TABLE OF CONTENTS
Not long ago we reviewed (several times) production-line cards, based on ATI RADEON X1900 XT/XTX. And I complained that none of the manufacturers found time for customizing this product. All of them buy ready cards from the Canadian vendor, apply their stickers, pack them into their boxes, and sell through their channels.
That certainly suits the Canadians! The company has designed lots of uber-expensive cards, it controls the production, the quality is up to the mark, and it doesn't have to worry about sales: partners will buy the cards, so it's up to them to reach the end consumer. ATI does not have a lot of dealers and distributors, it deals with just a dozen of partners.
But ATI forgets that its conditions for manufacturing and EVEN PARTIAL modification of these cards are practically impossible. So a rare manufacturer will go for breach of warranty from the almighty Canadian company or for bureaucracy processes to agree on a new modified design. Running a few steps forward, I'll tell you that HIS, who actually dared modify a cooling system, only now, in MAY(!) has managed to implement the idea, which was born back in January, when the X1900 was released. Just look how much time has passed.
You should never go too far in anything, but in this case the Canadian company certainly did it! There are so many grudges against the reference cooling system, that very howling cooler that comes shipped with the reference cards! Moreover, it's highly inefficient - we have noticed many times that the core temperature may reach even 100ºC. And the Canadian company actually forbids any changes (to pedants - ATI's system of certifications, agreements, and approvals practically equals a ban). Looks like a dog in the manger. The company does not equip its cards with good cooling systems (tell me the name of the engineer, who decided to use the cooler from a warm X1800 in the X1900 card - I'll publish this address in our forum, and in a week mass media will report a Lynch law case...); and stands in the others' way. Just think about how long it took HIS to do it. And we don't know for sure whether the case it closed yet. Perhaps the company just breached the warranty and sells the cards at its own authority.
Indeed, the reference cooler sometimes can be heard only under a very heavy load after a long operation period (I admit that it generated very little noise, when we wrote our baseline material. That was why I wrote that this cooler was quiet. But further tests confirmed our readers' comments: the device gradually started getting on our nerves). I wrote long ago that if the prices for X1900 XTX and 7900GTX had been the same, there would have been a choice problem - even though the former offered better anisotropy and support for HDR+AA.
But the above-said concerned reference cards and their not quite efficient cooling systems (I'd like to ask those people, who order such coolers for the Canadian company, whether they would have installed THIS into their computers... NVIDIA engineers turned out to be more clever - the 7900 GTX cooler is above praise).
But despite the delay, the HIS product with a modified cooler has seen the light. According to the tests, it surpasses all expectations in quiet and efficient operation.
Let's examine the card.
I guess there is no point to note that the card itself (without a cooler) is the very same product from ATI, HIS has nothing to do with its manufacturing, as well as all the other ATI partners. You should always look at the small sticker with a bar code that shows the title of a card. It's on the back of the PCB. If P/N starts with 102A, it means that the card is made by ATI's orders on one of Celestica or Foxconn's plants, that is by the Canadian company (it does not have its own plant, it places orders to third-party plants, but it is still responsible for design and quality control).
The card has 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.
Analog monitors with d-Sub (VGA) interface are connected to DVI with special DVI-to-d-Sub adapters. Maximum resolutions and frequencies:
In fact, there is nothing much to add about the card itself. It's just a reference card, we have examined such cards many times.
Now what concerns the cooling system. It's a well-known unique system. 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.
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.
Installation and Drivers
VSync is disabled.
RivaTuner (written by A.Nikolaychuk) readings published above illustrate high efficiency of the new cooling system! Look, the card operates at increased frequencies and the core temperature under maximum load does not exceed 79°C! While the reference cooler demonstrated 95°C and even 100°C at the core!
And mind it that the turbine speed practically does not change, the cooler remains very quiet!
Test results: performance comparison
We used the following test applications:
Summary performance diagrams
You can find more detailed comparisons of various video cards in our 3Digest.
HIS IceQ III RADEON X1900 XT 512MB PCI-E gets the Original Design award (May).
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)
We express our thanks to
for the provided video cards.
Andrey Vorobiev (firstname.lastname@example.org)
May 9, 2006
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