The HIS HD6970 IceQ Mix Edition is certainly an impressive card. The gaudy appearance of the cooler might not appeal to everyone, however technically it is hard to fault. It cools much better than the reference design and emits less noise, delivering a heady combination for a prospective customer. Sadly however, the main talking point is also the product’s greatest weakness.
Yes, before we go any further I need to address the elephant in the room – Lucid Hydra is a waste of time. I’ve said it before, I’ve said it today and undoubtedly ill have to say it again in the future.
It is a useless addition to a motherboard, but to include it on a video card is one of the most pointless extras we can remember in recent years. No one buying this card will want to pair up with a GTX570 or GTX580. A customer with a GTX580 will want another GTX580, and an AMD user will just purchase two HD6970’s and run them natively in Crossfire.
For those who feel the need to pair up a GTX580 and HD6970 (is there anyone, seriously?), then we can only say that it just doesn’t work well at all. We managed to get 3dMark Vantage working once and it crashed half way through the benchmark. Everything else hardlocked, ran worse, or just crashed to the desktop, so unless you want a healthy dose of instability then we suggest you aim for a true CrossfireX configuration.
Avoiding Lucid Hydra is most certainly the best option and if we do so then the discrete solution becomes a much more enticing proposition. It overclocks well, runs cool and is quiet. Fulfilling this trinity of ‘must have’ enthusiast demands earns it bonus points. Obviously every card will overclock to a different level, but for HIS to not even apply a modest overclock out of the box seems like a basic oversight, especially with the headroom we experienced.
We have been informed just before going to press that this card will cost around £325 inc vat in the UK, a modest premium when compared against a reference board (around £300). The cooler alone is worth that.
- Cooler is exceptionally good
- looks are certainly eye catching
- very quiet
- good power consumption
- not overclocked ‘out of the box’
- cooler appearance will alienate a portion of the audience
- Lucid Hydra is just a waste of time
Kitguru says: a very good card, just forget about Lucid Hydra and focus on Crossfire if you need more power.