Performance and Benchmarking
Installation for both graphic cards is straightforward. Similar to the Radeon 9800XT, the 9800Pro IceQ requires an external connection to the PSU to sufficiently power the colossal cooling hub. Failure to connect the graphic card to a spare 4-pin power adaptor could result in immediate and permanent damage to the card, varying upon the manufacturer's built-in safety features.
If your PC case has a window, after installation you'll notice the Excalibur 9600XT emitting a faint blue light down upon your motherboard thanks to an onboard LED. Talk about a visual trademark!
Unfortunately, the 9800Pro IceQ features no such 'on-card' lighting but rather gives you the unique ability to actually switch between your card's fan speeds. Although inconveniently placed and somewhat inaccessible at times, the toggle on the back of the 9800Pro IceQ has a deeper impact than simply fan speeds, but actual fan noise. In the introduction of this article, I referred to Hightech Information System as a "leading innovative solution in the European computer graphics market". I was not regurgitating pre-formatted commercial text; I was being honest.
The ability to switch between fan speeds not only allows you to adjust the cooling performance of the card, but enables one to dampen the irritating (and sometimes excruciating noises) endlessly leering throughout their computer. When the 9800Pro IceQ is operating at a "low" fan speed, it is not one audible decibel louder than ATi's Radeon 9800XT. When the 9800Pro IceQ is switched to "high" only a slight increase in noise is noticeable and even then it remains drowned by the sound of the machine's processor cooling fan.
To retrieve the most accurate frames per second (FPS) in our benchmarking suite, we fired up a game then played until we reached a scene containing average amounts of action. We then recorded the FPS during a one minute time period and took the mean FPS. This gave us a fairly adequate ranking of what "Excalibur" of performance these graphic cards are at.
Processor: AMD Athlon FX-51
Motherboard: Asus SK8V
Memory: Corsair TwinXRE3200LL
Video Card(s): HIS Excalibur 9800Pro IceQ 128MB, HIS Excalibur 9600XT 128MB, ATi Radeon 9800XT 256MB
Hard Disk(s): 2x Western Digital Raptors (RAID0)
Sound Card: Creative Labs Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Platinum
Operating System Used: Windows XP Professional (SP1)
Drivers Used: ATi Catalyst Windows XP 3.10
Software Used: Halo PC, Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, Call of Duty, 3DMark03
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