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Sapphire Radeon HD 6990 Review

ccokeman    -   March 13, 2011
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Conclusion:

Is the HD 6990 the master of its domain? Why yes...yes it is. Much like when the HD 5970 was launched, the HD 6990 just cleans up and delivers FPS numbers that can't be matched by any single video card currently out today. In that respect it is a winning proposition for AMD as they rightly retain the single card performance crown. When overclocked, it moves one step further up the performance ladder with game changing performance. Metro 2033 and AVP are now playable at 2560 x 1600 with the eye candy and all of the DX 11 feature set enabled. This puts the card in a position to be able to handle the next generation of games coming out over this coming year (Crysis 2 anybody?). If it turns out that it can't handle the latest games you can always manually bump the clock speeds up for that additional boost you need. The Sapphire HD 6990 is a reference card so I am confident that just about any of the HD 6990 cards out there can reach the speeds I was able to reach of 940/1473MHz. I did this by flipping the AUSUM switch to the overclock mode to get the small bump in core clock voltage and adjusting the clock speed up and fan speeds to 80% to keep the card cooler. These clock speeds represent increases of 110MHz on the core and 223MHz on the GDDR5 memory. Now a couple things that concerned me.

One being the AUSUM switch that is put on there to allow the enthusiast to take advantage of higher clock speeds and performance but they put a little sticker on it saying if you move the switch you're going to have to do without any warranty support. If the concern is that great then the switch should have been there only for its intended purpose as a BIOS recovery option. Second is the noise that this card produces when the fan speed is ramped up. Start up that shop vac and you have an idea of what that 5000RPM capable fan can do. I will admit that when the fan is ramped up the temperature profile is better than that of the HD 5970. At stock speeds the temperature profile is spot on with the HD 5970 so you get much improved performance with the same thermals. The only down side to the dual heat sink design is that half the hot air is dumped into the chassis raising the internal temperatures of the case's components. A case with excellent airflow should be mandatory with this card.

When you compare the performance delivered to what you get with a pair of HD 6970's, the pricing structure does not really add up. A pair of HD 6970s clocked at 880/1250MHz will set you back about $680 or less depending on rebates. The HD 6990 is available for $710 and up and delivers slightly lower performance in most cases. The GTX 570's in SLI deliver performance that is up and down against the HD 6990 for the same cost commitment as the pair of HD 6970's so you have some value concerns there. However, at this time, the HD 6990 does something no current generation single card from NVIDIA can do, run a surround (Eyefinity) setup. Will that change with NVIDIA's rumored upcoming dual GPU card? Time will tell. At this point if you have to have the fastest single card on the planet then the Sapphire HD 6990 is going to be it. You get game changing performance and a host of features that allow this card to meet all of your gaming needs, built in one touch overclocking and a card that just blows the competition away.

 

Pros:

  • Fastest Single Card Available Today
  • Overclocking
  • Eyefinity 5 Portrait Mode
  • Game Changing Performance
  • Bundle

 

Cons:

  • Loud
  • AUSUM Switch Voids Warranty
  • Hot air Dumped into the Case
  • Price


 

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