AMD Radeon HD 6990 Video Card Review


AMD is launching today their latest ultra-high-end video card, the Radeon HD 6990, a dual-GPU solution that comes priced at USD 700. Let’s check its performance.

The video card we are reviewing is the reference model from AMD. When a video card is first launched, all “manufacturers” buy their video cards already assembled from AMD and only add their sticker to it. One or other manufacturer may add an overclocking, but physically all cards are absolutely identical. Only after a while manufacturers start launching customized solutions, changing the cooler and, sometimes, redesigning the printed circuit board.

The new Radeon HD 6990 arrives with an impressive USD 700 price tag, which puts it as the most expensive video card available in the market today. It has two GPUs, and this sort of explains the awful price tag. At this price tag, it doesn’t have a direct competitor – the most expensive model from NVIDIA, the GeForce GTX 580, can be found between USD 500 and USD 520 today.

So, the direct competitor for the Radeon HD 6990 would be two GeForce GTX 570 (USD 350 to USD 370 each) connected in SLI, and this will be the setup we will consider to be the Radeon HD 6990’s main competitor. Of course we are going to compete this new video card to the GeForce GTX 580 and, since we had already collected the data, we will also compare it to two Radeon HD 6870 connected in CrossFireX mode, although this setup does not compete with the Radeon HD 6990. We are also going to compare the Radeon HD 6990 to its predecessor, the Radeon HD 5970 (unfortunately we had already returned this video card and didn’t have the results for the 3DMark 11). Comparing the Radeon HD 6990 to two GeForce GTX 580 or two Radeon HD 5970 makes no sense, since we would be comparing a USD 700 system to a USD 1,000+ system.

In the table below we compare the main specs of the video cards included in our review. As mentioned, we connected two Radeon HD 6870 and two GeForce GTX 570 in parallel, and the specs below are for only one video card. The Radeon HD 5970 and the Radeon HD 6990 have two GPUs, and the specs below are for only one of the GPUs. The Radeon HD 6990 has two clock settings, selectable through a switch on the card. The number in parenthesis indicate the position of this switch.

Video Card Core Clock Shader Clock Memory Clock (Real) Memory Clock (Effective) Memory Interface Memory Transfer Rate Memory Shaders Price
GeForce GTX 570 732 MHz 1,464 MHz 950 MHz 3.8 GHz 320-bit 152 GB/s 1.28 GB GDDR5 480 USD 350 – 370
GeForce GTX 580 772 MHz 1,544 MHz 1,002 MHz 4,008 MHz 384-bit 192.4 GB/s 1.5 GB GDDR5 512 USD 500 – 520
Radeon HD 6870 900 MHz 900 MHz 1.05 GHz 4.2 GHz 256-bit 134.4 GB/s 1 GB GDDR5 1,120 USD 220 – 240
Radeon HD 5970 725 MHz 725 MHz 1 GHz 4 GHz 256-bit 128 GB/s 1 GB GDDR5 1,600 USD 630 – 700
Radeon HD 6990 830 MHz (2) or 880 MHz (1) 830 MHz (2) or 880 MHz (1) 1.25 GHz 5 GHz 256-bit 160 GB/s 2 GB GDDR5 1,536 USD 700

Prices were researched at on the day we published this review, except the Radeon HD 5970, which was researched at Google Shopping, and the Radeon HD 6990, which we are using the manufacturer suggested retail price. All graphics chip listed above are DirectX 11 parts.

You can compare the specs of these video cards with other video cards by taking a look at our AMD ATI Chips Comparison Table and NVIDIA Chips Comparison Table tutorials.   

This card is rated to pull up to 375 W from the power supply. It is important to understand that some people are making the mistake of saying that this is a “450 W” video card. What happens is that the cooler used by this video card can dissipate up to 450 W, but that doesn’t mean that the video card pulls 450 W from the power supply.

Now let’s take an in-depth look at the Radeon HD 6990 reference model.

Author: Gabriel Torres

Gabriel Torres is a Brazilian best-selling ICT expert, with 24 books published. He started his online career in 1996, when he launched Clube do Hardware, which is one of the oldest and largest websites about technology in Brazil. He created Hardware Secrets in 1999 to expand his knowledge outside his home country.

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