It’s been a long while since we have had a chance to review a video card from HIS, but beginning today we will start to see reviews hit the front page as we finally hooked back up with them. HIS is ready to share their complete lineup with us, so be prepared to be inundated! That out of the way, this review will be about their R7 260X iCooler. HIS always straps great and quiet cooling solutions on AMD cards, so let’s check out their newest revision that rests on the R7 260X!
Specifications and Features
Below is a list of specifications from the HIS website. As far as the high level details, this is of course a PCIe 3.0 based card (backwards compatible). It needs a single six pin PCIe power connector to run. The Bonaire based GPU core comes in at 1000 MHz sitting on 896 Stream Processors and 2048MB of ram that sits on a 128-bit bus. As far as outputs go, we have HDMI, DisplayPort, and two DL DVI (DVI-D and DVI-I). Support for 4K resolutions is through the DispayPort and HDMI ports only.
This is essentially a re-brand of the HD 7790. HIS works their magic on the reference based card by putting on their latest iCooler to help keep the card much quieter and cooler than the reference model.
|HIS 260x iCooler|
|Model Name||HIS R7 260X iCooler 1GB GDDR5 PCI-E DLDVI-D+DLDVI-I/DP/HDMI|
|Chipset||AMD Radeon R7 260X|
|Memory Size||2048 MB|
|Core Clock||Up to 1000 MHz|
Up to 6 Gbps
|Power Requirements||500W (or greater) power supply with one 75W 6-pin PCI Express power connector recommended|
600W power supply (or greater) with two 75W 6-pin PCI Express power connectors recommended for AMD CrossFire™ technology.
|Max. Resolution (per Display)||DisplayPort 1.2 – 4096×2160|
HDMI – 4096×2160
|Interface||PCI Express 3.0 x16|
|Outputs||DLDVI-D + DLDVI-I + DisplayPort+ HDMI|
The R7 260X sporting its regurgitated Bonaire core has most of the goodies AMD has to offer, starting with their GCN architecture and TrueAudio technology. We have covered that at length in previous reviews/articles so I won’t go into it here. Just know that things work more efficiently on both the gaming and compute side of the house as well as having solid open-source type of audio for improved sound quality and immersion.
As mentioned above, this is the “iCooler” version of the R7 260X, so HIS has put their all aluminum cooler with what looks like a 100 mm fan to help keep the card cool and quiet (SPOILER ALERT: they succeeded!).
The last thing I wanted to mention was their iTurbo monitoring and overclocking application. iTurbo is used for just that – monitoring temperatures, fan speeds, and overclocking the card in case good old Catalyst Control Center doesn’t happen to be enough.
Our first look is of the retail packaging. On these budget cards, we see HIS puts their black themed box along with a pretty cool sword in the middle. It also shows the model name, as well as a feature or two. HIS also mentions its iCooler is up to 28 db quieter than the reference cooler.
Flipping the box around we see a list of features, system requirements, and a slew of awards HIS has received from review sites like us! There is not too much to see on the sides, top, or bottom really.
The last two images are the box in a box packaging. HIS likes to use a ‘very’ black box with their name on the top. When we open up that box, we are presented with the card that rests safely within an over sized plastic clam-shell. Also in the box are the driver CD and a quick installation guide. No extras here.
Photo Op – Meet the HIS R7 260X iCooler
Our first pictures of the card show the very typical HIS setup with their blue PCB and the iCooler strapped on top. The card is about a 3/4 length and not a full sized model, but we expect that in this budget range. Most that are building towers that house large GPUs are not looking for this type of GPU in the first place. Outside of the iCooler, about the only other thing we can see is the power bits have an aluminum heatsink on them to keep that area cool.
Flipping the card over to expose the back side, we get a clear shot of the blue PCB. We can see the solder pads for the PCIe power connector, as well as a CrossfireX connector should you want to strap a couple of these together for even better performance. There is no fancy back plate here folks! None needed.
A Closer Look
As we take a closer look, the first picture shows the 6-pin PCIe power connector that is required for this card. With a TDP of 115 watts, it will need more than the PCIe slot can provide.
Moving on the the outputs, we see a more typical setup of two DL-DVI (one DVI-I, the other DVI-D), capable of outputting 2560×1600 resolutions. Next, is a full sized DisplayPort (1.2) and HDMI, both capable of outputting 4K resolution.
In the next picture, we took the iCooler off quite easily with four screws. You can see it is an all aluminum cooler along with what appears to be a 100 mm translucent blue bladed fan. The fan will move air though the fins and down onto the board and ram ICs.
Speaking of ram ICs, HIS used Elpida W4032BABG 50-F modules, which according to its spec sheet come in at 1250 MHz at 1.5 V. Hopefully we have some overclocking headroom there.
Software – GPU-Z and HIS iTurbo
Below is the screenshot of what GPU-Z shows for this card and the driver installed. We can clearly see the specifications mentioned above match what it shown here with its 896 Shaders, 128-bit bus for the 2048 MB of vRAM, and the 1000 MHz/1250 MHz clock speeds.
HIS also has their own monitoring, fan control, and overclocking application dubbed iTurbo. Like the other ones we may be a bit more familiar with, iTurbo allows you to overclock and over volt (where applicable – not on this card) and save those as profiles. Complete fan control and GPU-Z like information is available, such as vBIOS and driver revisions and other specifications. Below we see a large shot of the overclocking screen along with thumbnails below it showing the rest of the screens.
iTurbo has always been a stable and quite functional utility. About the only option it does not have is graphing capabilities. Otherwise, it’s a one stop shop for your GPU.
Thumbnails of the remainder:
Performance and Benchmarks
- Intel i7 4770K @ 4 GHz, 1.1 V
- MSI Z97 XPower AC
- 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 R7 260X iCooler @ 1000MHz/1250MHz Memory, and Overclocked @ 1200 MHz/1400 MHz memory
- Windows 7 64 bit Operating System
- AMD 14.6 beta RC
Other cards used for comparison are as follows (links are to the OCF reviews).
Note all testing below uses 1920×1080 screen resolution.
- 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
Moving on to the benchmarks, we start off with 3DMark Vantage. The HIS R7 260X iCooler managed a score of 21,234, easily besting the R7 250X by nearly 20%, while falling slightly behind its higher clocked paternal peers by 4-5%. It did lose out to the more expensive and factory overclocked GTX 750 Ti by a bit over 14% here.
When we look at 3DMark 11, we see a similar story as well. This HIS R7 260X scores 6,090, beating the R7 250X by almost 25%. It fell behind a bit under 6% to the other R7 260X’s in the comparisons. We only see a little over a 8% loss to the GTX 750 Ti here.
Moving on to 3DMark’s most recent benchmark, 3DMark (Fire Strike), the R7 260X iCooler posted a score 3,486 here. Again, this bested the R7 250X by a fair margin, but again lost out to its peers by several percent, and in this case it gets crushed by the GTX 750 Ti.
Next up, our heavily tessellated benchmark, Unigine Heaven Extreme (Hwbot version). Here the R7 260X scored 1,008.7, again besting the R7 250X. This time though, it fell over 10% behind one R7 260X and 4% above another. I would imagine driver differences play a part in the results here. Again, the more expensive GTX 750 Ti ran away with the show here.
Web wheeling on down to the games, we start with one of our two ‘GPU killers’ in Crysis 3. As you can see here, with our settings the card managed an unplayable 11.3 FPS and so did the rest of the cards. Some serious image quality manipulation will need to happen to get the FPS up to the magic 30 FPS level… but it can be done.
The other GPU killer, Metro: Last Light, the R7 260X iCooler hit 13.5 FPS again, not playable with our maxed out settings. Just like with Crysis, some in-game settings will need to be adjusted to reach a playable frame rate, and that goes for all GPUs used to compare.
In Battlefield 4, we are finally starting to catch a glimpse of that magical 30 FPS value, but not quite reaching it with 24.8 FPS at our settings. This one though shouldn’t need much at all to break that number… likely just dropping to 2xMSAA and using SSAO would be my suggestion here.
Moving on to some less stressful games, we run across the latest Bioshock, in Bioshock Infinite. Here the R7 260X iCooler finally manages to run a game with max settings and hit 31.5 FPS. In Batman: Arkham Origins, another beautiful looking game, the card hits 33 FPS. In my favorite racing game, Grid 2, it pulls out 46.5 FPS. Plenty playable for most people.
Last up is Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Here it scores 4,935 stock. While history continues to repeat itself as far as the pecking order goes here.
Overall, the HIS R7 260X iCooler performed quite well for its price point (about $120). It lost out to some of its twin brothers out of the gate due to their higher clock speeds, especially on the memory. Once this card was overclocked, that gap shrank considerably and put it right there in the ballpark, if not beating the others as one would expect. With regards to the GTX 750 Ti, that card costs around 25% more, and as one would expect, does bring more performance to the table. A better comparison to that card would be a R7 270 or R7 270X really, but this card still manages to hold its own.
Overall, in some major AAA titles, gaming with the settings maxed out just isn’t possible, so some image quality sacrifices would have to be made. But, it is a $120 GPU and I don’t expect it to run things full tilt at 1080p anyway. So, in the end, we did receive solid performance out of the card.
Pushing the Limits
For the pushing the limits section, I pushed on the clocks a bit more to see what I could get out of it. Sadly I am unable to control the voltage on the card with any of the software tools, but I was still able to overclock this card quite impressively with the stock voltage. In both Heaven and 3DMark Fire Strike I could use 1250 MHz on the core and 1625 MHz on the memory (limits of the application I used). Those are monster overclocks on stock voltage of +250 MHz and +375 MHz respectively. As always, every card is different, so your mileage may vary as far as overclocked results go.
Cooling and Power Consumption
So how did the iCooler do? Pretty darn well. While the temperatures themselves may not show it, it did a great job at keeping things cool and especially quiet. The fan never ramped up past the 50% level, even at 69 °C (which was overclocked, note) and was whisper quiet. I could not hear the unit over the five Yate Loon fans in the test system that were spinning at 1,000 RPM.
When I was pushing the limits, I cranked the fan to 100% and it was still surprisingly quiet. In all of my testing, I never saw 60 °C. Well done on this cooler HIS!
As far as power consumption goes, this lower mid-range card really sips power. With a TDP of 115 watts, the total system consumption at the wall came to 197 watts. A quality 400 watt PSU would be plenty for this card (though they recommend a 500W, note).
The HIS R7 260X is a solid budget offering for a discrete GPU in and of itself. While you will not be able to run AAA titles at 1080p resolutions with the settings maxed out, you can still get a great gaming experience by adjusting a few settings.
When board partners like HIS come in to improve upon a design, like making their own coolers, in general things tend to be better. HIS has evolved their iCooler heatsinks to nearly every card AMD makes, and they have all been (at least what we have reviewed) quieter and perform better than the reference coolers. This card is no different, and the HIS motto of ‘cooler and quieter’ has been achieved here as well.
I mentioned pricing earlier of around $120. Newegg.com has this card for $129.99, which puts it right smack in the median price of the R7 260X 2 GB cards.
If you are looking for a budget gaming card, the R7 260X line is it. If you want to improve upon the audio signature of the card and keep things cooler than reference, the HIS R7 260X iCooler will fit your needs quite well. This card is Overclockers.com approved!
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– Joe Shields (Earthdog)