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HIS Radeon HD 7870 IceQ 2GB Video Cards in CrossFire Overclocked Review

We pair two HIS Radeon HD 7870 IceQ video cards together and proceed to overclock them to find out how they go with the new iTurbo software.
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Published Mon, May 28 2012 1:30 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:30 PM CDT
Rating: 95%Manufacturer: HIS

Introduction and Package

HIS Radeon HD 7870 IceQ 2GB Video Cards in CrossFire Overclocked Review 02 | TweakTown.com
VIEW GALLERY - 28 IMAGES

A while ago we looked at the HIS HD 7870 IceQ Turbo and even HIS found themselves impressed with what the video card was capable of when we started overclocking it. Wanting to see if we could have the same kind of success with the non-Turbo model, HIS sent it over to us.

Along with finding out the overclocking ability of the non-Turbo model, HIS wanted us to try out the new iTurbo software from them which is one of the most recent attempts of a company bringing their own video card overclocking software to the table. We've always been very much MSI Afterburner exclusive here thanks to regular updates and just a great user interface, but over the years we've looked at what companies have bought to the table with ASUS and SmartDoctor along with Sapphire and Trixx to name just a couple.

Because the non-Turbo model is near identical to the Turbo model we looked at earlier we won't get into the package or the video card itself. We will quickly take a look at the specifications, though, while we also take the time to overclock this video card here today.

To make it more interesting as well we thought that we'd throw our Turbo card into the mix today and see how the cards went in CrossFire. With our fingers crossed the non-Turbo video card showed the same kind of overclocking success as the Turbo model, we should be able to get some excellent performance out of the setup here.

We'll also be taking the time to have a closer look at the iTurbo software that HIS is promoting. We'll go through the main areas of it and talk about what it has and more importantly what it's missing. Once we've done that we'll quickly how we went with overclocking.

As we said, outside of the "Turbo" labeling on the video card and box, there is no change between the two models here from a physical stand point. The only other change comes in the way of the clock speeds which we'll be covering in just a moment. If you want have a closer look at the bundle and video card, then I recommend you check out our review on the HIS HD 7870 IceQ Turbo we did back in March. For now let's take a closer look at the HIS iTurbo software before moving onto the specifications and the overclock we managed to achieve.

HIS iTurbo and Specifications

HIS iTurbo

This is the first time we've used HIS iTurbo software and when you open it up for the first time you are greeted with this small iTurbo logo that we see on the boxes and video cards of recent HIS models. The first thing we do is hit the iTurbo button, it doesn't really tell us much, but we see it light up when it's pressed.

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If we fire up GPU-Z, though, we can see that our video card has been automatically overclocked from the default 1000MHz / 4800MHz QDR setup to 1111MHz and 4848MHz QDR. While there's not much going on when it comes to the memory, this is a nice automatic overclock when it comes to the core.

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Moving into the advanced area we've got a whole bunch of options when it comes overclocking with the first screen being "Home" which gives us a little bit of a run down and some latest news.

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The next tab is "Info" and it gives us a run down on the video card we're dealing with. You've got the main specifications, clock speeds and driver version. In our case where we've got two cards, you can go to the top and switch which card you want to highlight.

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Moving to the "Overclock" tab this is the one you'll probably spend most your time in. The options are fairly standard - you can see we've got GPU and Memory clock and across the bottom we've got the voltage change option. You can see we've got the option for four profiles along with an option to set the iTurbo profile.

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Finally we finish up with the "FanControl" tab which gives us the ability to set the fan speed to manual options and then save them to a profile be it "Quieter" or "Cooler" which can then be selected in the very first screen. We've also got the standard settings area which is fairly self-explanatory with the image above giving us a good run down on what exactly we're dealing with.

Specifications

Being the non-Turbo model means that the card comes with the reference clock speeds. That means the core comes in at 1000MHz while the 2GB of GDDR5 carries a clock of 4800MHz QDR. Of course we want to look at overclocking today and that's exactly what we're doing.

Something HIS has really been promoting with the latest line of IceQ coolers is that they're excellent in CrossFire. A lot of aftermarket coolers don't sit well when moving to CrossFire or SLI because of the fan design. When we tested the HD 7870 IceQ Turbo we ended up with a setup of 1275MHz / 5600MHz QDR.

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Looking above you can see we ended up both video cards running at a very strong 1250MHz while the memory clock came in slightly higher at 5700MHz QDR. This is a massive 25% overclock and when combined across both video cards, it should bring with it some excellent performance.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup

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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, ASUS and Corsair.

We've got a number of video cards in our lineup today starting with some single card setups including the reference clocked HD 7870, HD 7950 and HD 7970. Along with them we've got a couple of CrossFire setups in the form of the HD 7870 in CrossFire, HD 7950 in CrossFire and HD 7970 in CrossFire.

We've also got some representation from NVIDIA with the new GTX 680 present and the Palit GTX 680 4GB cards in SLI which is our fastest dual video card setup at the moment.

That pretty much covers everything, so let's get into the performance side of things to see just what this overclocked HIS HD 7870 CrossFire setup is capable of.

Let's get started!

The FPS Numbers Explained

When we benchmark our video cards and look at the graphs, we aim to get to a certain level of FPS which we consider playable. While many may argue that the human eye can't see over 24 FPS or 30 FPS, any true gamer will tell you that as we climb higher in Frames Per Seconds (FPS), the overall gameplay feels smoother. There are three numbers we're looking out for when it comes to our benchmarks.

30 FPS - It's the minimum number we aim for when it comes to games. If you're not dropping below 30 FPS during games, you're going to have a nice and smooth gaming experience. The ideal situation is that even in a heavy fire fight, the minimum stays above 30 FPS making sure that you can continue to aim easily or turn the corner with no dramas.

60 FPS - It's the average we look for when we don't have a minimum coming at us. If we're getting an average of 60 FPS, we should have a minimum of 30 FPS or better and as mentioned above, it means we've got some smooth game play happening.

120 FPS - The new number that we've been hunting down over recent months. If you're the owner of a 120 Hz monitor, to get the most out of it you want to get around the 120 FPS mark. Moving from 60 FPS / 60 Hz to 120 FPS / 120 Hz brings with it a certain fluidity that can't really be explained, but instead has to be experienced. Of course, if you're buying a 120 Hz monitor to take advantage of 3D, an average of 120 FPS in our benchmark means that in 3D you will have an average of 60 FPS, which again means you should expect some smooth gameplay.

Benchmarks - 3DMark 11

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1

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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Starting out with 3DMark 11 we can see the performance we're getting out of the setup against our other ones here. We're sitting ahead of the HD 7950 CrossFire setup in the Performance preset while we fall just behind it in the higher resolution Extreme test.

Benchmarks - Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.5

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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While we're a bit behind the HD 7950 CF setup in this instance, you can see compared to the reference clocked HD 7870 setup we've got a really nice boost in performance in both presets.

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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At 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050 we can see performance that's ahead of the HD 7950 CF setup while at the highest resolution we see it fall behind slightly.

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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Looking at Mafia II performance we can see that 135 FPS wall is hit on the AMD offerings at 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050.

Moving to 2560 x 1600 we can see that performance is similar to that of our reference setup. Mafia II has never benefited greatly from video card overclocking.

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 doesn't see much extra performance when it comes to our overclocked HIS HD 7870's here. We've got a slightly boost at 1680 x 1050, but apart from that, we've got identical numbers.

The good news is they're very strong numbers and make for an extremely playable experience at every resolution, which is something that a single HD 7870 cannot do.

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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Aliens vs. Predator sees our HD 7870 CrossFire setups perform very close to each other. Of course the best feature is that we've got playable FPS at all resolutions. In single card form you can see that the HD 7870 simply can't give us the FPS we need at 2560 x 1600.

Benchmarks - Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.2

Timedemo or Level Used: Dark Tower

Developer Homepage: http://www.eidos.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.justcause.com/

Just Cause 2 employs the Avalanche Engine 2.0, an updated version of the engine used in Just Cause. The game is set on the other side of the world from the original Just Cause, on the fictional island of Panau in Southeast Asia. Panau has varied terrain, from desert to alpine to rainforest. Rico Rodriguez returns as the protagonist, aiming to overthrow the evil dictator Pandak "Baby" Panay and confront his former mentor, Tom Sheldon.

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Looking at Just Cause 2 performance we can see great numbers across the board that see a small bump in performance compared to our reference clocked setup. More importantly moving to the dual card setup offers us playable FPS at all resolutions, which is something the single card setup could not do.

Benchmarks - Metro 2033

Metro 2033

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.4a-games.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.thqnordic.com/

Metro 2033 is an action-oriented video game with a combination of survival horror and first-person shooter elements. The game is based on the novel Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in Ukraine and released in March 2010 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360.[3] In March 2006, 4A Games announced a partnership with Glukhovsky to collaborate on the game.[4] The game was announced at the 2009 Games Convention in Leipzig;[5] a first trailer came along with the announcement.[6] A sequel was announced, currently titled Metro: Last Light.

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Metro 2033 performance is really strong across the board as we see some great numbers out of the setup here. You can see at the lower resolution the numbers are similar to the HD 7950 CrossFire setup. Moving to 2560 x 1600, though, we do see it fall a little behind.

Benchmarks - Dirt 3

Dirt 3

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.codemasters.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.dirt3game.com/

DiRT 3 boasts more cars, more locations, more routes and more events than any other game in the series, including over 50 rally cars representing the very best from five decades of the sport. With more than double the track content of 2009's hit, DiRT 3 will see players start at the top as a professional driver, with a top-flight career in competitive off-road racing complimented by the opportunity to express themselves in Gymkhana-style showpiece driving events.

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Looking at Dirt 3 numbers you can see that our HIS HD 7870 IceQ CrossFire setup sits right on top of the HD 7950 CrossFire setup at all resolutions with very little separating them.

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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Looking at Far Cry 2 you can see we're hitting that massive wall here like most of our other high end setups. There's ultimately little surprise when it comes to Far Cry 2 with these really high end setups, it continues to be a strong test for our mid-range single card setups, though.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AF

While we test all our games with maximum in-game settings, turning on Anti-Aliasing (AA) and Antistrophic Filtering (AF) helps take the intensity of our testing to another level.

Here we see video cards go from playable FPS to an unplayable FPS and the real power houses continue to help break that 60 FPS mark we always aim for to provide a smooth gaming experience.

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With AA and AF on we don't see much change between our reference card speeds and the overclocked HIS OC'ed speeds here. The most important information here, though, is the playable FPS we've got across the board.

Temperature Test

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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The IceQ coolers are doing a fantastic job as you see the hottest video card running at only 71c. Considering the power coming out of this setup, it's very impressive.

Sound Test

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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What's even better, though, is that the heat numbers come at a low noise level with the dual video card setup being only a small margin louder than the single card setup. There's really nothing in it.

Power Consumption Test

Using our 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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With the added voltage and upped clocks it comes as no surprise that the power draw skyrockets to just under 600 watts. Overall it's not a super high number, though, and we'd suggest if you wanted something like this you'd be fine with a good quality 750+ watt power supply.

Final Thoughts

Like the HIS HD 7870 IceQ Turbo we looked at a little bit back, the non-Turbo model here today does an excellent job of impressing us thanks to its excellent overclocking ability. One could argue the non-Turbo model is slightly better because it comes in at a more aggressive price point.

At $339.99 after rebate, the HIS HD 7870 IceQ 2GB represents some really good value and with the overclocking potential of the video card, the value is extended even further. This is our second HIS HD 7870 that was able to break 1250MHz on the core which as we saw in our Turbo review brings with it some awesome performance gains over a 1GHz clocked reference card.

The package is a little on the weak side, but this is a trend that we see more and more these days as companies let the product do the talking instead of the bundle. Considering the more aggressive pricing of video cards these days as well, there's little to complain about.

Moving away from the card for a second and looking at the iTurbo software for the first time we find ourselves pretty impressed with what HIS is offering us. There's a strong line-up of options and you've got the ability to set a number of profiles from a cooler running card to a quieter one to an overclocked one at a touch of the button.

The only feature we'd like to see is some better monitoring when it comes to temperature, fan speed, GPU usage and so forth - kind of similar to what we see on the right side of MSI Afterburner. While we do have the temperature display, it's simply the current temperature.

The non-Turbo HIS HD 7870 IceQ is a really strong performing card that thanks to an excellent quality cooler gives us the ability to really boost performance via overclocking. As for overclocking, the new iTurbo software from HIS is really strong and you know that over time it will get better as more features are added to it.

If you're looking for a HD 7870 video card that hits at a strong price point and has a really strong cooler attached to it, the IceQ version we're looking at here today from HIS is a fantastic option. In the event you don't want to overclock, you can check out the Turbo model which comes with a bumped core speed out of the box, but of course it will cost you a bit more.

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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.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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