HIS R9 380 IceQ x2 OC Video Card Review

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Today, we have an opportunity to review one of AMD’s ‘new’ video cards, the R9 380. After AMD’s exciting release of the Fury X and upcoming Fury, we are starting to see the rest of the lineup begin to fill in. Overclockers.com will start off with an offering from HIS, specifically the R9 380 IceQ X2 OC 2GB. HIS strapped on their IceQ X2 cooler on the R9 380 and gives it a slight bump in clock speed. Traditionally, the HIS IceQ X2 coolers do a great job at quietly managing thermals while the cards themselves offer great performance. It is time to see if all that still holds true!

Specifications and Features

Below you will see a list of specifications for the R9 380 IceQ x2 OC 2GB. The information was sourced from the HIS product page. Their specifications don’t go too in depth with regards to shader count/ROPs/TMUs, etc. So, we will stick to the high-level here and give a few more details in the GPU-Z section.

The R9 380, as most know by now, is a pretty simple rebrand of the venerable R9 285. It is based off the Tonga core, but will be updated to “Antigua” with a few software tweaks and possibly some power savings (but nobody knows what changes exactly, if any). The card comes with a total of 2048MB (2GB) vRAM resting on a 256-bit wide bus. Its speed out of the box is 1375 MHz. The core clocks come in at 990 MHz, which is a boost over the reference core clock speed, and hence the “OC” moniker HIS puts in the name.

HIS recommends a 500W or greater power supply that has two 6-pin PCIe connectors to get the card powered up and running. The R9 285 had a 190W board power and since this is the same thing hardware wise, I expect that value to be the same as well. The HIS offering has a total of four outputs, 2 DVI (one DVI-I the other DVI-D), a full sized DisplayPort (v1.2), and an HDMI output as well. Both the DisplayPort and the HDMI output can support resolutions up to 4096 x 2160. The card is a dual slot solution with its IceQ X2 heatsink, which measuring in at a mere 1.6″ wide. Lengthwise, you are looking at a 10.6″ card, so it should fit in most all cases (keep an eye out for those that have an ITX case!).

HIS R9 380 IceQ X2 OC 2GB
Model Name HIS R9 380 Iceq X2 OC 2GB
Chipset AMD Radeon R9 380 (Tonga/Antigua)
Memory Type / Size / Interface GDDR5 2048MB (2GB), 256 bit
Core Clock 990 MHz
Memory Clock 5.5 Gbps
Power Supply Requirement 500W (or greater) power supply with two 75W 6 pin PCIe power connectors
Outputs and Max. Resolution (per display) DLDVI-I + DLDVI-D + DP + HDMI
Displayport 1.2 – 4096 x 2160
HDMI – 4096 x 2160
Dual-link DVI with HDCP – 2560 x 1600
Interface PCE Express 3.0 x16
Card Dimensions 27 x 14 x 4.2cm (10.6″ x 5.5″ x 1.6″)

HIS has some features they would like to share about the card such as the IceQ X2 cooler, which as we would expect, beats out AMD’s trusty, screaming, blower style cooler found on their reference models. Along with doing a better job thermally, it is also quieter than the reference model with HIS stating the card will run below 28 dB when doing basic tasks on your PC (movies, surfing the web, etc). I do not have an accurate meter, but the card was whisper quiet during normal activities.

Next up is the PCB layout with its 5+1 power phase configuration, the use of solid capacitors, the Tonga..err scratch that, Antigua based core, and the dual 6-pin PCIe power requirements. The last picture shows the dimensions of the card.

icocooler Cooler and Quieter
With IceQ X², the card is cooler than the reference cooler. IceQ X² is one of the quietest coolers, making the card quieter than the reference cooler. The card is below 28dB when watching movies, surfing Facebook, working. The card remains quiet whether you are gaming, online socializing, entertaining or working.
icopcblyout
  • Dual 6 pin PCIe power required
  • 5+1 power phasing
  • Solid Capacitors
  • Tonga based core using GCN architecture
icocarddimnsn
  • Dual slot cooler IceQ X2

GPU-Z

Ok… on to GPU-Z! Here we can see the 32 ROPs, 112 TMUs, with 1,792 shaders. As we mentioned above, the 2GB of memory is on a 256-bit wide bus running at 1375 MHz out of the box, which yields 176GB/s bandwidth. Plenty for some heavy 1080p gaming. Being GCN 1.2 architecture, this card will support DX12 once Windows 10 comes out. GPU-Z even shows this card as Tonga and released back in August of 2014.

GPUz v8.4

GPU-Z v8.4

Photo Op – Meet the HIS R9 380 IceQ X2 OC

Retail Packaging and Accessories

Below is our first look at the retail packaging for the HIS R9 380 IceQ X2 OC video card. It has been a while since we’ve reviewed anything from our friends at HIS, but I doubt anyone forgot their ‘theme’ on the retail packaging is that nice cool icy blue! The front of the package shows the model and other high level information such as the amount of on board memory, its max supported resolution, the API it supports (DX12), and the PCIe specification (3.0). The back of the retail box gets into a few more details like the solid state caps, the IceQ X2 cooler, as well as some other high level features. As is usual, the sides and top do not have much on them outside of system requirements, what’s in the box, and some accolades in many different languages. Tough to miss these on the store shelves!

Opening up the retail packaging you are greeted with the common ‘box in a box’ packaging. When you open up the box, you are greeted with a ~1/2″ thick piece of foam (not pictured) that protects the card. Lifting that up exposes the card securely tucked in form fitting foam and wrapped in an anti-static bag as well.

As far as accessories go, there isn’t much. Let’s face it, its a video card, and normally not much is needed anyway. What is here is the driver disc, a quick ‘how to install’ guide, and a DVI to VGA converter. Plenty to get you started.

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The Card

The next slideshow displays the card from several different angles. If the cooler looks familiar, it probably should as it is the same IceQ X2 cooler we have seen on previous generations of cards from HIS/AMD. Since this is essentially a barely tweaked R9 285 anyway, that makes a lot of sense from a business perspective. I always like that hexagon pattern in the “X” that rests between the two 92mm fans. It’s an aesthetic that should work well in a lot of builds where matching colors and themes are important to the user. When you flip the card around to the back, we can see the PCB exposed (no back plate!) and the heatpipes barely breaching the height of the PCB.

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A Closer Look

Zooming in a bit on the card, the first slide shows the outputs. There are two DVI (DL-DVI-I and DL-DVI-D), one DisplayPort, and one HDMI port. If you are still rocking a VGA monitor, upgrade! Kidding, HIS includes a VGA to DVI adapter.

Power for the card goes through two 6-pin PCIe power connectors, which when combined with the PCIe slot can provide the card a total of 225W. With its TDP/board power being around 190W, that doesn’t leave too much headroom before you take things out of spec. It isn’t a huge issue, but it can put a glass ceiling on overclocking when you are really pushing things. That said, the power limit is 20%, and with 20% of 190W = 228W, that really isn’t a big deal at all.

I separated the heatsink from the card to expose the PCB, the VRM cooler for its 5 GPU power phase setup, and the thermal paste application. We can see they were pretty liberal with the TIM, that is for sure. The next picture gives a close up of the bottom of the heatsink and fin array showing the five heatpipes snaking their way through the fins with all of them meeting back in a copper base that touches and cools the ASIC/core. After that, I took off the VRM heatsink and you see the card butterball naked (don’t worry, its safe for work!).

The last picture in this slideshow is a picture of the Samsung memory ICs. It is the K4G20325FS-HC03 which appear to be rated @ 1.5v and speeds of 1250/1300 MHz (GDDR5 5000/6000 MHz). I’m not confident in the overclocking headroom as it appears it is already a bit over specifications, but we will check that out later.

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Monitoring/Overclocking Software – HIS iTurbo

Below is the HIS iTurbo overclocking and monitoring software. This application gives you card information similar to GPU-Z, overclocking options for the core, memory, and power limit, and custom, manual, and automatic fan controls. Last up is a minimized shot of the application.

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Performance and Benchmarks

Test System

  • Intel i7 4770K @ 4 GHz, 1.1 V
  • ASRock Z97 OC Formula
  • Kingston Hyper X Predator 2 x 4 GB 2666 MHz CL11 @ 1866 MHz 9-9-9-24
  • 240 GB OCZ Vertex 3 SSD
  • Seasonic 1000 W PSU
  • HIS R9 380 IceQ X2 OC 2GB @ 990 MHz core / 1375 MHz Memory, and Overclocked @ 1124 MHz / 1577 MHz Memory
  • Windows 7 64 bit Operating System
  • AMD Catalyst 15.6 beta

Other cards used for comparison are as follows (links are to their reviews).

Benchmarking Method/Settings

Note all testing below uses 1920×1080 screen resolution (settings also carry over to 2560 x 1440 and Surround/Eyefinity testing if applicable).

  • All Synthetic benchmarks were at their default settings
  • Unigine Heaven (HWbot) – Extreme setting
  • Crysis 3 – Very High settings with 8xMSAA/16xAF (2nd level when you procure and use the Crossbow to get across the level and kill the Helicopter)
  • Metro:LL – DX11, Very High, 16xAF, Motion Blur – Normal, SSAA Enabled, DX11 Tessellation – Very High, Advanced PhysX – Disabled, Scene D6
  • Battlefield 4 – Default Ultra setting (Tashgar level – ‘on rails’ car scene)
  • Bioshock: Infinite – Ultra DX11, DDOF (through Steam – option # 2, then option #1 assuming your are at 1080p)
  • Batman: Arkham Origin – 8xMSAA, Geometry Details/Dynamic Shadows/DOF/Ambient Occlusion: DX11 Advanced, Hardware PhysX: OFF, the rest On or High
  • Grid 2 – 8xMSAA, Ultra defaults + Soft Ambient Occlusion: ON
  • Final Fantasy XIV:ARR – Default Maximum setting
  • More detail is in our article: Overclockers.com GPU Testing Procedures

Synthetic Benchmarks

I bet that most just web wheeled down to the good part (here!), so let’s get to it. In 3DMark Vantage, the HIS R9 380 IceQ X2 OC scored 33,933, while its direct competition, the GTX 960, and in this case an overclocked EVGA GTX 960 SC, was nearly 4% slower. Oddly enough, it is slightly behind, about 1.5%, to what is supposed to be a faster card in the R9 290. The GTX 970 is, as expected quite a bit faster (and also costs quite a bit more – like the R9 290). I wanted the graphs to show direct competition, as well as a rung below and above it so we can see where it fits (my usual M.O).

In 3DMark 11, the R9 380 scores 11,018 while beating the GTX 960 by over 2.5%. Things start to fall into place here with the R9 280 falling 13% behind and then R9 290 almost 20% ahead.

3DMark Vantage and 3dMark 11

3DMark Vantage and 3dMark 11

Turning the page to something that tickles the GPU a bit more, the 3DMark Fire Strike score is 7,573 easily beating out that overclocked GTX 960 by 9%, the R9 280 by 12%, and falling a fair bit behind the R9 290 and GTX 970 by 21% and 37.3% respectively. In Unigine Heaven Extreme (Hwbot version) the R9 380 reaches a score of 2,190.4, giving it a about a 13% advantage over both the GTX 960 and the R9 280. At this point, I shouldn’t need to mention what the R9 290 and GTX 970 do, right?

3DMark (Fire Strike) and Hwbot's Unigine Heaven (Extreme)

3DMark (Fire Strike) and Hwbot’s Unigine Heaven (Extreme)

Gaming Benchmarks

Moving on to games, we start off with one of our less stressful titles in Bioshock: Infinite. Here the HIS R9 380 hits 86.8 FPS while making easy work of the GTX 960 and R9 280 and being only 5 FPS behind the R9 290. Next up is Batman: Arkham Origins. In this NVIDIA sponsored game, the R9 380 makes 67 FPS, barely beating out the GTX 960 (2 FPS), and a wash against the R9 280. The r9 290 really pulls away here by nearly 50% which is curious considering these cards should be fairly close together. Last up is Grid 2. In this racing game made by Codemasters, the R9 380 came in at 81.8 FPS, which is less than 1 FPS slower than the GTX 960. It was, as expected several frames slower than the R9 290 and leaps and bounds slower than the GTX 970.

Bioshock: Infinite, Batman: Arkham Origins, Grid 2

Bioshock: Infinite, Batman: Arkham Origins, Grid 2

Moving on to the more stressful benchmarks, we start out with Crysis 3. Here the HIS R9 380 IceQ X2 OC manages 25.4 FPS which to most is not playable. In order to enjoy Crysis 3, you will need to make some image quality sacrifices to reach acceptable FPS. Only the R9 290 and GTX 970 had playable framerates in this comparison. Next for the GPU killers is Metro: Last Light. In this title, the R9 380 hits 31.3 FPS, barely over the average for playable FPS. Here you will also likely want to turn things down so there aren’t severe dips that affect your game play. Last up is my favorite, in Battlefield 4. Here the R9 380 hits a very playable 50.5 FPS being just a bit behind the GTX 960 at 52.1 FPS with the R9 290 and GTX 970 pulling ahead by quite a bit.

Crysis 3, Metro: Last Light, and Battlefield 4

Crysis 3, Metro: Last Light, and Battlefield 4

Last up is Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. In this game, we get a total number of frames rendered instead of frames per second (FPS). That said, the R9 380 hit 10,297 frames during the test, barely beating the GTX 960 here and slightly behind the R9 280 (surprisingly). The big boys, GTX 970 and R9 290 do their thing and pull away from the pack.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

Pushing the Limits

By now you all know what I do here. So I did my thing and cranked on the CPU to 4.8 GHz, and pushed the GPU clocks. Sadly, I didn’t really get MUCH further on the core, maxing out at 1160 MHz with +50mv added to the voltage, along with the power limit cranked to +20. Much more than that and it would just black screen out, so this is the seeming limit of the core or power limit. As far as the memory goes, with stock voltage (unable to add any), I was up to 1628 MHz, a bit over a 250 MHz boost from stock. Not too shabby there either.

ptlfs8720

Cooling and Power Consumption

Looking at the power consumption first, we see this 190W board power card hits a peak of 285W when overclocked during 3DMark 11. When running the card at stock speeds, we saw a peak of 264W at the wall, also in 3DMark 11. A quality 450W or greater PSU would be plenty to overclock both an Intel CPU and this card to their ambient limits. If you have an AMD FX, specifically the octo cores, you may want to up that to 500W or greater just to have that added headroom for the more power hungry CPUs.

Power Consumption

Power Consumption

As far as temperatures go, we see things were kept in order by the well established IceQ X2 cooler used on this card. Temperatures maxed out in Heaven at 67 °C (normalized – actual ambient was 22 °C, so you can lower this by 3 °C). The fans ramped up to 42% and were pretty quiet in doing so… way more quiet than any reference blower, that is for sure.

Temperatures

Temperatures

Conclusion

To wrap things up, AMD has made some very minor software tweaks to a mature process in the Tonga chip to make the new “Antigua” cores and in this case, bring out the R9 380, or a R9 285 in wolf’s clothes. The clocks are a bit faster, and there may be some microcode changes too, but what exactly was done, nobody knows yet.

HIS took the R9 285/R9 380 reference model and improved upon it by adding a beefier power section (from 4+1 to 5+1), and putting on their IceQ X2 fan to keep things cooler and quieter and that appears to have worked, at least over the reference models. If we had others to test against, we most certainly would. For now, it will have to stand on its own merits.

Performance overall was pretty good at the 1080p level. I started to test at 2560 x 1440, but I noticed in BF4 and Crysis that it was pretty hitchy at our settings. In BF4 it was due to the 2GB vRAM. It has the horsepower to play a lot of titles there, but the 2GB of vRAM may cause some hitching in certain titles with high settings that will breach that 2GB of available vRAM. That said, all is not lost as HIS makes a 4GB version of this card which would be better suited for the higher res, or even some future proofing at 1080p as 2GB is getting a bit long in the tooth with the highest settings in several titles (that number grows on a weekly basis).

When taking a look at pricing, the HIS R9 380 IceQ X2 OC 2GB comes in at $199.99 at Newegg.com. If you compare that to the rest, you will see that is the lowest price along with a couple of others. I would imagine the 4GB version to be $30-$40 above that (it is not listed at Newegg). The R9 285 is also priced at $199 as well, so we do not see an odd discrepancy there as you do with the R9 290/290x, which is good The GTX 960, its main competition, is priced about $10, or more, higher and performs worse in most titles we test.

With that said, we see R9 380 beating its direct competition from the green team performance and price wise. If you are looking for a nice mid-range card to use for 720p/1080p gaming, I wouldn’t look much further than the HIS R9 380 IceQ X2 OC 2GB/4GB. This card is Overclockers.com approved!

Overclockers_clear_approved

Click for a detailed explanation.

– Joe Shields (Earthdog)

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Discussion
  1. Evilsizer
    with the small price difference on the HIS models from 2gb to 4gb its hard to see why someone would get the 2gb card. i see the 2gb on newegg for $199 and the 4gb card for $219. now i couldnt find the HIS 4gb card on newegg through their search feature, i found on their site through google. :confused:


    Completely agree. I can't imagine why they even bothered with a 2gb version at this point. Seems like a very decent card for the money, but spend the 20 bucks to ensure you aren't hitting frame limits due to low vram.
    Thanks for the review! Any chance you could use a broader range of colors for the bar graphs? The bars themselves are easy to distinguish, but it's hard to distinguish a couple of the colors in the key to tell which bars go with which cards.