HIS lists quite clearly on its product packaging and on its website, the advantages found on the latest IceQ cooler over a typical reference cooler, such as being cooler and quieter. As some may know, the original IceQ cooler was based on the Swiss engineered Arctic Cooling's Silencer series of VGA coolers and indeed scored well in both the noise and temperature departments. With this newest version, HIS has gone its own way though the design looks like a modified version of the older model. Here are the major differences that we noted:
At its default fan settings without iTurbo activated, the IceQ3 cooler makes a lot less of a din than the standard cooler found on a reference Radeon X1900 XTX. Things naturally got worse once we hit the iTurbo button and the fan ramped up to its maximum speed. The clock speeds too increased to 700MHz for the core and 1700MHz DDR for the memory, a significant improvement over the standard 650/1550MHz. The card was clocked at standard frequencies for a Radeon X1900 XTX, so you'll have to install and run the iTurbo software to gain the extra speed boost. With the fan operating at its peak, the noise was audible to us seated next to it, though a decent casing would probably dampen most of it. It was overall still less noisy than the peak fan speed on the standard ATI cooler. The slight increase in noise generated is a compromise for the additional clock speeds and enhanced performance so whether to hit that Turbo mode or not is your choice and you can toggle it on or off quickly for your respective usage needs. Overclocking with the iTurbo tool is covered under HIS' warranty terms so there's no risk in using it, except perhaps at a slight expense of your peace and quiet.
The other features on the HIS Radeon X1900 XTX VIVO Turbo are the usual ones that you can find on all Radeon X1900 XTX cards. This includes the VIVO functionality via a Rage Theatre onboard ASIC. There's also the two dual-link DVI outputs that are unfortunately not HDCP ready and does prevent this card from being as 'future-proof' as we would have liked, which is a bit of a drawback considering its price. However, if your system does not double up as a multimedia server of sorts to output high definition content, then a HDCP compliant card or not is a moot point.
It's been quite a while since our last review of a graphics card from HIS and unfortunately, the bundle of accessories and software from the company has remained unchanged. Poring through the list of items we found, the bundle is as comprehensive as ever but it was apparent that while still useful, the applications and games were rather stale. What's the original Dungeon Siege doing in a bundle for a high-end card like the Radeon X1900 XTX when the sequel has been released for almost a year? The other full game included, Flatout is also not new or particularly exciting. At least the applications age more gracefully, since DVD playback programs like CyberLink Power DVD 6.0 is still more than adequate even if the latest version is 7.0. As is the norm for ATI cards, especially one with VIVO capabilities, the accessories are plentiful and provide the high point for this bundle.