AMD Radeon HD 6990 Review: Sumptuous Dual-GPU Power

By Julio Franco · 43 replies
Mar 10, 2011
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  1. Make it official, the Radeon HD 6990 is hands down the fastest graphics card on the market, outperforming previous generation dual-GPU products by a long shot. That said, we can't decide for you whether it makes sense to spend $700 on this graphics card or not.

    Read the full review at:

    Please leave your feedback here.
  2. Mizzou

    Mizzou TS Enthusiast Posts: 823

    Good review, $700 is pretty steep even though this card churns out impressive frame rates across the board. Now we wait for Nvidia's answer to see who will claim the performance crown this time around.
  3. fpsgamerJR62

    fpsgamerJR62 TS Rookie Posts: 489

    That's one big graphics card ! How does one even install a foot long graphics card in a regular ATX case ? Put two of these monsters in Quad Crossfire configuration and you'll probably need to run a dual PSU setup as well.
  4. princeton

    princeton TS Addict Posts: 1,676

    I don't even think it'll fit in my antec 900 two. That's definitely a monster card.
  5. There is no problem of space in my case but price and power consuption is extremely high.
    I will wait for next hd 7000 series using 28 nm process and will be much more efficient.
  6. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,283   +900

    The power efficiency and the fact that you dont need an extremely bulky case or a crossfire-able mobo, meaning you can set it up as you please for me at least are $100 well spent (And considering you have the money to spend on this it is not a crazy buy).
  7. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,681   +1,079

    I love how my graphic card is not even on the comparison tests lol! Yea $700.... I do not care for that price, you could almost buy a whole new machine. Especial with how video cards turn over as fast as cell phones. What surprises me the most is how Inefficient the hardware still is since they still have to put massive heatsinks on them. Overclocked hardware I understand but it is just a thought.
  8. PinothyJ

    PinothyJ TS Guru Posts: 460   +22

  9. I kind of regret buying my gtx 570 sli after looking at this monster
  10. herpaderp

    herpaderp TS Booster Posts: 154


    I hope you're joking
  11. Omnislip

    Omnislip TS Rookie Posts: 91

    If nVidia are able to come close to matching this price, I'm sure their performance will blow this one away... Look how high the 580 is!
  12. Per Hansson

    Per Hansson TS Server Guru Posts: 1,957   +214

    Now if only there where, I don't know, actually games made to take advantage of these cards?
    -Yea I know, silly idea...

    It's nice to find we can finally play Crysis at full, in 2560x1600 (Of course without antialiasing)
    For all other games we need to crank it up to 4x or 8x MSAA before we get the FPS down to around 100.

    Yea, I can really see the need for these card, really I do...
    -Fires up Crysis 2 ConsoleVersion™ on his 3 year old 8800GTS 512MB and watches it play just fine
  13. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,264

    This card, as well as Crossfired HD6970/6950 or SLI'ed GTX580/570 aren't aimed at 2560x1600 res. They are aimed at two specific groups.
    1. Multi-monitor gamers. 5040x1050 and up (People who would buy the card)
    2. Marketing hype and fanboy-fodder (People who won't buy this card).

    Pretty simple strategy really. Top the benchmarks with the übercard and watch the masses gobble up the entry and mainstream versions -the illusion of performance by association.

    "Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday" -Bob Tasca

    I think you'll find that "Guest" is a fully paid up member of the local Flamebait union- trust me I've studied them in petri dishes when I was doing my dissertation as a Trollatrician.

    One thing the card has going for it is that it must be built like a tank. Tweaktown managed to clock the core to 1000MHz...the only downside (apart from increased power draw) seems that the card's fan needs to ramp to 100%....and 90.2dB. Vendor non-reference cooling might be advantageous in this case.
  14. Classic Rock

    Classic Rock TS Member Posts: 65

    I'd like to see a benchmark of two of these in Xfire on the new 1155 platform just to see if the x8 bandwidth of the PCI-E lanes cause a performance hit.
  15. If I had that kinda money, I'd buy 2 twin frozr III 6950's, flash to 6970 than xfire. Or just spring for the 6970 editions. 6990 and 590 will be beasts, but I dunno where the usage is practical outside of extreme benchmarking.....

  16. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TS Evangelist Posts: 2,922   +630

    What happened to the 'overclock switch' ?
  17. red1776

    red1776 Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe Posts: 5,224   +164

    You are leaving out one very important part of the equation Omni. The power usage/cooling/PCIE spec/warranty are all acting as the great equalizer here. .you can damn well bet that AMD would have ramped up two full and complete 6970's if they could simply ignore these issues (they did to an extent). The same goes for Nvidia. Two full blown 580's is pushing 500w, they will have some limiting factors at work as well.
  18. tacobfm

    tacobfm TS Rookie Posts: 59

    But yeah, its performance is what it should be and I think the price is justfiable - for now.
  19. Well, to be completely honest the performance is mindblowing, but I have to say it's still overpriced. I'd rather buy two 6970's or just buy two 6950's and flash them, saves money and squeezes out more performance. Also, the noise factor seems to pull me back too.

    However, I did find the power consumption and heat temperatures to not be half bad for its performance, but still not enough to make me buy it. I mean $700? Really? Did AMD forget it had the 6970 or something? $650 or $600 is more realistic, and would make this card completely worth it. I'm eager to see nVidia's GTX 590, if they can pull off around the same performance with a cheaper price tag I'll be incredibly impressed, if not, I'll just stick to the two 6970's.

    This card is really only appealing to people with only one PCI-E x 16 slot open, (And if they can have this card without bottlenecking it I don't see how they only have one slot open in the first place...) or to people who want to say "1 h4ve t3h m0sT l337 c4rd".

    ....Or to people who like big numbers....
  20. princeton

    princeton TS Addict Posts: 1,676

    I can't think of any boards that can use a cpu that won't bottleneck this card that only have one slot. Almost every board can do x8 x8 so this product is really just so AMD can claim the fastest card crown(until Nvidia releases)
  21. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Topic Starter Posts: 7,667   +987

    Thanks for the feedback. Added to the end of the review:

    Update - Dual-BIOS support: Some of you noticed we didn't mention one of the Radeon HD 6990's unique features. <a href="">Dual-BIOS support</a> can be toggled from a physical unlocking switch on the card, which switches between the factory-supported BIOS of 375W (tested throughout this review) and an "Extreme Performance BIOS" that boosts core clock speed from 830MHz to 880MHz and in the process throttles power consumption to a staggering 450W. What you should know: performance difference was negligible when overclocking the card.
  22. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    Well, lets see what nVidia bring to the table now. :)

    Whoever wins this contest gets the millions of dollars on the back of the "I got x because they make the worlds best GPU" race.

    As I understood it though, the HD5970 decimated all competition, even XF GPUs, but this is no better than two separate GPUs of the same type -so have we really progressed when someone could achieve better results using two of the same HD6970s in XF?
  23. dividebyzero

    dividebyzero trainee n00b Posts: 4,891   +1,264

    The present situation is not greatly removed from the HD 5970. A dual HD 5870 CFX setup will be marginally faster than the HD 5970, even though the latter is ostensively running the same GPU's. The difference being that the 5970 runs at 5850 clocks (725MHz as opposed to 850MHz).
    The 6990 vs 6970 CFX is a little more complicated in that the GPU's in the 6990 at binned for substantially lower voltage (1.12 v 1.17) and the 6990 is using the "old" 5Gb vRAM which demands less voltage as well as a slightly lower core/shader clock, but essentially the difference in performance between the 6990 and CF'ed 6970's is much less than that of the previous cards- mostly due to the similarity in core/shader/memory clocks. A certain percentage of that difference can also be attributed to driver immaturity.
  24. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    Thanks DBZ. :)

    So do you feel the performance of the HD6990 will increase as the drivers mature then?

    I definitely see the reason to order one, especially if your stuck to one GPU only due to case, PSU, or motherboard restrictions - besides a single GPU is much easier maintenance than dual GPUs, even if it has come a very long way in the last couple of years.

    I guess I need to hurry up and decide what one I'm going for - I've been holding out for months now, waiting for the next one to arrive, but I'm beginning to realise that this way of thinking is just meaning I'm sat still while everything else runs rings around me. :haha:
  25. Does 6990 still consumes 600 watts as I read emails?? If so,, please allow users to power down to 25 watts for reading emails or browsing.. . I have nothing against hard core gamers with outrageous demands for power only on temporary basis.. It is still ess than having them drive around in a car!!

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