Three Factory-Overclocked, High-End Graphics Cards

HIS HD 5870 iCooler V Turbo X

The HIS HD 5870 iCooler V Turbo X’s long name tells its tale: it's a Radeon HD 5870 equipped with HIS' iCooler V heat sink, and the Turbo suffix means that it's also overclocked. The "X" is a little something extra. The modifier indicates that the card is overclocked higher than HIS' standard Turbo model. We found the Turbo X on Newegg for $490 (at the time of publication, it's unavailable), which is $100 more than standard Radeon HD 5870 models, and very close to GeForce GTX 480 cards. So, let's see what HIS did to make this card special.

The card comes with the usual 1 GB of GDDR5 onboard memory, so the extra expense doesn't come from an abundance of RAM. The iCooler V is certainly unique when compared to the reference Radeon HD 5870 cooler, as HIS has abandoned the reference radial (cross-flow) fan in favor of an axial model. HIS claims this makes the card quieter and cooler than AMD's reference design. We'll see how effective the iCooler V is in our testing later on.

Since we were sent the bare card without the accompanying bundle, we can only report on the package contents from the HIS Web site, which indicates that the product includes a CrossFire bridge, two Molex-to-PCIe power adapters, a DVI-to-VGA adapter, an installation CD, and an installation guide. The package also comes bundled with a Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 game coupon. This becomes a real bonus if you don't already own the game. It's a AAA title that still sells for about 50 bucks. Of course, if you're one of the more than 20 million people worldwide who have already played the game, the bundle is less meaningful, naturally.

The HIS Web site declares that this product comes with a two-year warranty. While the two-year warranty is somewhat shorter than the three-year term we'd hope a premium product would offer, it is certainly not uncommon. And after two years, most enthusiasts have already started thinking about an upgrade anyway.

The printed circuit board is closely related to the reference design, but it does sport a few tweaks. It is about 3/8" shorter than the reference Radeon HD 5870, and its PCI Express (PCIe) power connections have been relocated to the top of the card--a change that can make installation a lot easier in tighter environments.

The iCooler V heat sink doesn't have any fancy heat pipes. It instead relies on brute force, with a lot of copper and aluminum fins to get the job done. It pulls air in the bottom and exhausts the heat out of the back of the case, in addition to the opposite end of the card. So, having a case with good airflow is ideal.

When it comes to outputs, the TurboX doesn't deviate from AMD's standard Radeon HD 5870 configuration. It boasts two DVI outputs, in addition to HDMI and DisplayPort options. In fact, the output bezel looks identical to the reference model. Just remember that you can only use three outputs at any given time, and in a three-monitor setup, one of them must be attached to the DisplayPort connector.

As mentioned, Turbo X indicates a factory overclock. This card sports a 900 MHz core clock, in addition to a 1225 MHz memory clock, representing a 50 MHz and 25 MHz (100 MT/s effective) increase over stock clocks, respectively. At idle, we saw the GPU frequency drop to 400 MHz core to save power, but the memory seemed to stay at 1,225 MHz. This is in sharp contrast to the 157/300 MHz clocks enabled on a reference card.


The card's BIOS locks the maximum overclocks accessible through AMD's Overdrive utility to a meager 920 MHz core, which is only a mere 20 MHz over its shipping frequency. While the memory limit is a little more flexible at 1300 MHz, we decided to use the MSI Afterburner utility, purported to override the BIOS limits with a little tweaking.

Unfortunately, the MSI Afterburner utility doesn't allow for voltage increases on most non-reference Radeon HD 5870s, so we weren't able to really push the card as far as we would have liked. Nevertheless, we were able to squeeze a maximum overclock of 940 MHz core and 1340 MHz memory from the board, which is 90 MHz over the reference core clock and 140 MHz (520 MT/s effective) over the reference memory data rate. This is a very good result without a voltage increase, and speaks to the effectiveness of the tweaks that HIS made to AMD's reference design.

At 100% fan speed, the card is noisier than a stock Radeon HD 5870. but it manages to keep the GPU cool, with temperatures under 70 degrees Celsius at full load.

  • knutjb
    Good to see sensible conclusions, bang for the buck.

    Amazing how well the ATI cards are doing given their time on the market.
  • Jax69
    i am amazed by ati cards after one year on the market is still strong as hell. very good amd
  • jonsy2k
    I'm not liking the trend of these cards consuming more and more pci slots to be honest.
  • lashton
    lol GTX 480 aginst the 5870
  • carlhenry
    GTX 480 is looking very good and sexy
  • ohim
    Did your lights flickered when you powered up that GTX480 ? :)
  • ^^^^^
    liked the flickered thing.
  • h83
    So, the conclusion is that the only good point about those factory overclocked cards are their coolers...
  • Tamz_msc
    Aliens vs. Predator favors the Radeons, just like Crysis favors the GeForce cards. However, the playing field remains very close
    The graphs tell otherwise.
  • The Lady Slayer
    It's a shame the Big Green has paid off so many game developers that we'll never see a 'true' comparison between ATI & nVidia