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HIS X850XT IceQ II Turbo Dual DVI VIVO 256MB
By Vincent Chang
Category : Graphics
Published by Vijay Anand on Thursday, 28th April, 2005
Rating : 5 out of 5 stars  

A Cool Customer

What grabs the attention straightaway is the huge and unique cooler mounted on the HIS X850XT IceQ II Turbo. Of course, this is not the first time that we are reviewing a card from HIS. A previous HIS card that we reviewed, the HIS Excalibur X800 PRO IceQ II also sported a similar cooler.

The unique cooler from Arctic Cooling takes the centre stage here.

The reverse side of the card.

Like the Excalibur, the HIS X850XT IceQ II Turbo gets its 'cool' from a rather well known company in this field, Arctic Cooling. A quick search at the Arctic Cooling website revealed that the HIS X850XT IceQ II Turbo is using a version of their ATI Silencer 5 VGA cooler. The more adventurous among us could order the same cooler and install it on their X850 cards but we aren't complaining that everything has been done for us. In any case, removing existing cooling solutions and such are against the warranty terms from many manufacturers. With HIS X850XT IceQ II Turbo already equipped with such an extensive cooler, you have no warranty voiding concerns and there should be no necessity in tampering with it either.

Beneath that warning on disassembling the cooler is the Arctic Cooling logo.

HIS has branded their cards with the Arctic Cooling solution, the IceQ II moniker which indicates that this was their second implementation of this VGA cooler. The box claims that this cooling solution is both quieter (less than 20 decibels) and cooler (11 degrees less than the standard ATI reference card) and from what we have seen so far, those claims seem to be justified. When it was running in our test system, we could hardly discern any noise from the card. Our temperature testing later also revealed the full extent of its cooling capacity. However, the size of the cooler meant that you would need at least two free adjacent expansion slots to fit the card. Also note that there is a slightly thicker bulge in the cooler near its end and that could pose some problems if you intend to install a long PCI card beside the graphics card, possibly interfering with its installation as well as cutting the air intake path to the huge cooler. The power connector is also hidden behind the massive cooler and attaching the power cable could require dexterous fingers and some patience. The same applies for removing the cable if required. Another issue we had was the card's rear heatsink securing bracket that brushed against the motherboard's chipset cooler and this is photographed below. While we barely managed to escape any installation issues, we can't say the same for all motherboards. The NVIDIA nForce4 series of motherboard chipsets run much warmer (most notably the Intel Edition) than competing solutions and these require more elaborate heatsinks. Hence, we advice caution and take necessary measurements before making any purchase decision if you are keen on the HIS X850 series.

Two DVI connectors are included and you will need at least two free expansion slots to fit this monster too.

The black power connector is overshadowed by the cooler.

The rear-bracing bracket for the huge cooler makes contact with our Intel 925X desktop motherboard's chipset heatsink. Not much of an issue here, but the card may not be compatible with other types of motherboard layout and design. Check and make measures before you hand in your cash to get this massive HIS graphics card.

Besides the usual eye-catching decals, HIS has gone a step further with an ultraviolet (UV) sensitive treatment on its cooler that produces a strong glow when exposed to UV light. Though this may be rather gimmicky, it does add some aesthetic value for those who are into case modding. For those who care only about performance, you would be delighted to know that HIS has enabled a Turbo Mode for the HIS X850XT IceQ II Turbo. Basically, this Turbo Mode sets a higher clock speed for both the core and memory. As you know, the HIS card is based on ATI's X850 XT VPU and hence the default core speeds are at 520MHz and 540MHz (1.08GHz DDR) for its memory. The bundled iTurbo overclocking tool allows users to simply choose its Turbo Mode and instantly increase its core and memory speeds to equal that of a X850 XT Platinum Edition (540/590MHz). The best thing is that the speeds are practically guaranteed by HIS and we believe that this would become one of their important selling points. And all this was even before we had engaged in our own overclocking. Take note however, not all HIS RADEON X850 XT cards have this turbo boost functionality, but only those that have the "Turbo" edition label such as this card in review.

Notice the contact between the memory chips and the heatsink unit? Not only the core is well cooled, but also the memory parts.

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