PowerColor Devil 13 HD 7990 Reviewccokeman - September 16, 2012
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And here we are with the results of the card AMD chose not to build but let its partners take the best shot at delivering what is in any shape or form a niche card; much like the HD 6870X2 that PowerColor built. As the first out of the gate PowerColor has put together a card that performs well at the as delivered clock speeds of 925MHz on the pair of Tahiti XT cores and 1375MHz on the 3GB x 2 GDDR5 memory. Does the Devil 13 HD 7990 hit a home run in terms of performance? When compared to similar cards including AMD's HD 6990 and NVIDIA's GTX 690 and GTX 590 it delivers excellent performance characteristics with wins and losses usually following along with which manufacturer supported the game. The largest performance deltas are seen at the 5760x1080 resolution where the additional memory on board the Devil 13 HD 7990 pays off handsomely. However for those who look at 3DMark 11 as the ultimate benchmark, NVIDIA still has a strangle hold at the top of the charts with the GTX 690 by a significant margin.
If the performance at stock speeds is not enough there is the option of enabling the dual BIOS switch that boosts the core clock speed to a cool 1000MHz for that next level of performance at the push of a button. Overclocking the Devil 13 HD 7990 even further by manually tweaking the card allowed the performance to scale to yet another level. I was able to pull just over 210MHz more out of the pair of cores and another 200MHz out of the 6GB of GDDR5 memory at 1575MHz. The largest boost in performance from overclocking came in Battlefield 3 with a 19FPS boost at 1920x1080. The realities of the Devil 13 HD 7990 is that you can play just about any game with the eye candy turned on at 1920x1080 and 5760x1080 without worry. Running in Crossfire mode with a HD 7970 was possible although I was not able to see the same level of scaling I see with a three card HD 7970 setup. However increases in several games were as high as 10FPS in Batman: Arkham City just by adding the additional card. A board with more PCIe lanes in the second slot might show better results in this configuration.
To deliver this kind of performance, PowerColor delivers a custom built card with a robust 12+2+2 phase power circuit using a digital PWM design with an up to 90% efficiency rating. Voltage measure points are put on board next to the power connections for those looking to accurately measure the voltage applied to the core and components. All of the gaming chops that the Devil 13 has come in a large by huge package. The Devil 13 is not the card you will want to use in a small form factor build as it covers up to three slots and measures 315mm x 140mm x 60mm or just over 12 x 5 x 2.25 inches.
The impressive size is due to the custom PCB and cooling solution employed by PowerColor. While huge it does handle the the job of keeping the Devil 13 outside the range of the flames of hell. The ten heat pipe dual copper plate solution is built to dissipate up to 550 watts of thermal energy. This it does with incredible efficiency keeping the Devil 13 below 70 °C when overclocked. To reach this level I did raise the fan speeds on the three fans to 100%. This does generate some noise but even as loud as it is at full throttle, the HD 6990's blower fan is significantly louder. At stock speeds the Devil 13 is still quite cool running at 72 °C. As cool as the Devil 13 runs it uses power at a higher level than the GTX 690 by almost 100 watts at stock speeds and right at 100 watts when overclocked, making the thermal performance all that more impressive. To run the Devil 13, an 850 watt power supply is required as you will need three PCIe 8-pin power connections. If you do not have them a trio of 6-pin to 8-pin PCIe adapters are included in the bundle.
As a decidedly niche card that is going to commend a premium based on the build characteristics, unique bundle (which includes a Wiha tool kit), and the impressive packaging used for the Devil 13. Pricing is expected in the $999 range with a thousand or so cards being built. Availability should be by the time you read this article as there have been a couple issues holding up delivery. At $999 you have the option of buying a pair of HD 7970 cards and running them in a CrossfireX configuration for about $100 less than the $999 asking price for the Devil 13 HD 7990. If you pick up a pair of factory overclocked cards like the XFX Black Edition cards used for the Crossfire test results you can expect to see a slightly better level of performance to go along with the dual card configuration.
As a single PCIe slot video card the PowerColor HD 7990 Devil 13 delivers excellent results both in terms of cooling and gaming performance, especially when you move to an Eyefinity setup. It has looks that kill, a good design, and the ability to run it all with a single card.
- Gaming performance
- Cooling performance
- Bundled accessories
- Great packaging
- Enthusiast feature set