024 and 10 FPS at 1600x1200.

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Performance Comparisons with F.E.A.R


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

F.E.A.R
One of the most highly anticipated titles of 2005 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 v1.07, 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 1024x768, 1280x960 and 1600x1200, with 4X Anti-aliasing and 16X Anisotropic filtering enabled.

With F.E.A.R.'s integrated benchmark, the GeForce 7600 GT managed to maintain its performance advantage over both RV530 based Radeons.  The HIS X1650 Pro trailed the most at 1024x768, leaving a 16 FPS gap that dropped to 4 FPS at 1600x1200 resolution.

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Performance Comparisons with Quake 4

Performance Comparisons with Quake 4
Details: http://www.quake4game.com/

Quake 4
id Software, in conjunction with developer Raven, recently released the latest addition to the wildly popular Quake franchise, Quake 4. Quake 4 is based upon an updated and slightly modified version of the Doom 3 engine, and as such performance characteristics between the two titles are very similar.  Like Doom 3, Quake 4 is also an OpenGL game that uses extremely high-detailed textures and a ton of dynamic lighting and shadows, but unlike Doom3, Quake 4 features some outdoor environments as well. We ran this these Quake 4 benchmarks using a custom demo with the game set to its "High-Quality" mode, at resolutions of 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200 with 4X Anti-aliasing and 16X anisotropic filter enabled.

With our custom Quake 4 timedemo, the HIS Radeon X1650 Pro pulled ahead of the X1600 Pro by a large margin, nearly equalling the X1600 Pro's 1024x768 results at 1600X1200.  The GeForce 7600 GT still had a nominal performance advantage in all three resolutions, with 10 FPS at 1024x768 and 5 FPS at 1600x1200.

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Performance Comparisons with Prey

Performance Comparisons with Prey
Details: http://www.prey.com/

Prey
After many years of development, Take-Two Interactive recently released the highly anticipated game Prey. Prey is based upon an updated and modified version of the Doom 3 engine, and as such performance characteristics between the two titles are very similar.  Like Doom 3, Prey is also an OpenGL game that uses extremely high-detailed textures and a plethora of dynamic lighting and shadows.  But unlike Doom3, Prey features a fare share of outdoor environments as well.  We ran these Prey benchmarks using a custom recorded timedemo with the game set to its "High-Quality" graphics mode, at resolutions of 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1600x1200 with 4X Anti-aliasing and 16X Anisotropic filtering enabled.

Once again, we see a familiar pattern with our Prey custom demo as we've reported in all previous tests thus far.  The HIS X1650 Pro managed a healthy lead over the X1600 Pro thanks to its higher GPU clock and increased memory bandwidth, but the GeForce 7600 GT still ruled the roost with all three resolutions tested.

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Overclocking the Radeon X1650 Pro


Overclocking the Radeon X1650 Pro
(Fast 3D Video Cards) + Overclocking = Even Faster Cards

For our next set of performance metrics, we overclocked the Radeon X1650 Pro using ATI Tray Tools.  Along with a manual option, this application can auto detect the highest stable GPU and Memory frequency by scanning for artifacts while slowly increasing the clock frequency.  In the end, the peak GPU speed we could attain with our sample was 641MHz, an increase of 3.2%.  The memory speed increased to 1450MHz DDR, 5.3% over the default clock speed.  Next, we put these new gains to the test by re-running our custom Prey timedemo test again.

When comparing the overclocking results of the HIS X1650 Pro with its stock results, we registered a 6.27% increase at 1024x768.  At 1280x1024, the gain increased to 11.52% while at 1600x1200, a boost of 4.5% was recorded.  Across the board, the results were much closer to the GeForce 7600 GT but not enough to overtake it.

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Performance Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary:  The HIS X1650 Pro IceQ Turbo performed as we expected it would. When compared to the ATI Radeon X1600 Pro, the HIS X1650 Pro showed measurable performance gains thanks to its higher-clocked GPU and faster GDDR3 memory.  Higher clock speeds and increased memory bandwidth helped to narrow the lead of the GeForce 7600 GT as well, most notably at higher resolutions, but the GeForce 7600 GT was still the top performer in all tests.

We found the HIS X1650 Pro IceQ Turbo to be a decent step up when compared to the X1600 Pro, offering measurable performance gains in all tests.  In fact, the card should be a slight improvement over the X1600 XT as well, which is virtually identical except for its lower 590MHz GPU clock.  Another factor to consider it the HIS Radeon X1650 Pro's inability to overtake the GeForce 7600 GT in any test we threw at it.  Using current street prices as a metric, the 7600 GT is the closest competitor to the HIS X1650 Pro, yet performance clearly leaned in favor of the GeForce 7600 GT, especially at lower resolutions.  Once the resolution was increased, however, the HIS X1650 Pro scaled well.  It took less of a performance hit than the GeForce 7600 GT, which helped it to narrow the NVIDIA card's lead significantly in most tests.

Once we factor in cost, the MSI GeForce 7600GT, which also comes with an oversized cooler, weighs in at about $165 at a major online reseller.  And many other 7600 GTs are available in the $150-160 range. The HIS X1650 Pro IceQ Turbo, on the other hand, came in slightly cheaper at about $145.  We think the additional investment is worthwhile considering the 7600 GT's higher performance, however.

If you can muster a few more dollars though, for roughly $199, you can get a CrossFire ready X1950 Pro graphics card with triple the number of Pixel Shaders and 8 Vertex shaders, which would bring with it a serious performance boost. Granted we've only seen one X1950 Pro offered for a price this low, but if you can afford to raise your budget, the added cost should pay handsome dividends in the end. And don't forget the GeForce 7600 GT is available for only a few more dollars. If you are on a strict budget without a penny to spare, and high resolution gaming is not a major priority, then the HIS X1650 Pro is a quality product that functions as advertised.  But if you plan on gaming and want to run at higher resolutions, we strongly urge you to step up to something a bit more powerful.  We give the HIS X1650Pro IceQ Turbo Dual DL-DVI 256MB GDDR3 PCIe a Hot Hardware Heat Meter rating of 7.

  • Good Performance
  • CrossFire
  • IceQ Cooler
  • Low-Power
  • Decent Overclocking
  • Better Options Available for a Nominal Increase in Budget
  • DX10 is Coming
  • Clock Speeds Lower Than Advertised

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