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Upgrading from 6990 Crossfire.... Yes, Seriously

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September 3, 2012 7:48:52 PM

Long story short I bought the 2 beasts after reading Toms review on it for BF3 - little did I know though that they are indeed a dual chip card - I thought they just had extra ram ... I am having issues with some games which are not crossfire friendly at all and even disabled, am having to sacrifice quality for performance.

So I am looking to upgrade to 1 or 2 SINGLE chip cards which will yield higher performance than the 2 6990s - not an easy task I know so thought I'd ask you guys, the pros. :) 

Current System:

i5 2500k 3.3 Stock
Asrock Z68 Extreme7 gen3
8GB Corsair 8GB DDR3 1866MHz
MSI 6990 X2
1200W PSU
Win 7 64
Biiiiiiiiiig Case - size not an issue!

Resolution 1900x1200 Dual Monitors

Over the years I have usually alternated between Nvidia/ATI without really having a favorite but recently, not sure if its just the grass looking greener on the other side, but seem to find Nvidia offering more support with drivers and game compatibility.

Budget wise I want high spec but without paying £900 for a single card!
500-600 for 1 or 2 cards which will give me and my system a good time within the next month or so.

Games I play often are BF3, Skyrim, Secret World and soon to be GW2.
BF3 I average 50-60 fps on ultra with no MSAA/motion blur but get sudden spikes.

I am in the UK and usually buy from Overclockers/Novatech .... any better sites?

So in short - I am looking for:

- £600 Budget for 1/2 SINGLE chip cards
- Nothing Silent!
- Leaning towards Nvidia unless convinced otherwise
- Good quality Brand
- Not really into overclocking cards - but would like the option.
- Within the next month


Thanks in advance,

Hiijinx
September 3, 2012 8:02:03 PM

welp, that isn't going to happen. Sorry to disappointing you, but 1/2 flagship chips this gen will not be better than 4 from last gen.
September 3, 2012 8:03:12 PM

Maybe 2 GTX 670's? I can't really think of much else that could come close to 6990's. BTW, with two 6990's your non OC's CPU is prolly bottlenecking your cards XD
Related resources
September 4, 2012 2:32:18 AM

Thanks for the input all - am gonna try OC'ing my CPU again, put it back to stock after some BSOD's.

I am fairly new to leaning about how to spot a bottleneck but know in BF3 the handy in-game performance graph shows that my CPU slightly hinders my 6990 (will see what the OC does) - could a single, on paper "worse" card, potentially increase my performance or don't bottlenecks work like that?

Same with Secret World, I cannot run smoothly in directx11 mode at all, yet my friend who has a 550 can max it out with no problems.

I also read somewhere that a higher resolution will ease the strain from the CPU and put it on the video card - could this be another possibility of why my 2 6990's seem to under perform whilst held at 1900 x 1200?

September 4, 2012 2:49:34 AM

Really shouldnt be having a lot of trouble running bf3 or secret world at those resolutions. I would try an OC of 3.9-4.2ghz it is pretty simple with the 2500k.
September 4, 2012 2:56:35 AM

Honestly a 2500k @ stock clock isn't going to be your bottleneck. There is no way any game is using 100% of all 4 cores. When I play bf3, one of my cores is usually at 90%ish and my other ones are being used a little.
September 4, 2012 3:07:18 AM

The 6990 is a horrible card... it produces great average fps numbers but the actual gameplay is not as smooth as the average fps indicates.
I've not seen analysis of 6990 crossfire, but here's a single 6990 and I doubt two of them is any better:
http://techreport.com/review/22890/nvidia-geforce-gtx-6...

As such, an upgrade to any of the following setups is recommendable:
1x GTX 690
1x GTX 680
2x GTX 680
1x GTX 670
2x GTX 670
1x HD 7970
2x HD 7970

Your average framerates probably won't go up, but your gameplay will be much smoother. I'd just sell the 6990s and then upgrade to whatever the best setup is that you can afford with that money.
a c 535 U Graphics card
September 4, 2012 3:10:20 AM

Out of your price range, but if you have any credit left on the card the GTX 690 is marked down from 950 pounds to 780 pounds this week. That seems like an outta sight deal. Stick with your gut on the 6990's, those Crossfire driver issues are well documented.
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=GX...

If not that, then you can take your pick of GTX 670's in SLI from KFA2, Palit, and Gainward for just about 600 pounds a pair. That will get you into 6990 Crossfire territory.
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/productlist.php?groupid=7...
a b U Graphics card
September 4, 2012 3:26:55 AM

Tac134 said:
Honestly a 2500k @ stock clock isn't going to be your bottleneck. There is no way any game is using 100% of all 4 cores. When I play bf3, one of my cores is usually at 90%ish and my other ones are being used a little.


It doesn't matter if it doesn't use all of the available resources, after all it has to feed 4 gpus and at 3.3ghz its a major bottleneck!


If it were clocked up to 4.5 ghz+ there would be a significant performance increase to the minimum fps :D 
September 4, 2012 5:03:52 AM

This isn't a bottlenecking problem, it's a problem of a crap card being used in conjunction with another crap card resulting in double crap performance.
a b U Graphics card
September 4, 2012 8:24:33 AM

LOL. why did you buy 2 6990s? maybe you took toms review way too seriously. just sell them off and buy a single 680 and overclock the hell outta it . that the best option for you at this point.
September 4, 2012 9:37:32 AM

Thanks for all the very constructive replies all :) 


mohit9206 said:
LOL. why did you buy 2 6990s? maybe you took toms review way too seriously. just sell them off and buy a single 680 and overclock the hell outta it . that the best option for you at this point.


I guess I did - I was upgrading specifically for BF3 as my 4850x2 (another dual chip, silly me) was giving me 20fps on low! When I saw the 6990 review he mentioned that 2 of them in crossfire ate the game up - perhaps believing it a bit too much.
Although I have to admit - the fps difference between single player and online is massive - sometimes capping 200 in the campaign (as mentioned in the review) - never comes close to that in the important games.
September 4, 2012 10:37:59 AM

gamerkila57 said:
this is a HD 6990 vs a HD 7970 GHz edition i recommend two of those

http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/515?vs=618



Thats a brilliant site bud, thank you! Am I right in seeing that a 670 is near as good performance as a 6990 in BF3 yet a 680 is a lot worse - how is this possible?! Shame they do not review 670 in SLI - anyone here have it?
September 4, 2012 12:41:18 PM

Hiijinx said:
Long story short I bought the 2 beasts after reading Toms review on it for BF3 - little did I know though that they are indeed a dual chip card - I thought they just had extra ram ... I am having issues with some games which are not crossfire friendly at all and even disabled, am having to sacrifice quality for performance.

So I am looking to upgrade to 1 or 2 SINGLE chip cards which will yield higher performance than the 2 6990s - not an easy task I know so thought I'd ask you guys, the pros. :) 

Current System:

i5 2500k 3.3 Stock
Asrock Z68 Extreme7 gen3
8GB Corsair 8GB DDR3 1866MHz
MSI 6990 X2
1200W PSU
Win 7 64
Biiiiiiiiiig Case - size not an issue!

Resolution 1900x1200 Dual Monitors

Over the years I have usually alternated between Nvidia/ATI without really having a favorite but recently, not sure if its just the grass looking greener on the other side, but seem to find Nvidia offering more support with drivers and game compatibility.

Budget wise I want high spec but without paying £900 for a single card!
500-600 for 1 or 2 cards which will give me and my system a good time within the next month or so.

Games I play often are BF3, Skyrim, Secret World and soon to be GW2.
BF3 I average 50-60 fps on ultra with no MSAA/motion blur but get sudden spikes.

I am in the UK and usually buy from Overclockers/Novatech .... any better sites?

So in short - I am looking for:

- £600 Budget for 1/2 SINGLE chip cards
- Nothing Silent!
- Leaning towards Nvidia unless convinced otherwise
- Good quality Brand
- Not really into overclocking cards - but would like the option.
- Within the next month


Thanks in advance

Hiijinx


I would say two GTX 670's or GTX 680's, hands down for your games.

Battlefield 3, when 680 came out, was about even with a 6990.
Skyrim, when 680 came out, BEAT a 6990.

I don't know about Secret World, but I have heard that GW2 favors nVidia.

So in summary, I would say get two 670's or 680's depending on your price. Your games favor nVidia, so go with them. The performance of two single cards, vs two dual cards, I could imagine would be much smoother. I play BF3 o two 7970's and they run smooth.
September 4, 2012 1:09:58 PM

2x7970 GE ~> 2x680 >~ 2x670

As 4 gpus does not scale very well any combination of the above will give you a performance boost for example
if one 6990 gives you 100 fps then adding another one will give you around 140
and 6990 has the same performance as 7970 GE so if 7970 give you 100 fps then two of it will give you approximately 190 fps http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/2012-vga-gpgpu/19-To...
a b U Graphics card
September 4, 2012 3:46:20 PM

Man I didn't know the 6990 was such a horrible card considering everyone here has owned one and played many hours of BF3 with it (them) to come up with the conclusion.

Recording murders the scaling on quad yet the FPS and "smoothness" are fine for me considering it's on a 64 player server.

September 4, 2012 7:36:20 PM

Thanks all for the help.
Very aware that my games are all Nvidia endorsed, kinda told me that I had the wrong card for the job.

So I have decided on NVIDIA!

Next step ....

670 SLI or 680 SLI - is there much, if any physical difference which cannot be gained through an overclock?

Plus any brands to go/avoid - being mainly ATI over the years I tended to go for Saphire or MSI - my last Nvidia was an 8800GTX EVGA and had a lot of issues with it.

a c 535 U Graphics card
September 4, 2012 7:44:06 PM

Hiijinx said:
Thanks all for the help.
Very aware that my games are all Nvidia endorsed, kinda told me that I had the wrong card for the job.

So I have decided on NVIDIA!

Next step ....

670 SLI or 680 SLI - is there much, if any physical difference which cannot be gained through an overclock?

Plus any brands to go/avoid - being mainly ATI over the years I tended to go for Saphire or MSI - my last Nvidia was an 8800GTX EVGA and had a lot of issues with it.

I would say no difference that can't be solved through overclocking. I do recommend you keep your eye on that GTX 690 if you are willing to go as high as GTX 680's in SLI, that sale on the GTX 690 is really good.

If I were buying a pair of cards for SLI right now I would go for either the MSI GTX 670 Power Edition/OC or the Asus DirectCU II TOP. Both are factory overclocked, very quiet, and importantly keep the GPU cool, which is important for maxing out your Turbo Boost clocks. Most 670's are coming with a free copy of Borderlands 2 to help with the value.
September 4, 2012 7:54:11 PM

Get 2 670's or7970's OR 2 7950's and make sure they are say FLEX editions or Msi cards...they are beast...Especially in 1920x1200
September 4, 2012 9:02:07 PM

@Matto - only reason (besides price) I didn't really look at the 690 is because isn't that a dual chip card? I don't want to shoot myself in the foot yet again and find it doesn't scale well with no way to disable it hehe. Atleast with 2 single cards if a game doesn't like SLI/CF, I can atleast turn it off.
a c 535 U Graphics card
September 4, 2012 10:15:07 PM

Hiijinx said:
@Matto - only reason (besides price) I didn't really look at the 690 is because isn't that a dual chip card? I don't want to shoot myself in the foot yet again and find it doesn't scale well with no way to disable it hehe. Atleast with 2 single cards if a game doesn't like SLI/CF, I can atleast turn it off.

Good reasoning, but I think you're a little snakebit from the 6990 crossfire quad-GPU. I just thought you should keep it in mind as you research prices, you should find that 690 deal to be quite a bit cheaper than a pair of 680's. Two Nvidia GPU's will be much more stable than that quad-GPU 6990 setup.
September 4, 2012 10:40:55 PM

The 690 is a whole different animal than the 6990... the 6990 is one of the worst offenders for multi-GPU problems. If you have the money to get a 690, it's worth it.
September 4, 2012 10:54:38 PM

beethree said:
I would say two GTX 670's or GTX 680's, hands down for your games.

Battlefield 3, when 680 came out, was about even with a 6990.
Skyrim, when 680 came out, BEAT a 6990.

I don't know about Secret World, but I have heard that GW2 favors nVidia.

So in summary, I would say get two 670's or 680's depending on your price. Your games favor nVidia, so go with them. The performance of two single cards, vs two dual cards, I could imagine would be much smoother. I play BF3 o two 7970's and they run smooth.


GW2 most definitely does not favor nvidia. In fact it favors AMD. The Guild Wars 2 performance article is on the front page of Toms right now.
a b U Graphics card
September 4, 2012 10:59:14 PM

Sell one and keep the other until either the 7990 or next gen cards come out. I dont think it is worth upgrading.
a b U Graphics card
September 4, 2012 11:06:48 PM

Quote:
the 6990 is one of the worst offenders for multi-GPU problems.


Really? Please enlighten me about the problems that I'm experiencing that I'm unaware of. Or perhaps you've confused with the 5970/GTX 590?

My computer is on about 16 hours a day 365 days a year and I've yet to "see" what you're talking about.
a b U Graphics card
September 4, 2012 11:17:00 PM

Embra said:
Sell one and keep the other until either the 7990 or next gen cards come out. I dont think it is worth upgrading.


That's the most intelligent suggestion I've seen yet.
September 4, 2012 11:35:15 PM

17seconds said:
The 7990 is out and it underperforms the GTX 690 by about 5-10% and about 6 Dba.
http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/Powercolor/HD_7990_D...


Nope. The 7990 is not out. The devil13 7990 is just powercolor's custom 7970 crossfire dual gpu attempt. Drivers will improve on official release, not when a company tries to cut in on some easy profits.
a b U Graphics card
September 4, 2012 11:50:54 PM

nacos said:
Nope. The 7990 is not out. The devil13 7990 is just powercolor's custom 7970 crossfire dual gpu attempt. Drivers will improve on official release, not when a company tries to cut in on some easy profits.



+1

Looks pretty good HERE and it doesn't even have official drivers for it. I won't even mention what OpenGL/OpenGL performance would look like.

a c 216 U Graphics card
September 5, 2012 12:15:29 AM

Do you game on 1 or both of those monitors at once? I've never heard of anyone enjoying gaming across 2 monitors. If you are using one , a dual 670 setup is plenty power to pretty much max you out on anything maxable. Even if you game across both monitors, 2 may still be pretty good.
September 5, 2012 9:04:39 AM

Game on 1 monitor, 2nd screen is for photoshop/3ds with the plan to upgrade my monitors over time, hopefully to 120hz with 3d left open should I wish to ever try it.
a b U Graphics card
September 5, 2012 1:26:57 PM

Quote:
BF3 I average 50-60 fps on ultra with no MSAA/motion blur but get sudden spikes.


This is on one monitor with both the 6990's?

BF3 is one of the most optimized games for multi-GPU setups and if you're averaging 50-60 fps @ Ultra with no MSAA or Blur something is wrong. I average 130 fps @ Ultra with 4XAA , post process, HBAO and FOV set to 90 while scaling from 90-99%.

6 minute run of Fraps on a 64 player server with a 2600K:

MIN: 27 MAX: 202 AVG:129.822 →→default clocks 830/1250

I can't believe nobody has tried to help you other than recommending selling expensive GPU's to buy more expensive GPU's which is completely unnecessary, but then none of the above people actually PLAY BF3 (although they love to talk about it!)

I'd suggest to re-install drivers.

1) Download Driver Fusion HERE.
2) Download Catalyst 12.8 drivers HERE. but don't install.
3) Download 12.7 CAP3 HERE.
4) Custom uninstall all AMD software through Control Panel, select everything and reboot.
5) Run Driver Fusion and clean AMD display drivers - reboot.
6) Re-install CCC and reboot.
7) Install the CAP profile and reboot.
a c 216 U Graphics card
September 5, 2012 1:37:56 PM

RussK1 said:
Quote:
BF3 I average 50-60 fps on ultra with no MSAA/motion blur but get sudden spikes.


This is on one monitor with both the 6990's?

BF3 is one of the most optimized games for multi-GPU setups and if you're averaging 50-60 fps @ Ultra with no MSAA or Blur something is wrong. I average 130 fps @ Ultra with 4XAA , post process, HBAO and FOV set to 90 while scaling from 90-99%.

6 minute run of Fraps on a 64 player server with a 2600K:

MIN: 27 MAX: 202 AVG:129.822

I'd suggest to re-install drivers.

1) Download Driver Fusion HERE.
2) Download Catalyst 12.8 drivers HERE. but don't install.
3) Download 12.7 CAP3 HERE.
4) Custom uninstall all AMD software through Control Panel, select everything and reboot.
5) Run Driver Fusion and clean AMD display drivers - reboot.
6) Re-install CCC and reboot.
7) Install the CAP profile and reboot.


Not necessarily. He could have v-sync on and playing in multiplayer. Multiplayer is CPU bound and will give you drops below 60, and if v-sync is on, it won't go beyond 60hz on most monitors.
a c 216 U Graphics card
September 5, 2012 1:39:10 PM

Hiijinx said:
Game on 1 monitor, 2nd screen is for photoshop/3ds with the plan to upgrade my monitors over time, hopefully to 120hz with 3d left open should I wish to ever try it.


Well, here is the thing, a 6990 pretty much maxes everything available at 1080p on a single monitor. Two is just more GPU horsepower than your resolution and CPU can use. You are overkill for your monitor situation. Much of the time, you'll find that a single 6990 is going to equal if not surpass two.

If you do plan to go into 120hz and 3D, which I find really awesome, I'd suggest going with two 670's or 680's in SLI, and you'll want to OC that CPU, as you run into CPU bottlenecks a lot more with high refresh rates and FPS.
a b U Graphics card
September 5, 2012 1:49:09 PM

bystander said:
Not necessarily. He could have v-sync on and playing in multiplayer. Multiplayer is CPU bound and will give you drops below 60, and if v-sync is on, it won't go beyond 60hz on most monitors.



Yes drops below 60 fps @ the pause screen or after you die and at the deploy screen.
a b U Graphics card
September 5, 2012 2:01:09 PM

Single 6990 with performance overlay, everything max while recording at full frame 1080p.

a c 216 U Graphics card
September 5, 2012 2:11:16 PM

RussK1 said:
Single 6990 with performance overlay, everything max while recording at full frame 1080p.



Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. It hits in the 40's all the time and I bet you that it's more about the CPU than the GPU that is causing those drops. A i5 at 3.3k is going to insure he has that happen a lot and v-sync prevents it from going over 60.
September 5, 2012 2:23:56 PM

More like hello microstutter... microstutter and the 590/6990 are best buddies.
a c 216 U Graphics card
September 5, 2012 2:25:51 PM

BigMack70 said:
More like hello microstutter... microstutter and the 590/6990 are best buddies.


I'm curious how 4 GPU's are like with microstutter. THG did testing and found with 3 GPU's there was almost no microstutter, where as 2 gave much more issues. They did not test 4.
September 5, 2012 2:29:43 PM

I dunno... haven't seen anything on that either. Did see some Mars II SLI videos that were pretty clearly miserable with microstutter in BF3, but never saw 6990 Xfire analysis.
a b U Graphics card
September 5, 2012 4:22:00 PM

are 6990's still available at retail.? would it be worth getting for someone who is considering a single 680 or a 7970. I hope 7990 does not have any issues that 6990 had
a b U Graphics card
September 5, 2012 4:25:37 PM

Quote:
microstutter and the 590/6990 are best buddies.


Quote:
I'm curious how 4 GPU's are like with microstutter.


Quote:
I dunno... haven't seen anything on that either.


Dude what are you talking about? Obviously nothing, probably don't play BF3 and have never owned a dual-GPU card.

Quote:
Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. It hits in the 40's all the time and I bet you that it's more about the CPU than the GPU that is causing those drops. A i5 at 3.3k is going to insure he has that happen a lot and v-sync prevents it from going over 60.


It is and network lag. Different clients with different pings and a server trying to sync it all. Further, network packets are constantly having to adjust which creates the lag and fps drops. Which is why benchmarking in multi-player is no easy feat as there are uncontrollable variables. So when benchmarks in MP do come out they need to be taken with a grain of salt... it's not a proper controlled test environment and in real-time with variables constantly changing.

a b U Graphics card
September 5, 2012 4:34:21 PM

mohit9206 said:
are 6990's still available at retail.? would it be worth getting for someone who is considering a single 680 or a 7970. I hope 7990 does not have any issues that 6990 had


The 6990 has no more problems than the 7970 or 680 do. Read the forums... but if you're meaning the 5970 I can understand. If someone is complaining about a 6990 I'd first assume user error.
a c 216 U Graphics card
September 5, 2012 4:35:53 PM

RussK1 said:
The 6990 has no more problems than the 7970 or 680 do. Read the forums... but if you're meaning the 5970 I can understand. If someone is complaining about a 6990 I'd first assume user error.


A 6990 is far more similar to a 5970 than a 7970 or 680. The 6990 is a dual GPU card (one is in CF, two are in Quadfire).
September 5, 2012 4:37:35 PM

@ RussK1

I'm curious and gonna play with your instructions and see what I get. Despite this being a new build of Win7 and I always use DriverCleaner - am going to follow your steps.

Also interested in your exact specs, CPU, RAM, do you have HT enabled etc and do you have/what do you have your Virtual Memory set to as I have seen various discussions on that.

Frames per sec aside, watching your vid it just seemed a lot smoother and fluid in every movement you made which leads me to beleive there is something not working correctly on my system - just don't know what yet.

Thanks in advance - not actually compared notes with another 6990 user til now. :) 
September 5, 2012 4:41:26 PM

@RussK before you go around making silly accusations like "you just don't play BF3 or use dual-GPU cards", maybe you should read my posts?

Here, I'll try linking it one more time, this time with BF3 in view:
http://techreport.com/review/22890/nvidia-geforce-gtx-6...

The 6990 and 590 do not deliver experiences as smooth as their average fps indicates relative to other setups due primarily to microstutter. Like I said, I don't know how this applies to quad-GPU setups because that's not analyzed, but average fps is not a useful way to judge a multi-GPU setup.
!