At bit-tech, we love to see companies mixing it up with third-party graphics card coolers, as there's often a lot of room for improvement on the reference models . HIS’ IceQ range of coolers are fine examples, dating back to the Radeon 9800 Pro 256MB, when its rebranded Arctic Cooling Silencer was in a different league to the tiny cooler with which stock cards were equipped.
The latest incarnation of the IceQ cooler, strapped to HIS’ range-topping HD 6970 IceQ Turbo 2GB, is a beast, and it enables HIS to ship the card with a core clock of 900MHz, up 20MHz from the stock speed, and a memory frequency that’s boosted from 5.5GHz to 5.6GHz. The cooler also sports two 6mm and two 8mm heatpipes which, along with a portion of the plastic cooler shroud, jut out from the PCB by a good 24mm.
With the shroud adding 28mm to the height of the card and a length of 282mm, it’s worth checking your case’s dimensions before buying the card, paying close attention to how much room there is between your case’s expansion slots and the side panel. However, with two mini-DisplayPort connections, two DVI and a single HDMI port supporting Eyefinity, the card’s rear air vent is also quite small, so the cooler has vents on both sides to allow exhausted air to spill back into the case. This isn't ideal, but it's the only option in a card with limited backspace real estate.
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Also, while the card appears to have a dual-slot design, the cooler strays a good 10mm into the adjacent expansion slot, which is worth bearing in mind if you plan to install anything next to it.
The large heatsink is aided by an equally large 80mm radial fan, which blows air down the length of the card. The heatsink covers not only the CPU but also the card’s 2GB of GDDR5 memory modules via an aluminium contact plate. Meanwhile, the VRMs are fitted with a separate heatsink, which is placed underneath the lower fan intake to take advantage of indirect airflow.