Liquid-Cooled Graphics: HIS R9 290X Hybrid IceQ Review

By Steve
Oct 29, 2014
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  1. hybrid iceq 4gb liquid cooled amd gpu his r9 290x hybrid iceq

    Although the AMD Radeon R9 290X is blisteringly fast, it has a problem with heat, as any graphics card with a TDP rating of 290 watts would. Heat issues generally cause noise problems and AMD's own reference cooler was woefully inadequate. Not only was it loud under load, but caused the 290X to run excessively hot which led to throttling issues.

    AMD's board partners solved this issue for the most part with massive heatsinks riddled with copper heatpipes cooled by a battery of fans. But what if you want a 290X that is even faster but at the same time much quieter? Seems like a dream, but HIS has been working hard to make it a reality with the HIS Radeon R9 290X Hybrid IceQ 4GB.

    Designed to operate at 1100MHz out of the box while making less noise than any other 290X out there. As you might expect, for this HIS has turned to liquid-cooling, not unlike what AMD was forced to do with the 295X2.

    Read the complete review.

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 6, 2015
  2. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,258

    Thanks for another comprehensive review Steve.
    Interesting SKU, but fairly redundant in the greater scheme of things as you've noted, bearing in mind the price tag. Excepting the second small fan for cooling the VRM, you can buy much the same setup for two hundred dollars less.
    Steve likes this.
  3. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,184   +1,215

    HIS tell me that their 'Hybrid' version is a special 'Limited' version and that is why it costs so much more than their air-cooled R9 290X's. Not sure how that justified the insane price tag.

    Given you can buy an R9 290X for as little as $320 now with the ability to pair it with this for another $100...

    We have to wonder what HIS is thinking. Still if they can sort the price out then the Hybrid IceQ would be a very good graphics card.
  4. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,258

    Yep, pretty steep mark up. The IceQ Hybrid uses the IceQ X2 OC/Turbo as it's base (even includes the same backplate) which makes that Accelero unit more than three times the price of the standard Hybrid II-120. Probably less "Limited Edition" than "Limited Appeal".
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2014
  5. madboyv1

    madboyv1 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,322   +263

    Yeah... no. I own one of the original Accelero Hybrids ( ), it's on my GTX-570. If that plastic shroud is any indication, that is what is installed on this thing. Even if I had paid someone else to do the install for me, as it was a much greater PITA to install than expected even after reviews, it would not have reached up to the premium you're paying on this card over air. Now the actual cooler works pretty well, don't get me wrong, but with exception of the backplate, all I can see is a card with the $100-$130 Accelero Hybrid slapped on with a $300, almost $400 premium, and I'm not seeing the value whatsoever.
  6. GhostRyder

    GhostRyder You know, that one guy with the PC Posts: 2,189   +589

    Enjoyed the review @Steve , I agree with that on the price because that seems ridiculous in the grand scheme of things considering the alternatives out there with a $700 price point it makes little sense sadly. 2 R 9 290X cards can be bought for around the same or less with air coolers like the XFX DD editions right now and on top of that you could get an R9 295X2 for 200 more (Also XFX). Then to make it worse you could get a GTX 970 pair for a little more than that price right now or a GTX 980 for less and provide a little more performance...

    Seems like a little tardy to the party but its still a great overclocking 290X with great performance. The fact that its within such a close margin of performance with the Gigabyte G1 GTX 980 like that is pretty darn impressive in its own right considering its a previous generation card. Still I think most of us know which card we would choose if we were paying that much right now and I could say it would probably be a pair of 970s or the 980 right now.

    Maybe we will get a price drop at some point down to $400-$450 which would make it a much more justifiable buy in the future.
  7. Lionvibez

    Lionvibez TS Evangelist Posts: 1,079   +331

    The cooler on this is basically just a Accelero hybrid cooler with an ICEQ logo slapped onto it.

    So I would expect similar performance.

    The one thing I hated about that cooler is the mounting system it sucked. I replaced it for a Kraken G10 on my 7970Ghz and was very pleased with swap. You have more options for different CPU's coolers you can match with the G10 also.

    But for those that don't tweak this is an excellent factory card.

    However I was not impressed with the performance, yes its better than the reference cooler but 80c full load is still hot.

    The G10+H55 combo on my 7970 Ghz does 35c idle and 55c full load.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2014
  8. Blue Falcon

    Blue Falcon TS Addict Posts: 161   +51

    Nice review. I wouldn't mind AMD using this style cooler for their reference cards given how disappointing their reference cooler has been since HD4890 days. This would allow one to purchase dual flagship cards and install them in micro-ATX cases such as the Lian Li V 359.

    The card's price is now $550 on Amazon:

    Still too high given that MSI Gaming R9 290 is hovering at $260 on Newegg. BTW, any way you'll get a chance to review that awesome Lian Li V359 case? Would also love 290s Tri-fire and 970 Tri-SLI vs. 980 SLI gaming at 4K review.

    AMD really needs to focus on improving performance/watt with 390X series as 980 is just a mid-range Maxwell card. They will need every ounce of performance from HBM memory, 20nm and 40% memory bandwidth efficiency on Tonga to take on GM200 in 2015. Having said that right now it's very difficult to beat the value of dual MSI Gaming 290s for $520. They will basically mop the floor with a 980 at 1440p/1600p/4K while a single such card is good enough for 1080p. With prices of 970 now creeping up to $350-400, its value proposition has severely diminished. Maybe NV will add in the AC Unity bundle to sweeten the value for the holidays.
  9. Geforcepat

    Geforcepat TS Booster Posts: 141   +15

    Ha,this did not deserve a score of 85.Feb-April no.A 65 would have been more appropriate.
  10. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,184   +1,215

    It certainly would have been back in Feb-April since you were paying that for a standard card if you could get one.

    It has now been dropped for $550...

    but that is still $200 more than the air-cooled version which is too much...
  11. Dragoncracker

    Dragoncracker TS Rookie

    Love how they put up G1 970 and 980 that are overclocked 10 and 12%.
  12. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,184   +1,215

    I am pretty certain that is sarcasm. However I am more certain that comparing air-cooled factory overclocked Maxwell cards to a water-cooled factory overclocked HIS graphics card isn't a bad thing.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2015
  13. Dragoncracker

    Dragoncracker TS Rookie

    No I liked it lol, I thought it was funny. I was gonna upgrade but seeing all the benchmarks the price to go from 290x cf to 980 sli is alot of cash for not much more fps. Thanks for the reply 8).
  14. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,184   +1,215

    It's really not that funny. Why would you even entertain the idea of upgrading 290X CF cards for GTX 980 SLI cards, makes no sense :S

    GTX 970 SLI does make more sense than 290X CF if you were to build today though.
  15. Dragoncracker

    Dragoncracker TS Rookie

    I was thinking they where gonna be way better then this. But ya when I seen the benchmarks I found that it was a bad idea, very bad price to performance cost.
  16. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 2,184   +1,215

    Price vs. performance the GTX 970 is the way to go. If you are worried about price vs. performance you should have bought two R9 290's rather than the much more expensive (at the time) R9 290X's.

    The GTX 980 isn't the Maxwell flagship part, the GTX 980 Ti or whatever might come after that will be. That said it is considerably faster than the R9 290X and consumes much less power.

    Still the recent AMD price cuts have made the new Maxwell GPU's less appealing.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2015

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