With its factory overclock, the IceQ Turbo proved to be a capable card when it came to running most games at high resolutions. For example, Arma II: Operation Arrowhead is only just playable at 2,560 x 1,600 with 4x AA with a stock-speed HD 6970 2GB, but the IceQ Turbo managed a smooth 27fps minimum frame rate, thanks to its factory overclock. This result also saw it leapfrog a stock-speed GTX 580 1.5GB. It was a similar story at 1,920 x 1,080 with 4xAA, where it added 2fps to the 43fps minimum frame rate we saw with a stock card.
Colin McRae: Dirt 2 is an easier game to run, and at 2,560 x 1,600 with 4x AA, the IceQ Turbo saw an increase of 4fps to the 56fps minimum frame rate we saw with a stock card. It also managed a minimum frame rate of 79fps at 1,920 x 1,080 with 4x AA – a 4fps increase over a stock-speed HD 6970 2GB.
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Call of Duty: Black Ops is another very easy game for a high-end graphics card, and the IceQ Turbo managed a minimum frame rate at 2,560 x 1,600 with 4x AA of 82fps – 3fps faster than a stock-speed card.
However, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is our toughest game test and at 2,560 x 1,600 x 4x AA, like a stock card, the IceQ Turbo was unable to obtain a playable frame rate, managing only 21fps – the same as a GTX 570 1.3GB. Lowering the resolution to 1,920 x 1,080 with 4x AA was a different story, though, as the IceQ Turbo posted a minimum frame rate of 40fps, although this is only 2fps higher than a stock card, and a little slower than both the GTX 580 1.5GB and GTX 570 1.3GB.
Meanwhile, the huge IceQ cooler proved a brilliant addition, resulting in a load delta T of 47˚C. This is 12˚C below that of a stock card, and it was also much quieter. It isn’t silent, however, and it was definitely audible when playing games, but both the noise level and cooling ability are greatly improved over those of the AMD reference cooler. With the IceQ Turbo installed, our test system drew 327W under load – 29W more than a stock card. Running Folding@home saw the power draw drop to 303W, while the IceQ Turbo produced 4,371ppd.
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HIS doesn't have its own overclocking app, so we used MSI’s Afterburner to see how much headroom there was in the card. We pushed the core speed to 975MHz and the memory frequency to 1,450MHz (5.8GHz effective), up from 1,400MHz (5.6GHz effective). In Arma II, this added 3fps to the minimum frame rate at 2,560 x 1,600 with 4x AA; in Bad Company 2 at the same settings, the minimum went from an unplayable 21fps to a much improved 27fps – faster than a stock-speed GTX 580 1.5GB.
The HIS HD 6970 IceQ Turbo 2GB is a fine card, with a price that’s only slightly higher than that of a stock HD 6970 2GB and roughly the same as the GTX 570 1.3GB. Its cooler is enormous, but the benefits in temperatures and noise levels are fantastic. Add in the highly capable graphics performance and plenty of overclocking headroom, and the HIS HD 6970 IceQ Turbo 2GB is a strong choice for a powerful high-end GPU for far less cash than Nvidia’s GTX 580 1.5GB.