Last Wednesday, NVIDIA announced their new high-end video card: the GeForce 7800 GTX. It brings almost double the performance of the previous generation GeForce 6800 Ultra, which was combated by ATI's Radeon X800 XT Platinum and then later the Radeon X850 XT and Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition.
If we go back to Spring 2004, when the last generation of video cards were released. Both ATI and NVIDIA suffered from poor availability on their high-end parts, with demand greater than ever before. After the poor initial availability of NVIDIA’s GeForce 6800 Ultra, they managed to finally get enough GPUs out of the foundry to cope with the massive demand.
Unfortunately for ATI, they were left with a GPU that didn’t have good yields at all, even after the expected poor availability initially. The UK was one place where many retailers were having problems getting hold of the Radeon X800 Pro, never mind the faster, more desirable, Radeon X800 XT and X800 XT Platinum Edition SKUs.
To ATI’s credit, they went back to the drawing board to come up with a way of fixing their poor yield issues. This lead to two new GPUs being introduced in to the market place: namely the R430 and R480 GPUs, which are both native PCI-Express parts. The R430 is the GPU behind the superb value Radeon X800 XL that we evaluated not too long ago, finding it to be fantastic value for money at a little over £200.
On the other hand, the R480 is ATI’s current flagship GPU, and forms the basis of the Radeon X850 Pro, Radeon X850 XT and Radeon X850 XT Platinum Edition. Today, we are evaluating the performance of a Radeon X850 XT from HighTech’s range of awesome video cards that feature their sought-after IceQ II cooling technology.
The first thing that immediately stands out is the massive cooling solution on HighTech’s Radeon X850 XT iTurbo. The cooler is a familiar design, in that we’ve seen it many times before on previous HighTech cards. It is based on Arctic Cooling’s Arctic Silencer series of coolers, and it is in fact the ATI Silencer 5 cooler with slightly different aesthetics, in the form of a blue UV reactive fan and a UV reactive duct, allowing it to glow a nice ice blue under UV light.
The UV theme may appeal to those users who have followed our previous recommendation and purchased DFI’s excellent LANPARTY nF4 SLI-DR motherboard. However, be warned, the sheer size of the cooler makes it a snug fit on just about every NForce 4 motherboard, where the chipset fan is either directly in line with the PCI-Express x16 interconnect, or in the close vicinity. In fact, the video card sits slightly out of the x16 interconnect, but worked flawlessly throughout usage despite this.
The cooler is constructed from copper and aluminium – the base is manufactured from copper and has five contact points: the GPU and the four DRAM modules located on the top side of the card, while the fins are constructed in aluminium. The fan is a simple and effective solution that takes air in from the power regulation end of the card and forces the hot air out through the back panel. There is also an aluminium cooler on the reverse side of the card, which provides additional cooling for the DRAM modules located on the back. The cooler is silent, even with the fan set to its maximum speed setting.