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

Radeon HD 7990 And GeForce GTX 690 Duke It Out

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 X2PowerColor Devil13 HD7990 6 GBEVGA GeForce GTX 690
Shader Units2 x 20482 x 20482 x 1536
GPU Clock Rate1050 MHz925 / 1000 MHz915 MHz +Turbo
ROPs2 x 322 x 322 x 32
GPUs2 x Tahiti XT2 x Tahiti XT2 x GK104
Transistors (Billion)2 x 4.312 x 4.312 x 3.54
Memory2 x 3 GB2 x 3 GB2 x 2 GB
Memory Bus2 x 384-bit2 x 384-bit2 x 256-bit
Memory Clock Rate1500 MHz1375 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.