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Radeon HD 7990 And GeForce GTX 690: Bring Out The Big Guns

Radeon HD 7990 And GeForce GTX 690: Bring Out The Big Guns
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EVGA recently lent our German lab one of the GeForce GTX 690s we've had in the U.S. for months. The purpose? To pit against HIS' upcoming 7970 X2 and PowerColor's Devil13 HD7990, both dual-Tahiti boards vying to become the world's fastest graphics card.

A couple of weeks ago, our German office got an exclusive on HIS' new flagship graphics card, the 7970 X2 (notice that they're not calling it a Radeon HD 7990). Because we also have PowerColor's Devil13 HD7990 6 GB in our lab, along with a GeForce GTX 690 from EVGA, we're about to crown the fastest graphics card of 2012 right here and right now.

Will the outcome matter to you? Well, PowerColor's board is currently listed on Newegg for $1000, but it's out of stock. The HIS card doesn't even show up for sale online yet. Our sample was part of a small, limited-production run (we'll come back to this in the conclusion). Only EVGA's offering is sitting on store shelves. And while it also goes for $1000, making it too expensive for most folks, there's at least something to be said for availability, right?

With its factory overclock, PowerColor's Devil13 HD7990 6 GB comes very close to the GeForce GTX 690 in our performance-oriented tests. Meanwhile, HIS' 7970 X2, which was shown off at Computex, but not necessarily a sure thing, is finally ready. Elevated clock rates are supposed to make the HIS card the fastest graphics card, period. But do the benchmarks concur? Let's have a look at how these three boards stack up on paper first.

Radeon HD 7970 X2, Radeon HD 7990, And GeForce GTX 690
 HIS 7970 X2 PowerColor Devil13 HD7990 6 GB EVGA GeForce GTX 690
Shader Units2 x 20482 x 20482 x 1536
GPU Clock Rate
1050 MHz925 / 1000 MHz
915 MHz +Turbo
ROPs2 x 322 x 322 x 32
GPUs2 x Tahiti XT2 x Tahiti XT
2 x GK104
Transistors (Billion)
2 x 4.312 x 4.31
2 x 3.54
Memory
2 x 3 GB
2 x 3 GB
2 x 2 GB
Memory Bus
2 x 384-bit2 x 384-bit2 x 256-bit
Memory Clock Rate
1500 MHz
1375 MHz1502 MHz


Technically, the HIS card looks like it holds a strong position. If those numbers translate into real-world performance, and if micro-stuttering isn't a problem for AMD, it could be our winner. Then again, we already saw in GeForce GTX 690 Review: Testing Nvidia's Sexiest Graphics Card that Nvidia put a lot of effort into creating a fast, svelte, and quiet offering in its GeForce GTX 690. That'll be a tough act to follow.

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Top Comments
  • 25 Hide
    twinshadow , November 8, 2012 8:47 AM
    if you are spending 1000$ dollars on a video card paying a Power bill is not an issue
  • 24 Hide
    abbadon_34 , November 8, 2012 7:57 AM
    wow, microstuttering is a now a non issue , at least AMD
  • 21 Hide
    Anonymous , November 8, 2012 6:43 AM
    thanks for the in depth analysis with adaptive V-sync and radeon pro helping with micro stutter.

    not to take away anything for the hard work performed; i would have liked have seen nvidia's latest beta driver, 310.33, included also to see if nvidia is doing anything to improve the performance of their card instead of just adding 3d vision, AO, and sli profiles.
Other Comments
  • 7 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , November 8, 2012 5:40 AM
    IMHO, the GTX690 looks best. There is something really alluring about shiny white metallic shine and the fine metal mesh. Along with the fluorescent green branding.
    Maybe i am too much of a retro SF buff :) 
  • 12 Hide
    tacoslave , November 8, 2012 6:03 AM
    i wept
  • 18 Hide
    hellfire24 , November 8, 2012 6:04 AM
    your test system is sexy!!!!!!!
  • 20 Hide
    willyroc , November 8, 2012 6:05 AM
    You can't really go wrong either way with these generally insane(so to speak) cards.
  • -7 Hide
    amuffin , November 8, 2012 6:34 AM
    Is it just me or do the 7970X2 and 7990 coolers look so fast and fugly? :heink: 
  • 21 Hide
    Anonymous , November 8, 2012 6:43 AM
    thanks for the in depth analysis with adaptive V-sync and radeon pro helping with micro stutter.

    not to take away anything for the hard work performed; i would have liked have seen nvidia's latest beta driver, 310.33, included also to see if nvidia is doing anything to improve the performance of their card instead of just adding 3d vision, AO, and sli profiles.
  • 18 Hide
    esrever , November 8, 2012 6:45 AM
    can we get some quadfire benchmarks too? :D 
  • -6 Hide
    RazorBurn , November 8, 2012 6:55 AM
    AMD's Dual GPU at 500+ Watts of electricity is out for me.. Too Much Power and Noise..
  • 7 Hide
    mohit9206 , November 8, 2012 6:56 AM
    2 670's in sli is better than spending on a 690 and 2 7950's in Xfire is better than spending on a 7990. this way you save nearly $300 both ways
  • 24 Hide
    abbadon_34 , November 8, 2012 7:57 AM
    wow, microstuttering is a now a non issue , at least AMD
  • 10 Hide
    ojas , November 8, 2012 8:02 AM
    Good read!

    But, would have liked to see 680s in SLI, to see how they scale now compared to the 690.

    Also, would using two single GPUs in CF/SLI make a difference to the micro-stuttering charts? iirc, the PCIe controller is tied to the CPU for SB/IB chips? So that would mean no 3rd party bridge in between the two GPUs as in the case of the 7990 and 690. Would that make a diff?

    How do you manage to isolate the cards' power consumption at load (idle is simpler)? And noise too: how do you block out the case fans and CPU cooler?
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , November 8, 2012 8:07 AM
    The radeon pro is saving AMD's butt

    But In the end, 690 was slower than 7990 average framerate but with Radeon Pro, it is the 7990 which is slower right?

    So yes it's better than without, but the 690 is faster, as smooth, and use a built in technology

    AMD really need to work on it's crossfire technology
  • 12 Hide
    blazorthon , November 8, 2012 8:08 AM
    amuffinIs it just me or do the 7970X2 and 7990 coolers look so fast and fugly?


    I don't think they look "fast and ugly", although I do think that the HIS model could do with some more finesse.
  • 10 Hide
    FormatC , November 8, 2012 8:17 AM
    Quote:
    How do you manage to isolate the cards' power consumption at load (idle is simpler)? And noise too: how do you block out the case fans and CPU cooler?
    The noise was measured with the open benchtable, not in case (no extra case fans and an ultra silent fan on the hidden CPU cooler)

    For the power consumption: 3 current clamps with monitoring ;) 
  • 17 Hide
    Novuake , November 8, 2012 8:42 AM
    Interesting, AMD has a winner at the top tier! That hasn't happened in a while. CODOS to that.
  • 25 Hide
    twinshadow , November 8, 2012 8:47 AM
    if you are spending 1000$ dollars on a video card paying a Power bill is not an issue
  • 6 Hide
    blazorthon , November 8, 2012 8:47 AM
    NovuakeInteresting, AMD has a winner at the top tier! That hasn't happened in a while. CODOS to that.


    Technically, HIS has a winner, not AMD because AMD didn't launch a 7990/7970X2 reference;)
  • -5 Hide
    blazorthon , November 8, 2012 8:54 AM
    twinshadowif you are spending 1000$ dollars on a video card paying a Power bill is not an issue


    Actually, the only person who I ever recommended a GTX 690 to wanted it specifically because of its low power consumption literally being enough to pay for itself compared to his previous graphics setup due to his high cost for power. Some people looking for such high end cards most certainly do care about power consumption.
  • 18 Hide
    FormatC , November 8, 2012 8:56 AM
    1 kW/h in Germany: 0.25 Euro (approx. 0.34 USD)
    This IS an issue. ;) 
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