HIS HD6990 4GB Graphics Card Review

👤by Sahil Mannick Comments 📅17-06-11

AMDís HD6990 was nothing short of outstanding throughout testing. Dual GPU cards have come a long way since Nvidiaís 7900GX2. The main problems that have plagued such designs have been game support, constant reliance on drivers, micro-stuttering, sub-par scaling, costs, heat output and power consumption. The HD6990 tackles a lot of these issues and our performance results demonstrate how effective it really is. Most games tend to ship with CrossFire/SLI support nowadays and the HD6990 users no longer have to wait for the feature to be implemented. This means that they can happily buy the latest releases without the fear of their card being unsupported. The worse-case scenario is that AMD have to update their drivers but monthly releases and hotfixes ensures that support is prompt. As we see throughout benchmarking, all the GPU intensive games show remarkable scaling with two cores and those that didnít were already churning out over 100 FPS on single GPU cards that it didnít matter whether the HD6990 worked to its full potential. Most importantly, no micro-stuttering was observed and games played smoothly. Performance wise, the card delivered and was easily on par with Nvidiaís GTX590 alternative and its higher framebuffer gave it the edge at higher settings. This brings us to our next point.

There are several reasons why people might opt for dual GPU cards over two separate cards; i) motherboards only have one PCIe x16 slots, ii) power supplies lack the necessary cables, iii) cost, iv) they want a quad GPU setup. The first two considerations are somewhat irrelevant because we expect enthusiasts looking for the ultimate performance to have CrossFire enabled motherboards already and a branded high power rated PSU. That leaves us with the next important factor, cost. Ideally, a dual GPU card should cost less than the dual card alternative due to lower manufacturing costs although that may be partially offset by development costs. In the past, this has typically been the case but in this case, the price benefit isnít as clear cut. Looking on the web, prices of the HD6990 tend to fluctuate regardless of brand and in the best case scenario they are priced under £500 making it £250 per GPU. This matches the cost of two separate HD6970. The advantage of the HD6990 is that power consumption is lower but the downsides included higher temperatures, noise and slightly reduced clock reference clock speeds. Our example from HIS has demonstrated that the lower clock speed can easily be corrected by simply overclocking and the GPUs certainly have a lot of headroom. But the problem is that it is much easier to reach the cardís TDP limit and often the card will be throttled. Single cards are less susceptible to this problem. So we end up with a card that favours lower power consumption but consequently limits performance compared to running two separate cards. However, there have been several offers with the HIS HD6990 being retailed at a more appealing £450 price point in the past which makes the card a very viable option.

The main downside of the HD6990 is the noise. More times than often, I found myself simply turning off a game because the fan noise became unbearable. Simply turning up the in-game volume was not enough to drown the cardís noise and after longer periods of time, the fan would easily ramp up to 100% where it imitated a jet fighter taking off! For day to day use, it idles silently but gaming is the cardís purpose and at that, it ends up more of a distraction than a tool. If noise does not concern you and you use headsets, then you have one less reason not to buy a HD6990.

Like the GTX590, it is tough to conclude such a product. Thereís no denying that it boasts an immense amount of power and no games will drag it to its knees. Itís when you factor in the alternatives and the downsides that you get a clearer understanding of the card. It is easy to be completely infatuated by the performance of the card and simply give out the best award but in this case, the HD6990 falls slightly short of what we deem worthy of our coveted gold award. Personally, the only reason to get the HD6990 is you are looking to get a quad CrossFire setup or a dual card setup is somehow unfeasible.

HIS themselves have done a good job with their offering. It comes with a number of bundled extras and their added touch adds to the aesthetics.

+ 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

- Size
- Noise
- Cost

As summed up by Richard in the ASUS HD6990, had the price been more comfortable and the cooling solution more adequate, the HIS HD6990 would have easily earned our coveted Gold Award. Unfortunately, it has to settle for our Silver Award.

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