For any PC gamer, one of the most important choices they have to make is what graphics card they should get. The market is currently saturated with different models, starting at the cheap and cheerful but underpowered, right up to £1000 powerhouses with enough grunt to render every individual hair on Pauline Quirks chin. For the more casual PC gamer it can become a minefield of hard to understand facts and figures that take days to trawl through and compare, as well as a potentially expensive waste of money if you purchase a card not suitable for your own personal needs.
Not all is lost however, as ATI have attempted to produce a GPU which should – at least on paper – give some fantastic bang for your buck and allow those of us who are not totally bothered about Z/Stencil ROP Units or Morphological Anti-Aliasing performance to still play the latest games without them looking like total arse. HiS have gone one step further and coupled this GPU set with their award winning iCooler Turbo technology which should allow for some simple overclocking with the bundled tools. So simple in fact that a monkey could do it. That’s probably one of the reasons I was given the task of seeing what the HiS 7790 iCooler Turbo 1GB GDDR5 could do.
The card itself is a decent enough size. Sizing up at 22.4 x 12.7 x 3.9 cm, it follows the recent trend of taking up two PCI bays in your tower, and as these cards are fully Crossfire supported, it’s something to bear in mind if you are thinking of running two of them. Power consumption is pleasingly small, although perhaps not as small as 500w as the small print on the packaging would lead you to believe. We tested a single card with a 550w PSU to begin with, but found that it would frequently become underpowered and windows TDR system would kick in, rebooting the drivers and dropping our framerates down to that of a small calculator.
We changed our test PSU to a 650W and the problem disappeared. Obviously system power is a fluctuating beast and can depend on so many things, even down to how many USB devices you have plugged in. Our recommendation though would be to make sure you a have at least 600w for a single card, and 700w if you want to fine dual cards.
The HiS iCooler technology is fantastic, and even under full loads the card never peaked above 58 degrees Celsius with the fan set at a static 50%. We did find that the fan was a little slow to react when set to automatic, but regardless of the fan speed the card was kept wonderfully cool. Noise is not really issue either, only becoming audible at settings over 75%. Great for late night gaming when you don’t want your rig to mimic a 747 coming into land and potentially incur the wrath of a disgruntled partner.
Well, that’s the boring parts out of the way. Now onto the more interesting part. How does it perform in our beloved games? Now, normally when GPU’s are reviewed what would follow is a series of boring and dull graphs and charts which – once you have spent 2 hours looking at – you would be able to derive the many theoretical speeds and how many computations per second the card can perform. But we are not going to bother with that. We like to deliver you real world conclusions based on what many of you are going to use this card for, so that’s exactly what we are going to do.
As this could be described as a mid-range graphics card, we saw no point in mating it with an Intel Core i7 3970X, or chucking it into a rig with 32gb of RAM, laser beams and a built in satellite uplink system. People who run these types of systems will not be looking at this card. So, instead we tried it on two mid range builds. An Intel i5 3330 3.00ghz and a AMD FX-8350 Vishera 4.0GHz Bulldozer, both with 8gb of G.Skill Ripjaw X series DDR3 and a 650w PSU. Across the board the i5 performed slightly better on average, but the differences were so small most people would not notice. We tested a variety of titles including:
World Of Warcraft.
Overall performance was excellent. The HiS 7790 was able handle a resolution of 1920 x 1080 with settings on high across the board at a steady 70 fps. Boosting settings all the way up to ultra however did cause the card to struggle a little and, depending on the area we were in and the amount of dudes on screen, we saw framrates dip as low as 20 fps.
Saints Row 3
Performance here was perfect. Again, a 1920 x 1080 resolution was used and all settings on ultra. We never dipped below 60fps and everything ran as smooth as a babys arse. Lovely jubbly.
As before, everything was cranked up to 11 and a 1920 x 1080 resolution used. Overall performance was smooth as silk but a few areas caused a little bit of slow down. Turning down the view distance a notch sorted that out straight away however and everything played perfectly.
Company Of Heroes 2
Everything on full, resolution to 1920 x 1080 and it plays like a dream. Wonderful stuff
Guild Wars 2
I bet you can guess what resolution we went for. Yeah, that’s right, 1920 x 1080 and all settings on high. Plays great, a few little bit of chops along the way but nothing that felt detrimental to the experience and overall it feels smooth. There was a little issue with screen tearing at first but for some reason that disappeared after a few seconds of playing and never returned.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.
Everything maxed, 1920 x 1080 and it runs flawlessly. Single player is handle well and feels great, and multiplayer never suffers from slowdown or lag at all and delivers a crisp experience.
Batman: Arkham City
1920 x 1080 resolution and most settings set to high. Framrate averaged around 40 fps, sometimes dipping as low as 25 fps. Perfectly playable however and a little bit of tweaking with the settings provided a more than adequate experience.
The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim.
Everything on full, 1920 x 1080 resolution and a 62 fps average. Nuff said!
As you can see, the HiS 7790 iCooler Turbo handles can handle pretty much anything you can throw at it. Obviously, some games are going to be a little bit of a handful for it and if you are planning on throwing the latest and greatest titles such as Crysis 3 at it then you’re going to have a bad time. However, if you’re looking for a cheap and cheerful GPU with which you can play some games and have some fun and you have a limited budget then it’s certainly something to consider. And about that cost, this little gem retails at only £100. Not bad at all HiS, not bad at all.
You can see the full details and technical specifications of the HiS 7790 iCooler Turbo 1GB GDDR5 over on the HiS website.