Radeon HD 6990M Or GeForce GTX 580M?
An examination of the latest mobile graphics processors was the primary impetus for today’s test, so let’s look at a quick summary of gaming benchmark results.
It'd be easy for Nvidia to claim the superiority of its cards in SLI, given the results of the games we tested. Both its GeForce GTX 580M and 485M dual-GPU configurations beat AMD's Radeon HD 6990M in CrossFire. But that chart includes all resolutions, and we know that most gamers (especially the ones dropping more than seven grand) prefer to play at the display panel’s native resolution.
Limiting our selection to 1920x1080 results doesn’t really help AMD either. Yet, we do know of at least one place where Radeons can win.
Desktop gamers usually point and laugh when we start pointing out the efficiency differences between cards. But then again, desktop users don’t need to worry as much about heat. AMD’s GPUs use less power, in part because they’re slightly weaker on-average. However, they also produce more work per watt than the competition. Moreover, the Radeon HD 6990M costs less than the GeForce GTX 580M.
Eurocom deserves credit for stepping beyond the comfort zone of competing system builders and figuring out how to get two Radeon HD 6990Ms working in a rig able to support a pair of GeForce GTX 580Ms. However, it'd seem that the Nvidia cards are the better match for such an over-the-top mobile workstation. The AMD boards, based on their power and performance profile, would likely be better suited in a smaller, lighter, less expensive machine. The Radeon HD 6990M is the "more mobile" solution tested today in a "less mobile" platform.
The price difference between Nvidia's GeForce GTX 580M and AMD's Radeon HD 6990M is also very significant. It just so happens that thousands of dollars of upgrades to this notebook (which we appreciate; they help squash the potential of system bottlenecks when we run benchmarks) make a large price delta look less painful than it actually is. Value leadership favoring AMD's new flagship would have been more noticeable in a $2000 build than it is in a $7000 build.
Thus, while the GeForce GTX 580M SLI holds performance leadership in a greater number of today's games, we look forward to smaller-sized, lighter-priced gaming notebooks that might be able to demonstrate the comparative value of AMD’s flagship Radeon HD 6990M in both single-GPU and CrossFire configurations.