Does the HIS IceQ X2 R9 280X deserve your money? Is it a card you should be looking at if you’re in the market for an upgrade? Let’s weigh up the pros and cons so that I can help you decide whether this is the right card for you. I’ll start off by telling you a little bit about the card, and its performance too.
Okay, so as most of you know, the R7 and R9 200 series are nothing more than a rebrand with some slight bumps in clock speeds, well, some of the time. If you already own a HD7950 or HD7970 for example, there’s absolutely no point in changing for a 280 or 280X. A similar story applies for the lower end cards too but let that not deter us from this card. If you are on a previous gen such as the HD 6000 or even 5000 series, these cards are well worth the money. So, onwards and forwards… how does it perform?
The HIS IceQ X2 R9 280X plays the latest games at high enough FPS to ensure smooth gameplay no matter what settings you use at 1080P. Granted 1080P is becoming something which is ‘so last year’, it’s still a very relevant resolution that most of us will be using unless you have the cash to splash on a 1440P+ monitor or two, or maybe even three. On the other hand though, you wouldn’t be looking to buy a single 280X to power that sort of screen so that’s irrelevant to the argument I would have to say. When the card is running at its stock speeds, it’s most certainly not a slouch and it performs well in a big range of applications. If you overclock the card, it gains even more momentum and performs even better.
Performance of course isn’t everything and you can have the fastest card in the world, but if it sounds like a Eurofighter Typhoon taking off, you most likely don’t want it in your system unless you don’t care about the noise. Well, if you’re after a quiet card with plenty of grunt behind it, the IceQ X2 variant of the 280X may be right up your alley. Of course there are NVIDIA options available at this price point, but if you’re an AMD kind of person, I’d definitely have to give HIS a big thumbs up. Throughout my testing when the card was at stock and for a majority of the overclocked testing too, this card was nearly inaudible over my power supply. Once the card settles into 50% of its fan speed, it then becomes ever so slightly more noisy than my power supply and surrounding CPU fans. The card is loud at 100% but it will never run that fast. Even at a 76°c blasting from Furmark, it did not exceed 52% on the fan when using the standard profile which I find quite incredible.
Now it’s time to touch on the cards power usage. It is eye wateringly high when you start pushing the voltages and speeds but that is fully expected. The one thing I do want to say is that if you plan to use this card in an overclocked system, please ensure you have a more than ample power supply. Running a single one of these, I would definitely recommend absolutely no less than a 750 watt unit from a reputable brand. This card is power hungry, especially when you consider that it draws roughly 480 watts under a fully stressed situation once it is overclocked to its limits.
One thing which I do feel lets down the card is that blue PCB. It appears to be a signature colour as all HIS cards that I have (both here and previously tested) have a blue PCB. I for one don’t mind too much as it lives on my test bench for a week or so and then it’s on to the next card, but if I were building a 24/7 rig, it would be somewhat deterring as I am somewhat of an OCD monkey and I do appreciate my matching colours, as well as a colour scheme.
To top it all off, HIS are renowned for using top end components and they have also managed to gain over 1600 awards on their products which is ever rising. Since their previous statement on the HD 7000 series boxes and products, they’ve gained a further 200 awards. That’s one impressive feat, for sure! Given how quiet it is, how it performs, and how well it overclocks, the HIS IceQ X2 R9 280X is epic and great value for money too. The only thing that (for me) lets it down is the blue PCB although it is slowly growing on me, but it will never be enough to make me disregard the fact that it is there. It’s a great bang for buck card, and the cooler design is brilliant too. I feel that this card is well worthy of our design award though, even with its blue PCB.
One final note, if you shop around, this card can be purchased for £240 with a free copy of BF4!
Finally, I’d like to thank HIS for sending me the IceQ X2 280X sample for today’s review.
The HIS IceQ X2 R9 280X is a brilliant card for the money. Yes, it is a HD7970 and no it is not worth upgrading if you already have one, but if you are in the market for a new card, I’d definitely have to give you this one to think about. If the blue PCB doesn’t hinder your choice too much, you won’t be disappointed. The cooler is great, it overclocks fairly well and it is also whisper quiet too. The only drawback is its power consumption but that’ll happen with any 280X.
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