With sites as diverse as Guru3D and Hexus all coming to the same conclusion as KitGuru, that the Radeon HD 6990 is measurably faster, overall, than the GTX590 – we decided to sit back on a Saturday night and consider how much work nVidia put into this card, how wayward nVidia's performance predictions must have been and what this outcome really means.
First, praise where praise is due. The GTX590 is the fastest card that nVidia has ever managed to produce. If it had managed to come to market ~3 months earlier, then it would have trounced the HD 5970 and picked up the crown. Unfortunately, the £532 Radeon HD 6990 had already been reviewed across the globe for some time before nVidia's new £585 super card hit the world's labs.
Second, there could be more to come from nVidia's losing flagship. Certainly from a clocks/heat point of view, you'd imagine that it can be cranked higher and achieve more. That hasn't happened yet, but it could. The fact that the GTX590 seems to draw around 40w more than the 6990 under load is going to cause some concerns – but maybe it can be done.
Third, considering the Aliens Vs Predator scores being published, it's not clear that the GTX590 has a lead in real world tessellation gaming situations – the one area where nVidia has been expecting to score a series of clear wins. At least one of the major sites has the Radeon HD 6990 pulling more than 14% ahead in this tessellating DX11 game.
So, why the headline for this story?
Well, a video seems to have been uploading by nVidia itself, in which claims are made that it took the company's engineers more than 2 years to create the GTX590.
Well, two items worth noting here. First, the video appears genuine – and the guy with the losing card seems quite happy. Which seems strange, considering that when it was posted – nVidia would have already known that it doesn't win. We don't expect him to sit there with a pack of razor blades, but he seems overly joyous.
Second, if the GTX590 took two years, then should be expect the GTX690 to arrive a minimum of 12 months from now? Will nVidia fans have to wait until some time in 2012 before they can see their favourite 3D technology crowned champion?
Here's the nVidia video. Decide for yourself if the chap's happiness is misplaced.
KitGuru says: Power draw is a worry. The low stock clocks that nVidia has used with the GTX590 seem to indicate that there was a limit imposed somewhere. The cooling solution seems to work fine – so maybe there is a ceiling being hit on absolute wattage. For nVidia to win, it will need to forget the stock clocks around 607MHz. To pick up the crown as ‘World's Fastest Graphics Card', the GTX590 is probably going to have to ship at 640MHz or above. We're wondering if that can be done?
Comment below or in the KitGuru forums.