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HIS IceQ III RADEON X1300 Turbo 256MB PCI-E
HIS IceQ III RADEON X1300 Turbo 256MB AGP
HIS RADEON X1300 512MB PCI-E
HIS IceQ III RADEON X1800 GTO Turbo 256MB PCI-E
HIS IceQ III RADEON X1900 XTX Turbo 512MB PCI-E

August 14, 2006








TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Introduction
  2. Video cards' features
  3. Testbed configurations, benchmarks
  4. Test results
  5. Conclusions



It sometimes happens... A company may grow, develop for 20 years, conquer new horizons, correct its mistakes, make new ones... And then it may be sold... I mean ATI. In just a few months we'll have to stop typing ATI. Like it happened to the favorite "3dfx". (I typed this word with such nostalgia!) A famous brand, a habitual logo... They will all disappear so that a group of owners of the formerly independent Canadian company could line their purse... A timely disposal, while the company can be sold for a top price.

There will come the time of AMD RADEON... Or the RADEON trademark may die after its three-letter parent...

As for now, everything remains as before. ATI is an independent company so far, its partners get chips from ATI, we'll review new products from the Canadian company.

One of the closest partners of this company, HIS, offers a number of new products. Nearly all of them are united by the same brand - IceQ III. It means that the video cards are equipped with famous cooling systems from Arctic Cooling. This family of the third generation includes two coolers: a big model (for X1800-series cards and higher) and a small one (for X1300-1600 cards). Today we shall examine five new models, equipped with such devices. Not just that, they operate at increased frequencies. Only one product offers standard frequencies, as it's equipped with a passive cooling system.

I should note right away. ATI does not allow its partners to experiment with increased frequencies in BIOS, that is initially. That's why frequencies are raised using the iTurbo utility, which comes shipped with the cards (like the famous ExperTool utility, which used to be included into Golden Sample bundles from Gainward to get increased frequencies).

Video Cards



HIS IceQ III RADEON X1300 Turbo 256MB PCI-E
GPU: RADEON X1300 (RV515)

Interface: PCI-Express x16

GPU frequencies:: 600 MHz (nominal - 450 MHz)

Memory frequencies (physical/effective): 400 (800) MHz (nominal - 275 (550) MHz)

Memory bus width: 128bit

Number of vertex pipelines: 3

Number of pixel pipelines: 4

Number of texture processors: 4

Number of ROPs: 4

Dimensions: 160x100x31mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: dark red.

Output connectors: VGA (d-Sub), DVI (Dual-Link), TV-Out.

VIVO: not available

TV-out: integrated into GPU.




HIS IceQ III RADEON X1300 Turbo 256MB AGP
GPU: RADEON X1300 (RV515)

Interface: PCI-Express x16

GPU frequencies: 600 MHz (nominal - 450 MHz)

Memory frequencies (physical/effective): 400 (800) MHz (nominal - 275 (550) MHz)

Memory bus width: 128bit

Number of vertex pipelines: 3

Number of pixel pipelines: 4

Number of texture processors: 4

Number of ROPs: 4

Dimensions: 160x100x31mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: dark red.

Output connectors: VGA (d-Sub), DVI (Dual-Link), TV-Out.

VIVO: not available

TV-out: integrated into GPU.




HIS RADEON X1300 512MB PCI-E
GPU: RADEON X1300 (RV515)

Interface: PCI-Express x16

GPU frequencies: 450 MHz (nominal - 450 MHz)

Memory frequencies (physical/effective): 250 (500) MHz (nominal - 275 (550) MHz)

Memory bus width: 128bit

Number of vertex pipelines: 3

Number of pixel pipelines: 4

Number of texture processors: 4

Number of ROPs: 4

Dimensions: 160x100x15mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: dark red.

Output connectors: 2 x DVI (Dual-Link), TV-Out.

VIVO: not available

TV-out: integrated into GPU.




HIS IceQ III RADEON X1800 GTO Turbo 256MB PCI-E
GPU: RADEON X1800 GTO (R520)

Interface: PCI-Express x16

GPU frequencies: 520 MHz (nominal - 500 MHz)

Memory frequencies (physical/effective): 500 (1000) MHz (nominal - 500 (1000) MHz)

Memory bus width: 256bit

Number of vertex pipelines: 8

Number of pixel pipelines: 12

Number of texture processors: 12

Number of ROPs: 12

Dimensions: 205x100x31mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: red.

Output connectors: 2x DVI (Dual-Link), TV-Out.

VIVO: available (RAGE Theater)

TV-out: integrated into GPU.




HIS IceQ III RADEON X1900 XTX Turbo 512MB PCI-E
GPU: RADEON X1900 XTX (R580)

Interface: PCI-Express x16

GPU frequencies: 700 MHz (nominal - 650 MHz)

Memory frequencies (physical/effective): 850 (1700) MHz (nominal - 775 (1550) MHz)

Memory bus width: 256bit

Number of vertex pipelines: 8

Number of pixel pipelines: 48

Number of texture processors: 16

Number of ROPs: 16

Dimensions: 205x100x31mm (the last figure is the maximum thickness of a video card).

PCB color: red.

Output connectors: 2x DVI (Dual-Link), TV-Out.

VIVO: available (RAGE Theater)

TV-out: integrated into GPU.






HIS IceQ III RADEON X1300 Turbo 256MB PCI-E
The video card has 256 MB of GDDR2 SDRAM allocated in eight chips on the front and back sides of the PCB.

Infineon memory chips (GDDR2). 2.5 ns memory access time, which corresponds to 400 (800) MHz.




HIS IceQ III RADEON X1300 Turbo 256MB AGP
The video card has 256 MB of GDDR2 SDRAM allocated in eight chips on the front and back sides of the PCB.

Hynix memory chips (GDDR2). 2.5 ns memory access time, which corresponds to 400 (800) MHz.




HIS RADEON X1300 512MB PCI-E
The video card has 256 MB of GDDR2 SDRAM allocated in eight chips on the front and back sides of the PCB.

Elixir memory chips (GDDR2). 3.0ns memory access time, which corresponds to 333 (666) MHz.




HIS IceQ III RADEON X1800 GTO Turbo 256MB PCI-E
The video card has 256 MB of GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in eight chips on the front side of the PCB.

Samsung memory chips (GDDR3). 2.0ns memory access time, which corresponds to 500 (1000) MHz.




HIS IceQ III RADEON X1900 XTX Turbo 512MB PCI-E
The video card has 512 MB of GDDR3 SDRAM allocated in eight chips on the front side of the PCB.

Samsung memory chips (GDDR3). 1.1ns memory access time, which corresponds to 900 (1800) MHz.






Comparison with the reference design, front view
HIS IceQ III RADEON X1300 Turbo 256MB PCI-E
Reference card ATI RADEON X1300 PRO
HIS RADEON X1300 512MB PCI-E
HIS IceQ III RADEON X1300 Turbo 256MB AGP
HIS IceQ III RADEON X1800 GTO Turbo 256MB PCI-E
Reference card ATI RADEON X1800 XL PCI-E
HIS IceQ III RADEON X1900 XTX Turbo 512MB PCI-E
Reference card ATI RADEON X1900 XTX PCI-E


Comparison with the reference design, back view
HIS IceQ III RADEON X1300 Turbo 256MB PCI-E
Reference card ATI RADEON X1300 PRO
HIS RADEON X1300 512MB PCI-E
HIS IceQ III RADEON X1300 Turbo 256MB AGP
HIS IceQ III RADEON X1800 GTO Turbo 256MB PCI-E
Reference card ATI RADEON X1800 XL PCI-E
HIS IceQ III RADEON X1900 XTX Turbo 512MB PCI-E
Reference card ATI RADEON X1900 XTX PCI-E


As we can see, almost all X1300 cards are based on the X1300 PRO design and equipped with fast memory. That is users get X1300 PRO cards for the price of X1300. That's nice.

Strange as it may seem, the only gripe we have is with the X1300 card with 512 MB, as it's equipped with a heatsink without a fan. That's why the heatsink and the card itself get extremely overheated. But its frequencies are not raised! Such cards are first of all designed for quiet system units, that is for barebones. Just imagine how hot it will be inside, when a heatsink gets heated to 80°C - 90°C! It's a very ill-conceived solution.

The AGP card has a PCI-E -» AGP bridge at the back of the PCB.

X1800 GTO and X1900 XTX are manufactured by ATI, they are only equipped with special coolers (to be described below). So any peculiarities are out of the question. They are just reference cards.

The cards have TV-Out with a unique jack. You will need a special bundled adapter to output video to a TV-set via S-Video or RCA You can read about the TV-Out in more detail here. The product is also equipped with TV-In to be used with a special adapter.

Analog monitors with d-Sub (VGA) interface are connected with special DVI-to-d-Sub adapters. Maximum resolutions and frequencies:

  • 240 Hz Max Refresh Rate
  • 2048 x 1536 x 32bit x85Hz Max - analog interface
  • 2560 x 1600 @ 60Hz Max - digital interface

What concerns MPEG2 playback features (DVD-Video), we analyzed this issue in 2002. Little has changed since that time. CPU load during video playback on all modern video cards does not exceed 25%.

Cooling systems of the four video cards belong to the IceQ series. IceQ III and IceQ models. Here is a list of HIS products, equipped with IceQ (a shorter and simpler cooler):




And here is a list of cards, which are equipped with an advanced cooling system - IceQ III:




These coolers will be described below. HIS RADEON X1300 512MB PCI-E is equipped with a simple heatsink, so there is no point in examining it.

HIS IceQ III RADEON X1300 Turbo 256MB PCI-E; HIS IceQ III RADEON X1300 Turbo 256MB AGP

It's a well known and very popular cooling device from Arctic Cooling. It's a first-generation cooler, we could see it on such cards as RADEON 9800/9800PRO. But the second revision of the device, used in later cards, is too large for such PCB. So it's reasonable to equip the X1300 with a previous modification of the cooler, more compact.

Besides, we already mentioned many times that it's as quiet as Arctic Cooling II. And HIS tried to make the product very attractive with the air duct covered with paint luminous under ultra-violet rays.




HIS IceQ III RADEON X1900 XTX Turbo 512MB PCI-E; HIS IceQ III RADEON X1800 GTO Turbo 256MB PCI-E

The cooling system is unique, but well-known. It's unique because all its heatsinks are made of copper. And it's well-known because it's manufactured by Arctic Cooling. Concept of this cooling system comes from the Silencer technology. That's from the same series as the previous solution.

Its operation principle is simple: the turbine drives the air through the copper heatsink and throws the hot air out of a PC case.

Unlike previous solutions, it implies using two different heatsinks: central heatsink for the core and a peripheral one for memory chips.

Heat transfer is reinforced with heat pipes. All metal components are made of copper alloy.

The turbine itself is modified relative to the previous models from Arctic Cooling. The number of blades is increased.

It should be noted that a special design of the card makes any cooler rotate at high speed at startup. Even this model drives a heavy air flow, so the noise is audible, though not that loud as generated by the reference device. But after 10 seconds the speed goes down and the cooler becomes inaudible - a usual thing with all Arctic Cooling products.

So on the whole, the cooling system is very good.
















Such a powerful and efficient cooler will obviously give the above mentioned cards, especially the X1900 XTX, an excellent chance to operate at increased frequencies (using the iTurbo utility) or even higher.

Bundle

HIS IceQ III RADEON X1300 Turbo 256MB PCI-E; HIS IceQ III RADEON X1300 Turbo 256MB AGP; HIS RADEON X1300 512MB PCI-E
User's manual, CD with drivers and demos, as well as PowerDVD, etc. software, DVI-to-d-Sub and S-Video-to-RCA adapters. As well as a composite adapter, a grille for the bell of the cooler.


HIS IceQ III RADEON X1800 GTO Turbo 256MB PCI-E
User's manual, CD with drivers and demos, PowerDVD, etc. Software, FlatOut CDs; DVI-to-d-Sub adapters x 2; S-Video-to-RCA (VIVO); a composite adapter, a grille for the bell of the cooler; TV cords.


HIS IceQ III RADEON X1900 XTX Turbo 512MB PCI-E
The same bundle.




Packages.

HIS IceQ III RADEON X1300 Turbo 256MB PCI-E

A traditional box for all products with IceQ. Blue colors, a window in the box to show off the card, plastic sections inside. Everything is stylish, thought-out, and nice-looking.




HIS IceQ III RADEON X1300 Turbo 256MB AGP

A similar box, only labels and stickers are different.




HIS RADEON X1300 512MB PCI-E

This one uses the old design, which had been used even before IceQ. A bright jacket covers a cardboard box with components arranged into section inside. But it's not as convenient as in plastic.




HIS IceQ III RADEON X1900 XTX Turbo 512MB PCI-E

We were very surprised to see that the company actually changed the package design. Black-blue-azure colors. The box also got bigger. The box window that shows off the card is preserved. All bundled components are arranged into plastic sections. On the whole, it's quite a nice box.







HIS IceQ III RADEON X1800 GTO Turbo 256MB PCI-E

The same box.






Installation and Drivers

Testbed configuration:

  • Athlon 64 (939Socket) based computer
    • CPU: AMD Athlon 4000+ (2400MHz) (L2=1024K)
    • Motherboard: ASUS A8N32 SLI Deluxe on NVIDIA nForce4 SLI X16
    • RAM: 2 GB DDR SDRAM 400MHz (CAS (tCL)=2.5; RAS to CAS delay (tRCD)=3; Row Precharge (tRP)=3; tRAS=6)
    • HDD: WD Caviar SE WD1600JD 160GB SATA

  • Operating system: Windows XP SP2 DirectX 9.0c
  • Monitors: ViewSonic P810 (21") and Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 2070sb (21").
  • ATI Drivers (PCI-E video cards) CATALYST 5.13; NVIDIA drivers 81.98.

VSync is disabled.

Here is the situation with overclocking:

  • HIS IceQ III RADEON X1300 Turbo 256MB PCI-E was not overclocked higher than the Turbo mode, as we nearly got the X1300 PRO anyway
  • HIS IceQ III RADEON X1300 Turbo 256MB AGP - the same situation
  • HIS RADEON X1300 512MB PCI-E - 500/710 MHz (it's impossible to overclock it higher, the card got overheated)
  • HIS IceQ III RADEON X1800 GTO Turbo 256MB PCI-E - 550/1120 MHz
  • HIS IceQ III RADEON X1900 XTX Turbo 512MB PCI-E - 725/1750 MHz.






Here are monitoring results for the X1900 XTX Turbo. As we can see, such an efficient cooling system copes fine with overheating of such a powerful accelerator as the X1900 XTX, operating at increased frequencies at that!

Test results: performance comparison

We used the following test applications:

  • Splinter Cell Chaos of Theory v.1.04 (Ubisoft) — DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, maximum test settings, shaders 3.0 (for NVIDIA cards)/shaders 2.0 (for ATI cards); HDR OFF!

  • Half-Life2 (Valve/Sierra) — DirectX 9.0, demo (ixbt01 . The tests were carried out with maximum quality, option -dxlevel 90, presets for video card types are removed from dxsupport.cfg.

  • FarCry 1.33 (Crytek/UbiSoft), DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, demo from the Research level (-DEVMODE startup option), Very High test settings.

  • DOOM III (id Software/Activision) — OpenGL, multitexturing, test settings — High Quality (ANIS8x), demo ixbt1 (33MB!). We have a sample batch file to start the game automatically with increased speed and reduced jerking (precaching) d3auto.rar. (DO NOT BE AFRAID of the black screen after the first menu, that's how it should be! It will last 5-10 seconds and then the demo should start)

  • 3DMark05 1.20 (FutureMark) — DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, test settings — trilinear,

  • The Chronicles Of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay 1.10 (Starbreeze/Vivendi) — OpenGL, multitexturing, maximum texture quality, Shader 2.0, demo 44.

    I wish to thank Rinat Dosayev (AKA 4uckall) and Alexei Ostrovski (AKA Ducche), who have created a demo for this game. I also want to thank Alexei Berillo AKA Somebody Else for his help.

  • F.E.A.R. v.1.02 (Multiplayer) (Monolith/Sierra) — DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, maximum test settings, Soft shadows disabled.

  • Call Of Duty 2 DEMO (Ubisoft) — DirectX 9.0, multitexturing, test settings — maximum, shaders 2.0, tested in Benchemall, demo and a startup script, readme contains necessary instructions



Summary performance diagrams



You can have a look at the results of AGP cards here. We don't test video cards with this interface anymore.

Read other comments in our conclusions.


Conclusions

  1. HIS IceQ III RADEON X1300 Turbo 256MB PCI-E - it's actually an X1300 PRO card, as this card copies its design. A good choice for a budget sector with a noiseless, efficient, and nice-looking cooler (do not forget that it's luminous under ultraviolet rays). The card was stable, no problems detected. Everything's great. 2D quality at 1600x1200 85Hz (analog output) is excellent.

  2. HIS IceQ III RADEON X1300 Turbo 256MB AGP is a similar product, but for the dying AGP interface. It may be an interesting solution for those, who want an inexpensive product supporting all SM 3.0 functions (DX9) for old platforms (if there is no need to upgrade the platform itself). The quality of the card is also up to the mark, we had no gripes with it.

  3. HIS RADEON X1300 512MB PCI-E - even though the card rated better in our tests than the regular X1300 (it was very strange, considering slower memory than in the reference cards - probably the effect of different timings), I cannot recommend this card to owners of barebones and small system units because of heavy overheating. We have no other gripes, the card was stable, the quality was up to the mark.

  4. HIS IceQ III RADEON X1800 GTO Turbo 256MB PCI-E is an interesting product that competes with the 7600 GT. It's reinforced with a highly efficient cooling system that gives some chances of overclocking. In other respects, it's just a copy of the reference design, there is nothing to discuss. Our sample was stable. We had no problems with it.

  5. HIS IceQ III RADEON X1900 XTX Turbo 512MB PCI-E is the best product among all X1900 XTX cards! It's the most powerful accelerator among modern single-card solutions. It sometimes even outperforms the 7950GX2!

    The main drawback of the X1900 (its noisy and not very efficient cooling system) is eliminated! The new cooler provides acceptable temperature conditions (even more than acceptable) as well as quiet operation. To say nothing of design: the card with such a cooler is nice just to hold in your hands. HIS has come up with a masterpiece!

    So the price of this card (about $600 for August 2006) is fully justified, compared to other products, of course.






You can find more detailed comparisons of various video cards in our 3Digest.








Original Design award






is given to the following cards (August 2006):

  1. HIS IceQ III RADEON X1300 Turbo 256MB PCI-E
  2. HIS IceQ III RADEON X1300 Turbo 256MB AGP
  3. HIS IceQ III RADEON X1800 GTO Turbo 256MB PCI-E
  4. HIS IceQ III RADEON X1900 XTX Turbo 512MB PCI-E



Theoretical materials and reviews of video cards, which concern functional properties of the GPU ATI RADEON X800 (R420)/X850 (R480)/X700 (RV410) and NVIDIA GeForce 6800 (NV40/45)/6600 (NV43)



PSU for the testbed was kindly provided by HIPER




                              





Andrey Vorobiev (anvakams@ixbt.com)

August 11, 2006



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