Compared to reference designs by Nvidia and AMD, their partners usually come up with creations that run cooler and quieter. A perfect example of this is Gainward's GTX 980 Ti "Golden Sample", with a 15% factory overclock that provides 11% more performance on average and a "Zero RPM fan design". Not wanting to simply just revisit the GTX 980 Ti's performance, we'll be hooking up two of these in SLI and test them agains a pair of AMD's Radeon R9 Fury X cards in Crossfire.
The current generation AMD GPU series collectivelly known as "Southern Islands" were released over a year ago, with the beginning of its rollout in January 2012. Sixteen months later, the Radeon HD 7000 series is still very much relevant, as AMD continues to release new models under the same GPU family.
Although it's been over a year since AMD launched the Radeon HD 7970, we are just getting an official dual-GPU version. The Radeon HD 7990 takes a pair of 7970 GPUs with overclocked cores and memory, packing 8.2 TFLOPS computer power, 6GB GDDR5 and an upgraded PEX bridge to connect the two GPUs.
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 last stress tested 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.
The Radeon HD 7700 series cards we reviewed recently didn't really pushed the envelope in terms of value. Part of that stems from the fact that Nvidia hasn't launched its GTX 600 series yet, allowing AMD to have its way with the market. But we're hoping that changes when Nvidia's Kepler products finally arrive.
The old HD 5750 and 5770 were popular Crossfire candidates and the same could be true of the HD 7700 series if it's priced right. Anticipating that day, we're testing the HD 7750 and HD 7770 in Crossfire across more than a dozen games to see how well they scale and compare against cards such as the HD 6870 and GTX 560 Ti.
It's not very often that we see mainstream-level GPUs settle down for long, thus we were pleased to hear that HIS was updating its mid-range offerings with the factory-overclocked 6870 IceQ X Turbo X and HIS Radeon HD 6850 IceQ X Turbo.