HIS 6870 IceQ X Turbo X Review

With the same high-performing cooler, the HIS 6870 IceQ X Turbo X should be remarkably similar to the HIS 6950 IceQ X Turbo X reviewed previously. The mid-range 6870 should run cool and quiet while sporting hefty overclocks like the high-end cards. Lets see if that holds true as we torture the HIS 6870 with some intense overclocking and benchmarks.

HIS 6870 IceQ X Turbo X retail box.

HIS 6870 IceQ X Turbo X retail box

 

Product Specifications and Features

The 6870 has been released for quite some time now, so it is not necessary to explain the the technical details and features. You can see that HIS 6870 IceQ X Turbo X sports very aggressive factory overclocks on  coming in at a blazing 975Mhz core with the memory at 1150Mhz out of the box. That is impressive from the reference clocks of 900Mhz/1050Mhz.

HIS 6870 IceQ X Turbo X Specifications.

HIS 6870 IceQ X Turbo X Specifications (Courtesy HIS)

Technical Features

The 6870 comes with similar features as its bigger brothers do. Below is a list from the HIS website of the major features of this card.

HIS 6870 IceQ X Turbo X Features (IceQ X technology).

HIS 6870 IceQ X Turbo X Features (Courtesy HIS)

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HIS 6870 IceQ X Turbo X Features IceQ X technology (Courtesy HIS)

Cooling

In order to fulfill its promises of a -15° C cooler temperatures and 15db quieter operation, HIS has placed the latest IceQ cooler on the 6870. The heatsink has a nice ice blue cover helping route the airflow and give it that ‘IceQ’ look. The newest version of this cooler uses four aluminum heat pipes along with aluminum fins and a 92mm fan blowing down on to the heatsink. Air flow then exhausts partially out the back of a case, through the top and rear. Below you can see a picture of the cooling system broken down in to its parts showing how it works:

IceQ X cooler break down.

IceQ X cooler break down

With this cooler and the automatic fan profile, the card never broke 60° C with a 23° C ambient. The fan ramped up to around the 65% mark, so it fairly quiet throughout the benchmarking and gaming sessions. Definitely audible, but quiet. When I cranked up the fan to 100% and tested that way, the card never broke 55° C even when overclocked with added voltage. Pretty impressive feat.

Overall this is one of the quietest and most effective coolers on a GPU I have seen in a while, especially when compared to the reference coolers. The auto profile in Afterburner kept the card cool and quiet throughout its active life with me which was nice to finally not have to adjust it manually.  HIS has a great cooler for the IceQ series of cards… effective, and quiet.

Photo Op

Below are some pictures of the retail packaging, accessories and the 6870 itself:

Front view

Back view.

Back view

Inside packaging.

Inside packaging

Accessories.

Accessories

And here she is in all her icy blue glory!

And there she sits, nice and snug!

And there she sits, nice and snug!

6870 IceQ X Turbo X.

6870 IceQ X Turbo X

Backside of the card.

Backside of the card

Ports.

Ports

Last is a picture of the HIS IceQ X family overclockers.com had the opportunity to review. Thanks HIS!

All 3 HIS IceQ cards.

All three HIS IceQ cards

Performance and Overclocking

TEST SYSTEM AND BENCHING METHOD/SETTINGS

  • i7 2600 (stock)
  • Asrock Z68 Extreme4
  • 2x2GB OCZ Ripjaws @ 2133 CL7-10-7-27 1.65v
  • HIS 6870 IceQ X Turbo X @ stock and 1021/1200 for overclocked
  • Seasonic X750
  • Windows 7 Professional 64bit
  • Catalyst 11.5 Drivers at default settings
  • All Synthetic benchmarks were at their default settings.
  • Alien vs. Predator was run at its default setting, and the highest it offered (4xAA, textures set to “3″).
  • Hawx 2 was run at 1920×1080 with 8xAA, every setting at its highest.
  • Dirt 2 was run at 1920×1080 8xAA/16xAF all settings to their highest.
  • Stalker:COP was run at 1920×1080 Ultra settings, 4xAA with tessellation enabled using the Sunshafts portion of the bench only.
  • Unigine Heaven (Hwbot) was run with the “extreme” setting.

Synthetic Results:

3DMark 03.

3DMark 03

3DMark 06.

3DMark 06

3DMark Vantage.

3DMark Vantage

3DMark 11.

3DMark 11

Looking at the synthetic results, the 6870 falls right in line with its family bringing up the back of the pack as it should with its pricing. Note however that trailing behind the other cards doesn’t make this one a slouch by any means. Performance in these synthetics of the 6870 show they should play well in games…and it does.

Game Results:

Stalker: COP - Sunshafts.

Stalker: COP - Sunshafts

Unigine Heaven (Hwbot).

Unigine Heaven (Hwbot)

Alien vs. Predator, Default.

Alien vs. Predator, Default

Alien vs. Predator, High Quality.

Alien vs. Predator, High Quality

Dirt 2.

Dirt 2

Hawx 2.

Hawx 2

You can see from the game results that this mid range card still charges through the games we put them through at a now common resolution of 1920×1080. It also performs quite well when using AA and AF like most of us use (should!). You can see in most tests the 6870 beats out AMD’s old top of the heap, the 5870 while using less power and being quieter as well. Again, not bad for a mid-range card. The HIS 6870 IceQ X Turbo X is quite a performer in its price range at 1920×1080 or less even with modern games and the use of tessellation.

Power consumption for this card will not cause you to get another power supply in most cases. According to my Kill-A-Watt meter, running completely stock, I managed to just push past the 300W mark. Power use peaked at a mere 325W while overclocked with additional voltage (stock CPU) and for the pushing the limits testing below, I managed to just crest 400W, but most of that change is the CPU.

PUSHING THE LIMITS

3DMark 03 - 97089.

3DMark 03 - 97089

3Dmark 06 - 31239.

3Dmark 06 - 31239

3Dmark Vantage - 21324.

3Dmark Vantage - 21324

As you can see we achieved some decent results when overclocking this card to the max. It wasn’t as big of an increase as the other cards in this series, however this card started out at 975Mhz in the first place. I was able to achieve 1021Mhz core and 1200Mhz memory to pass most tests with the voltage set on the Afterburner maximum of 1.3v. On Vantage I had to drop the core back to 1000Mhz.  I kept the fan cranked at 100% for these tests and the card peaked around 55° C. Not much of a difference vs stock speeds! I was a bit disappointed in the lack of headroom for overclocking, but after researching a bit hwbot.org, it seems as though the clocks I achieved are about normal and my expectations were just out of line. It just goes to show how aggressive the factory overclocks are on this card.

Conclusion

After taking a step back from reviewing the HIS 6870 IceQ X Turbo X and the other IceQ cards from HIS, I have to say that I have been impressed across the board with these offerings. As stated in the 6950/6970 review, I really did have preconceived notions about factory overclocked cards and if they were worth it or not. The 6950 and 6970 were able to set my mind at ease a bit. The 6870 was also able to accomplish this feat.The cooling on this card is far superior than the reference cooler and runs much quieter making it a leading choice for those in the market for this card. Currently one can find the HIS 6870 IceQ X Turbo X at newegg.com for $229.99 (209.99 with rebate). The cheapest version out there, with rebate, is $179.99 and has the reference cooler was well as reference clock speeds. So for a mere, $30 more, you can have the highest factory clock speeds, and a far superior cooler with less noise.

With all the pluses going for this card, including its performance for the price among its peers, cooling capacity, and noise (or lack there of), this card found its way to an overclockers approved status.

 

- Earthdog

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