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HIS HD6990 Dual CrossfireX Review

Rating: 9.0.

AMD launched the HD6990 today, and KitGuru was at hand to analyse the reference board. We know that discerning readers of KitGuru will want to see how two of these video cards perform in a Dual CrossFireX configuration.

We will be putting two HD6990’s through their paces across single screen, and four screen configurations and comparing them against many of the mainstream boards available on the market today.

Just how insanely fast are two of these cards when paired up? How hot do they get? Can you live with the noise and how much power do they need? All of this will be answered in our second HD6990 launch article.

The AMD HD6990 is a monster video card, it features 4 GB of GDDR5 memory on a 256 bit memory interface with 3072 stream processors and 192 texture units. We will find out today if it is the new performance leader.

HIS HD6990
Compute Power 5.1 TFLOPs (IEEE754-SP)
1.27 TFLOPs (IEEE754-DP)
Core Clock Speed 830mhz
Primitive Rate 2 prim/clk
Shader Architecture VLIW4
Stream Processors 3072 ALU
Texture Units 192
ROPs/Z-Stencil 64/256
Frame Buffer 4GB GDDR5
Memory Width/Speed 256-bit, 5.0 Gbps
Load Board Power <375W
Power Connectors 8 pin & 8 Pin
Display Outputs 1xDVI + 4 mDP

It wouldn’t be an HIS box without the image of a sword on the front. The artwork is rather dull if we are being honest.

The bundle, as we mentioned earlier today, contains a tri of cables to help the owner connect the card to various panel configurations. A miniDP to SL-DVI passive, a miniDP to SL-DVI active, and a miniDP to HDMI passive cable are included.

The HIS card is a reference design, with HIS branding on the front. The same small red fan takes centerstage across the PCB.

As this is a retail sample, there is a yellow sticker covering the bios switch. . The AMD HD6990 will ship in the default position of ’2′. This is a factory supported clock setting (830mhz) with voltage set to 1.12. Position ’1′ is a ‘hardware’ overdrive option with increased clocks, 880mhz on the core and an increased voltage setting of 1.175. They are naming this the ‘AUSUM’ or ‘Antilles Unlocking Switch for Uber Mode’, which we don’t expect to become a widely used acronym.

The card is crossfire capable and requires two 8 pin power connectors to operate correctly.

AMD are using 4GB of quality Hynix H5GQ2H24MFR memory rated to 6ghz.

AMD advised reviewers to avoid disassembling the card until the testing was completed. They are using a ‘phase change TIM’ which, apparently, offers 8% better thermal performance. When the connection is broken between GPU core and cooler, the TIM has to be removed.

AMD are using the latest generation digital programmable Volterra regulators on the card, to deliver increased efficiency with higher current capacity. The regulators are located at the centre of the board, in a symmetrical layout, to provide efficient power delivery to each GPU and its associated memory. Premium ASICs are screened for high speed and low leakage properties.

Above, GPUz highlights the two different BIOS settings available from the switch on the PCB. AMD class this as ‘HD6990 OC’ mode.

Connectivity is covered by 4x miniDP connectors (DP 1.2), and a single DL-DVI port.

To test these high end cardsfps today, we have built a system with suitable matching components – based around a liquid cooled 12 core Intel i7 970 processor, overclocked to 4.33GHz, with 6GB of GKILL memory running at 1800MHz with tight timings. We will be mixing the resolutions today from 1920×1080 (1080p) to 7680×1080.

Processor: Core i7 970 @ 4.33GHz
Cooling: Coolit Vantage (extreme setting).
Motherboard: MSI X58A-GD65 (MS-7522)
Chassis: Thermaltake Level 10
Power Supply: Corsair Ax1200
Memory: 6GB GSkill Performance Gaming ram @ 902.9 MHz (2:10) @ 9-9-9-24
Storage: Kingston SSDNow V+ 512GB Gen 2 SSD (Storage) / Crucial RealSSD C300 256GB (OS boot)
Monitors: Hazro Ultra Sharp HZ230Wi, Dell Ultrasharp U2410 Rev A00 x 2, Iiyama Prolite E2472HDD x2

Other graphics cards for comparisons:
Nvidia GTX580
Nvidia GTX570
XFX HD5970 Black Edition 4GB (QuadFireX)
AMD HD6970
AMD HD6950
AMD HD6870
AMD HD6850
AMD HD5870
AMD HD5850
MSI N560GTX Ti Twin Frozr II
nVidia GTX570
nVidia GTX460 OC (715/900)

Software:
Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit

Unigine Heaven Benchmark
3DMark Vantage
3DMark 11
Catalyst 11.4 Preview
Forceware 266.58 WHQL
Fraps Professional
Steam Client
FurMark
Stone Giant
HQV 2.0 Software

Technical Monitoring and Test Equipment:
Nikon D300S with R1C1 kit
Keithley Integra unit
Thermal Diodes
Raytek Laser Temp Gun 3i LSRC/MT4 Mini Temp
Extech digital sound level meter & SkyTronic DSL 2 Digital Sound Level Meter

Games:
Far Cry 2
Resident Evil 5
Tom Clancy HAWX 2
Alien V Predator
Lost Planet 2
Metro 2033
Dead Space 2
Batman Arkham Asylum
Battleforge
Shogun II
Crysis Warhead
Devil May Cry 4
Colin McRae Dirt 2
Left4Dead 2

All the latest BIOS updates and drivers are used during testing. We perform under real world conditions, meaning KitGuru tests all games across five closely matched runs and average out the results to get an accurate median figure.

Later in the review we will test the new HD6990 across 4 screens at 7680×1080 resolution, these review pages are marked with the ’4x’ tagline. We are only using the overclocked, performance profile for this testing as the target audience will assuredly be doing the same.

Unigine provides an interesting way to test hardware. It can be easily adapted to various projects due to its elaborated software design and flexible toolset. A lot of their customers claim that they have never seen such extremely-effective code, which is so easy to understand.

Heaven Benchmark is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on advanced Unigine engine from Unigine Corp. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. Interactive mode provides emerging experience of exploring the intricate world of steampunk.

Efficient and well-architected framework makes Unigine highly scalable:

  • Multiple API (DirectX 9 / DirectX 10 / DirectX 11 / OpenGL) render
  • Cross-platform: MS Windows (XP, Vista, Windows 7) / Linux
  • Full support of 32bit and 64bit systems
  • Multicore CPU support
  • Little / big endian support (ready for game consoles)
  • Powerful C++ API
  • Comprehensive performance profiling system
  • Flexible XML-based data structures

We test at 1080p so that all video cards can be compared throughout our reviews. Obviously driver updates might enhance performance slightly over time, but as a rule, its a useful way for us to present the findings.

The Unigine Heaven performance with two HD6990’s is staggering, averaging over 144 frames per second. We did get a re-occuring glitch from time to time which would force the frame rates into single digits, just for a split second but enough to register with the benchmarking tool. Driver updates should sort this out.

Futuremark released 3DMark Vantage, on April 28, 2008. It is a benchmark based upon DirectX 10, and therefore will only run under Windows Vista (Service Pack 1 is stated as a requirement) and Windows 7.  This is the first edition where the feature-restricted, free of charge version could not be used any number of times. 1280×1024 resolution was used with performance settings.


Two HD6990’s are over 5,000 points faster than the XFX HD5970 Black Edition Limited cards which we ran in Dual CrossfireX last year. These cards cost £1800, while the new HD6990’s cards would set you back £1,100.

3DMark 11 is designed for testing DirectX 11 hardware running on Windows 7 and Windows Vista the benchmark includes six all new benchmark tests that make extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading.

After running the tests 3DMark gives your system a score with larger numbers indicating better performance. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

If you want to learn more about this benchmark, or to buy it yourself, head over to this page.

Earlier today we thought 9,500 points was good, but two of these cards can generate a final score of over 14,000 points. By comparison a GTX580 scores 6,097 points.

Stone Giant is a benchmark tech demo that showcases and measures DirectX 11 performance using the BitSquid Engine. This is a tessellation heavy benchmark that, traditionally, runs very well on nVidia hardware. The jump in measured tessellation performance by the Radeon HD 6990 was so surprisingly high, that we re-ran the test several times to make sure the results were accurate.

CrossfireX performance with Stone Giant is all over the place, we recorded between 240 and 260 fps with this engine. Hard to get a grip on the scaling, but regardless its interesting enough to merit an inclusion – the new AMD optimised driver setting was used with the HD6990 which would account for some of the variances. We have included a video of a run of the Stone Giant benchmark above.

HQV Benchmark 2.0 is an updated version of the original tool and it consists of various video clips and test patterns which are designed to evalute motion correction, de-interlacing, decoding, noise reduction, detail enhancement and film cadence detection.

There are two versions of the program, standard definition on DVD and high definition on Bluray. As our audience will be concentrating on HD content so will we.

This has a total of 39 video tests which is increased from 23 in the original and the scoring is also up from a total of 130 to 210. As hardware and software gets more complicated, the software has been tuned to make sure we can thoroughly maximise our analysis.

Read our initial analysis over here.

HIS HD6990
Dial
4
Dial with static pattern 5
Gray Bars 5
Violin 5
Stadium 2:2 5
Stadium 3:2 5
Horizontal Text Scroll 5
Vertical Text Scroll 5
Transition to 3:2 Lock 5
Transition to 2:2 Lock 0
2:2:2:4 24 FPS DVCAM Video
5
2:3:3:2 24 FPS DVCam Video
5
3:2:3:2:2 24 FOS Vari-Speed
5
5:5 FPS Animation
5
6:4 12 FPS Animation
5
8:7 8 FPS Animation
5
Interlace Chroma Problem (ICP)
5
Chroma Upsampling Error (CUE)
5
Random Noise: Sailboat
5
Random Noise: Flower
5
Random Noise: Sunrise
5
Random Noise: Harbour Night
5
Scrolling Text
5
Roller Coaster
5
Ferris Wheel
5
Bridge Traffic
5
Text Pattern/ Scrolling Text
5
Roller Coaster
5
Ferris Wheel
5
Bridge Traffic
5
Luminance Frequency Bands
5
Chrominance Frequency Bands
5
Vanishing Text 5
Resolution Enhancement
15
Theme Park
5
Driftwood 5
Ferris Wheel
5
Skin Tones
7
Total 196

A very high level of image quality from the HD6990 and the latest Catalyst Preview driver, no different than any other Catalyst driver released this year however.

Far Cry 2 (commonly abbreviated as “FC2 or “fc2″) is an open-ended first-person shooter developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft. It was released on October 21, 2008 in North America and on October 23, 2008 in Europe and Australia. It was made available on Steam on October 22, 2008. Crytek, the developers of the original game, were not involved in the development of Far Cry 2.

Ubisoft has marketed Far Cry 2 as the true sequel to Far Cry, though the sequel has very few noticeable similarities to the original game. Instead, it features completely new characters and setting, as well as a new style of gameplay that allows the player greater freedom to explore different African landscapes such as deserts, jungles, and savannas. The game takes place in a modern-day East African nation in a state of anarchy and civil war. The player takes control of a mercenary on a lengthy journey to locate and assassinate “The Jackal,” a notorious arms dealer.

Far Cry 2 is still a popular game and the open world environment can be taxing on even the latest hardware available today.

Settings: 1920×1200, D3D10, Disable Artificial Intelligence(No), Full Screen, Anti-Aliasing(8x), VSync(No), Overall Quality(Ultra High), Vegetation(Very High), Shading(Ultra High), Terrain(Ultra High), Geometry(Ultra High), Post FX(High), Texture(Ultra High), Shadow(Ultra High), Ambient(High), Hdr(Yes), Bloom(Yes), Fire(Very High), Physics(Very High), RealTrees(Very High)

An average of almost 200 frames per second in Direct X 10 mode with 8AA and all settings cranked to the hilt.

Resident Evil 5, known in Japan as Biohazard 5, is a survival horror third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the seventh installment in the Resident Evil survival horror series, and was released on March 5, 2009 in Japan and on March 13, 2009 in North America and Europe for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. A Windows version of the game was released on September 15, 2009 in North America, September 17 in Japan and September 18 in Europe. Resident Evil 5 revolves around Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar as they investigate a terrorist threat in Kijuju, a fictional town in Africa.

Within its first three weeks of release, the game sold over 2 million units worldwide and became the best-selling game of the franchise in the United Kingdom. As of December, 2009, Resident Evil 5 has sold 5.3 million copies worldwide since launch, becoming the best selling Resident Evil game ever made.

We are fairly sure we are being CPU limited in this test now, with the two HD6990’s scoring an average of 213 frames per second.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2, released in March 2010 by Electronics Arts, is the most successful DirectX 11 title so far. Even though it contains a full single-player campaign during which the player has to work with a squad to secure a secret weapon, the game is most well known for its fast paced, exciting multiplayer squad action.

This is a taxing game at these settings, although by looking at the GTX580 and HD6990 performance you would be hard pressed to think so. Two HD6990’s generate over 110 fps with the frame rate only dropping below 60 on one instance.

Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. 2 is an arcade-style flight action game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft. After the events of the first game, the H.A.W.X squadron is sent to Middle East, where a high level of violence is being registered, and the appearance of various insurgents leaders in various hotspots. The team also has to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Russian nuclear weapons. The player will be controlling three groups: one American (Hunter), one British (Munro) and one Russian (Sokov), each with its own pilots and supporting characters. There will also be references to other characters in the Tom Clancy universe.

We are testing in full DX11 mode with all settings to maximum.

Nvidia’s GTX580 in SLI is neck and neck with two of the HD6990’s in Dual Crossfire.

Aliens V Predator has proved to be a big seller since the release and Sega have taken the franchise into new territory after taking it from Sierra. AVP is a Direct X 11 supported title and delivers not only advanced shadow rendering but high quality tessellation for the cards on test today.

To test the cards we used a 1080p resolution with DX11, Texture Quality Very High, MSAA Samples 1, 16 af, ambient occulsion on, shadow complexity high, motion blur on. We use this with most of our graphics card testing so cards are comparible throughout reviews.

We only noticed a small gain with two HD6990’s, around 15 fps more, when compared with the single card solution.

Lost Planet 2 is a third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition which is also made by Capcom, taking place ten years after the events of the first game, on the same fictional planet. The story takes place back on E.D.N. III 10 years after the events of the first game. The snow has melted to reveal jungles and more tropical areas that have taken the place of more frozen regions. The plot begins with Mercenaries fighting against Jungle Pirates.

After destroying a mine, the Mercenaries continue on to evacuate the area, in which a Category-G Akrid appears and attacks them. After being rescued, they find out their evacuation point (Where the Category-G appeared) was a set-up and no pick up team awaited them. Lost Planet 2 runs on the MT-Framework 2.0, an updated version of the engine used in several Capcom-developed games.

We are testing in DX11 mode with all settings on the highest. Direct X 11 features are on high.

Lost Planet 2 is an intensive Direct X 11 title which can bring lesser video cards to their knees. The HD6990 eats this game for breakfast.

Metro 2033 is an action-oriented video game with a combination of survival horror and first-person shooter elements. The game is based on the novel Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in Ukraine and released in March 2010 for the Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows.

The game utilizes multi-platform 4A Engine, running on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Microsoft Windows. There is some contention regarding whether the engine is based on the pre-release X-Ray engine (as claimed by Sergiy Grygorovych, the founder of GSC Game World, as well as users who have seen the 4A Engine SDK screenshots, citing visual similarities, shared resources, and technical evaluation of the pre-release 4A Engine demo conducted at the request of GSC Game World), or whether the engine is an original development (as claimed by 4A Games and Oles’ Shiskovtsov in particular) who claims it would have been impractical to retrofit the X-ray engine with console support). The PC version includes exclusive features such as DirectX 11 support and has been described as “a love letter to PC gamers” because of the developers’ choice “to make the PC version [especially] phenomenal”.

Great performance from the latest AMD hardware, delivering an average of 72 fps and staying above 50 fps at all times.

Dead Space 2 is a survival horror third-person shooter. The player controls Isaac Clarke from a third-person point of view, looking over the character’s right shoulder. The game features no HUD elements, relying on holograms projected from the player character and his weapons to show information such as messages and ammunition count, respectively. Player health and stasis is shown by a visual indicators located on Isaac’s back. Isaac must fight an alien organism that infects and takes control of human corpses, turning them into “Necromorphs”, mutating their bodies.

Necromorphs must be dismembered as the alien organism controls host bodies via tentacles extending into their limbs. Other, larger types of Necromorphs that cannot be dismembered will often have yellow, glowing pustules, indicating weak spots. Occasionally, when an enemy gets close enough to Isaac, they will grab a hold of him, and the player must repeatedly press a key to fend off the enemy, with failure to do so leading to death of the player character.

Another title which is starting to suffer from CPU limiting. Any of the hardware on test today however can power through this game without a problem, even the lower end HD6870 has no issues at these settings.

Batman: Arkham Asylum is played as an over-the-shoulder, third-person perspective action-adventure game. The player controls Batman as he makes his way around the island and structures of Arkham Asylum. In addition to running, jumping and crouching, Batman is also able to glide from heights using his cape, and use his grapple gun to ascend short heights or escape and hide from foes onto gargoyle statues. In order to track Joker and other enemies, the player can switch in and out of “detective mode,” which activates special visors in Batman’s Cowl. In this mode, most of the game world is rendered in darker colors, but objects of interest and people are highlighted, including limited x-ray ability to detect the location of people.

Special objects with which Batman can interact, either directly or using various gadgets gained over the course of the game, are also highlighted. In some sections of the game, the detective mode is augmented to detect compounds, fingerprints, and other clues, which are used to direct the player to the next location to explore.

Good CrossfireX scaling from one of the best action games in recent years. Almost 90 frames per second average across four screens at 7680×1080 resolution.

BattleForge is a video game developed by EA Phenomic and published by Electronic Arts. It was released on Windows in March 2009. A demo was released in the same month. BattleForge is a card based RTS. It revolves around trading, buying and winning through means of micro-transactions. Micro-transactions are not required for playing the game, only for buying new cards.

It supports DirectX 11 providing full support for hardware tesselation.

Again, very good scaling across the 7680 resolution, averaging 91 frames per second across our testing environment.

Crysis Warhead, like the original Crysis, is set in the near future when an ancient alien spacecraft is discovered on an island east of the Philippines. The single-player campaign has the player assume the role of former SAS Delta Force operator Sergeant Michael Sykes, referred to in-game by his call sign, Psycho. Psycho’s arsenal of futuristic weapons builds on those showcased in Crysis, with the introduction of Mini-SMGs which can be dual-wielded, a six-shot grenade launcher equipped with EMP grenades, and the destructive, short ranged Plasma Accumulator Cannon (PAX). The highly versatile Nanosuit returns. In Crysis Warhead, the player fights North Korean and extraterrestrial enemies, in many different locations, such as a tropical island jungle, inside an “Ice Sphere”, an underground mining complex, which is followed by a convoy train transporting an unknown alien object held by the North Koreans, and finally, to an airfield.

The engine is still a system killer, all these years later, but modern day hardware can finally generate the frame rates we wanted when it was released !

Crysis Warhead is not an easy game to power, especially at 7680×1080. We noticed very strong scaling in the Dual CrossfireX configuration with average frame rates increasing from 43 to 74.

Devil May Cry 4 is an action game that was published and developed by Capcom in 2008 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows platforms. The game is the fourth installment to the Devil May Cry series.

In the game, the player controls both Nero and Dante, the game’s protagonist and the series’ title character as they fight enemies in close combat using firearms, swords, and other weapons. The characters Lady and Trish from previous games in the series makes an appearance, along with new characters Nero, Kyrie, Credo, Gloria, and Agnus. The game is set after Devil May Cry but before Devil May Cry 2.

We used Super high settings with HDR on high and 8aa and 16af to improve the image quality as much as possible.

With a single card this engine is perfectly smooth and when adding another, the frame rates improve noticeably, highlighting good scaling performance from the Catalyst drivers and HD6990 hardware.

Left 4 Dead 2 is a cooperative first-person shooter game. It is the sequel to Valve Corporation’s award-winning Left 4 Dead.

Like the original, Left 4 Dead 2 is set during the aftermath of an apocalyptic pandemic, and focuses on four survivors fighting against hordes of the infected. The survivors must fight their way through levels, interspersed with safe houses that act as checkpoints, with the goal of reaching a rescue vehicle at the campaign’s finale. The gameplay is procedurally altered by an artificial intelligence engine dubbed the “Director” that monitors the players’ performance and adjust the scenario to provide a dynamic challenge. Several new features have been introduced: new types of infected, melee weapons, and a story-arc that connects the game’s five campaigns together.

Valve’s Source engine is no longer that taxing, but still, at 768ox1080 the HD6990 is able to power through this game without a problem. A few years ago we were seeing these frame rates from hardware across a single screen.

Recently we have changed our method of measuring noise levels. We have built a system inside a Lian Li chassis with no case fans and have used a fanless cooler on our CPU. We are using a heatpipe based passive power supply and an Intel SSD to keep noise levels to a minimum. The motherboard is also passively cooled. This gives us a build with completely passive cooling and it means we can measure noise of just the graphics card inside the system when we run looped 3dMark tests. Ambient noise in the room is around 20-25dBa. We measure from a distance of around 1 meter from the chassis and 4 foot from the ground to mirror a real world situation.

Why do this? Well this means we can eliminate secondary noise pollution in the test room and concentrate on only the video card. It also brings us slightly closer to industry standards, such as DIN 45635.

We load the card with FurMark.

KitGuru noise guide

10dBA – Normal Breathing/Rustling Leaves
20-25dBA
– Whisper
30dBA
– High Quality Computer fan
40dBA
– A Bubbling Brook, or a Refridgerator
50dBA
– Normal Conversation
60dBA
– Laughter
70dBA
– Vacuum Cleaner or Hairdryer
80dBA
– City Traffic or a Garbage Disposal
90dBA
– Motorcycle or Lawnmower
100dBA
– MP3 player at maximum output
110dBA
– Orchestra
120dBA
– Front row rock concert/Jet Engine
130dBA
– Threshold of Pain
140dBA
– Military Jet takeoff/Gunshot (close range)
160dBA
– Instant Perforation of eardrum

We don’t often include videos with our acoustics testing, as they are not at all scientific – how close is the camera? is the microphone sensitive? Is the sound compressing close to the camera? There are too many variables. It doesn’t take a scientist however to listen to the noise emissions above and realise that these cards are painfully loud when pushed hard. The fans would spin up to 95% when loaded with the latest version of Furmark.

The tests were performed in a controlled air conditioned room with temperatures maintained at a constant 25c – a comfortable environment for the majority of people reading this.

Idle temperatures were measured after sitting at the desktop for 30 minutes. Load measurements were acquired by playing Crysis Warhead for 30 minutes and measuring the peak temperature. We also have included Furmark results, recording maximum temperatures throughout a 30 minute stress test. All fan settings were left on automatic.

The fans on both cards find it hard to deal with radiated and generated heat, moving on a fairly regular basis between 60 percent and 95 percent. When gaming, the situation isn’t quite as bad, however they are clearly audible, even inside a performance gaming system with many case fans.

To test power consumption today we are using a Keithley Integra unit and we measure power consumption from the VGA card inputs, not the system wide drain. The best way to get maximum load results is by using Furmark, and even though it is not indicative of a real world situation it shows the limits the card can theoretically demand. The ‘gaming’ results are measured when playing Crysis Warhead – which is a more valuable result to take from this.

Be prepared to dip deep into your wallet next quarter, if you plan on gaming regularly with two of these cards, we recorded well in excess of 800 watts when fully loaded, our highest ever wattage consumption.

To overclock today we are using AMD’s Catalyst Control Centre. The HD6990 is set to performance/’OC’ mode. It is also worth pointing out that overclocking these cards past 880mhz will require some serious case airflow and cooling. We used an open bed for our overclocking testing.

It seems our first sample from AMD is an unusual example of the HD6990, as neither of our HIS cards were artifact free past 920mhz. Memory limitations were similar to the reference card, peaking around 1425mhz.

Our second article today for the AMD HD6990 launch event has highlighted increased performance levels when running the HD6990 in a Dual CrossFireX configuration. With most games the scaling is extremely impressive, especially when we move to a four screen setup at 7680 resolution. Titles such as Crysis Warhead improved noticeably, meaning we could actually raise the image quality a little more if we wanted.

As we mentioned earlier today, the AMD reference cooler can get noisy, and this is magnified when running two cards side by side. The radiated heat means that the fan has to work much harder, sometimes reaching 95 percent. Clearly audible and actually rather annoying.

We thought that scoring 9,500 points in 3Dmark 11 from a  reference HD6990 was a hell of an achievement, but it somewhat pales in comparison with 14,000 in dual CrossfireX. Sure, we don’t play benchmarks, but the performance geek in all of us loves to see exciting new results from the latest hardware. I remember thinking 6,000 points from a GTX580 was monumental. How quickly the performance charts move.

Unigine Heaven is a fascinating benchmark for us, because it gives an indication of how games might develop over the next year, especially in regards to tessellation. Two GTX 580’s in SLI score over 92 frames per second, while the HD6990 in Dual CrossfireX can produce over 144 fps in the same situation. These really are incredible results, especially when AMD’s last generation high end cards such as the HD5870 struggled to hit 40 fps, even when overclocked.

The HIS HD6990 doesn’t offer anything new when compared with our earlier AMD reference sample, because all that is new is a sticker with a sword on it. Their bundle is decent however, as they include all the necessary cables and adapters for multiple screen configurations. The mini displayport to HDMI cable is particularly useful to us, as we tend to game on a 50 inch 1080p television. Audio is transmitted over this converter cable incidentally, which can save with cable mess in a living room environment.

AMD’s cooler is actually not a bad design because it has to deal with a tremendous amount of transmitted heat when loaded. Sadly, it can get rather loud and we really do hope that the AIB’s can release something more substantial, preferably with larger dual fans to offer much reduced noise levels. The HD6990 in Dual CrossfireX is a performance enthusiast users wet dream, but we aren’t sure that many people would be willing to live with the noise levels on a day to day basis.

Buying two of these cards would set you back £1,100 which is a lot of money, however when you consider that last year XFX were selling the HD5970 Black Edition Limited card for £900 each then it doesn’t look like such a bad deal. The HD6990 is considerably more powerful than the HD5970, even the modified XFX version.

KitGuru says: If you have a single 30 inch screen, then one of these cards is more than enough. If you want some future proofing and plan on getting four or even five screens then two of these cards is actually a reasonable investment.

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