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HIS X1650Pro IceQ Turbo Dual DL-DVI 256MB GDDR3 PCIe HIS X1650Pro IceQ Turbo Dual DL-DVI 256MB GDDR3 PCIe: With perhaps the most descriptive product name in the market, HIS' latest mainstream offering leaves no question on what you're getting in the box. Will the performance be what we are expecting, or more?
Date: September 27, 2006
Manufacturer:
Written By: David Pankhurst
Price:

Game Tests - Serious Sam 2

    Serious Sam 2 continues on with the idea that the more enemies on screen at once the better.  This also brings complexity to the game as there are more things to render both graphically and physically.  The game is VS3 and PS3 compatible so it can take what current video cards are able to handle.  Lets see how the VS3 based x1650 compares to the VS2 x800XL in this test.

1024 NAA - Results (In FPS)

Minimum Average Maximum
Asus Extreme AX800XL: 35 48.62 77
HIS x1650 Pro: 33 46.92 79

    The results here favor the x800 by a slight margin (3.5%) but a real difference.  Both cards can easily be considered playable at this setting, at least for me they are.  The graphs are very similar between the cards apart from the result at the 3 second mark.  Lets turn up the quality settings to see what will happen.

1024 AA - Results (In FPS)

Minimum Average Maximum
Asus Extreme AX800XL: 28 40.16 77
HIS x1650 Pro: 26 37.18 66
HIS x1650 Pro 658/760MHz:: 27 38.35 68

    Here the results mirror the previous test, though the difference is higher (8%) between the two cards.  The overall results drop by 8-9fps on average by turning on the higher quality settings.  Overclocking the video card gains about 3% faster average frame rate compared to stock speeds.  Again I would personally find this adaquate to play for my own gaming, but I am not a die hard gamer so your results may well vary, though the graph is fairly smooth in this case.

1600 NAA - Results (In FPS)

Minimum Average Maximum
Asus Extreme AX800XL: 28 41.95 77
HIS x1650 Pro: 24 33.66 58

    Here is perhaps where the raw fill rate and bandwidth abilities of the x800XL make a very marked difference.  It is about 25% faster than the x1650 or in real numbers, about 8fps on average, a noticeable difference to many gamers.  The x800XL would get my nod as playable, with the x1650 being right on the edge of my comfort zone for myself.  The graphs are fairly identical apart from the fact that the x1650 graph is consistently 6fps lower than the x800XL.

1600 AA - Results (In FPS)

Minimum Average Maximum
Asus Extreme AX800XL: 20 26.42 44
HIS x1650 Pro: 16 21.52 34
HIS x1650 Pro 658/760MHz:: 17 22.97 35

    This resolution and quality setting brings both cards to their knees, as neither one is what I'd consider playable.  Again the x800XL gives an extra 22% improvement over the stock speeds of the x1650, while overclocking the x1650 gives you almost a 7% increase (1.5fps) over stock speeds.  Again the graphs here a very flat but the average frame rate doesn't allow a playable gaming experience in this case.  Lets see what other games do with this newer card.

Game Tests - F.E.A.R.

    Next is F.E.A.R, a fps that offers a high quality gaming experience, with the added enjoyment of 'bullet time'.  The game itself isn't that interesting to me, but the engine offers some higher graphical quality so lets see what it does to our test cards.

1024 NAA - Results (In FPS)

Minimum Average Maximum
Asus Extreme AX800XL: 26 59.82 138
HIS x1650 Pro: 19 50.18 109

     We can see similar results to that of Serious Sam 2, with the higher fillrate/bandwidth based x800XL performing noticeably faster (19%) than the newer card.  That isn't to say that both cards aren't playable at this setting, as they are but the x1650 is somewhat slower than its older but higher end brother.  Will adding AA and anisotropic filtering change anything?

1024 AA - Results (In FPS)

Minimum Average Maximum
Asus Extreme AX800XL: 20 38.93 96
HIS x1650 Pro: 16 38.55 94
HIS x1650 Pro 658/760MHz:: 15 41.29 99

    Here things are much closer than the previous results, with the two cards being within 1% of each other, or otherwise a tie.  Overclocking the card gives a 7% increase which has been pretty consistent across our test results for the x1650.  Again all cards are playable, though the x1650 does dip below 20fps but only for two seconds at the start of the test.  Lets pump up the resolution.

1600 NAA - Results (In FPS)

Minimum Average Maximum
Asus Extreme AX800XL: 17 30.86 62
HIS x1650 Pro: 12 26.34 58

    The results match those of the non-AA results in this game with the x800XL being 17% faster, though in this case it equates to only 4fps on average.  The x1650 isn't on my list of playable cards at this resolution, as it spends most of its time in the very low 20fps area.  The x800XL is right on the cusp of playability but I'd probably prefer not to play at this resolution with these cards.

1600 AA - Results (In FPS)

Minimum Average Maximum
Asus Extreme AX800XL: 11 19.21 45
HIS x1650 Pro: 9 17.88 39
HIS x1650 Pro 658/760MHz:: 10 18.73 40

    Unlike the 1024 AA results for FEAR, the x1650 doesn't quite catch up to the x800XL.  This is a rather moot point as both cards are very much in the unplayable category for this test.  As a note, overclocking the x1650 only gives a ~5% boost in performance, slightly lower than the 7% we have seen before.

Game Tests - Lost Coast

    Lastly we will look at Half Life 2: Lost Coast, which was a the forefront of the HDR experience, in fact this level is really an HDR tester.  Most of the features from this made it directly to Episode 1, so performance should be very similar between these two games.  Lets see the results.

1024 NAA - Results (In FPS)

Minimum Average Maximum
Asus Extreme AX800XL: 34 58.12 106
HIS x1650 Pro: 36 64.79 116

    This is the first game since Quake 4 where the x1650 has a lead, let alone a large one.  There is a 11% performance increase by moving to this card.  The difference is noticeable in the graph as the speed up starts at the 22 second mark and goes from there.  Both cards are very playable at this resolution but what about adding to the quality settings?

1024 AA - Results (In FPS)

Minimum Average Maximum
Asus Extreme AX800XL: 20 37.81 63
HIS x1650 Pro: 29 49.55 96
HIS x1650 Pro 658/760MHz:: 31 51.20 101

    At these settings there is a very marked difference between the two cards, on the order of 31%.  This seems quite suspious but the tests were very repeatable, though if I notice any difference with the Cat 6.9 drivers, I will update this review.  Overclocking the x1650 only gives a 3.3% increase in frame rate, though it doesn't change that the x1650 is playable at this setting.  The x800XL is pretty playable here and I would find it just fine to play the game.  Lets bump up the resolution for the last time.

1600 NAA - Results (In FPS)

Minimum Average Maximum
Asus Extreme AX800XL: 19 33.47 50
HIS x1650 Pro: 25 46.03 88

    Again we can see quite a difference between the two cards, this time on the order of 37% faster performance.  The x1650 is very playable again, while the x800XL is probably playable, but is very close to the 30fps mark which I find a marker for myself as to the playability of a game.  Lets see if the domination by the x1650 in this test continues in our last test setting.

1024 AA - Results (In FPS)

Minimum Average Maximum
Asus Extreme AX800XL: 10 18.31 32
HIS x1650 Pro: 17 31.05 62
HIS x1650 Pro 658/760MHz:: 18 32.60 67

    We again see the large difference between the two cards in our Half Life 2 test.  The x1650 is almost 70% faster than the x800XL here and in this case it makes a difference, with the x1650 moving into the low end of what I'd consider playable, not my recommend average frame rate but it can do.  Overclocking gains a 5% increase in frame rate, much like we saw earlier in the review.

    One last test we ran has to do with ATi's AVIVO video, a feature found only only on the x1K series of video cards.  So I ran a few HD videos, some 720p and one 1080p video on my computer to see the respective CPU loads.  As a note the CPU had Hyperthreading enabled, and the desktop resolution was 1600*1200 for all but the 1080p video where the resolution was 1800*1440 the maximum of my monitor.  We used a 720p x264 video, a 720p WMV (Flight), and the same WMV video but in 1080p.  So lets see if AVIVO does anything to lessen the CPU load.

  Asus AX800XL-2DTV HIS x1650 Pro IceQ Turbo Dual DL-DVI
x264 720p Video: 15% 13%
WMV 720p Video: 28% 25%
WMV 1080p Video: 50% 33%

    These are not exact numbers, as they are taken during the playback of the video and are just eyeballed.  However the 1080p video shows some interesting data, at this setting a single core PIV 2.8GHz would be completely loaded down with playing the video on average, so there would be some dropped frames without any assistance from the video card.  The AVIVO based card lowers the CPU usage to something much easier to handle by the CPU without dropped frames.

Conclusion

    has provided us with one of the newest cards on the market, due to their being a ATi partner, but did this card have what it takes to be a market leader in its segment?

    First the box and its contents.  The box itself catches your eye and the plastic window allows you to see the card, and its cooling fan without having to take it out of the box.  The contents are a good mix, the software is better than some in the video/image editing area, though without a video-in this is a slightly odd inclusion.  Games were mainly missing, but most bundles aren't anything to write home about, as long as everything else gains from the money saved there. 

    The video card itself is dominated by the IceQ cooler, which although big isn't at all heavy in comparison to some other video cards.  Cooling was well taken care of with that cooler as well as the ramsinks.  This allowed the card to keep cooler than many other cards I've looked at, while still keeping very quiet in overclocked operation.  Overclocking wasn't anything to write home about but there was a increase that we were able to find out of this card.

    2D quality is something that ATi and its partners can be very proud of, as it is among the best I've ever seen.  Game results were a mixed bag, though for the most part it kept up with the x800XL an older but higher end card.  The 1600*1200 results in Serious Sam 2 and the 1024*768 NAA F.E.A.R results were the exception where the x800XL beat the x1650 by a wide (~20%) margin.  However if you play Half Life 2 or any of its newer variants I would definitely recommend the x1650 over the x800XL as it beats it from 11%-70%.  Overall unless you play Half Life 2 a fair amount you would find it and the x800XL good for playing at most of the same resolutions.

    Price is always a factor in buying a video card, at this time I couldn't find any direct pricing for this card, but it should be around the price of the older x1600XT which is basically the same unit which goes for about $130(US).  Considering the price of the x800XL is still in the $250(US) range, if you can find this card for around the same price as the x1600XT and you don't need 1600*1200 gaming, but want a very solid Media Center based card, then this is a very good idea for you.  If the price is too much above that $150(US) mark I would go with a x1600XT with similar features which should be cheaper.  As a bonus, if you have a CrossFire capable board you can get a second one later for increased performance in most games.  I would like to thank for providing this card for us to review.

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