AMD Radeon HD 6990 4GB Dual GPU Cayman Graphics Card
The Radeon HD 6990 4GB easily takes the crown of the fastest
graphics card on the planet and it unseats AMD's previous flagship, the
Radeon HD 5970 2GB from that throne. The new dual-Cayman design is
easily the most potent combination of technology and engineering we have
seen in a long time and should renew hope in enthusiasts minds that we
have not yet gone past the days of company's really targeting US. The
best single GPU cards from NVIDIA and AMD simply don't stand a chance in
our testing and as you would expect, the HD 6990 takes the best we can
throw at it.
Metro 2033, a game that used be dominated by NVIDIA and its drivers,
has firmly fallen on the side of AMD and we can now actually run the
game at top quality settings at 2560x1600 without having a terrible
experience. Lost Planet 2 was a bit of a mixed bag as the GTX 580 can
and does keep up with the performance of the HD 6990 as was F1 2010 with
its obviously broken CrossFire profile configuration (later apparently
address by AMD after our testing). Bad Company 2, Civilzation 5 and
others clearly ran better on the HD 6990 and if you want the best gaming
experience on a single card, then this is without a doubt the most
complete package a gamer can buy.
AMD's closing message to reviewers...quite confident, aren't they?
When we look at combining other single GPU cards though to compete
against the HD 6990, the story changes quite a bit. With a $699 price
tag, nearly twice the price of a single Radeon HD 6970, AMD has let the
new guy fall into a pitfall of scenarios where a pair of graphics cards are a viable option. Take our NVIDIA options for example: the GeForce
GTX 570 and GTX 560 Ti SLI combination create very compelling
alternatives with a price of $700 and $500 at the time of this writing.
In most cases the GTX 570 graphics cards are able to match or beat out
the HD 6990 and the much lower priced GTX 560 Ti cards can keep up in
some cases as well. Even from AMD's own arsenal you'll find the pair of
Radeon HD 6950 2GB graphics cards to be a great solution that allows
users to break up their investment into two easy installments.
There are of course pros and cons to running a dual GPU setup than a
single card dual-GPU card. Dual cards take up more space in your case
and require more power cables to be routed in your system, though they
are shorter in individual length than the massive 12-in HD 6990 PCB.
For NVIDIA, if you want three displays connected to your rig for
Surround gaming, then going with an SLI configuration is the ONLY route
while with AMD's cards you get as many as 6 (and at least 3) with every
The overclocking switch on the Radeon HD 6990 4GB should not be
overlooked at all, and though we didn't get a chance to really play with
it before leaving for vacation, the option to push your ~375 watt card
up to the ~450 watt limit opens up all kinds of possibilities for casual
overclockers and well as the bat-shit-crazy LN2 guys that want to set
world records. Besides getting the quick and dirty overclock from 830
MHz to 880 MHz core clock, you get the added power and flexibility to
try and hit that 1200 MHz barrier that the updated version of Catalyst
Control Center offers.
The display configuration is both unique and interesting on the HD
6990 and thankfully AMD has included a set of three display adapters to
help make the transition easier. With two passive and one active
dongle, users will be able to move directly into the world of Eyefinity
and multi-display gaming without having to head off to Newegg or Frys.
discussion above, the $699 estimated MSRP puts a bit of hamper on the HD
6990 if only because the second most expensive card you can buy today
in retail is the GeForce GTX 580 that will set you back a seemingly
bargain-basement-price $499. Asking for $200 more than the previously highest
priced card is a LOT and AMD is hoping that enthusiasts will see the
benefits of getting this performance in a single card and be willing to
pay for it.
And in some ways, it HAD to be this high: getting a
pair of Radeon HD 6970 2GB cards will cripple your wallet by $720 and
they are likely slightly better in performance with higher clocks speeds
- Radeon HD 6990 4GB - $699
- Radeon HD 5970 2GB - MIA
- Radeon HD 6970 2GB - $369
- GeForce GTX 580 1.5GB - $499
- GeForce GTX 570 1.25GB - $349
- Radeon HD 6950 2GB - $275
For pretty much anyone, asking for $700 for a graphics card is going
to be insane and we can't blame them. If however, that IS your bag, the
HD 6990 isn't a great deal, but it is a great performer.
As an enthusiast myself, it is hard to argue with the raw performance
that you see when playing with the Radeon HD 6990 4GB graphics card. In
a single PCI Express slot you can get the fastest GPU computing
solution in the world and support for as many as five monitors and you
can't say that from any other AMD or NVIDIA options on the market
today. NVIDIA has not tried very hard to hide the fact that they are
coming out with a dual-GPU option to compete very soon and if they can
get two GTX 570 class GPUs on a single PCB, they might have a strong
competitor. But until then, we have to hand it to AMD for combining
awesome performance with a lot of nods to the overclocking and
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