HIS IceQ X HD 6790 Turbo Review

By on April 25, 2011
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The entry-level market just got more competitive.

Good: Great Core overclocking headroom, Runs nice and quiet, Great price for performance
Bad: Quite big for its size, Requires two 6-pin power plugs, Memory overclock isn't significant
Price: AED 600
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

AMD stealthily introduced the HD 6790 earlier this month; so stealthily, in fact, that we never even got a chance to review it at launch. Now, we have the HIS IceQ HD 6790 Turbo in the office I’m eager to find out how this entry-level card performs on our testbed.

AMD introduced the HD 6790 to combat Nvidia’s GTX 550 Ti. The latter was poor on value when it launched at $180, but nowadays the price has been dropped to around $150; making the GTX 550 Ti a very decent entry-level card. And so, at $150, the HD 6790 has a very severe competition from the Nvidia camp.

The HD 6790 is based on the Bart GPUs, found in the HD 6850 and the HD 6870. As such, it would have made more sense for AMD to number the HD 6790 to something like the HD 6830. I guess they would have had a tough time explaining why the HD 6850 (a slightly more powerful card) has just one 6-pin connector, while the HD 6790 has two 6-pin connectors. Not surprisingly, the TDP for the HD 6850 is rated at <127 watts, while the HD 6790 is at < 150 watts.

The major cut from HD 6850 to the HD 6790 was the reduction in Streaming Multiprocessors Units from 12 to 10 respectively, while the Shader processors enabled went down to 800 from 960. Thankfully the reduction in Bart’s capabilities didn’t flow over to the memory bandwidth, which remains the same at 256-bit.

While the standard HD 6790 runs at 840MHz on the Core and 1050MHz (effective 4200MHz) Memory clocks speeds, HIS is shipping the Turbo version of the HD 6790 with a slight overclock of 900MHz/1100MHz (4400MHz effective) on Core and Memory clock speeds respectively. Obviously the reference AMD heatsink has been done away with, instead opting for the brilliant IceQ X cooling solution from HIS. Unlike the HD 6850 I reviewed last week, the heatsink surface also covers the memory modules on the HD 6790’s PCB.

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From auditing to editing, I now test and analyze the latest gadgets and games instead of the latest financial statements. Both jobs are equally intense and rewarding. When I'm not burning up hardware in the name of science, you'll find me nuking in DOTA 2 or engineering in TF2.

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