AMD Repeats Fastest Single Card Crown, But at a Price
March 8, 2011 9:15 AM
comment(s) - last by
The Radeon HD 6990 (top, both pictures) atop the Radeon HD 5970 (bottom, both pictures), AMD's previous dual-GPU, single-card solution.
The Radeon 6990 is absolutely the king of single-card performance, but its price makes it essentially unsellable.
AMD's new card sounds like a jumbo jet and will break the bank, but it is fast
dual-GPU chip Radeon HD 5970
, the Radeon HD 6990 [
] may be a victory lap of sorts for AMD. Unlike the Radeon 5000 series, this generation the chipmaker faced tougher competition, with rival NVIDIA actually delivering in a (relatively) timely fashion an impressive set of GPUs -- the
Geforce 500 Series
indicate that AMD has maintained its lead over NVIDIA, despite this recovery.
What better way to celebrate than to make a decadent and superfluous, but utterly powerful single card offering?
I. More Beast Than Beauty
While the Radeon HD 6990 is a one-PCB card, it essentially acts like two. It has two distinct vapor chambers, each with their own distinct heat-sink. The GPU chips are linked by an internal CrossFire connection. They share 4 GB of GDDR5 RAM, with each GPU essentially getting 2 GB -- the same as single card offerings from AMD.
Performance-wise the card acts much like two cards as well.
, the card sucked down over 490 watts of power during intense gaming benchmarks. The good news is that it's power dissipation was pretty incredible, allowing the card to stay at a cool 88 degrees Celsius -- one of the best things about the card.
The card can be aggressively overclocked on air up to 830 MHz, at least, but it require power aplenty (almost 550 watts of power, to be precise).
Something not so impressive was the roaring fan speeds required to keep the card running so cool. NVIDIA -- long the butt of many a joke for its
Geforce 400 Series' fan noise
-- can breathe a sigh of relief. If a Geforce 400 was a noisy lawn mower, the Radeon HD 6990 might as well be a jumbo jet. It generates 70.2 decibels under load -- almost 4 db more than a pair of SLIed Geforce GTX580s. When overclocked the card reached 77 (!) decibels. At those levels, you might want to invest in a nice pair of gamer ear-plugs.
So how's the performance? Well the good news is that this card easily beats any single card on the market right now by NVIDIA or AMD. Sure that's because it's essentially
cards, but if the competition criteria is "single slot card", the Radeon HD 6990 is king.
Against two cards it falls flat, though. It's consistently approximately 8 percent behind a pair of CrossFired AMD Radeon HD 6970 cards. And in some titles like
, it even falls behind a pair of Geforce GTX 580s in SLI.
II. "Huh, yeah, what is it good for?" -- Edwin Starr
When it comes to what kind of utility this exercise in extreme single-slot power may have, the answer isn't quite "absolutely nothing", but it's pretty close.
Priced at $700 USD the card is outperformed by a pair of HD 6970s -- approximately $640 USD -- and roughly equaled by a pair of HD 6950s -- approximately $520 USD.
So why in the world would you buy a noisier, less powerful card that's over $60 more expensive? Well, there's a couple reasons why you might -- but they're uncommon.
One is if you
to have 5 monitors. Currently only the 5870 Eyefinity 6 and this card support driving 5 monitors from a single or dual card solution. So if you
to have 5 monitors
you're willing to pay for top power, this is the card for you.
Secondly, if you only have two full PCI-E x16 slots in a board with the slots spaced at least 3 slots apart, and the board is CrossFire-ready, this is your ultimate solution, if heat, noise, and power consumption be damned. Of course, that's because you're really squeezing 4 GPUs into two slots, but that's a minor technicality.
The final candidate would be a very small subset of single-card boards. Generally if you have a single slot, your board/case is too small to sufficiently cool the HD 6990. But it is
, there are a couple of small systems out there that could muster sufficient cooling for this. Arguably even if such a configuration doesn't exist already, someone could take a micro-ATX case, put a single HD 6990 in it, and pair it with a couple of ridiculous huge fans that cover the walls (maybe 200 mm?).
That would yield a compact, powerful, yet ridiculous expensive system, but the upside would be that it would offer the HD 6990 in a package that might appeal to select few.
Unless AMD somehow cooks up octa-GPU CrossFire drivers, this is card, while a marvel of engineering, is a novelty/niche product, sure to sell few, if any, units.
Much like the protagonists of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Beautiful and Damned" the card cuts an attractive figure, but hides ugliness (power, noise, performance) underneath. The upside is that is that it's destined for fame, or perhaps infamy, the downside is that its sales are doomed by its decadence.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
3/9/2011 9:17:54 AM
My Radeon 4870x2 got up to 96 Celcius a few days ago while teseting the new Crysis 2 demo (1600x1200 on max settings), the only thing that happend was the fan reved up to 100% (usually set manually for 60%) and i noticed. This card is geared toward people like me who want a signle card with 2 GPUs on it. Noise is not a huge factor to me as much as staying cooler (i have 8x 120cm fans in my case, all Yate Loon's, they were cheap but noisy as hell but man they move some air through my computer)and i have 5.1 setup on my rig. Apparently either I am not the only 1 that wants one of these, or they have a supply issue; Newegg just got these in and every brand is out of stock, i have been eyeing the egg like hawk and didnt notice them come in, they are already gone. Cant wait to get 1! This 1 card will generate less heat and consume less power than 2 individual cards, and by the way they are priced on the egg, getting 2 6970s or 1 6990 is the same price, so go for whichever you want more.
3/9/2011 10:02:30 AM
My Radeon 4870x2 got up to 96 Celcius a few days ago
...and you think that's a good thing? If so, I have a really nice bridge you might be interested in...
3/9/2011 10:17:03 AM
Lol meaning no damage has been done, its not the 1st time either. Sure it warms up the room really well and i don't much care for it, but the card is RATED for that and higher. There is no impact on the card accept possibly some perfromance hits (none that i see when gaming and watching FPS). The point you are trying to make is moot. This is posing no danger to the card which i got when it came out, i have had no problems with it whatsoever.
"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA
"World's Fastest GPU" GTX 580 Launches, Prices Float at Around $520
November 9, 2010, 9:15 AM
DX11 Wars: NVIDIA Brags New Vapor-Cooled GPU is "Fastest on the Planet"
November 8, 2010, 10:45 AM
Return of the King: AMD HD 5970 Leaks, Looks Poised to Seize Performance Crown
November 3, 2009, 4:25 PM
Lenovo Once Again The Top Global PC Maker, Apple Takes 50% of PC Profits
October 9, 2014, 7:46 AM
It’s Official: HP to Split Into Two Business Units
October 6, 2014, 8:14 AM
Quick Note: HP Plans to Split PC, Enterprise Units
October 5, 2014, 4:31 PM
Samsung Prepping 14-nm for Apple A9 Production, Handling 30 Percent of A8 Orders
October 2, 2014, 1:17 PM
Lenovo to Complete $2.1B Acquisition of IBM's x86 Server Operations on October 1
September 29, 2014, 3:19 PM
ZOTAC Announces Diminutive ZBOX PI320 pico
August 27, 2014, 9:00 AM
Most Popular Articles
Google Announces Android 5.0 “Lollipop”, Nexus 9 Tablet, and Nexus 6 “Phablet”
October 15, 2014, 12:41 PM
Cool Science Video of the Day: Carnivorous Leech Eats Giant Jungle Worm
October 16, 2014, 6:44 PM
Oops! Apple Outs iPad mini 3, iPad Air 2 via iTunes Store
October 15, 2014, 1:32 PM
HBO, CBS Lead Charge to Ditch Cable
October 16, 2014, 4:40 PM
Google Offers $99 Nexus Player w/$40 Controller for Android Set-Top Streaming, Gaming
October 15, 2014, 3:01 PM
Latest Blog Posts
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
Space Terrorism is a Looming Threat For the United States
Apr 23, 2014, 7:47 PM
Facebook Aims to Provide Internet to "Every Person in the World" with Drones, Satellites
Apr 1, 2014, 10:20 AM
Retail Mobile Sites Experience Outages in Light of Simplexity's Bankruptcy
Mar 14, 2014, 8:48 AM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information