Value and Conclusion
|9.2||The HIS HD 7950 X² IceQ Boost uses the AMD reference PCB, although it's colored blue and comes with a large dual-fan cooler. Thanks to AMD's Boost technology and a generous overclock out of the box, we see the card cruise past the HD 7950 by, on average, 11%, which puts the card neck to neck with the NVIDIA GTX 670. I wish HIS had overclocked the memory a bit beyond the default of 1250 MHz for an easy performance boost.|
Overclocking worked fantastically with our sample. GPU clock went up by 27% and reached 1210 MHz, which is typically only seen on HD 7970 GHz Edition cards. Memory overclocked well too, but not as much as on other cards with Samsung/Hynix memory. In the end, overclocking yielded over 20% extra performance, putting the card even beyond the HD 7970 GHz Edition.
HIS chose a very capable cooling solution that easily handles the heat output. Unfortunately, noise levels are not ideal. I see plenty of headroom for additional noise reductions, especially in idle.
Power consumption during gaming has increased compared to the HD 7950 reference design, but that was to be expected. Running higher clocks and a higher voltage leads to higher power consumption and, as a result, more heat output. The increase shouldn't be a deal breaker though. HIS is using an 8+8 PCI-Express power configuration, which promises more power capability. Some older low-end power supplies might not provide the right power cables, but that can easily be fixed with a cheap adapter HIS has, unfortunately, not included as part of the package.
HIS tells us their card will retail at $320 – definitely a great price considering the normal HD 7950 reference design retails for around $310. This actually makes the card one of the best price/performance high-end graphics cards on the market. With the HD 7950 X² IceQ Boost, you also get a better cooler than the reference design, but the card still keeps the AMD reference design PCB with its solid VRM and software voltage control. Its closest competition would, compared to NVIDIA's offering and in my opinion, be the GTX 670; it is currently available for around $380 – significantly more expensive. While delivering similar performance levels, the GTX 670 has better power consumption, especially in idle, but it does lack software voltage control, something that might be important to many overclockers. Either way, the HIS HD 7950 IceQ X² should definitely be on your short list if you are in the market for a HD 79xx graphics card.