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HIS Radeon HD 7950 3GB IceQ X2 Overclocked Video Card Review

We have a look at the new IceQ X2 version of the Radeon HD 7950 3GB from HIS and see how it overclocks today.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Tue, Dec 25 2012 4:54 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:31 PM CDT
Rating: 94%Manufacturer: HIS

Introduction and Package

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VIEW GALLERY - 30 IMAGES

A few months ago we got a chance to look at the new IceQ X2 based HD 7970 which impressed us with its updated cooler. Today we're looking at the IceQ X2 based HD 7950 from HIS to see how the cooler performs on the slightly lower end model.

At the moment the IceQ series has three main series with in it. The first is the IceQ version we've known to love with that large cooler that has the fan sitting at the back of the card helping push hot air straight out the back of the case. The other is the IceQ X cooler which we've seen on more mid-range cards. Finally we've got the IceQ X2 cooler which is what we're seeing on higher end offerings from HIS.

Instead of just checking the out of the box performance we'll be overclocking this video card today to see how it does and help expand our collection of video cards tested on our new benchmark line up.

As always, though, we've got to do a few things before we get into the performance side of things and the first is to check out what kind of bundle HIS is offering. Once we've done that we'll take a closer look at the video card itself before moving into the specification side of things where we'll check out both the out of the box clocks and the overclock we managed to get today. We'll then quickly move onto our testbed and cover the video cards that you'll see in our graphs today before we finally get into the performance side of things to see what the HIS HD 7950 IceQ X2 is capable of doing.

Package

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Looking at the front of the box you can see it's very similar to the HD 7850 IceQ we looked at the other day. The main difference is that instead of being an IceQ version you can see it's labeled as an IceQ X2. Looking at the back of the box you can see that some of the main features are highlighted and a brief description is shown to describe the benefits.

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Inside the bundle it is identical to the HD 7850 we looked at the other day with two CDs - one including the driver and the other the iTurbo software. We've also got a manual, case sticker, DVI to VGA connector and a CrossFire bridge.

The Card and Specifications

The Card

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Looking around you can see this video pretty much identical to the HD 7970 IceQ X2 we looked at a while back. We've got a massive dual fan cooler that hangs over the back and above the top of the video card. You can see we've got heatpipes coming out the top and bottom along with a massive heatsink. The X2 also stands for two fans which you can clearly see are sitting in the middle.

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You can see power comes in the form of an 8-pin PCIe connector and a 6-pin PCIe connector. Staying across the top but moving to the front you can see we've got two CrossFire connectors allowing you to go down the path of two or three of these video cards combined together for extra performance.

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Finishing off with the I/O you can see a Dual-Link DVI connector, HDMI port and two Mini DisplayPort connectors. Across the top you can also see a vent to help the hot air exhaust out of your case. This cooler doesn't push the hot air out of the case quite like the other IceQ design which offers more of a blower setup.

While not promoted extremely well the latest HD 7950 from HIS brings with it a non-reference design with its main features being the new iPower setup. This brings with it a few major features that as you would guess focus on the power side of things. Instead of a 6+6 Power Input setup which is seen on the reference HD 7950, this HIS variant comes with a 6+8. Along with that we've also got a 4+1+1 PWM Phase setup instead of the standard 2+1+1 setup that the reference card sees.

This helps bring a higher Current Output of 270 Amps instead of the standard 150 seen on the reference card. In turn what we're able to get is more voltage, which should help see a higher overclock; something that we'll be looking at soon. The main issue when it comes to iPower, though, is ultimately the lack of clear marketing for the product. Talking to HIS, though, it seems like this is something that will be amended soon.

Specifications

Out of the box the new HD 7950 with its "Boost" clocks carry a 925MHz clock speed on the core, while the 3GB of GDDR5 comes in at 5000MHz QDR. Out of the box the HIS card offers a boost clock to 950MHz while the memory stays at the same 5000MHz QDR.

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Getting into the overclocking side of things you can see we managed to bump the core up to a respectable 1200MHz while the 3GB of GDDR5 was also slightly bumped to 5300MHz QDR.

These are some nice numbers and should bring some strong performance numbers.

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.

Alongside the overclocked HD 7950 IceQ X2 video card from HIS we're also testing a couple of other AMD based cards including the recently looked at HD 7850, the OC Edition of the HD 7870 from Sapphire and the newer GHz Edition of the HD 7970 from AMD.

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 you can see some great performance out the gate. Thanks to the overclock you can see that we're ahead of the HD 7970 GHz Edition at both resolutions.

We'll need to wait and see if these strong numbers continue when we get into our game benchmarks a little later.

Benchmarks - Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 3

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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Performance under Heaven is a little weird here as you can see for some reason we fall a little behind the lower end HD 7870. We did re-run the tests, but it was consistent.

Hopefully we don't see this happen again in the rest of our tests. We know that in some benchmarks overclocking can be a little weird and have negative effects at times for unknown reasons.

Benchmarks - Phantasy Star Online 2

Phantasy Star Online 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.sega.com/?t=EnglishUSA

Product Homepage: http://www.pso2.com/us/html/index.html

Play Phantasy Star Online 2 and experience revolutionary combat in an action-driven, free-to-play multiplayer online RPG from SEGA. Take a journey into an immersive sci-fi fantasy narrative and explore mysterious worlds to unravel their secrets. Join fellow adventurers and fight against the legions of darkness to banish them from the galaxy.

Score explanation: Less than 2000: Please adjust your game settings because the processing load is quite heavy.

2000 through 5000: The game runs fine at the setting, if you have room, you can adjust some settings.

5001+: The game works wonderfully at this setting.

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PSO2 numbers are very strong and you can see we're just behind the HD 7970 GHz Edition and well over that "5000" point score that Sega recommend.

Benchmarks - Lost Planet 2

Lost Planet 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark

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 performance across the board is extremely strong and you can see for the most part we manage to sneak ahead of the HD 7970 GHz Edition. More importantly, though, you can see we're above the 60 FPS number we want at all resolutions for a solid gaming experience.

Benchmarks - Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

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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Across the board you can again see that the overclocked HD 7950 from HIS here manages to sneak ahead of the HD 7970 GHz Edition. Like Lost Planet 2 we also see playable numbers at every resolution, which is always important.

Benchmarks - F1 2012

F1 2012

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

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

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

In F1 2012 players will feel the unparalleled thrill of becoming a FORMULA ONE driver with a host of new features, wide-ranging technical and gameplay advancements and extensive competitive and co-operative multiplayer components. F1 2012 will feature all of the official teams, drivers and circuits from the 2012 FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, including the debut of the 2012 FORMULA 1 UNITED STATES GRAND PRIX at Austin, Texas and the return of Germany's famous Hockenheim circuit to the calendar.

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Looking at the F1 2012 numbers we can again see playable numbers across the board and performance for the most part that manages to sneak ahead of the HD 7970 GHz Edition again.

It's only at the highest resolution we see it fall behind and it's only by a single FPS which won't affect things too much.

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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We continue to see the trend with playable numbers not only at all resolutions, but numbers that are also slightly ahead of the HD 7970 GHz Edition.

Benchmarks - Dirt Showdown

Dirt Showdown

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

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

Product Homepage: http://www.codemasters.com/uk/dirtshowdown/360/

DiRT Showdown is the new arcade racing game from the team that brought you the award-winning DiRT series, uncaged in 2012. Pick up and play controls combine with electrifying events, frenzied crowds and stunning graphics to deliver high octane, dive in and drive thrills from event one.

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Dirt Showdown performance is extremely strong across the board and you can see we're again ahead at all resolutions. More importantly, though, we're at playable FPS across the board.

Benchmarks - Nexuiz

Nexuiz

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.alientrap.org/

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

Nexuiz is an Arena First Person shooter coming soon to consoles. Nexuiz is fast paced with extremely competitive game play. IllFonic brings Alientrap Software's Nexuiz to next-gen gaming consoles around the world while staying true to the game play refined over the years through development. IllFonic introduces a new Victorian influenced art style that is simultaneously futuristic and sophisticated. Nexuiz for consoles is powered by CryENGINE 3.

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Moving to the super intensive Nexuiz you can see while performance is strong against the other video cards here, we don't hit that 60 FPS number we need at any resolution for what we consider to provide solid gameplay.

Benchmarks - Sniper Elite V2

Sniper Elite V2

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.rebellion.co.uk/

Product Homepage: http://sniperelitev2.com/us/age.html

Sniper Elite V2 features detailed sniping simulation with advanced ballistics, taking into account gravity, wind, velocity, bullet penetration, aim stability and more. Guaranteed to provide players with the most realistic simulation of military sharpshooting yet available.

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Sniper Elite V2 looks good, and while we do fall behind the HD 7970 GHz Edition slightly, we manage to still just sneak ahead of the 60 FPS number we want at the highest resolution.

Benchmarks - Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://eu.square-enix.com/en

Product Homepage: http://www.sleepingdogs.net/

The core gameplay of Sleeping Dogs consists of giving the player an open world environment in which to move around freely. Sleeping Dogs is played as an over-the-shoulder, third-person perspective action-adventure game with role-playing elements. The player controls Wei Shen, a Chinese-American police officer, as he goes undercover to infiltrate the Sun On Yee Triad organization. On foot, the player character has the ability to walk, run, jump, climb over obstacles and swim, as well as use weapons and martial arts in combat. Players also drive a variety of vehicles including cars, boats, and motorcycles.

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At the lower resolution you can see we fall a little further behind the HD 7970 GHz Edition, but as we move up the resolution table, both video cards perform closer and closer to each other with only a single FPS separating them at the highest resolution.

The most important information, though, continues to be the fact that across the board we've got playable FPS with that 60 FPS not being an issue with Sleeping Dogs.

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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As you'd expect under the older Far Cry 2 performance across the board is extremely strong with this game being no issue for this HD 7950 video card.

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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Even with AA and AF on you can see we've got no problem breaking the 30 FPS minimum we want to get at all resolutions.

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Looking at our Metro 2033 numbers you can see we're able to get playable numbers at 1920 x 1200, but when we move to 2560 x 1600, we're below the 60 FPS goal. At both resolutions, though, you can see we're ahead of the HD 7970 GHz Edition.

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Under Just Cause 2 you can see we fall just ever so slightly behind the HD 7970 GHz Edition and that means we fall just under the 60 FPS number at the highest resolution.

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Finishing up with the extremely intensive Sleeping Dogs you can see that performance is below the 60 FPS number at both resolutions. With AA and AF on alongside the high resolution texture pack, Sleeping Dogs becomes extremely intensive.

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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With the added voltage and increased clock speeds it comes as no surprise that the HIS HD 7950 IceQ X2 is going to run a little warmer. Sitting at 1200MHz on the core, though, we still manage to see some very strong numbers.

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 2cm 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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Like the heat numbers you can see we're sitting in the middle of the pack coming in a little over 60 dB under load. This is a good number considering the performance on hand, and you can see the video cards that come in louder are actually slower.

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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This HIS offering is extremely power efficient even when overclocked. We're at just over 200 watts when idle, and under 500 watts under load.

Final Thoughts

With a slew of new games recently that are extremely taxing you might find yourself in the market for a new video card. Combined with the fact that you could also find yourself greeted with some much needed holiday leave, the HIS HD 7950 IceQ X2 from HIS is a fantastic offering.

Take AA and AF out of the mix and you can see on almost all of our test games here that we're able to play with the highest in-game settings at all resolutions including the ultra-high 2560 x 1600 option. Moving into the AA and AF high quality side of things you can see it's a little hit and miss. 1920 x 1200 for the most part isn't an issue, but moving to 2560 x 1600 causes some problems.

Of course priced at $339.99 this is one of the more expensive HD 7950 models on the market, but it does come in $50 cheaper than the equivalent HD 7970 from HIS and considering you could be finding yourself buying presents for other people at this time of year, the savings could come in handy.

Moving away from the 3D gaming performance, you can see the cooler does an excellent job sitting in the middle of the pack when it comes to our noise and temperature numbers. Considering the added voltage due to overclocking and the increased clock speeds, this isn't too bad at all.

On the bundle side of things it's fairly basic, but also fairly typical of most video cards these days. There's no major surprises to be found and you should have everything you need to get up and running.

If you're looking at buying a new video card for some holiday gaming and want something that stands out a bit more than a reference design and cooled HD 7950, this is a really nice option. While a little more expensive, HIS have put together a really nice product that looks great and performs exceptionally well. Throw overclocking into the mix and you can get even more bang for your buck.

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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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