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