I'm still a little surprised as to how good the Radeon HD 6800 series is in terms of value for money. The product seems to be simply very well positioned in that mid-range segment. Face it, for not a lot of money you can pick up a R6870 and up-to a gaming resolution of 1900x1200 all your games will play really well, even with a decent set of image quality options and eye candy like 4xAA / 16x AF enabled. I mean, even the very GPU intensive Battlefield: Bad Company 2 at a monitor resolution of 1920x1200 with HQ settings and 8x Anti-Aliasing enabled averages out at a 50 frames per second framerate, that's just really good.
So where the product all by itself is already a lot of fun, HIS started to add more. The blue colored PCB, the factory-overclock at 975 MHz and then the cooling. The IceQ X cooler works well, even at that factory overclock of 975 MHz we did not top 65 Degrees C, all that whilst the product remains absolutely silent. The one thing that can be a topic of discussion is the baby boy blue color of the cooler. that does not sit 100% right with me. Personally I am all for a black and a dark themed card. But then again, my taste definitely does not have to be yours.
The card comes with a plethora of monitor connections which is fun to see. Plug in two DVI or DisplayPort connectors for some multi-monitor goodness or simply hook the card up to your HD telly and watch movies over that HDMI (with audio) connector. In this digital era HIS certainly did tackle that problem.
If you feel adventurous, grab overclocking software like AfterBurner, overclock based on GPU voltage tweaking a little as explained on the previous page and you might pass 1 GHz on the GPU, it is a possibility aright. And that gives the product yet another notch of performance. AfterBurner detects the VRM and allows up-to 1.3 volts, take it slow... take the GPU to 1.25V and you will notice that passing the 1 GHz threshold is not really an issue. After 1050 MHz you will run into issues though, but in all fairness... the product allows itself to be overclocked well.
Along with the 6800 series architecture the improved feature set of course is grand with the extra features, like HD3D and the UVD 3 update of the video processor. While capable, the HD3D implementation we feel is a loss 3D gaming wise. Pretty much what AMD is doing is saying, "here's a hardware capable product... and you guys do the rest." The complexity of finding the right TV/Monitor, glasses and then 3rd party software you need to buy is in our vision too complex for the generic end user without any guarantees that the 3D experience will work properly as it's not backed by AMD whatsoever.
Time will tell though, we think that the complexity of a 3rd party for a lot of end-users simply will be complicated, making them choose the competition's solution as that's a handy straight out of the box kit alright. But sure, with the introduction of HD3D and HDMI 1.4a AMD also brings 3D Stereoscopic features to the new 6000 series graphics cards, which is a welcome addition of course, yet requires optimal monitors and shutter glasses. As stated we do not like the complexity of the 3D gaming side at all, but watching movies and pictures in 3D is an easy to accomplish task.
The HIS Radeon HD 6870 IceQ X Turbo X is a very interesting card. Armed with a nice 975MHz clock frequency this product simply makes a lot of sense whilst it brings a lot of value to the table, remember it will allow you to play your games at 1920x1200 extremely well, and with these high factory clocks it is in fact competing with the R6950 all of a sudden.
Pricing for this model is tagged at roughly 180 EUR though the US prices seem to be higher at 210 USD; if volume availability cranks up a little it might drop a little lower. Overall we feel the HIS Radeon HD 6870 IceQ X Turbo X offers a lot for the money. You can get your game on in near silence, while having a nicely factory overclocked product. Definitely recommended.
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