Powercolor LCS HD 6990 4GB Reviewccokeman - September 5, 2011
Category: Video Cards
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So you say you want to get the fastest single video card out on the market in the HD 6990, but just can't stand the thought of a Hoover running in your case at full song during a frag fest. What is one to do to resolve this dilemma? Buy another card or two? Nope? Buy louder fans that push more air through the chassis to drown out the beast within? Nope? One solution is to step into the world of water cooling to save your eardrums, with the added benefit of lower operating temperatures, increased overclocking headroom, and of course bitchin' looks (yes, I am old school). If you are not running liquid cooling this might be incentive enough to switch to the dark side. PowerColor has taken a standard HD 6990 and added some visual appeal with a full-cover, nickel-plated block covered with a custom-engraved Acetal cover by high performance water cooling manufacturer EK Waterblocks. By adding the liquid cooling solution, PowerColor adds this card to the LCS line up as the HD 6990 LCS. Under the hood are a pair of AMD's low leakage Cayman XT cores clocked at either 830MHz for a 375 watt power profile or at 880MHz using the alternate 450 watt power profile for that quick boost in performance that can be gained with the flip of a switch. Mirroring the reference card, the PowerColor HD 6990 LCS is equipped with 4GB of GDDR5 memory.
Having looked at the previous members of the LCS lineup, including the HD 6970 LCS and HD 5970 LCS, I have found that the addition of the waterblock allows for substantial performance enhancements that really are not available on the standard or PCS+ versions of the cards. Furthermore, the addition of the waterblock is going to bump the cost factor up some.
The packaging for the PowerColor HD 6990 LCS contains a wealth of information between the front and rear panels. The front shows an illustration of the HD 6990 LCS, points out the quantity of GDDR5 memory on board at 4GB, the display connectivity of a single Dual Link DVI and four DisplayPort connections, and that this card supports up to four monitors in Eyefinity. The back panel hosts a laundry list of information about the supported technologies from AMD, including Advanced Parralel Processing, CrossFireX, and HD3D. On the right side, PowerColor gives an explanation of why water cooling the graphics card is a benefit. The contents of the package is listed just underneath the benefits of liquid cooling.
With the outer sleeve removed, all that is left is a nondescript cardboard box that houses the PowerColor HD 6990 LCS. The documentation is placed strategically so that the end user is directed to read the manuals before installation of the HD 6990 LCS.
A card of this stature should come with everything needed to get it installed and operating without a second trip to the local computer store to try and find what you need. In this respect, PowerColor has delivered with the bundle of accessories included with the HD 6990 LCS. First off, the documentation is detailed enough so that the novice will not get lost in the process, while the hardware is just what is needed — 1/2 inch and 3/8 inch barbed fittings, two pairs of spacers, clamps for both sizes of tubing, a hex wrench to remove the plugs in the EK waterblock, a CrossFireX bridge connection, a DVI to VGA adapter, a pair of 6-pin to 8-pin PCIe power adapters, and a host of DisplayPort connectivity options to allow the end user enough flexibility when it comes to hooking this card up to a multi-monitor Eyefinity setup. Included in the assortment of option are a Mini DisplayPort to SL DVI(Passive), Mini DisplayPort to SL DVI (Active) and Mini DisplayPort to HDMI.
Based on my previous experience with PowerColor's LCS lineup, I have high expectations for this card in terms of overclocking headroom, the temperatures delivered by a liquid cooling solution, and the lack of noise that the reference card saddles the high end gamer and enthusiast with as a cost of entry into ownership of AMD's flagship video card.