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Benchmark Results: Dual-GPU Performance (CrossFire And SLI)

AMD Radeon HD 6990 4 GB Review: Antilles Makes (Too Much) Noise
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AMD’s Radeon HD 6990 is roughly equivalent to a slightly de-tuned pair of Radeon HD 6970s in CrossFire (both the default memory and core clocks are lower). It only makes sense, then, to compare the 6990 to 6970s in CrossFire. And while we’re at it, why not factor in a pair of GeForce GTX 570s as well?

Although AMD refused to confirm the price of its Radeon HD 6990 until just prior to launch (after our benchmarks were run and analysis completed), we do know you can buy a pair of Radeon HD 6970s for $680 or a pair of GeForce GTX 570s for $670. And that’s before rebates. Shave an extra $40 off the AMD cards or an extra $30 off the Nvidia boards if those count in your book. Keep that in mind as we go through the benchmarks.

Using the 3DMark Performance preset, two Radeon HD 6970s in CrossFire appear to be your fastest option. The Radeon HD 6990 with its shipping firmware setting actually takes last place. However, the overclocked BIOS facilitates a jump in performance that overtakes two GeForce GTX 570s.

Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 570s claim a first-place finish in Metro using AAA. Turning on 4x MSAA, however, hits the card’s frame buffer hard, and the pair of GF110-based boards actually drop to last place. The Radeons are much more consistent, though again we see the Radeon HD 6970s in CrossFire serving up slightly more speed than the Radeon HD 6990.

The situation plays out similarly in Lost Planet 2, and the GeForces outperform without AA, and then fall behind with the technology turned on. Again, the two 6970s edge out AMD’s new flagship card.

The field is close in AvP, but it’s differentiated just enough to show that the 6990’s overclocked BIOS gives the card parity with a pair of Radeon HD 6970s in CrossFire. This time, the GeForce cards bring up the rear with and without anti-aliasing.

We’ve seen this enough times for us to call it a pattern: the Radeon HD 6970s in CrossFire are the way to go.

AMD had so much trouble getting F1 2010 running in CrossFire using its latest driver that I skipped right over the results I compiled for that game and moved on to Just Cause 2.

The story is the same, anyway. Two Radeon HD 6970s are faster and quieter, making the 6990 a difficult sell.

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  • -2 Hide
    hayest , March 8, 2011 3:34 AM
    Killer Card!

    Out of spec for default seems kind of weird though.
  • -2 Hide
    CrazeEAdrian , March 8, 2011 3:37 AM
    Great job AMD. You need to expect noise and heat when dealing with a card that beasts out that kind of performance, it's part of the territory.
  • 7 Hide
    jprahman , March 8, 2011 3:40 AM
    This thing is a monster, 375W TDP, 4GB of VRAM! Some people don't even have 4GB of regular RAM in their systems, let alone on their video card.
  • 1 Hide
    one-shot , March 8, 2011 3:43 AM
    Did I miss the load power draw? I just noticed the idle and noise ratings. It would be informative to see the power draw of Crossfire 6990s and overclocked i7. I see the graph, but a chart with CPU only and GPU only followed by a combination of both would be nice to see.
  • 0 Hide
    anacandor , March 8, 2011 3:44 AM
    For the people that actually buy this card, i'm sure they'll be able to afford an aftermarket cooler for this thing once they come out...
  • 0 Hide
    wino85 , March 8, 2011 3:46 AM
    OMG!!! It's finally here.
  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , March 8, 2011 3:48 AM
    one-shotDid I miss the load power draw? I just noticed the idle and noise ratings. It would be informative to see the power draw of Crossfire 6990s and overclocked i7. I see the graph, but a chart with CPU only and GPU only followed by a combination of both would be nice to see.


    We don't have two cards here to test, unfortunately. The logged load results for a single card are on the same page, though!
  • -1 Hide
    bombat1994 , March 8, 2011 3:52 AM
    things we need to see are this thing water cooled.

    and tested at 7680 x 1600

    that will see just how well it does.

    That thing is an absolute monster of a card.

    They really should have made it 32nm. then the power draw would have fallen below 300w and the thing would be cooler.

    STILL NICE WORK AMD
  • -1 Hide
    Bigmac80 , March 8, 2011 3:53 AM
    Pretty fast i wonder if this will be cheaper then 2 GTX 570's or 2 6950's?
    But omg this thing is freakin loud. What's the point of having a quite system now with Noctua fans :( 
  • 2 Hide
    tacoslave , March 8, 2011 3:54 AM
    Its hot, sucks alot of power, and costs a ton. But i still want one.








    Badly
  • 7 Hide
    lashton , March 8, 2011 3:54 AM
    AMD doesn't care about noise because they are waiting for custom colling solutions from OEM
  • -1 Hide
    lashton , March 8, 2011 3:56 AM
    bombat1994things we need to see are this thing water cooled.and tested at 7680 x 1600that will see just how well it does.That thing is an absolute monster of a card.They really should have made it 32nm. then the power draw would have fallen below 300w and the thing would be cooler.STILL NICE WORK AMD

    That maybe possible when they get 28nm ready on bulldozer, they are just raping the rewards of old tech.
  • 1 Hide
    scrumworks , March 8, 2011 4:01 AM
    Starts with negative comments (noise), so no surprises from Chris. Fermi of course never made so much noise and consume so much power that would require this type commenting. Everything was Power, PhysX and CUDA!
  • 0 Hide
    4745454b , March 8, 2011 4:03 AM
    Meh. To much for what it is. The only thing it does better then two 6970s is in power. (if one 6970 is 250W and this is 375W, then it uses less power then 2x6970.) But I agree that you're better off with a CF setup. Like the GTX480 and possibly the GTX580, its simply to much for what you pay for.

    Edit: I should say its either to much or to little and always in the wrong way for what you pay for. I also dislike the the 375W TDP. We have specs/rules for a reason.
  • 0 Hide
    Haserath , March 8, 2011 4:04 AM
    I think AMD will have the performance monster this round. It would be surprising if Nvidia was anticipating something like this. The GTX 570 already uses quite a few more Watts than the 6970; what will they do to match two 6970's on one board?
    This is isanity!
  • 0 Hide
    megamanx00 , March 8, 2011 4:14 AM
    OMFG!!!!

    Well, I guess if you were thinking of running 3, or even 6 displays (which would require at least one hub or daisy chain monitor), this is the card you would want, perhaps even two of them. I'm guessing if you put two of them in you really really want it water cooled.
  • 0 Hide
    MasterMace , March 8, 2011 4:14 AM
    Careful, you may not be able to here a tornado siren a mile away with this one.
  • -1 Hide
    nforce4max , March 8, 2011 4:17 AM
    Well at least it is cheaper than the two 7900gtx duos (eom) that landed some years after introduction. Personally I wouldn't purchase this card knowing the driver bugs and the usual issues that dual gpu cards have except I'll wait a few years to snatch one up on the cheap as a collectors item. For those who got the money wait at least two or three weeks for reviews and complaints by owners of this card before you buy one. I can live with the noise but bad drivers I can't.
  • 4 Hide
    cangelini , March 8, 2011 4:45 AM
    scrumworksStarts with negative comments (noise), so no surprises from Chris. Fermi of course never made so much noise and consume so much power that would require this type commenting. Everything was Power, PhysX and CUDA!


    LOL. Look at the power AND noise graphs, scrum :) 
  • 3 Hide
    dragonsqrrl , March 8, 2011 4:45 AM
    It looks like the improved CrossFireX scaling introduced with the HD6000 series really helps the HD6990 shine. There's no question about it, this thing's a top of the line performance beast.

    The big (and really inexcusable) problem is the noise, and to a lesser extent power consumption. It's by far the loudest single card stock cooler ever conceived, and that's taking into account the former champions, the GTX480 and HD5970. The load temps aren't great, but they're acceptable in my opinion. I'm not sure what people were expecting, but this is an extreme high-end dual GPU card, and load temps in the upper 80's C aren't uncommon in this performance segment. The problem is once again the excessive noise that's generated in order to keep the 2 GPU's running at those already high temps.

    I totally agree with the reviewer, the HD6990 seems rushed, the drivers are buggy, and if running a fan at 3k+ RPM is the only way to keep a card operating, it probably needs a little more tweaking before release.

    lashtonThat maybe possible when they get 28nm ready on bulldozer, they are just raping the rewards of old tech.

    Bulldozer will be manufactured using Global Foundries 32nm process, not 28. The node shrink you're referring to for next-gen GPU's will be manufactured using a completely different 28nm process at TSMC. AMD uses Golbal Foundries only for its CPU's at this time.
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