Considering next-gen cards are still months away, we didn't expect to bring any more GPU reviews until the second quarter of 2013. However, we realized there was a gap in our current-gen coverage: triple-monitor gaming. In fact, it's been almost two years since we pitted the HD 6990 and GTX 590 against each other to see how they could cope with the stress of running games at resolutions of up to 7680x1600.
We're going to mix things up a little this time. Instead of using each camp's ultra-pricey dual-GPU card (or the new $999 Titan), we're going to see how more affordable Crossfire and SLI setups handle triple-monitor gaming compared to today's single-GPU flagships.
On AMD's side, we'll test a pair of HD 7850s (~$360) and an HD 7970 (~$430), while Nvidia's corner will feature two GTX 660 Tis (~$580) and the venerable GTX 680 (~$470).
The AMD ATI Radeon HD 7850 measures 24cm (9.4 in) long. The core clock frequency of the AMD ATI Radeon HD 7850 has been lowered from 1GHz to 860MHz. The GDDR5 memory still works at 1.2GHz, which is effectively 4.8GHz DDR. The HD 7850 has 1024 SPUs and 64 TAUs, while the ROPs remain at 32. It is also PCI Express 3.0-compatible
The Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 contains four GPCs with a total of eight SMXs, 1536 CUDA cores, eight geometry units, four raster units, 128 texture units, and 32 ROP units. The base clock is 1006MHz, the GTX 680 also carries 2GB of GDDR5 VRAM running at 6008MHz with a 256-bit interface providing 6.0Gb/s of throughput. Dual six-pin power connectors feed the card's TDP of 195W.
The AMD ATI Radeon HD 7970 measures 27 cm long (10.6 in), the GPU core is clocked at 925MHz, and the GDDR5 memory operates at the same frequency of 1375MHz (5.5GHz DDR). Still, pairing that frequency with a 384-bit memory bus gives the HD 7970 264GB/s of theoretical bandwidth. The HD 7970 carries 2048 SPUs, 128 TAUs and 32 ROPs, up 33% from 1536 SPUs and 96 TAUs, it's also the first PCI Express 3.0-compatible card.
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