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HIS Excalibur 9600 XT Turbo HIS Excalibur X800 Pro IceQ II: If you're looking for framerate beast, HIS has an answer for you.
Date: August 20, 2004
Manufacturer:
Written By:
Price:

Hightech Information Systems limited or better known as HIS was established in 1987 in Hong Kong. They've been making video solutions ever since. ATI has in recent years gotten their act together first with the 9700 Pro and started to dominate the GPU market. So the war rages on between NVIDIA and ATI to make more and more powerful video cards, with each generation putting more pressure on each other. There is no room for error.

Today we look at HIS' Excalibur X800 Pro with the IceQ II cooling solution. This cooling system is supposed to be notably cooler than the stock solution and should allow a much higher clock speed. The X800 is ATI's new featured high-end chipset. Although the XT flavor is faster than the Pro, for , it is expected for the Pro to pack a punch. Let's see how well it performs.

Specifications

HIS Excalibur X800 Pro IceQ II
VPU:
ATI Radeon X800 Pro
Memory: 256MB
Memory Speed: 900MHz
Bus: AGP 8X/4X
3D Support: DirectX 9.0 & OpenGL
Connections: VGA, S-Video & DVI-I

The HIS Excalibur X800 Pro IceQ II

Packaging:
The Packaging came in a standard white FedEx bag, no extra box or Styrofoam. Because of that the HIS X800 Pro came to me a little beat up, but the packaging of the card itself was sufficient to make sure no damage was incurred.

As you can see the backside of the package allows you to see the IceQ II cooling system that is a feature of this card.

The X800 Pro was packaged in a piece of injection molded plastic which is pretty flimsy, but it does the job well enough. It carries the card itself and all the extra cable accessories.

Out of the box the HIS X800 Pro has a massive cooling system that takes up two slots! The heatsinks on this particular unit cover the ram both on the front and on the back. Over the core of the R420 core is a fin heatsink which receives air through a duct from the fan. The entire unit goes through the card, through the ramsinks (or perhaps just heat plate) on the other side and then is screwed on by four screws.

The bundle comes with (from left to right) the X800 Pro with IceQ II, a special molex extension cord and splitter, the component out cables, the standard RCA and S-Video in/out (for full ViVo functionality), the DVI to analog adapter, and then the backplate for the second slot below the X800 Pro to allow the IceQ II system to exhaust air.

The back of the card has a single analog, a single DVI and the ViVo port for all of your visual connection needs.

Taking off the IceQ II unit reveals the R420 core and the Samsung ram underneath. Also of note is that this card more or less looks like the standard ATI PCB. The card used white thermal paste for all the ram, and a silver like paste for the core. Kudos to HIS for using a better thermal conductor than a pad (however it is wiped off in the pictures).

The edge of the PCB contains the female molex connector that is required to power the thirsty X800 Pro. The 3 ½" floppy connector is the other option to power it instead, but I think it's more than a wise decision to go with the more hardy 4 pin molex solution.

The bundle inside has tons of stuff. From top left to bottom right the package contains PowerDVD 5, Arx Fatalis, Picture EZ, Counter-Strike Condition Zero, the HIS drivers disk and Hydra vision, VideoStudio 7SE, and a game pack with "lite" version games like Aquanox 2.

Also not shown in the pictures is the installation manual which merely provides information about how to physically install the card, how to use the ViVo functionality, and install drivers.

Test Setup:
1700+ JIUHB DH3TC @ 11x200 (2.2ghz)
1GB Corsair XMS 4000 @ 2-3-3-11
ASUS A7N8X-E Deluxe
HIS Excalibur X800 Pro IceQ II
Promise FastTrak TX2 Raid Card
2x 20GB IBM 60GXP in raid 0
1x 80GB Western Digital Special Edition
ASUS 52-32-52 CDR/RW
Windows XP Pro w/ SP1A, Catalyst 4.7's (unless otherwise stated), nForce 4.27

ViVo and Hydravision functionality
Although I have used other cards before this was my first real attempt to use ViVo and attach it to my television. Although I'm not really looking to make an HTPC at this point, knowing that you can do it is half the battle. This card is literally as easy as plugging in the RCA cable to the video out cable and turning the TV to video mode (or similar depending on your television). Even without changing the resolution settings or anything it worked perfectly the first time. The TV at my house however isn't really suitable for high end graphics by any means so the visuals weren't so hot, but it worked and worked well.

I watched a little bit of anime and even played some Doom 3 at 1024x768 just to play around with it and test it out.

Hydravision is ATI's virtual desktop manager that allows the user to simulate virtual desktops. So if you find you don't have enough desktops often and don't want to move to dual monitors, Hydravision will manage up to 9 different desktops, and allow switching either thorough the icon or through a series of hot keys I personally am not a fan of this feature, but undoubtedly someone whom spends a lot of time working with CAD programs or coding would find it useful.

I personally make use of the dual head nature of this card and use a dual monitor setup, which I might add this card does flawlessly.

Overclocking
Overclocking on this card was very impressive. The IceQ II system allowed for a lot of over head. Using Powerstrip I took the core clockspeed from 475 to 535 and the memory from 445 to 550. The memory increase is almost 100MHz making the final to over 1GHz! The core speed is no slouch either. It took me quite a while to get the stability on this just perfect, a lot of tweaking was involved.

Benchmarks:
Doom 3
FarCry
Painkiller
Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow
Aquamark

A Few Notes:
Everyone wants to play with the eye candy on; I reviewed this card to show you where the sweet spot of graphic love and speed lies at with this particular piece of hardware. What's the point of new technology if you never use it? Therefore, on all the games I pumped them up to their maximum settings, and slapped on AntiAliasing and Anisotropic filtering for good measure. Fraps was used to monitor all the action.

All of the tests are running with 8xFSAA, and I won't bother to mention that from here on out. All of the overclocking tests were run at 535MHz core and 550MHz memory as was said in the overclocking portion.

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