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From High-End Desktop To Elite Notebook

GeForce GTX 580M SLI Vs. Radeon HD 6990M CrossFire
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Eurocom chose to arm our test mule with Intel's Core i7-990X, if only to show that the Panther is capable of accommodating the fastest (and most power-hungry) processor available. There are, of course, a few drawbacks to showboating with such a potent piece of hardware (mainly, heat and power use). However, this desktop replacement chassis is intended to run primarily from an AC outlet anyway.

Even as the chassis designer somehow found room for a 130 W CPU, desktop-class 240 W graphics cards are still beyond the power and thermal capacity of any notebook. And this is where AMD and Nvidia’s model numbering gets confusing, if not downright disingenuous. We've complained about this before, and we'll do it again. Both organizations like to name their fastest mobile parts as if they were equivalent to their fastest desktop products. Of course, they're not even close.

Here's one of the most egregious examples: while the desktop Radeon HD 6990 uses a pair of "Cayman” GPUs, the Radeon HD 6990M’s single “Blackcomb XT” graphics processor shares more in common with the company's mainstream Barts part at the heart of Radeon HD 6870 and 6850 cards. A quick look at the specs shows why.

Desktop vs Mobility Radeon Graphics
 Desktop Radeon HD 6990Desktop Radeon HD 6870Radeon HD 6990M
Transistors5.28 billion1.7 billion1.7 billion
Engine Clock830 MHz900 MHz715 MHz
Shader (ALUs)307211201120
Texture Units1925656
ROP Units643232
Compute Performance5.1 TFLOPS2.01 TFLOPS1.60 TFLOPS
DRAM TypeGDDR5-5000GDDR5-4200GDDR5-3600
DRAM Interface256-bits per GPU256-bits256-bits
Memory Bandwidth160 GB/s per GPU134 GB/s115.2 GB/s
TDP375 W151 W100 W


Small differences aside, two Radeon HD 6970s go into a single desktop-class Radeon HD 6990. Meanwhile, the Radeon HD 6990M is nothing more than a power-optimized, underclocked Radeon HD 6870.

Similarly, the former mobile flagship (Radeon HD 6970M) was based on the desktop Radeon HD 6850. Sorry guys, Cayman’s thermal envelope is still too great for notebook use.

Nvidia is guilty of overstating the size of its package, too. Its GeForce GTX 580M’s GF114 GPU looks strikingly similar to the GeForce GTX 560 Ti’s GF114. And, in this case, they even use the same name. Let’s take a look at how it compares to the desktop GeForce GTX 580.

Desktop vs Mobile GeForce Graphics
 Desktop GeForce GTX 580GeForce GTX 560 TiGeForce GTX 580M
TransistorsThree billion1.95 billion1.95 billion
Engine Clock607 MHz822 MHz620 MHz
Cuda Cores512384384
Texture Units646464
ROP Units483232
Compute Performance1.51 TFLOPS1.26 TFLOPS952 GFLOPS
DRAM TypeGDDR5-4008GDDR5-4008GDDR5-3000
DRAM Interface384-bits256-bits256-bits
Memory Bandwidth192 GB/s128 GB/s96 GB/s
TDP244 W170 W100 W


Both AMD and Nvidia base their high-end notebook GPUs on upper-mainstream desktop parts, as neither is capable of producing a high-end desktop GPU at low power. The days of notebook GPUs based on desktop parts bearing similar names flew out the window when dual-slot graphics coolers become mandatory on desktop cards. But there's still that problem when a buyer compares a compact desktop with a GeForce GTX 560 Ti to a desktop-replacement notebook with GeForce GTX 580M and he doesn't know the GeForce GTX 560 Ti is actually the more-powerful part.

This time around, AMD's misrepresentation is the more serious. Its Radeon HD 6990 is already a hot, loud beast on the desktop. We're not sure the idea of that in a mobile platform is even attractive.

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Top Comments
  • 28 Hide
    burnley14 , September 16, 2011 4:35 AM
    I'm amazed that this product even exists. The market for people willing to pay $7k for a behemoth gaming laptop has to be pretty miniscule.
  • 17 Hide
    theuniquegamer , September 16, 2011 11:51 AM
    i think i can buy a premium hatchback car at that price lol
  • 11 Hide
    Crashman , September 16, 2011 9:56 AM
    iam2thecrowe377W lol, that needs a big ass AC Adaptor!
    Remember that's input wattage FOR the adapter. The output was STILL less than 300W. These high-capacity power bricks are far from being 80-Plus Gold rated!
Other Comments
  • 2 Hide
    mightymaxio , September 16, 2011 4:25 AM
    Good to see that the performance of the SLI 580m lives up to the name.
  • 28 Hide
    burnley14 , September 16, 2011 4:35 AM
    I'm amazed that this product even exists. The market for people willing to pay $7k for a behemoth gaming laptop has to be pretty miniscule.
  • 1 Hide
    decembermouse , September 16, 2011 4:39 AM
    Come on, AMD, I've seen too many articles like this declaring Nvidia's new solution to be the superior one. We know that AMD's cards tend to be more power-efficient, but that only goes so far for some people. Keep that advantage certainly, but become more competitive with overall performance as well.
  • 1 Hide
    aznshinobi , September 16, 2011 5:12 AM
    Do you really need this much performance in a laptop, I curious. A GTX 560M could run most games on medium-high anyways (on a laptop) those laptops run about $1100, the saved money could get you a beast SB-E or BD comp and then some left for the college fund.
  • 3 Hide
    Crashman , September 16, 2011 6:04 AM
    aznshinobiDo you really need this much performance in a laptop, I curious. A GTX 560M could run most games on medium-high anyways (on a laptop) those laptops run about $1100, the saved money could get you a beast SB-E or BD comp and then some left for the college fund.
    Do you really think so? Because 1920x1080 seems to be a fairly popular resolution for 17" notebooks, and a single GTX 580M appears barely-adequate for medium-settings at that resolution. Well, maybe a single HD 6990M would do. That's why the article suggested the HD 6990M might be a top solution for slightly smaller notebooks, aka "normal sized" 17" notebooks.
  • 0 Hide
    _Pez_ , September 16, 2011 6:32 AM
    how long until battery run out of energy ? 25 minutes of gaming ? LOL
  • 2 Hide
    Phyrexiancure , September 16, 2011 8:26 AM
    Wow, this is light years better than my desktop.
  • 9 Hide
    iam2thecrowe , September 16, 2011 9:08 AM
    377W lol, that needs a big ass AC Adaptor!
  • 11 Hide
    Crashman , September 16, 2011 9:56 AM
    iam2thecrowe377W lol, that needs a big ass AC Adaptor!
    Remember that's input wattage FOR the adapter. The output was STILL less than 300W. These high-capacity power bricks are far from being 80-Plus Gold rated!
  • -8 Hide
    Todd Sauve , September 16, 2011 10:27 AM
    CrashmanDo you really think so? Because 1920x1080 seems to be a fairly popular resolution for 17" notebooks, and a single GTX 580M appears barely-adequate for medium-settings at that resolution. Well, maybe a single HD 6990M would do. That's why the article suggested the HD 6990M might be a top solution for slightly smaller notebooks, aka "normal sized" 17" notebooks.


    This entire article is eminently STUPID! Who is going to spend that kind of money on a notebook simply so they can play games on it?

    And is there a human being on this planet that can make use of a resolution like 1920x1080 on a 17" notebook screen in order to play games?

    It is little wonder that the rest of the world finds us degenerate when we will indulge ourselves with toys like this, and at such a scandalous price, while millions of our fellow human beings are simply starving to death as we speak ... ;(
  • 2 Hide
    jaksikaks , September 16, 2011 10:38 AM
    Isn't most of the tested games TWIMTBP (NVidia sponsored titles)?
  • 10 Hide
    kikireeki , September 16, 2011 10:41 AM
    The battery in this beast is no more than an aesthetic accessory.
  • 17 Hide
    theuniquegamer , September 16, 2011 11:51 AM
    i think i can buy a premium hatchback car at that price lol
  • 7 Hide
    Fokissed , September 16, 2011 11:56 AM
    todd sauveThis entire article is eminently STUPID! Who is going to spend that kind of money on a notebook simply so they can play games on it?And is there a human being on this planet that can make use of a resolution like 1920x1080 on a 17" notebook screen in order to play games?It is little wonder that the rest of the world finds us degenerate when we will indulge ourselves with toys like this, and at such a scandalous price, while millions of our fellow human beings are simply starving to death as we speak ... ;(

    Not sure if troll or just stupid...
  • 2 Hide
    Crashman , September 16, 2011 12:03 PM
    jaksikaksIsn't most of the tested games TWIMTBP (NVidia sponsored titles)?
    Don't know, don't care, doesn't matter as long as these titles haven't had an issue of fairness in the past. We've see many games sponsored by one side or the other favor the side that didn't provide that sponsorship. Ask Angelini, he's the man!
  • 1 Hide
    stingstang , September 16, 2011 12:19 PM
    At least AMD is giving Nvidia competition again. There were a few dark ages when Nvidia was just jacking up their prices as much as they wanted.
  • 1 Hide
    trandoanhung1991 , September 16, 2011 12:27 PM
    burnley14I'm amazed that this product even exists. The market for people willing to pay $7k for a behemoth gaming laptop has to be pretty miniscule.


    Well, there certainly is a market for those. I wonder how many professionals actually run on gaming workstations because the same kind of power using professional cards are so much more expensive.

    Other than that, buying such a machine purely for gaming is not for everyone. But if you are not able to stay home often, and are an avid gamer, then spending 7k every year or so just to be able to game while on business trips doesn't seem too expensive, actually. Better than not being able to play at all, really.
  • -2 Hide
    ghnader hsmithot , September 16, 2011 12:52 PM
    It has a market, and the market is full of dumb people.
    Get a mid range laptop which plays games and not only that with the money you left over you could save it to buy a new laptop in the future.

    Peace.
  • 1 Hide
    lp231 , September 16, 2011 1:40 PM
    I see Zonda style charging port
  • 3 Hide
    Au_equus , September 16, 2011 2:29 PM
    todd sauveThis entire article is eminently STUPID! Who is going to spend that kind of money on a notebook simply so they can play games on it?And is there a human being on this planet that can make use of a resolution like 1920x1080 on a 17" notebook screen in order to play games?It is little wonder that the rest of the world finds us degenerate when we will indulge ourselves with toys like this, and at such a scandalous price, while millions of our fellow human beings are simply starving to death as we speak ... ;(

    Yeah, actually most of our stuff is based off of wants. So how about we sell all our stuff that we don't need and donate the money to our fellow human beings. Seriously, dude? > 99% of us just oooohhh and aaaaahhh and flip to another webpage, while you get on your soapbox. get a life
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