HIS Radeon HD 6970 IceQ Turbo 2GB Video Card Review

The high end HD 6970 finally gets the IceQ treatment from HIS. Let's check out what's going on with it.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Fri, Jun 3 2011 4:14 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:02 PM CST
Rating: 92%Manufacturer: HIS Digital

Introduction and Package


Introduction

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VIEW GALLERY - 31 IMAGES


We've looked at the HIS HD 6970 Turbo, we've also looked at some IceQ variants of the HD 6800 series; but today the power of the IceQ and Turbo series combine to create the HIS HD 6970 IceQ Turbo.

The IceQ series is a popular one for HIS and has always represented their best cooler in the HIS line-up. Combined with the Turbo label, the card carries with it also a nice out of the box overclock.

Today, though, we've decided to ignore the overclock and instead make use of the cooler and overclock the card ourselves. Before we cover that, though, let's first check out the package that's on offer from the HIS HD 6970 IceQ Turbo 2GB; then we'll take a closer look at the card itself before looking at the actual overclock we achieved.

Once we've done that, we'll get into the performance side of things and see just what kind of power we're able to achieve from the HIS HD 6970 IceQ Turbo at the clocks we managed to get.

First, though, let's look at the package HIS have put together.


Package

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Looking at the package, there's nothing out of the ordinary. We've got a driver CD, manual, sticker, CrossFire bridge and DVI to VGA connector. We've also got two Dual-Molex to PCI-E power connectors; one goes to 6-Pin while the other goes to 8-Pin.

Card & Specification


Card Pictures

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Looking at the HIS HD 6970 IceQ Turbo card, you can see the massive cooler that HIS have utilized. Everyone who sees it, though, including myself, seems to say the same thing. They're kik'n it a bit ol' skool with the look of the cooler. It looks very much like the cooler we saw on the IceQ cards years ago when it comes to the general look, but of course it's been heavily upgraded with heat pipes, new fan and a massive heatsink.

The card looks the part and it will be interesting to see what kind of performance we're able to achieve out of the model when it comes to overclocking.

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Looking around the card and moving to the top, you're not going to see anything that you haven't seen before when it comes to the overall design. We've got a single 6-Pin and 8-Pin PCI-E power connector at the back of the card, while closer to the front we've got a pair of CrossFire connectors.

Without an extended Crossfire bridge, making use of one Crossfire connector may be a little hard. It would've been nice if HIS included one in the package like we've seen from MSI and the Lightning series in the past which use large coolers.

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Looking at the connectivity side of things, there's no real surprises. We've got two DVI ports, one HDMI and two Mini DisplayPort connectors.


Specifications

Out of the box HIS have bumped the core up from 880MHz to 900MHz and the 2GB of GDDR5 from 5500MHz QDR too 5600MHz QDR. It's not the biggest overclock, so because of that we've decided to fire up Afterburner and overclock the card ourselves to see what kind of performance we're able to achieve.

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With the core bumped up we managed to achieve a core clock of 1020MHz and a memory clock of 6200MHz QDR. This is a strong overclock and should yield some strong performance. So let's find out.

Test System Setup and 3DMark 11


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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASRock, Kingston, Mittoni, Noctua and Corsair.

Today we'll be looking at our HIS HD 6970 IceQ Turbo at 1020MHz core and 6200MHz QDR memory against a number of other cards which include; HD 6970, HD 6870 in CF, HD 6950 in CF, HD 6990, GTX 580, GTX 560 in SLI and GTX 580 in SLI.

Of course, a number of these setups are more expensive and the main comparisons we'll be most interested in is comparing the card to both the reference HD 6970 and also the GTX 580 from NVIDIA.

Let's get started!


3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/
Buy It Here




3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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Straight away we can see a really nice boost in performance and you can see with this strong overclock the HIS HD 6970 IceQ Turbo is able to outperform the GTX 580 at the higher resolution X preset.

3DMark Vantage




Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmarkvantage/
Buy It Here




3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware.

3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.

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3DMark Vantage also sees strong gains, but we're putting less and less emphasis on this benchmark these days.

Unigine Heaven Benchmark




Version and / or Patch Used: 2
Developer Homepage: http://www.unigine.com
Product Homepage: http://unigine.com/press-releases/091022-heaven_benchmark//



New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.

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Firing up Heaven, we can see the strong gains are continued to be seen when we move to a tessellation heavy benchmark. We see at the highest resolution there's very little difference in performance against the GTX 580, which is pretty impressive considering NVIDIA have very strong tessellation performance.

Benchmarks - Resident Evil 5


Resident Evil 5

Version and / or Patch Used: Demo Benchmark
Developer Homepage: www.residentevil.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.residentevil.com/




Resident Evil 5 is a survival horror video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on September 18. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.

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Getting into some games, we can see across the board we've got some very strong performance from the HIS HD 6970 IceQ Turbo when overclocked at all resolutions.

Benchmarks - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2


Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/UK/default.aspx
Product Homepage: http://www.hawxgame.com/




Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2 is an arcade-style flight action game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft. The game is the sequel to Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., released in 2009.

The game begins with Colonel David Crenshaw participating in a routine patrol mission in the Middle East. After halting an insurgent attack, a volley of missiles is fired at the Air Force base that Crenshaw was stationed at, with one of the missiles disabling Crenshaw's aircraft, resulting Crenshaw being in enemy captivity. A joint strike force composed of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and a Ghost Recon squad executes an operation to rescue Crenshaw. In Scotland, Royal Navy Pilot Colin Munro encounters an unidentified passenger aircraft that explodes from an on-board bomb when undergoing training exercise. In Russia, an air force squadron led by Colonel Denisov and Captain Dmitri Sokov engages separatist aircraft but is ordered to retreat from the region after numerous Russian military installations have been attacked.

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HAWX 2 doesn't tend to take real advantage of an overclock, but you can see some nice gains from the HIS HD 6970 IceQ Turbo at the lower resolution when overclocked.

Benchmarks - Mafia II


Mafia II

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.2kczech.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.mafia2game.com/
Buy It Here




Mafia II is a third-person action-adventure video game, the sequel to Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven. It is developed by 2K Czech, previously known as Illusion Softworks, and is published by 2K Games. The game is set from 1943 to 1951 in Empire Bay (the name is a reference to New York's state nickname "The Empire State"), a fictional city based on San Francisco and New York City, with influences from Chicago and Detroit. The game features a completely open-ended game map of 10 square miles. No restrictions are included from the start of the game. There are around 50 vehicles in the game, as well as licensed music from the era.

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Firing up Mafia II, we continue to see that extra performance from the overclock we've got. The best gains are seen at the highest resolution where we really get away from that 60 FPS average that we like to see.

Benchmarks - Lost Planet 2


Lost Planet 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark - Test A Scene 1
Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.lostplanet2game.com/




Lost Planet 2 is a third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition which is also made by Capcom, taking place ten years after the events of the first game, on the same fictional planet. The story takes place back on E.D.N. III 10 years after the events of the first game. The snow has melted to reveal jungles and more tropical areas that have taken the place of more frozen regions. The plot begins with Mercenaries fighting against Jungle Pirates. After destroying a mine, the Mercenaries continue on to evacuate the area, in which a Category-G Akrid appears and attacks them. After being rescued, they find out their evacuation point (Where the Category-G appeared) was a set-up and no pick up team awaited them. The last words imply possible DLC additions to the game, "There's nothing to be gained by wiping out snow pirates... unless you had some kind of grudge."

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Lost Planet 2 sees some great gains, but unfortunately we're just a little behind that 60 FPS average we like to see at 1680 x 1050. We're right on the edge of it, though, and just a small detail change would get us up to that number which is exactly what we want to see.

Benchmarks - Aliens vs. Predator


Aliens vs. Predator

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.rebellion.co.uk/
Product Homepage: http://www.sega.com/games/aliens-vs-predator/




Aliens vs. Predator is a science fiction first-person shooter video game, developed by Rebellion Developments, the team behind the 1999 original PC game, and published by Sega for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The game is based on the Alien vs. Predator franchise, a combination of the characters and creatures of the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise. There are three campaigns in the game, one for each race/faction (the Predators, the Aliens and the Colonial Marines), that, while separate in terms of individual plot and gameplay, form one overarching storyline.

Following the storyline of the campaign modes comes the multiplayer aspect of the game. In this Multiplayer section of the game, players face off in various different gametypes in various different ways.

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AvP sees some great performance increases and we've just got some fantastic performance at 1680 x 1050 and 1920 x 1200 when our HD 6970 IceQ Turbo is clocked at over 1GHz.

Benchmarks - Street Fighter IV


Street Fighter IV

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark
Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark
Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.streetfighter.com/




While Street Fighter IV features models and backgrounds rendered in 3D, the gameplay remains on a traditional 2D plane, with the camera having freedom to move in 3D at certain times during fights, for dramatic effect. Producer Yoshinori Ono has stated that he wanted to keep the game closer to Street Fighter II. A new system called "Focus Attacks" ("Saving Attack" for the Japanese version) has been introduced, as well as Ultra moves. The traditional six-button control scheme returns, with new features and special moves integrated into the input system, mixing classic gameplay with additional innovations.

All the characters and environments in Street Fighter IV are rendered as 3D models with polygons, similar to the Street Fighter EX sub-series Capcom produced with Arika. However, there are a couple of key differences. Art director and character designer Daigo Ikeno, who previously worked on Street Fighter III 3rd Strike, opted for non-photorealistic rendering to give them a hand-drawn look, with visual effects accented in calligraphic strokes, ink smudges and ink sprays during the fights.

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We continue to see strong performance across the board from our HIS offering with strong gains again seen under the older Street Fighter IV.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2


Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01
Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/
Buy It Here




The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.

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We continue to see those strong gains under Far Cry 2 and we've got great performance at all resolutions here with our overclocked HD 6970.

Benchmarks - Batman Arkham Asylum


Batman Arkham Asylum

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1
Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test
Developer Homepage: http://www.batmanarkhamasylum.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.batmanarkhamasylum.com/





Batman: Arkham Asylum exposes players to a unique, dark and atmospheric adventure that takes them to the depths of Arkham Asylum - Gotham's psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. Gamers will move in the shadows, instigate fear amongst their enemies and confront The Joker and Gotham City's most notorious villains who have taken over the asylum.

Using a wide range of Batman's gadgets and abilities, players will become the invisible predator and attempt to foil The Joker's demented scheme.
Batman: Arkham Asylum features an original story penned exclusively for the game by famous Batman author and five-time Emmy award winner Paul Dini, whose credits include Lost season one and Batman: The Animated Series.

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Firing up Batman AA, we can see some strong performance across the board which comes as no surprise. The overclock sees a nice boost in performance at the highest resolution. Below 2560 x 1600 we seem to hit a CPU limitation, so the extra MHz on the card doesn't really help.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF


High Quality AA and AF

Our high quality tests let us separate the men from the boys and the ladies from the girls. If the cards weren't struggling before they will start to now.

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Apart from Aliens vs Predator, we've got some fantastic performance from the HIS HD 6970 IceQ Turbo when we crank up the AA and AF detail. We can see some strong performance under games like Mafia II and Far Cry 2, though, when we crank up the detail which is fantastic.

Temperature Test


Temperature Tests



The temperature of the core is pulled from MSI Afterburner with the max reading used after a completed run off 3DMark Vantage and the Performance preset.

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At 77c the HIS HD 6970 IceQ Turbo comes in cooler than the original HIS HD 6970 Turbo which is great news. The news is even better, though, when you consider we're pumping more voltage and more speed through the card than just the Turbo model we looked at previously.

Sound Test


Sound Tests



Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.

After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).

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Noise levels are very good on the IceQ Turbo even when overclocked. You can see at load we're under 60dB which is always good news.

Power Consumption Tests






Using our new PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).

There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.

The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a SSD hard drive is used with a single CD ROM and minimal cooling fans.

So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.

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Power draw doesn't hold any surprises at a little over 400 watt.

Total Performance Rating (TPR)


Total Performance Rating

The TPR graph is a combination of all our benchmarks in which NVIDIA and AMD are on an even playing field.

The TPR number is a combination of:

3DMark 11, Heaven Benchmark V2, Resident Evil 5, Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.2, Mafia 2 (PhysX Off), Lost Planet 2, Aliens vs. Predator, Street Fighter IV, Far Cry 2, Batman: Arkham Asylum (PhysX Off) and our four High Quality tests which include Mafia 2, Aliens vs. Predator, Street Fighter IV and Far Cry 2.

All of the benchmark results achieved are then combined into a single number. As this graph will grow over time and cards won't be re-tested, next to each model you'll find the driver version that was used when the card was benchmarked.

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Performance of the HIS HD 6970 IceQ Turbo is extremely strong. You can see the only HD 6970 that's able to beat it is the more expensive Lightning model from MSI and that's only by a really small amount. Overall, this is just a great performing HD 6970 which offers us some really strong overclocking potential.

Total Value Rating (TVR)


Total Value Rating

The TVR graph is the TPR score divided by the price of the video card. The price of the video card is based on the list price of the model on Newegg.com. In the event the card isn't listed, it will be based on the U.S. $ MSRP given to us by the manufacturer.

In the event we can't source a price from either, the product will not receive a TVR rating. As with our TPR graph, the amount of video cards on the list will grow over time and the price of the model won't change from what it was when first reviewed. For this reason the U.S. $ price that the card is based off will be included next to the name of the model.

In the event you want to find the TVR rating yourself based on the current price, all you have to do is simply divide the TPR number by the list price.

TVR numbers are rounded to the nearest whole number; 100.3 will be 100; 100.8 will be 101 and 100.5 will be rounded down to 100.

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Looking at the value of the HIS HD 6970 IceQ Turbo, you can see it's strong from a pure performance perspective. Of course, the value is made even stronger thanks to that excellent IceQ cooler that HIS are using.

Final Thoughts




HIS have done a great job with this HD 6970 and while the overclock isn't huge, there's no denying that the card we're looking at today is all about the cooler. The overclock is just a little bonus.

The cooler, though, is fantastic and it's exactly what you would expect from a HIS card that carries the IceQ name. The look does resemble that of an older looking IceQ card from yesteryear, but of course has been pimped out with all the latest goodies that make coolers so great.

Overclocking potential is also really strong with the card not having a single issue getting over that 1GHz mark that we love to see on the HD 6970. Combined with a memory clock of 6200MHz QDR as well, we see some great performance from the card when overclocked.

Overall, the HIS HD 6970 IceQ Turbo just hits the spot for people who are looking for a HD 6970 that moves away from the reference cooler. If you're a fan of the IceQ series or a user of previous IceQ cards, you'll no doubt love that HIS have finally gotten around to slapping the IceQ series name on the HD 6970.

At $379.99 US the IceQ Turbo version of the HD 6970 from HIS does indeed carry a price bump over the reference designed and clocked models. While the overclock might not be much over the reference HD 6970, the IceQ Turbo card is all about the IceQ tag and its cooler more so than the Turbo one and the overclock.

If you're happy to spend the extra money to get something that uses an improved cooler that will in turn allow you to achieve a stronger overclock, the HIS HD 6970 IceQ Turbo is a great choice.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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