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HIS IceQ R9 290X Hybrid graphics card offers cool performance at a great price

By Wong Chung Wee - 6 Sep 2014
Launch SRP: S$839

HIS IceQ R9 290X Hybrid - Cool runnings

HIS IceQ R9 290X Hybrid - Cool runnings

It has been a while since our last HIS graphics card review, and it's befitting that we turn our undivided attention to the limited edition IceQ R9 290X Hybrid card. Based on the "Hawaii" graphics core, the card sports a slightly overclocked Radeon R9 290X graphics core that has been rated to perform up to 1100MHz, an increment of roughly 10% over the default ceiling of 1000MHz. Besides this, the card also features 4GB of GDDR5 video memory that has been overclocked to operate at 6000MHz, against the default of 5000MHz. Hence, a robust cooler like its Arctic Accelero Hybrid cooling system is in order to keep things running cool!

The HIS IceQ R9 290X Hybrid graphics card features a slightly overclocked Radeon R9 290X GPU at 1100MHz. Its 4GB GDDR5 video memory has also been overclocked to 6000MHz. Hence, the closed liquid cooling kit is in order to keep things running cool!

Based on our previous experiences with two Radeon R9 290X cards, which were the ASUS Radeon R9 290X DirectCU II OC and the MSI Radeon R9 290X 4G Gaming, their custom cooling systems did their jobs to lower their operating temperatures to the vicinity of about 70 degrees Celsius or so. This was in stark contrast to the performance of the stock AMD Radeon R9 290X card, which registered a high of 87 degrees Celsius while operating under load. Therefore, let us take a quick peek under its hood to have a better understanding of its liquid cooling system.

(Image source: HIS)

The water block of the cooling kit is in direct contact with the card's GPU, while the "special metal rib" is a metal plate that conducts heat primarily from the video buffer memory chips. Right above these components is a white 80mm PWM intake fan encased in the plastic sheath. The look and feel of the card would have been improved tremendously if the sheath had been made from metal instead. At the heat exchanger or radiator, there is a 120mm PWM cooling fan. The entire radiator unit has a height of 150mm, and a width of about 125mm.

The 120mm intake fan of the radiator.

The entire radiator unit measures 150mm in height, and has a width of about 125mm.

The metal backplate provides support for the card, and we noticed that there are cut-outs, which expose areas of the card's rear PCB. This may be for ventilation, to allow for better cooling of the exposed components.

The backplate of the card.

The card is powered by a pair of 8-pin Molex connectors, with a rated TDP of 300W.

The card has a pair of 8-pin Molex power connectors, with a rated TDP of 300W.

As we move along the top edge of the PCB away from the Molex power connectors, we see a BIOS switch that toggles between two sets of BIOSes. According to the company, one set is purely for backup.

The card has a BIOS switch that toggles between two sets of BIOSes.

For its video connectivity options, there are two dual-linked DVI ports, a DisplayPort port and a HDMI one.

There are two dual-linked DVI ports, a DisplayPort port and a HDMI one.

In terms of the dimensions of the card, despite the presence of the fan sheath, the card measures a svelte 45mm in width, and is effectively a dual-slot component. After taking stock of its measurements, let us see if it measures up in terms of performance

(Image source: HIS)

Test Setup

These are the specifications of our graphics test bed:

  • Intel Core i7-3960X (3.3GHz)
  • ASUS P9X79 Pro (Intel X79 chipset) Motherboard
  • 4 x 2GB DDR3-1600 G.Skill Ripjaws Memory
  • Seagate 7200.10 200GB SATA hard drive (OS)
  • Western Digital Caviar Black 7200 RPM 1TB SATA hard drive (Benchmarks + Games)
  • Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit SP1

We rounded up one of the reviewed AMD Radeon R9 290X custom graphics card from ASUS for comparison. It makes a good representative for such cards on the market. We have also included other top-end NVIDIA cards like the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 780 Ti Windforce 3x OC. Below is the complete list of cards fielded for comparison.

  • HIS IceQ R9 290X Hybrid 4GB (AMD Catalyst 14.4)
  • ASUS Radeon R9 290X DirectCU II OC 4GB (AMD Catalyst 14.4)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 780 Ti Windforce 3x OC 3GB GDDR5 (ForceWare 340.52)

 

 

Benchmarks

Since we've established the full performance profile of the Radeon R9 series of graphics cards, we're only focusing on a subset of our usual benchmarks to determine the gaming performances of the HIS limited edition card. The two benchmarks used are as follows:-

  • Futuremark 3DMark 2013
  • Crysis 3

Here's a quick look at the specifications of the HIS IceQ R9 290X Hybrid 4GB card against the competing cards:-

HIS IceQ R9 290X Hybrid 4GB GDDR5 and competitive SKUs compared
  HIS IceQ R9 290X Hybrid 4GB GDDR5 ASUS R9290X-DC2OC-4GD5 Gigabyte GeForce GTX 780 Ti Windforce 3x OC (GV-N78TOC-3GD)
  HIS IceQ R9 290X Hybrid 4GB GDDR5 ASUS R9290X-DC2OC-4GD5 Gigabyte GeForce GTX 780 Ti Windforce 3x OC (GV-N78TOC-3GD)
Core Code
  • R9 290X
  • R9 290X
  • GK110
GPU Transistor Count
  • 6.2 billion
  • 6.2 billion
  • 7.1 billion
Manufacturing Process
  • 28nm
  • 28nm
  • 28nm
Core Clock
  • 1100MHz
  • 1050MHz
  • 1020MHz
Stream Processors
  • 2816
  • 2816
  • 2880
Stream Processor Clock
  • 1100MHz
  • 1050
  • 876MHz
Texture Mapping Units (TMUs)
  • 176
  • 176
  • 240
Raster Operator units (ROP)
  • 64
  • 64
  • 48
Memory Clock (DDR)
  • 6000MHz
  • 5400MHz
  • 7000MHz
Memory Bus width
  • 512-bit
  • 512-bit
  • 384-bit
Memory Bandwidth
  • 384.0GB/s
  • 345.6GB/s
  • 336 GB/s
PCI Express Interface
  • PCIe v3.0 x16
  • PCIe v3.0 x16
  • PCI Express 3.0
Power Connectors
  • 2 x 8-pin
  • 1 x 6-pin, 1 x 8-pin
  • 1 x 6-pin, 1 x 8-pin
Multi GPU Technology
  • Improved AMD CrossFire
  • Improved AMD CrossFire
  • SLI
DVI Outputs
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
HDMI Outputs
  • 1
  • 1
  • 1
DisplayPort Outputs
  • 1
  • 1
  • 1
HDCP Output Support
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes

8.5
  • Performance 8.5
  • Features 8.5
  • Value 8
The Good
Excellent cooling system
Good price point
The Bad
High power consumption level
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