ASUS HD6990 4GB Graphics Card Review

👤by Richard Weatherstone Comments 📅15-06-11

Amazing is not a word I would use to describe the performance of this card. Ground breaking? Nope, that doesn't quite fit the bill either. Perhaps the only word to describe the performance of the ASUS HD6990 in the English language is phenomenal. I would add some expletives to this adjective but for the younger audience who may be reading! The flagship graphics card cut through the majority of tests within our very demanding benchmark suite like a knife through butter. This was in stock format of course. With a flick of the AUSUM switch, performance improved again and should you be crazy enough to want even more speed then the HD6990 will happily oblige. We have shown today that two cores are certainly better than one and while the performance is not precisely double that of a single core solution, frames per second numbers were very close. I loved by 3870x2 but felt let down by drivers and spurious support in the past which was found wanting for the latest and greatest games. Micro-stuttering is another cross dual core cards have to bear. I am however, happy to report I found no such issues with the HD6990. In short the card performs to the extreme levels you would expect for such a price and herein lies the crux of the HD6990.

500 will buy you a mid range pc, a stag weekend in Amsterdam or indeed a budget family holiday. Justifying the same amount of cash for a PC component will take some very serious persuasion to your better half. Whichever way you look at it, in today's financial climate, 500 is a lot of money to spend on a graphics card. If however you are lucky enough to have 500 spare, have the saving discipline of a miser or indeed you are on first name terms with your bank manager then this graphics card is certainly worth a punt.

While I feel I may be condescending here, it is worth pointing out again that you will need a good quality 700w+ power supply unit to run this card. Our test system showed that under extreme overclocks and extreme strain the whole system drew a little over 600W from the wall. This figure is however conservative and is an average reading. It does not take into account spikes of power draw which can bring an abrupt halt to your gaming needs when your PSU OV protection kicks in. You will also need to bear in mind that our test system does not have additional hard drives to power, cold cathodes nor other USB devices other than a keyboard and mouse so if your setup is one which has lots of peripheral devices, a hard drive whore or indeed one which also has lots of fans and watercooling, you will certainly want to consider investing in more power than the recommended 700w, especially if you dabble in the dark art of overclocking.

My one disappointment and perhaps the only reason I would advise against buying this GPU (other than the price of course) is the high levels of noise the card makes. Most high powered graphics cards these days will make a racket when they are worked to extreme levels but the reference cooled ASUS HD6990 takes fan noise to a whole new level. At stock settings it is bearable, just. Crank up the settings and the additional heatdump has to be compensated by a fan that runs at higher and higher rpm's. As such, the smooth, flawless, graphical gaming experience you witness on-screen is infringed by the din your PC is making. If like me, you prefer to use a headset with the volume wound up to the maximum then this is not an issue. If however you like to envelope yourself in a Dolby II 7.1 surround sound setup then you may wish to pause before getting out the plastic as a quiet card this is certainly not. Were I of that audio persuasion, I can honestly say that the noise would become very tiresome after a short while.

The ASUS HD6990 is not a mainstream graphics card. It is not built for the masses. It is a show piece of technology, a flagship model demonstrating sheer power over any other consideration be it price, power consumption or acoustics. For that it has to be applauded as it is mission successful for AMD. They have created a card that will be on every hardware enthusiasts dream GPU shoping list, the very same people who along with this card put performance above anything else. Couple this phenomenal display of technological prowess with the exceptional support ASUS now provide and the overall package becomes even more appealing. Had the price been more comfortable and the noise been acceptable then this card would have won our coveted Gold award. As such, the ASUS HD6990 will have to settle for silver, not because it is second best, it clearly isn't but should a custom cooled version become available, perhaps at a relaxed price point, then that card would be more deserving of our premier award.

Now, where did I put my credit card...

+ Class leading performance
+ Brilliant CrossFire scaling
+ Excellent tessellation and AA performance
+ Out of the box Eyefinity support
+ Large framebuffer
+ Well packaged
+ Aesthetics
+ Good overclocking headroom and voltage tweaking software

- Size
- Noise
- Cost

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