Powercolor LCS HD 6990 4GB Reviewccokeman -
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The cost of entry into the world of owning this great looking piece of hardware is might seem steep at $899. What this price gets you is a fully assembled (minus the fittings) video card that comes with a full cover acetal and nickel-plated copper block. If priced and sourced individually, your costs for the card, block, and fittings come surprisingly close to the suggested price point of $899. What that extra few bucks buys you is a warranty and peace of mind. Anyone who has hosed up a video card installing a full cover block knows that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when there is just a black screen after spending a few hours assembling the video card and integrating it into the liquid loop. Warranty gone?! Check! Cash blown without a payoff?! Check! PowerColor takes all the assembly risk and the end user gets the peace of mind knowing that the card is put together correctly. Needless to say there is a cost commitment, but going the liquid cooling route gets rid of the number one complaint on the HD 6990, noise. No longer do you have a vacuum in the case, but a few rattles and chirps from the VRM circuits that are now audible without the fan noise. Seems like a good tradeoff to me! Integrating the card into a liquid cooling loop is a breeze. My main concern on this subject is the use of a 3-part solution to make just a single connection. A spacer and shim are needed to allow the large, shouldered, barbed adapter to fit onto the HD 6990 LCS. In my eyes, this means there are two more potential leak points per line connection. A simple solution is to use another fitting brand to make the connection and eliminate the hazard. Sure the shim and spacer work, but there are better options.
The main reason to buy an HD 6990 is to take advantage of a single 16x slot multiple-GPU solution without the added costs associated with using a second video card, such as having an increase in noise and power consumption, plus the loss of use of many of the expansion slots that could be used for a sound card, NIC, or PCIe-based Solid State Drive, such as OCZ's Revo drives. The performance of the HD 6990 shows that it is really the fastest single-PCB video card out right now. The PowerColor HD 6990 LCS comes set to run the default numbers for the HD 6990 at 830MHz/1250MHz. The AUSUM switch jumps the core clocks up to 880MHz just the way the reference cards are set to do. This alone offers an increase in gaming performance. My reference cards have all pretty much topped out at around 950MHz on the core and around 1500MHz on the GDDR5 memory. The water cooling option presented on the PowerColor HD 6990 LCS allows the core to clock even further. This retail sample easily hit 1002MHz on the Cayman XT cores and 1488MHz on the memory. The additional headroom is nice to have, but what is even nicer is that the temperatures hit a maximum of 50 degrees Celsius under load when the screws were put to the HD 6990 LCS. That is a 21 degrees Celsius drop from the reference cooling solution. As impressive as that is, the temperature delta between the reference and LCS HD 6990 at stock speeds was 37 degrees Celsius. That right there is the whole shooting match all wrapped up in a tidy package.
Purchasing a card of this stature means that costs really are not a concern, but by measuring the power consumption of this card, the verdict is that the lack of a cooling fan on the card accounts for a roughly 30 watt decrease under load while running higher clock speeds than the reference comparison. This is sure to keep some coin in your pocket and not in the power companies. Since gamers are the target market for the PowerColor HD 6990 LCS, its ability to run a high-end Eyefinity setup with smooth game play at 5760x1080 definitely fill this niche. Adding a second HD 6990 LCS in CrossfireX would surely increase the gaming scores and increase the fluidity of your gameplay, though it is surely not the most economical solution. All the games tested could be played at 5760x1080 and easily kept the FPS up at 2560x1600 — just what's needed for a the high-end gamer. Again, PowerColor has offered a great looking card in its LCS lineup that performs up to expectations. Good looks, great cooling, and performance to match!
- EK Waterblocks Liquid Cooling
- Good looks
- Overclocking headroom
- Game Performance
- Cooling Performance
- Dual GPU
- Noisy power circuit
- Shim and spacer arrangement on connections