Factory over-clocked cards are more common than iPhones in Starbucks at the moment, and not wanting to be left out we've got our hands on one of the front runners, the HIS HD 5870 iCooler V Turbo. With iCooler and Turbo in its name it must be good, right?
On paper you would think so. Powered by ATI's 5870 GPU, this card offers more than the standard model, using a redesigned PCB and cooler to up its clock speeds. The 5870 GPU is no slouch by modern standards, and we were keen to find out how well HIS has tweaked this, so we pit it against the reference design.
The package and card itself are Modern Warfare 2 branded and a code to download the full game from Steam is included, no doubt in an attempt to ride on the back of the series’ popularity. We're not complaining about this though; if you're in the tiny minority of PC gamers who haven't already played through MW2, the inclusion comes as a nice bonus. The GPU is pre-clocked at 25MHz above the reference design to 875MHz, and the memory gets a similar treatment set to 4900MHz QDR. This alone should give the card a nice boost over other 5870s, and with a new cooler there's likely to be room for over-clocking.
To test, we're plugging it into an AMD set-up using the AMD Phenom II X6 Black Edition 1090T processor, 4Gb DDR3 1600mhz Kingston HyperX memory, Asus CROSSHAIR IV FORMULA 890FX motherboard and a Western Digital VelociRaptor hard drive. We're comparing it to the MSI HD 5870 1GB which uses the same GPU and isn't over-clocked out of the box. On this set-up we're running some real-world gaming benchmarks, thanks to Crysis Warhead, Dawn of War 2, Race Driver GRID, and as it 's included in the package Modern Warfare II, and synthetic test courtesy of FutureMark Vantage.
Let's look at the real-world benchmarks first. Not wanting to weigh you down with too many figures the method is simple; we'll run each game over the same content at 1680x1050 taking the average frame rate. All the games are run at max settings, apart from Crysis.
Looking at the results, it will come as no surprise that the HIS card has a slight edge over its disadvantaged sibling. However, both cards do perform well and all the games are very playable. One thing that does strike us is that the included game Modern Warfare 2 doesn't provide much of a test for either.
Before moving onto the FutureMark Vantage, in an attempt to further separate these cards, we see how far the HIS and its new cooler can be pushed. Using MSI's afterburner software, we slowly crank the core up to 945MHz and the memory 1275MHz or 5100MHz QDR, which is the highest we can reach with the card remaining stable.
Additional over-clocking surpasses our expectations, and although under some stress, the GPU temp was kept within a reasonable range 55 – 68 °C. When pushing the card to the higher clock speeds, the fan does give off a very audible whine. This is in contrast to the card, whilst the GPU isn't under load as this was noticeably quieter than the standard 5870.
HIS looks to have done a good job at tweaking the 5870 set-up to safely squeeze a few extra MHz and to allow a bit of extra head room for over-clocking. We found the card online for £335, although at most retailers it was around the £350 mark. Even then, this is only £10-20 more than the standard 5870, and with the addition of Modern Warfare 2 this looks like good value to us. Either way both 5870 cards are excellent and if you really need that extra bit of performance, or like tweaking settings, we can recommend the HIS HD 5870 iCooler V Turbo.
* The package with Modern Warfare 2
* Very stable at default settings
* Room for over-clocking
* The Price
* Fan noise under load
* Many people have already played Modern Warfare 2