If you are looking to upgrade to a powerful mid-range graphics card, this HIS board is worthy of your attention. It's based on an ATI Radeon X1650XT graphics processing unit (GPU) and it has 256MB GDDR3 memory. This GPU supports DirectX 9, but not DirectX 10, and will run Windows Vista's Aero interface very smoothly.
- Good performance, a quiet runner
- Cooler takes up a second expansion slot
The ATI Radeon X1650XT GPU in this HIS card is on steroids and will provide good performance for most current games. It's a good stop-gap solution if you need a new mid-range graphics card, but don't have the patience to wait until DirectX 10-capable ones are released.
Price$ 279.00 (AUD)
This isn't a standard card, however, as HIS has increased the core processing clock to 630MHz and the memory clock to 1.46GHz. As such, this card carries HIS' Turbo tag. The standard clock speed for an ATI Radeon X1650XT GPU is 575MHz, while the standard memory speed for an X1650XT is 1.38GHz. As you can see, the numbers have been pushed up noticeably, and with the help of the GPU's 24 pixel shaders and 8 vertex shaders, this card has quite a bit of oomph.
In our tests we found it could sustain smooth frame rates at a resolution of 1280x1024 and it will also play some games smoothly at a resolution of 1600x1200. In-game benchmarks produced good results. The card notched a frame rate of 69 in Quake 4 at a resolution of 1280x1024 and it managed to hit 55 frames per second (fps) when the resolution was set to 1600x1200.
In FEAR, we tested the card at a resolution of 1280x960, where the card scored 38fps, and at 1600x1200, where the card scored 25fps. While the frame rate of 38 in FEAR is playable, it isn't ideal. The score of 25 at 1600x1200 indicates that the card will struggle to play some of the latest games at high resolutions. However, if you're monitor is limited to a resolution of 1280x1024, such as a 17in or 19in LCD monitor, then this card should allow you to play most of your games comfortably at that resolution.
If you want to turn on anti aliasing (AA), you'll notice a significant drop in frame rate. In Quake 4, at 1280x1024 and with 4x AA enabled, the card recorded a score of 45fps, which is definitely playable. In FEAR, at a resolution of 1280x960 and with 4 x AA enabled, the card scored 23fps, which unfortunately, isn't a number that will provide smooth gameplay.
Physically, this card will occupy two expansion slots in your PC, due to its hefty IceQ cooling solution, but it's no longer than a normal X1650XT-based card, nor does it require an extra power connector. The IceQ cooling device is comprised of a large, slow-moving, fan, which pushes air through an exhaust outside the rear of the system. In our tests, this cooler proved to be very quiet and if the card is installed in a system with a standard CPU fan, it will go unnoticed. It's certainly one of the quietest actively cooled graphics cards that we've tested.
On the rear of the card are two DVI ports as well as a TV-Out port. Cables for component and S-Video output are provided, as is an S-Video to composite adapter. This card is also CrossFire-capable. Overall, this is a good card that performs well and won't make too much noise while doing so.
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