AMD Radeon HD 7990: Eight Games And A Beastly Card For $1,000

Can The World’s Best Bundle Save Radeon HD 7990?

More than a year ago, we heard murmurs about a dual-Tahiti board code-name New Zealand that was right around the corner. As it turns out, New Zealand describes all of AMD’s multi-GPU projects, from the board partner designs we already reviewed to the FirePro S10000 and Radeon Sky 900. Also included under that umbrella is Malta, the high-end gaming card now known as Radeon HD 7990.

AMD wants $1,000 for this new flagship—the same price as GeForce GTX 690, which yields a higher practical average frame rate in six of our eight benchmarks as it delivers frames more smoothly across the board. The GTX 690 is shorter, set up to exhaust at least some of its waste heat out of your chassis, and significantly more power-friendly. It eschews plastic in favor of metal. And it doesn’t whine under variable loads. Nvidia simply sells a better-built dual-GPU graphics card.

With that said, the Radeon HD 7990 is a pleasant surprise. Three different partner boards had me convinced that a dual-Tahiti board running at full speed just wouldn’t be possible without some sort of exotic design. Not only does AMD enable Radeon HD 7990 in a dual-slot form factor with two eight-pin power connectors, but it also addresses my biggest beef with the company’s most recent high-end reference designs: too much noise. Even under load, the 7990’s three fans slice through air quieter than a GeForce GTX 690. It’s only unfortunate that power-related vibrations generate more volume than the coolers themselves. Massive compute performance, low idle power consumption enabled by ZeroCore technology, and some of the fastest 3D performance available make this a very desirable product for certain environments.

But when we combine the quantitative data enabled by video capture-based performance analysis and the subjective judgments of a panel of gaming enthusiasts who simply want to play their favorite titles on the best hardware possible, Nvidia’s thousand-dollar GeForce GTX 690 outshines the similarly-priced Radeon HD 7990. Our early look at AMD’s prototype driver suggests that more evenly pacing the rate at which frames are shown on-screen helps minimize frame time variance, which our gamers definitely noticed. But that release isn’t expected for months—the second half of 2013 is as specific as AMD gets.

And so we’re faced with a card that represents a huge improvement over its predecessor, but still comes up shy of its competition, and is priced like an equal.

If the story ended there, the winner would be clear. However, AMD is working magic with developers, and the Radeon HD 7990’s game bundle looks like the culmination of a serious ISV push. Every 7990 will include a copy of BioShock Infinite, Tomb Raider, Crysis 3, Far Cry 3, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, Hitman: Absolution, Sleeping Dogs, and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. That’s $335 worth of software, if you don’t own any of it already. I personally find five of the eight titles interesting, which is some sort of record for a game bundle.

No matter what, $1,000 is a lot of money to spend on a graphics card accompanied by a handful of caveats. But if you’re able to extract a couple hundred bucks of value from the bundle, AMD’s suggested retail price gets a little softer. Interested parties should expect to wait a couple of weeks for availability, the company says.

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    Top Comments
  • cangelini
    donquad2001this test was 99% useless to the average gamer,Test the card at 1900x1080 like most of us use to get a real ideal of what its like,only your unigine benchmarks helped the average gamer,who cares what any card can do at a resolution we cant use anyway?

    If you're looking to game at 1920x1080, I can save you a ton of money by recommending something less than half as expensive. This card is for folks playing at 2560 *at least.* Next time, I'm looking to get FCAT running on a 7680x1440 array ;)
    26
  • timw03878
    Here's an idea. Take away the 8 games at 40 bucks a piece and deduct that from the insane 1000 price tag.
    23
  • whyso
    Power usage?

    Thats some nice gains from the prototype driver.
    12
  • Other Comments
  • blackmagnum
    If I had 1,000 dollars... I would buy a Titan. Its power efficiency, drivers and uber-chip goodness is unmatched.
    -23
  • whyso
    Power usage?

    Thats some nice gains from the prototype driver.
    12
  • ilysaml
    Nice article!! Unbeatable performance out of the box.
    -11
  • 17seconds
    Sort of seems like a mess to me. The game bundle is nice.
    12
  • timw03878
    Here's an idea. Take away the 8 games at 40 bucks a piece and deduct that from the insane 1000 price tag.
    23
  • donquad2001
    this test was 99% useless to the average gamer,Test the card at 1900x1080 like most of us use to get a real ideal of what its like,only your unigine benchmarks helped the average gamer,who cares what any card can do at a resolution we cant use anyway?
    -25
  • cangelini
    whysoPower usage?Thats some nice gains from the prototype driver.

    Power is the one thing I didn't have time for. We already know the 7990 is a 375 W card, while GTX 690 is a 300 W card, though. We also know AMD has Zero Core, which is going to shave off power at idle with one GPU shut off. I'm not expecting any surprises on power that those specs and technologies don't already insinuate.
    10
  • ASHISH65
    nice article! here comes the Competitor of gtx 690!
    -4
  • cangelini
    donquad2001this test was 99% useless to the average gamer,Test the card at 1900x1080 like most of us use to get a real ideal of what its like,only your unigine benchmarks helped the average gamer,who cares what any card can do at a resolution we cant use anyway?

    If you're looking to game at 1920x1080, I can save you a ton of money by recommending something less than half as expensive. This card is for folks playing at 2560 *at least.* Next time, I'm looking to get FCAT running on a 7680x1440 array ;)
    26
  • hero1
    Nice article. I was hopping that they would have addressed the whining but they haven't and that's a shame. Performance wise it can be matched by GTX 680 SLI and GTX 690 without the huge time variance and runt frames. Let's hope they fix their whining issue and FPS without forcing users to turn on V-sync. For now I know where my money is going consider that I have dealt with AMD before:XFX and Sapphire and didn't like the results (whining, artifacts, XF stops working etc). Sorry but I gave the red team a try and I will stick with Nvidia until AMD can prove that they have fixed their issues.
    2
  • ohim
    Why are all you people, that this card is not made for, complain about the price tag? AMD / Nvidia for sure don`t really make a profit if any out of these monsters. They are just for show like in the CPU business.
    People mostly buy Intel (I3/i5 a lot more than i7) just because Intel can provide top of the line CPUs in the i7 Extreme range. Same goes here, if some hears that AMD has a better 1000$ card than Nvidia, they will probably spend 100-200$ for an AMD card and not Nvidia.
    Power ... unless you`re not a guy who saves 2 years in a row for this card to have a 6 months nerd gaming glory you won`t care that much how power hungry this card is.

    Is just like asking Ferrari or Lamborghini how many mpg their cars do.
    1
  • mayankleoboy1
    1.I wonder if inserting all those pauses in the rendering pipeline for smoothness harms the compute performance.

    2. Regarding the fan noise and the hum : It would be interesting to know how much noticable is the fan noise and the hum with increaseing listner distance. IOW, which noise is more noticable at near/medium/far distances ?


    Drivers still are AMD's biggest weakness. I would have expected AMD to havetop-notch , A-one drivers to go with the HD7990. After all, this is AMD's halo product. The first impression is what matters. The conclusion is basically "Card is good. Drivers are poor, with better coming in future". So ultimately its selling a promise, which may/may not succeed. It appears to me that AMD doesnt value its own products.
    6
  • mayankleoboy1
    Ohh, and a video conversion test would have been nice too. (Is there any software available that supports CFX ?)
    Also, has the Video Conversion Engine in AMD taken off ?
    -1
  • jezus53
    It's very interesting that AMD couldn't find a capacitor that wouldn't cause this noise. I feel once third party vendors get the reference they'll find ways of removing that. Hope they fix it soon or else nVidia will have a new line of cards while AMD is having problems with neatly two year old chips!!!
    0
  • dragonsqrrl
    hero1Nice article. I was hopping that they would have addressed the whining but they haven't and that's a shame. Performance wise it can be matched by GTX 680 SLI and GTX 690 without the huge time variance and runt frames. Let's hope they fix their whining issue and FPS without forcing users to turn on V-sync. For now I know where my money is going consider that I have dealt with AMD before:XFX and Sapphire and didn't like the results (whining, artifacts, XF stops working etc). Sorry but I gave the red team a try and I will stick with Nvidia until AMD can prove that they have fixed their issues.

    Unfortunately I'm really not sure the whining issue is something that can be fixed with a driver update. I think it has more to do with the hardware on the board than anything else. But it's good to see that AMD has finally recognized the frame time variance and micro-stutter problem, and are actively pursuing a solution. Although the test in the review was limited, I think it's telling that every gamer tested was able to recognize the difference between AMD and Nvidia cards, and even the difference brought by AMD's own prototype drivers.
    1
  • hero1
    dragonsqrrlUnfortunately I'm really not sure the whining issue is something that can be fixed with a driver update. I think it has more to do with the hardware on the board than anything else. But it's good to see that AMD has finally recognized the frame time variance and micro-stutter problem, and are actively pursing a solution. Although the test in the review was limited, I think it's telling that every gamer tested was able to recognize the difference between AMD and Nvidia cards, and even the difference brought by AMD's own prototype drivers.


    I know and that's what I meant by hopping that they would have addressed the whining with this card. It happens to all their cards, well the ones that I have owned especially the XFX and if they knew what causes then they should have fixed it.

    Let's hope that the prototype driver will also translate to better drivers for all their GPUs and address the frame rate issues. Other than that, it is a good card but I think, for my personal use since I was waiting to see what this can offer, I will just get the GTX 680 or the GTX 780 next month and will definitely go back to AMD if they address those issues.
    2
  • dragonsqrrl
    whysoPower usage?Thats some nice gains from the prototype driver.


    For everyone seeking power and heat results:
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/6915/amd-radeon-hd-7990-review-7990-gets-official/16

    It consumes a lot of power under load, substantially more than the GTX690, but like Chris said that's to be expected. The big difference with the 7990 seems to be acoustics in relation to temps at load. It's a massive improvement over the 6990, and pretty much on par with the GTX690. Unfortunately the coil whine seems to undo a lot of the improvements made to the stock cooler, but all things considered it's pretty impressive what AMD was able to do in this area, especially in comparison to unofficial solutions from other vendors (dual slot, only requires 2 8-pin).
    2
  • dragonsqrrl
    hero1I know and that's what I meant by hopping that they would have addressed the whining with this card.

    Sorry, that's a reading fail on my part. Thought you said, 'hope they'll address the whining' or something to that effect.
    2
  • hero1
    dragonsqrrlSorry, that's a reading fail on my part. Thought you said, 'hope they'll address the whining' or something to that effect.


    No problem.
    2
  • bartholomew
    A Price tag of $849.99 would had been quite aggressive & increased its value significantly.
    5