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Asus GTX590 and HD6990 review

Asus are one of the biggest component manufacturers on the planet producing some of the finest video cards for both Nvidia and AMD markets. Today we are looking at their new ultra high end video cards, the GTX590 and the HD6990.

Well this is the heavyweight show down isn’t it? AMD have been very vocal of the fact that they have held the ‘fastest video card’ position for some time now. The HD5970 was their flagship model for a very long time, and when nVidia released the GTX580 it just didn’t have enough frame rate power to reclaim the title, although to be fair it was only a single GPU solution. To make matters worse for Nvidia, AMD released the HD6990 which causes an even larger performance rift between the two market leaders.

Nvidia’s answer is the GTX 590, a card which is comprised of 6 billion transistors and has 3GB of GDDR5 memory attached to a dual 384 bit memory interface. Today we are looking at the Asus GTX590 and the Asus HD6990, both of which are reference designs.

GPU 2x Cayman 2x GF110
Shader Units 2×1536 2×512
ROPs 2×32 2×48
Transistors 2x2640M 2x3000M
Memory 2x 2048MB 2x 1536MB
Memory Bus Width 2×256 bit 2×384 bit
Core Clock 830 mhz/880mhz 607 mhz
Memory Clock 1250mhz 850mhz

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  • Dirk

    HD6990 is much better, good review thanks.

  • Francis

    £666 for a GTX590 ? is that a joke or an April fools. its still march.

  • Clocked

    GTX590 is a pretty good card, but at that price it would be a cold day in hell before I would hit the credit card. HD6990 is almost justifiable at that price, but id still opt for a GTX580 or HD6970.

  • Seth

    I dont think the gtx590 is getting hammered, its beaten for sure. I dont think anyone would argue that (well the fanboys might).

    The pricing is the disaster. its way overpriced. It needs to drop to £500 inc vat, or even less.

  • Joseph

    So its more power hungry, is worse with DX11 games and costs more. Yeah, sounds like a great product. 8/10 my ass.

  • Forrest

    8/10 is fair, cause Nvidia have brought out a single card which supports multiple screens. everyone needs to calm down, its like AMD central here.

  • Benjamin Button

    Seems fair all round. I wouldnt even have included HAWX 2, as its so biased its unreal.

  • Sarajam

    A lot of people are missing the point, the GTX590 is smaller, quieter and looks nicer. It is also close performance to the HD6990 regardless of whether its slightly slower. I think its a win for nv

  • Hank

    @ Sarajam – the ‘card looks nicer’. lol, seriously, get a clue.

  • Colin

    It was all fine and dandy until the conclusion page. the pricing is just ludicrous. Someone needs to bash a few heads and figure out what they are doing.

    I cant see them selling tons of these. they might do if it ate the 6990 for breakfast, but its slower and more expensive? Hey nvidia, you arent apple. Honestly.

  • Mike

    Rather disappointed. I trust Z’s reviews and im a little underwhelmed. especially with the folding performance, thats a great indicator. my GTX570 scores more than one of those GPUs.

  • Ion B0st

    Its just out 4 months too late. they might have had a good run with this, although at £600 I doubt it. I wonder how many of these cards they will sell.

  • Generatingpower

    GTX590 is a monster card, its a powerhouse.

    AMD have just excelled this time, everyone knows it, Nvidia must have just uttered a monumental grown when it was released. The 590 will still sell well as people dont trust the Catalyst drivers. even if they are better now.

  • Praddick

    @ hank. I think what he was saying was that the card is a nicer design all round which it is. its smaller, quieter, will work in more chassis designs.

    It is a fault of AMD, they rely too much on those tiny tiny red fans, no matter what coolers they make. Nvidia have some sense on their cooler designs. AMD need to really sort this out, but they keep doing it, for years and years. Its a little like making the fastest car in the world then putting the cheapest tyres on it that you can find.

  • 63jax

    all of the games nv won are: ”twimtbp”

  • Paul

    Not really a shock, as they well known to ‘optimise’ specific engines

  • Fahad

    amd/ati has come up with a very good performance card which performs nicely under all situations. nvidia has always had some flaws and unfortunately even though i has some good cards almost all of them have the same flaws which is 1) price 2) power consumption 3)next gen compatibility (since ati has always been a tad bit ahead when it came to utilizing directX features in its cards).
    and i read somewhere that someone said amd is still using the same “small” fans. its not about the size its about how many cfm of air it sucks in and how well the cooling options work givien with that amount of air..which i also know is better then nvidia with thier “big” cooling fans.

  • Jerry

    Excellent, well detailed and fair all round. It’s a good card but just outclassed by 6990. At least it was made very clear here.

  • Daimler

    For those who still believe in better cooler designs by nVidia please visit hardware.fr for thermal shots. HD6990: http://www.hardware.fr/articles/822-4/dossier-amd-radeon-hd-6990-carte-tous-records.html
    GTX 590: http://www.hardware.fr/articles/825-4/dossier-nvidia-repond-amd-avec-geforce-gtx-590.html
    Who still believe that nVidia has a better cooling solution must have their eyes checked. All nVidia did is calibrated their fan to work as silent as possible at the edge of temperature limits acceptable for work. The thing is that such calibration significally increase chanses of failure. What AMD does with fan calibration on their cards – is a greater reliability at a cost of higher noise. Their cooling solutions are at the same level of effectiveness as Nvidia’s if not better.

  • Phantom

    Great review! While I was always more of an NVidia user, I never turned into a “fanboy” and always preferred to choose between ATI/AMD and NVidia based on the performance-price ratio and not on the brand. It’s good that the two brands continue to compete – that way every user gets something that suits their needs. Respect to AMD for making something that powerful (though £515 is still way too much for me – I’d rather go with SLI/Crossfire with two cheaper cards). Meanwhile, NVidia should think of revising the price of GTX590, unless they want the HD6990 to steal all their customers =) And the “tiny red fans” are not AMD’s fault: if you have noticed, both cards in the review are released by Asus. They could have upgraded the cooling there.

    Hmm, I wonder about the SLI/Crossfire performance of these two cards… Must be pretty insane 🙂

  • Redemption80

    Daimler, if the AMD cooler is just as good, if not better, then how can you explain why the 6990, a card that uses less power, is noisier than the GTX590 without being any cooler, if not hotter if other benchmarks are to be believed.

  • Daimler

    Ok, if my last post was not clear enough… all other reviewers are not actually testing the temperature! They just take readings from the driver and post them as results. So basically they take nVidia’s word for the results, they’re not proof testing them at all (!!!). nVidia calibrates their thermal sensor and nVidia can make their driver/BIOS to report ANY TEMPERATURE THEY WANT! And if it is in their best interest to manipulate temperature readings – they will manipulate them. There is only one site I know, where people actually performed a temperature testing by taking pictures with thermograph. Links to those pictures are in my post above. They speak for themselves. Forget about all other “temperature tests”, because they are NOT RELIABLE.
    The thermal shot of GTX590 shows that the temperature of the board rises up to 112 Celsius in stock mode!!! And man – THAT’S A LOT. From my personal experience – reaching 116-117 Celsius will cause GPU and/or components failure in 99% of cases (usually this failure will force a system reboot, preventing permanent damage to the components). Long term work at 112C will fasten component degradation in 100% cases. GTX 590 is simply not built to last. I’m not even talking about overclock. Lots of dead cards in the first week after the product launch supports my argument.
    And now look at the HD6990’s thermal shots at the same site – it barely exceeds 90 Celsius in stock mode. Now that’s a difference!!! This temperature ensures long term operation and safety of the components at a cost of a higher noise level. Basically you can tweak HD6990’s cooler to be quieter with temperature closer to GTX590 and the card still will be completely operational, but no as safe as with stock cooler calibration.
    PS sorry for my bad English 🙂

  • Your english seems pretty good to me Daimler.; thanks for taking the time to post the information.