HIS HD6970 IceQ Turbo Review

Editor: Richard Weatherstone  Date: 04-06-11   7 Comment(s) - Join the discussion here
Conclusion
Every once in a while a graphics card comes along that bucks the trend. We have been inundated at Vortez with monolith styled, reference cooled GPUs that have little to differentiate them other than the product sticker so it was certainly a refreshing change to see a card with a different cooler. There can be no doubting the HIS HD6970 IceQ Turbo is certainly eye catching. The massive cooler, sprouting 4 thick copper heatpipes with a contrasting blue power circuit board is enough to draw any enthusiasts attention so it was with great enthusiasm I began testing this card, hoping for some equally interesting results.

HIS make a very bold claim that the IceQ cooler affords a 23c reduction in temperatures. Unfortunately, during our testing we were unable to replicate these rather optimistic claims. While the card was certainly quieter than a reference cooled card, the temperatures were nothing to write home about being average at best which was not what I expected. Fearing the card had taken a knock in transit, I re-seated the card myself but the results were sadly the same. There is however a caveat to this in that because the noise level is lower than a reference cooled card , the fan speed on the HIS 6970 IceQ Turbo can be raised much higher before it becomes intrusive. The same fan speed on a reference card would make a great deal more noise at the same level.
Aesthetically, the card is what I lovingly refer to as 'Marmite'. For those in the UK will know this Yeast extract has a love it or hate it taste. The same can be said for this GPUs looks, you either love it or you hate it. Personally I love it. When I first cast eyes on it, I didn't know whether to be shocked or laugh out loud, the cooler really is that large, almost verging on the ridiculous. It's brash looks will be appealing to performance junkies but would certainly make the style council cringe.

Throughout the benchmarks I was very impressed with this HIS HD6970 IceQ Turbo as the graphics card cut through the games like a hot knife through butter. The card performed exceptionally well at high resolutions thanks to the 2GB of GDDR5, even before the fantastic overclocking performance. I was particularly aghast at the performance of Dirt 3 which was sublime, even with all of the settings set to maximum and at the highest resolution. No wonder HIS are keen to throw in a free copy of the game with the retail release of this product!



Perhaps my only disappointment was Metro 2033, which being the highly demanding game that it is, brought the HIS 6970 IceQ Turbo to its knees with a slideshow 12fps. I expected more than that given the 2GB of GDDR5 which in other games proved very useful. That said, there are few graphics systems that would be able to handle this game with all the settings at their maximum so we will be better suited to evaluate the cards performance in this game when we have more basis for comparison.
Despite the card arriving pre-overclocked from the factory, there was plenty left in the tank to allow an extra 100MHz on the core and 400MHz on the memory. Voltages had to be increased to attain this overclock but the massive cooler coped well under the increased heat output, remaining relatively quiet throughout.

Overall, if you are looking for a card in the very highly contested 200-250 market segment than you should certainly give the HIS HD6970 IceQ Turbo some serious consideration, especially if you are a gamer who likes to play at extreme settings.

Pros:
-Good Performance
-Great Overclocking ability
-Solid capacitors and chokes for durable, efficient performance
-Very quiet operation
-Eyefinity support
-Great packaging
-Free Game (Dirt 3)

Cons:
-Love it or hate it looks
-Bulky cooler
-No protective backplate
-No HDMI adapter





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