It's impossible to conclude the GeForce GTX 590 is faster than the Radeon HD 6990 as it really depends on the game, and that's precisely why we test with fourteen titles now. Based on our findings, the GTX 590 was just 1% faster than the HD 6990 on average. The GTX 590's only big win was in Far Cry 2 and some argue that the game isn't a worthy test candidate given the large influence Nvidia had on its development.
If we removed Far Cry 2 from the results, we would actually have the GTX 590 to be 2% slower than the Radeon HD 6990. It's also interesting to note that a vast majority of the GTX 590's losses were in DX11 titles: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat (-15%), Metro 2033 (-20%), Battlefield Bad Company 2 (-9%), and Aliens vs. Predator (-10%).
Besides its 46.3% lead in Far Cry 2, the single GPU GTX 580 was also 22.5% faster than the HD 6990. The rest of the games, including Mass Effect 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops, F1 2010, Splinter Cell Conviction and World in Conflict all favored the GeForce GTX 590 by a margin of just 6% or less. Therefore, we think both dual-GPU cards are evenly matched and considering the GTX 590's $699 MSRP, Nvidia seems to think so, too.
Since GeForce GTX 590 and Radeon HD 6990 cost and perform roughly the same, we can take our conclusion from the 2-week-old Radeon HD 6990 review and paste it here
"While this all sounds very positive, we consider the steep $700 price tag to be a showstopper. Although having a single graphics card can be convenient, it's hard to justify a price premium for the luxury when two separate cards are not only cheaper but also a bit faster. About the same level of performance can be achieved with a pair of Radeon HD 6950 graphics cards for $100 less. Meanwhile, most of these cards can be unlocked to HD 6970 specifications making them a seriously good value."
That about sums it up (again). But before we drop the curtain on the GTX 590 let's quickly explore a few other results. Nvidia's new flagship was 49% faster than the GTX 580 on average, which isn't a bad deal as it only costs 40% more. A pair of GTX 570s cost roughly $660 and provide about the same performance as two HD 6970s, making them cheaper and faster than the GTX 590.
The GeForce GTX 590 faces a similar fate as the Radeon HD 6990. Since both are outgunned by pairing cheaper mid-range offerings like the HD 6950 (unlocked) or GTX 570, it makes more sense to go that route unless you're building a monster rig with quad-GPUs. The average gamer or enthusiast might as well skip over this generation of multi-GPU graphics cards from AMD and Nvidia.