KitGuru was a vocal advocate of the HD5770. It combined a low cost entry into the enthusiast sector and offered a cheap upgrade path for performance gaming in CrossfireX at a later date. The HD6790 is certainly an upgrade to the HD5770, offering enhanced frame rates and support for more screens.
The Sapphire HD6790 is a marked improvement over the AMD reference design, combining significantly lower noise emissions with reduced temperatures of up to 7 degrees Celsius.
On a performance level the £120 Nvidia GTX550 ti has a hard time competing against the similarly priced HD6790. We deliberately used four high profile TWIMTBP games to give it a fair chance, and it won those we expected it to win, including HAWX 2 and Far Cry 2. Other titles such as Resident Evil 5, Home Front and Alien V Predator weighed in favour of the AMD solution.
As always, there is no single title which can give a final verdict, but it is worth pointing out that both 3DMark Vantage and 3DMark 11 showed the HD6790 outperforming the GTX550 ti. Direct X 11 performance is certainly a strong point for AMD in recent months, and 3Dmark 11 is a prime indicator that this budget AMD offering has some potential.
The CrossfireX results really are a talking point, because for £240 we noted similar performance levels to a £400 GTX580 in many of the titles on test. The 3DMark11 score was only 100 points less and some of the games showed that the 6790 in CFx managed to outperform the Nvidia high end card. Certainly, this won’t always be the case, but the early indicators highlight some excellent driver work from the red team.
Sapphires cooler implementation is exceptionally strong, and it appears to be very similar to the model they adopted for the HD5870, offering a large angular fan and chunky heatpipe design to dissipate the heat quickly. It is quiet enough to incorporate into a high performance media center and capable enough to be used in a CrossfireX pairing without generating too much heat.
Sapphires HD6790 will be sold in the UK for £120 inc vat, which is an exceptionally competitive price. The GTX550 ti costs the same and is usually slower and a little noiser. With CrossfireX results such as those we have highlighted today, those on a budget will find a single card can tide them over for months until they can add another. This low cost entry into upgradable performance gaming is what we liked so much about the HD5770, and this new card is a welcome addition into the HD6xxx lineup.
- Cooler is quiet
- temperatures are noticeably lower than reference design
- power drain isn’t high
- better than GTX550 ti
- CrossfireX performance is very strong
- At £120 there is no better solution on the market
- reference design isn’t as impressive as this Sapphire model
KitGuru says: AMD have released a very competitively priced graphics card for the budget market which offers stunning performance in CrossfireX.