HIS Radeon R7 260X IceQ X² 2 GB ‘Bonaire XTX’ Graphics Card Review

Hassan Mujtaba
Posted Oct 17, 2013
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Introduction

It has been almost two years since AMD launched their GCN architecture based Radaeon HD 7000 ‘Southern Island’ series. The Southern Islands family was the first to support the TSMC 28nm GCN ‘Graphics Core Next’ architecture and today we will be looking at the successor to the Southern Islands codenamed Volcanic Islands.

The Volcanic Islands family is branded as the Radeon R200 series and takes performance and value to the next level. Technically speaking, the Radeon R200 series cards which include the Radeon R9 280X, Radeon R9 270X, Radeon R7 260X, Radeon R7 250 and Radeon R7 240 are GCN rebrands with the addition of new features but rather than giving away the same cards at the same price ranges, AMD added a few new features which we will detail in this article and slashed the prices so much that the Tahiti chip that once was $549 can now be bought for $299 US.

We just tested out our first reference Radeon R7 series card and found it a fairly good solution for 1080P gaming. For our current test, we will be testing out the HIS Radeon R6 260X IceQ X² model which uses the same chip but features a custom designed PCB and HIS’s highly acclaimed IceQ X² cooling design which would allow us to test the card in overclocked conditions which wasn’t possible on the reference model due to the noise and heat out-put.

AMD GCN (Graphic Core Next) Architecture

Before we get to detail the new card, let’s take a brief look at the architecture that has spanned over two years offering tremendous value to PC gamers – GCN. GCN or Graphics Core Next is based on the 28nm TSMC process across each variant.Originally debuted with the Radeon HD 7970 in December 2011, the GCN architecture was an giant step away from the older VLIW architecture featured on the Cayman ‘Radeon HD 6900′ cards. They did performed graphically well but their compute performance was crippled similar to NVIDIA’s GK104 lineup.

AMD took a bold step forward and introduced the GCN architecture with Graphics Compute Unit to handle the compute side of things basically delivering higher performance in compute and graphically intensive applications. The GCN architecture was the blend of both in a single die package aiming for high performance.

The AMD GCN architecture features 16-wide SIMD units with 64 KB registers addressed to each unit. Four of these SIMD units will form the basis of a Compute Unit or CU in short. 16-Wide design means that each CU will hold a total of 64 Stream Processors. The full GCN based Tahiti core features 32 Compute Units resulting in 2048 Stream Processors. The Radeon R7 260X we will be testing today has 14 Compute Units which results in 896 SPs (Stream Processors).

Additional specifications include:

  • Upto 32 Compute Units w/ Dual Geometry Engines
  • 8 Render Back-Ends/ 32 Color ROPs/ 128 Z/stencil ROPs
  • Upto 768KB Read/Write L2 Cache
  • 128-bit/256-bit/384-bit GDDR5 memory interfaces

In addition to the this, GCN architecture also features the GCN Tessellation unit which is the latest iteration of hardware enable tessellation units with increased vertex re-use, off-chip buffering improvements and larger parameter caches. These result in a 4 times performance improvement over previous generation non-GCN based chips.

We know that this is the most boring bit of details for some but it was essential to do a recap of the AMD GCN architecture since the new R200 series lineup except the two R9 290X and R9 290 are based off the same GCN architecture. So with the GCN reintroduced again, let’s take a look at the new (rebranded) graphic cards it has been fused inside this time.

AMD Radeon R7 Series – Gaming At Great Value

With the launch of the Volcanic Islands family, AMD announced two lineups – Radeon R9 and Radeon R7. The Radeon R9 are the high-performance graphic cards aiming the price range of $299 to $199. The other two R9 graphic cards aka Radeon R9 290X and Radeon R9 290 are yet to be launched but would be priced higher and would deliver higher performance.

What we are looking today in t his review is an Radeon R7 series product. The Radeon R7 Series aimed towards the more budget oriented gamers who want to have the power to do it all without spending over 200 bucks on a graphic card.

The Radeon R7 series starts off with the $139 US Radeon R7 260X (The one we are reviewing today) which is the entry level model followed by two lower end models which include the $89 Radeon R7 250 and the $ 59 Radeon R7 240. The Radeon R5 series lineup also exists though we have only seen one discrete model in that product portfolio codenamed as the Radeon R5 230. The Radeon R5 would be the series codename for a variety of AMD GCN enabled APUs and mobility models. The specifications for the Radeon R7 GPU lineup and some of their competitors can be seen below:

  NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti HIS Radeon R7 260X IceQ X² AMD Radeon HD 7790 AMD Radeon HD 7770 GHz
GPU Codename GK106 GK106 Bonaire XTX Bonaire XTX Cape Verde
GPU Process 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm
GPU Shaders 768 768 896 896 640
Transistors 2540 Million 2540 Million 2080 Million 2080 Million 1500 Million
ROPs 24 16 16 16 16
Core Clock 980 MHz 925 MHz 1100 MHz 1000 MHz 1000 MHz
Boost Clock 1033 MHz N/A N/A N/A N/A
VRAM 2 GB GDDR5 1 GB GDDR5 2 GB GDDR5 2 GB GDDR5 2 GB GDDR5
Memory Bus 192-bit 128-bit 128-bit 128-bit 128-bit
Memory Bandwidth 144 GB/s 86.4 GB/s 104 GB/s 96.0 GB/s 72.0 GB/s
Memory Clock 6.00 GHz 5.40 GHz 6.50 GHz 6.00 GHz 4.50 GHz
TDP 140W 110W 115W 85W 80W
Power Configuration 6-Pin 6-Pin 6-Pin 6-Pin 6-Pin
Price $149.99 US $129.99 US $149.99 US $109.99 US $99.99 US

 

HIS Radeon R7 260X IceQ X² 2 GB Graphics Card

The HIS Radeon R7 260X belongs to the Radeon R7 series which is aimed towards the budget friendly price range. The Radeon R7 260X features the TSMC 28nm manufacturer Bonaire XTX Silicon which has already been featured on the Radeon HD 7790 graphic card a few months ago.

Bonaire is based on a new AMD ASIC design and features various power enhancements which we will detail shortly. The Bonaire GPU was essentially part of the Sea islands family featuring the GCN 1.1 core architecture. AMD never revealed whether there was more to the Sea Islands GCN 1.1 family but traces of the family exist in the form of the Bonaire chip. Nevertheless, AMD re-purposed the Bonaire chip in the Radeon R7 260X and added it to the Volcanic Islands family.

Technically speaking, the Bonaire chip features a die size of 160mm2 with a total of 2.08 Billion transistors crammed inside it. The Radeon R7 260X features a total of 14 Compute Units which result in 896 total Stream processors, 16 ROPs, 56 Texture mapping units and two primitive rate per clock. The card has a total compute performance of 1.97 TFlops. The Radeon R7 260X features 2 GB of GDDR5 memory that operates along a 128-bit memory interface. The memory pumps out a total of 104 GB/s bandwidth.

Coming to the clock speeds, the HIS Radeon R7 260X has a max clock speed of 1100 MHz while the memory operates at a 1625.00 MHz or 6.5 GHz effective clock speeds. Although these are the same clock speeds as the reference model we reviewed yesterday, it should be noted that the HIS Radeon R7 260X IceQ X² uses a custom designed PCB coupled with a non-reference cooling design which would allow us to performance overclocked testing.

The HIS Radeon R7 260X IceQ X² has a power draw of 115W that is provided through a single 6-Pin connector and the PCIe expansion slot. The display outputs include Dual-Link DVI, HDMI and a Display port which can be used to display Eyefinity too. The card comes with a single CrossFire connector which allows Dual GPU CrossFireX functionality and is enough for a budget card like the R7 260X itself. Stay tuned for our CrossFire review of the Radeon R7 260X shortly.

AMD Radeon R7 260X ‘Bonaire XTX’ Features

The AMD Radeon R7 260X is the same Bonaire chip that was fused on the Radeon HD 7790 so one may think that other than performance improvements, there won’t be any new features shipped with the new graphic card. But its not like that, actually AMD has shipped all the power improvement technologies that were first featured on the GCN 1.1 architecture along with support for AMD True Audio and their new Mantle API.

Ultra Resolution Gaming

Experience resolutions up to four times higher than HD and see everything your opponent throws at you — without sacrificing a single detail.

GCN Architecture

Primed to enable astonishing performance and breathtaking image quality, making it a top choice for gamers who expect the best.

Mantle

There’s optimization, and then there’s Mantle. Games enabled with Mantle speak the language of GCN architecture to unlock revolutionary performance and image quality.

AMD TrueAudio Technology

With the sonic brilliance of AMD TrueAudio technology, your games now sound as good as they look.

AMD App Acceleration

Improve performance of everyday tasks such as Web browsing, office applications and video rendering.

AMD CrossFire technology

With outstanding performance scaling, a system equipped with AMD CrossFire technology system keeps you fragging while everyone else is reaching for an upgrade.

AMD PowerTune technology

Enables intelligent power monitoring to enable higher clock speeds and better performance in your favorite games.

AMD ZeroCore technology

Allows your AMD Radeon™ GPU to consume virtually no power when in idle state.

AMD HD3D technology

Play 3D games, watch Blu-ray 3D videos, and edit 3D photos on your 3D monitor, TV or projector

You might be wondering whether or not these same features exist on the Radeon HD 7790, well they do but the technology support for True Audio will be unlocked later when AMD ships a driver update in the future. You may continue reading on as we detail the new True Audio and API support for AMD’s Radeon R9 and Radeon R7 series graphic cards.

AMD TrueAudio Technology

One of the most major announcement AMD made regarding their next generation graphic cards was the AMD TrueAudio technology. The AMD TrueAudio technology would be featured on the AMD Radeon R9 290 Series and the Radeon R7 260X graphic cards. The Radeon R7 260X we are testing today is actually the first graphic to make use of the new audio technology that would allow a dedicated and programmable audio processor on the graphic card to add hardware accelerated audio processing that is traditionally handled by the CPU.

For this purpose, AMD would be embedding several TrueAudio DSPs inside of their new graphics die but the AMD TrueAudio hardware itself would be a separate entity dedicated to process the complex audio effects regardless of the tasks being handled over the CPU. Hardware accelerated audio processing was a a part of the Microsoft OS ecosystem until it was fired off with the arrival if Windows Vista by offloading the audio process on to the softwar level rather than hardware accelerated sound cards with the use of Realtek audio codecs and such. However, With Windows 8, AMD seems to mark a return of the hardware accelerated audio processing era and this is why the AMD TrueAudio technology has been introduced.

AMD staged a demo of the TrueAudio sound effects at their GPU ’14 event and mentioned that developers would have to code audio, games and other applications to support the new technology. Following, you can take a look at the AMD TrueAudio block diagram that includes Tensilica HiFi-EP audio DSP cores. Each core has 32 KB Cache and 8 KB scratch ram while the whole block is connected to a 384 KB of shared internal memory and upto 64 MB of addressable space in frame buffer. You can see more specific details regarding the new AMD TrueAudio tech in the following presentation slides:

AMD DirectX 11.2, OpenGL 4.3, Mantle API

With the Radeon R200 Series, AMD is finally adding support for Microsoft DirectX 11.2, OpenGL 4.3 and Mantle API. AMD has been working hard on Mantle API since a few years and just recently announced it at their GPU ’14 event. But before we get into that, let’s see what new enhancement DirectX 11.2 and OpenGL 4.3 have to offer!

Microsoft DirectX 11.2 is only fully featured on their Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 operating system so to take benefit of the new API, you would have to move over to the new OS. Recent reports also suggest that it is only the Radeon R9 290X, Radeon R9 290 and the Radeon R7 260X graphic cards which will fully support the DirectX 11.2 functionality while the others will support it but not deliver full functionality.

The DirectX 11.2 API makes use of 3D Tiled Resources and exposes AMD’s partially-resident texture feature. It also allows hardware managed virtual memory for the graphics processing unit and has several Tier-2 features supported such as Shader LOD clamp and mapped status feedback, mini/max reduction filtering and reads from non-mapped title returns 0.

The AMD Mantle API on the other hand is geared specifically towards the GCN powered Radeon graphic cards and is currently being integrated in Frostbite 3 based Battlefield 4 which is without a doubt the most anticipated title coming out this year after GTA V. Such is its fame that AMD even bundled their latest and top new Radeon R9 290X graphic card with the new title and those of you lucky enough to pre-order the GPU now would be able to redeem the game at no additional cost. So back to the API talk, currently developers have to operate through DirectX and OpenGL APIs to make games work but this doesn’t fully unleash the hardware capabilities of a PC nor do they allow ease of development to developers.

AMD Mantle High-Performance Low-Level API

The AMD Mantle API is being exclusively developed for GCN enabled Radeon graphic cards. This would allow developers to dig deep into the metal to bring console-level optimizations through ease of programming and faster optimizations over a coherent GCN chip architecture. This means that we would see better performance on the entire GCN architecture enabled AMD graphic card lineup ranging from the top Radeon R9 290X to the bottom R7 240.

AMD Mantle


The AMD Mantle API comes with a light-weight driver that allows direct access to GPU hardware for the developers allowing for easier a much easier game development process. Its no surprise that the tech is first coming with Battlefield 4 since it has been officially bundled with AMD’s flagship Radeon R9 290X GPU.

This enables upto 9 time more draw cells per seconds than other APIs such as DirectX 11 for instance by reducing the CPU over head load which is than tasked upon the GPU hardware since its easily accessible. It also allows developers to include more optimization work from next gen game consoles to PCs which in return means the benefit for PC Gamers.

Frostbite 3 AMD Mantle API


In addition to this, you will have the option to select between Mantle and DirectX 11 if you are using a GCN core enabled GPU. Frostbite 3 is on the road to become one of the new mammoth tech engines in the gaming industry powering a portfolio of 15 AAA titles which include the upcoming:

  • Battlefield 4
  • Command and Conquer
  • Mirrors Edge
  • Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare
  • Need For Speed: Rivals
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition
  • Star Wars: Battlefront
  • Mass Effect (New Title in the Franchise)

The AMD Mantle API not only allows GPU optimization but also gives the CPU a boost in performance since very low tasks are handled by the CPU such as rendering, loading and streaming (tasked upon the GPU) so this allows perfect parallel rendering that allows utilization of upto 8 CPU cores found currently on AMD’s FX processors. This also helps avoiding potential bottlenecks for the system that may occur if the CPU is under load which in the case of Mantle won’t happen at all.

Mantle API from AMD is surely a step forward from the traditional way in which games are developed by multi-plat studios and developers. The ease of use and unleashing the true power of PC hardware would provide high optimization to gamers which would result in a better and stable gameplay experience. Mantle would make its debut in December 2013 in Battlefield 4.

Unboxing the Radeon R7 260X IceQ X² Graphic Card

The HIS Radeon R7 260X IceQ X² ships inside a large plastic box that has an aesthetically pleasing design. Both the front and back sides of the box are embedded with several labels detailing the features of the new graphic card such as the IceQ X² cooler. The card itself is held inside a cardboard box wrapped in the anti-static sheet and surrounded by foam to protect from damage while carrying the box.

Outside of the box, we see that the card uses a cool design scheme developed by HIS incorporating two 75mm fans in a dual-slot shroud design that measures the entire length of the card.

Display outputs on the HIS Radeon R7 260X IceQ X² include Dual-Link DVI, HDMI and a full length display ports providing upto 4 displays with AMD Eyefinity support simultaneously. Just right on top of the HDMI ports we can notice a small vent that would be used to pust the hot air out of the internal heatsink.

Following, you can see a representation of how the card would look when equipped on the motherboard. Its a dual slot design and would be easily compatible with any PCI-e motherboard. We take a much more closer look in the next section.

A Closer Look at the Radeon R7 260X IceQ X² GPU

Before taking apart the cooler shroud and heatsink, we take a last look at the graphic card from the top. The black shroud coupled with the silver mesh looks great and does a great job hiding the PCB components unlike the reference AMD Radeon R7 260X graphics card.

Next up, we have the PCB itself with several components which we will detail in a short moment but the first thing we notice is the blue PCB. HIS Digital has been using blue colors for PCB for some time now since it suits the IceQ design scheme but most people would disagree and a black PCB would be better off.

The HIS Radeon R7 260X IceQ X² features a 6+1+1 phase PWM design coupled with the IR8308 and IR8307 DirectFET MOSFETs and an NCP81022 PWM chip that has its own 4+1 Phase power regulation module.

The card features the Bonaire XTX chips with 2080 million transistors and 896 stream processors crammed inside a 28nm die which measures 160mm2.

The PCB is equipped with 4 Hynix made memory chips which are rated at 7 Gbps. They offer a total VRAM of 2 GB GDDR5. The specific model of the chips is – H5GQ4H24MFR.

The R7 260X ships with a single Crossfire connector that allows functionality of upto two same graphic cards. This would allow upto two Radeon R7 260X graphic cards to operate in CrossFire mode delivering better performance. Our article on the Crossfire performance would be published soon after this review.

Underneath the shroud lies a large aluminum fin array heatsink that measures the entire length of the card and offers superior cooling performance over the reference model we tested earlier.

The heatsink features a large 62×62 mm pure copper base that dissipates heat directly off the GPU core into the aluminum fin array which is densely packed and cooled off with the use of dual fan design.

Heat is dissipated off with three 6mm copper heatpipes which run across the aluminum heatsink array to move heat more efficiently.

 

The card requires only a single 6-Pin connector to juice it up. This represents a max TDP of 115W which is good enough for a efficient card like the R7 260X.

Test Setup

Processor Intel Core i7-3770K @ 4.5 GHz
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme6
Power Supply: Xigmatek NRP-MC1002 1000 Watt
Hard Disk: Seagate Barracuda 500GB 7200.12
Kingston HyperX 3K 90GB
Memory: 2 x 4096 MB G.Skill ARES 2133 MHz DDR3
Case: Cooler Master HAF 932
Video Cards: EVGA GTX 770 ACX
ASUS GTX 680 DirectCU II
ASUS GTX 660 DirectCU II
ASUS GTX 580 DirectCU II
EVGA GTX 650 Ti Boost
EVGA GTX 650 Ti
MSI GTX 560 Ti HAWK
HIS Radeon R9 280X IceQ X²
MSI HD 7970 Reference
HIS Radeon R9 270X IceQ X²
MSI HD 7870 GHz Edition
MSI HD 6970 Reference

HIS Radeon R7 260X IceQ X²

AMD Radeon R7 260X
MSI HD 7790 OC Edition
Powercolor HD 7770 GHz

Video Drivers: NVIDIA ForceWare 310.90 (GeForce 500/600 Series)
NVIDIA ForceWare 327.23 (GeForce 700 Series)
AMD Catalyst 12.11 (Radeon HD 6000/7000 Series)
AMD Catalyst 13.11 V4 (Radeon R9/R7 Series)
OS: Windows 8 Ultimate 64-bit
  1. All games were tested on 1920×1080 and 2560×1600 resolutions.
  2. Settings and visual configurations have been detailed for games on their benchmark charts.
  3. Games with PhysX were benchmarked with the setting either kept on Low or Off for fair comparison.

HIS Radeon R7 260X IceQ X² GPU-Z:

HIS Radeon R7 260X IceQ X² GPU-Z (OC):

Graphics Performance and Benchmarks

3DMark 2013

3DMark from Futuremark further pushes the boundaries of benchmarking utilities going all out with cross platform support which include Windows, Windows Phone, iOS, MAC and even Android. The utility comes with three benchmark tests configured for different tiers of high-performance PCs, Mid-range PCs/Tablets and smartphone devices.

3DMark 11 Performance Test

Futuremark’s 3DMark 11 has been around for a while, being a comprehensive benchmark application to evaluate overall GPU and PC performance. 3DMark 11 as the name suggests makes use of DirectX 11 API and makes use of every DX11 feature at hand such as Tessellation, Depth of Field, Dynamic Lightning, Parallax Occlusion mapping, etc.

Aliens vs Predators

Rebellion Studios bring back the action to their Alien and the Predators franchise with the launch of 2010’s Alien vs Predators. The PC version of the title was one of the first games to feature DirectX 11 and tessellation.

AMD Radeon R7 260X Aliens vs Predators_1AMD Radeon R7 260X Aliens vs Predators_2

Batman: Arkham City

The second title in the Batman: Arkham series has also been developed by Rocksteady Studios. Batman: Arkham City takes place in (isn’t it obvious by the name?) Arkham City which is infested with all the super-villains and their minions which Batman has previously met past his journey.

The game was released on PC in November 2011 and runs on the latest Unreal Engine 3 which features rich DirectX 11 detail, tessellation and PhysX support for NVIDIA cards.

Battlefield 3

Battlefield series is a name loyal to any PC gamer. Developed by DICE and published by EA, Battlefield 3 brings back the action, being one of the largest multiplayer launch titles of 2011. The game features both infantry and vehicular combat on some of the largest landscapes ever built in game with a total of 64 players pitted against each other.

Powering the game is DICE’s own Frostbite 2.0 engine. The successor to the original Frostbite engine that powered Battlefield: Bad Company 2. Battlefield 3 makes use of a highly detailed DirectX 11 engine, hardware accelerated tessellation and new lightning effects which deliver some of the most amazing visuals ever to be seen in a game.

Bioshock: Infinite

Bioshock Infinite, the third title in the franchise developed by Irrational Games takes FPS and story telling to a whole new experience. The game puts us in the boots of Booker who in search of a girl named ‘Elizabeth’ ends up on Columbus,  a bustling metropolis of the early 20th century that floats in the sky. The game uses a modified Unreal Engine making use of DIrectX 11 effects.

Borderlands 2

Borderlands 2, developed by Gearbox Studios is one of the hottest titles released in 2012. The game runs on a highly modified version of Unreal Engine making use of PhysX and rich DirectX 9 detail. During our test, we set the PhysX low for a fair comparison between the video cards.

CRYSIS 1

The first things to pop up on forums after Crysis’s launch was ‘Can my system run Crysis’. Almost every forum in the world, gaming or tech related was filled with the same question. This was not because of any bug but because of the technical and graphical achievement Crytek achieved with Crysis.

In 2007, Crytek released Crysis, A Sci-Fi FPS set on a jungle. The first few scenes were enough to determine the graphical leap the game took over others available at its time and still remains one of the most gorgeous looking titles to date. The game quickly became a benchmark to test modern PC’s performance. Crysis is powered by CryEngine 2 which makes use of a highly modified DirectX 10 set with technologies such as Ambient Occlusion and Parallax mapping detailing the rich Jungle in Crysis.

CRYSIS 2

Crysis 2 is the second title to be released by Crytek under their Crysis Franchise. The game is set in New York and revolves in the footsteps of Alcatraz who has to take out the Ceph and Cell along his path.

The game makes use of CryEngine 3 but at the time of its launch was shipped with DirectX 9 only. The game was later given DirectX 11 and High-Res textures through patches. We had our Crysis 2 with the latest DirectX 11 and High Res patch installed.

CRYSIS 3

PC gamers and Crysis franchise have a long running bond that cannot be broken apart. Crysis 3 is the last title of the franchise that for one last time puts in the Nano suit taking the role of Prophet. The game takes place in a post-apocalyptic New York that is now under the control of C.E.L.L utilizing the left over Ceph technology to take grab in their quest for global domination by means of debt enslavement. We set out to take apart the CEPH and C.E.L.L forces in one last finale.

Visually speaking, the game is by far the most graphically intensive title ever developed with hyper realistic effects, textures and an environment with a massive scale. So much is the power of the CryEngine 3 that the game can only be ran on DirectX 11 compatible cards with a feature list length that never ends. Crytek had already done it once with the original Crysis and they have done it again with Crysis 3. Let’s see if the 2013 lineup of GPUs from NVIDIA and AMD hold up in it.

F1 2012

F1 2012 bring back formula racing with an actual representation of teams, drivers and cars. The game is developed on the Ego 2.0 engine by Codemasters which makes use of DirectX 11 feature set.

Far Cry 3

Developed by Ubisoft Montreal, Far Cry 3 is one of 2012’s hit titles which makes us take the role of Jason Brody, a tourist stranded on a tropical jungle along with his friends which is filled with pirates and a mad man known by the name of ‘Vaas’.

The game runs on Dunia Engine 2 and features DirectX 11 effects along with making use of Havok Physics effects. The game is one of the most graphically intensive titles released.

Hitman Absolution

Hitman Absolution is the fifth entry to Agent 47’s Hitman franchise. Developed by IO Interactive and published by Square Enix, the game revolves around 47 once again, betrayed by his former handler Diana in order to protect Victoria, a teen girl. Mystery solves about the girl as the game progress.

The game makes use of a highly improved Glacier 2 engine making use of DirectX 11 effects, Tessellation, Global Illumination and Depth of Field. Hitman Absolution is also one of the most demanding and visually impressive titles to be released in 2012.

Metro Last Light

Metro Last Light once again puts us in the foots of Artyom, a survivor of the nuclear holocaust that shattered Russia. Metro: Last Light is considered as the best looking game to be released to date making use of intensive DirectX11 Tessellation, High-Res Textures, Global illumination lightning and more.

Saints Row IV

Saints Row IV takes the fight straight to Zinyak, a hostile alien leader who has taken over the world and put the president in a virtual simulation to mess around with him. The game revolves around Bridgeport, the place we have all known since Saints Row 3 but re-purposed by Zinyak to suit his needs. The game uses advanced DirectX 11 effects which are quite taxing for even the modern graphic cards.

Skyrim

The Elders Scroll: Skyrim was released by Bethesda in fall 2011. The game featured one of the most largest worlds ever created in an Elders Scroll game taking the RPG genre to the next level.

Stalker: Call of Pripyat

Stalker: Call of Pripyat is developed by Ukrainian studios GSC Games World. The game takes place after the events of Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl. The game uses an updated X-Ray Engine 1.6 which features DirectX 11 effects such as Tessellation and dynamic shadows.

Sleeping Dogs

One of the new titles we included in our benchmarking list is Sleeping Dogs. The game gives us the role of Wei Shen, a Chinese-American undercover cop who has to infiltrate the Sun On Yee Triad organization. The game uses a powerful DX11 engine developed and tweaked by Square Enix that makes use of High-Resolution Textures.

Tomb Raider

The Tomb Raider franchise was rebooted this year with the latest title in the long running franchise. The players start off their journey with a younger and under-trained version of Lara who goes off on her first survival action journey.

Temperature and Thermal Test

No graphic card review is complete without evaluating its temperatures and thermal load. The HIS Radeon R7 260X IceQ X² we were shipped features the IceQ X² cooler which delivers much better cooling and stability over the reference model. This coupled with a custom designed PCB which improves overall stability and power rating of the board.

Note – We tested load with Kombuster which is known as ‘Power viruses’ and can permanently damage hardware. Use the software at your own risk!

IceQ X² is one of the quietest coolers, making the card quieter than the reference cooler. The card is below 28dB when watching movies, surfing Facebook, working. The card remains quiet whether you are gaming, online socializing, entertaining or working.

Fan Design

  • The super large 2x 75mm dual axial fans draws massive amount of cool air to cool the GPU directly.
  • The Q&C fan blade increases air velocity make cooling more efficiently while keeping noise level at minimum.
  • The fan is extremely durable with a life span of up to 50,000 hours.
  • 3x 6mm wide heatpipes optimize cooling performance by removing heat from the core area.
  • The extra large 62x62mm copper heatsink provides a large area to dissipate heat efficiently.
  • The card also carries memory and mosfet heat sinks to provide extra heat dissipation from these areas.
  • The card also features fan control and monitoring, you are able to read fan speed & Asic temperature from iTurbo or other softwares.

Conclusion

The AMD Radeon R9 and Radeon R7 series is all about performance at great value. I called the Radeon R7 260X the cheapest solution for 1080P gaming in my review yesterday but i couldn’t say the same for HIS’s Radeon R7 260X iceQ X2.

The HIS Radeon R7 260X iceQ X2 retails for $149.99 US which is $10 higher than the reference model but pits it right against the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost. The 650 Ti Boost is plain and simple the faster graphic card here and is available for the same price as the custom Radeon R7 260X boards. Even with overclocked frequency, the HIS R7 260X came out slower than its similar priced competitor. So anyone aiming in this category should go the NVIDIA route unless AMD starts offering the Never Settle bundle which may entice up the value of the card depending on the gaming titles offered with it.

Aside from the performance, we did see some certainly good things about the HIS Radeon R7 260X IceQ X2 which includes the custom cooling design which is far more superior than the reference model  and a non-reference PCB which allows for better overclocking. But one should note that NVIDIA is also offering custom AIC prepared cards at the same price.

The HIS Radeon R7 260X features a superior cooling design that’s both quiet and cool coupled with a non-reference PCB that offers better stability and overclocking. The problem only exists with the pricing of the card and we hope that AMD will solve this by adding more value in the form of a gaming bundle in the future.

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