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XFX Radeon HD 7990 Review

XFX Radeon HD 7990

XFX HD 7990

Despite AMD’s repeated efforts to overthrow the CPU juggernaut that is Intel, it always had to settle with the second best. However, for a long time, AMD did hold the performance crown in the graphics card space as they offered very good performance at attractive price points. This still holds true when you look at mainstream and entry-level AMD cards. At the other end of the price spectrum, Nvidia’s Kepler architecture completely changed the rules and took back the performance crown from AMD. The GTX 680 completely destroyed AMD’s flagship HD 7970 and the GTX 690 simply furthered that gap. AMD’s only solution at that time was to bring out a dual-GPU solution, but the card was a no-show at last year’s Computex.

Finally, after a long hiatus, AMD made the HD 7990 official. Codenamed “Malta”, the HD 7990 was a dual-GPU solution with two full-fledged HD 7970 cores (and memory) slapped onto one PCB. Today, we’ll be taking a look at XFX’s version, which is based on AMD’s reference design.

Design and build
The HD 7990 measures a monstrous 11.1 cm in length, which means you would typically require a full-sized chassis to comfortably fit the card. It does have a very attractive design in terms of the fans and the shroud for the cooler. AMD has used a triple fan solution to efficiently cool the card without having to increase the decibel level. Thankfully, this design only takes up two expansion bays in your cabinet. Where Nvidia chose a vapour chamber cooler, AMD has stuck with the good ol’ copper pipes for heat dissipation.

XFX HD 7990

A very striking looking card
For connectivity, we have a regular sized dual-link DVI out port and four mini DisplayPort v1.2 ports. The choice of connectors is deliberate as it’s easier to configure a multi-monitor setup. In the box, you get the driver CD, DVI to HDMI adapter, mini DP to DVI adapter, CrossFire bridge and a download code for eight popular games.

XFX HD 7990

Plenty of connectors
AMD recommends you start with a 750W PSU to comfortably power the card and the rest of your components. The card features two 8-pin power connectors for this. There’s also CrossFire support in case you’re feeling adventurous. Overall, the card is built well and even looks quite striking. It’s a shame AMD didn’t add a glowing logo on the side like Nvidia did.

Since this is the coming together of two HD 7970s, the feature set is identical to what we’ve seen before, only double this time. Each GPU is clocked at 950MHz, with a boost frequency of 1GHz. There are also two 384-bit memory bus lanes for each core with 3GB memory each. The GDDR5 memory is clocked at 6GHz for a good amount of bandwidth for resolutions higher than full HD. The card also features AMD’s ZeroCore Power technology, which completely shuts down one GPU when you’re not gaming. This is an extremely useful feature since for regular desktop usage, it’s like having a single HD 7970 in your system. Other supported features include AMD HD3D, Eyefinity, PowerTune and full support for DX11.1.

Processor: Intel Core i7-2600K CPU @ 3.40GHz
Motherboard: GIGABYTE P67A-UD3R
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws 8GB (4GB x 2) @1600MHz
Storage: Plextor PX-256M2S SSD (boot drive), WD Velociraptor 300GB (secondary)
PSU: Cooler Master Silent Pro 1000W
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

3DMark 11
3DMark is a computer benchmarking tool created and developed by Futuremark Corporation to determine the performance of a computer’s 3D graphic rendering and CPU workload processing capabilities. The latest version makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11, including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. We used the “Performance” preset for this benchmark.

Battlefield 3
Battlefield 3 is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA Digital Illusions CE and is based on the new Frostbite 2 game engine. The game only supports DX10 and DX11, which enables enhanced in-game destruction with Destruction 3.0, creating more refined physics than its predecessor and quasi-realtime radiosity using Geometrics’ Enlighten technology. The game is a visual treat and a nightmare for graphics cards, which makes it perfect for our test. We used the “Ultra High” preset, Post AA – High, Blur – Full, Field of View – 90, Level – “Fear no Evil”.

Crysis 2
Crysis 2 is a first-person shooter video game developed by Crytek and is based on the new CryEngine 3. Just like the first iteration of the game, Crysis 2 continues to be one of the best-looking shooters to date. The settings used for this benchmark were “Ultra High” preset in Adrenalin, DX11 and High-resolution texture patch.

Dirt 3  
Dirt 3 is a rallying video game and the third in the Dirt series of the Colin McRae Rally series, developed and published by Codemasters. The game is extremely scalable and features DX11 tessellation effects. We used the built-in benchmark tool, along with “Ultra” quality preset.

Metro 2033
Metro 2033 is a first-person shooter video game that continues to bring even the toughest graphics cards down to their knees. The game has a lot of DX11 eye-candy, which really puts a strain on any GPU. All DX11 features were enabled for the benchmark and we used the “Tower” level for our test.

The cooler on the HD 7990 is very effective. Not only is it quiet, but it easily keeps the temperatures low even with maximum stress to the GPU. The card idles at around 37 degrees Celsius and goes all the way up to 66 degrees Celsius, which is very good considering there are two fully-functional “Tahiti” cores in there.

Verdict and price in India
AMD’s HD 7990 is undoubtedly the most powerful graphics card in the world, but that power comes at a price, and a rather steep one. XFX is retailing the HD 7990 for a whopping Rs 99,000, with the street price set at Rs 81,000. This is quite a bit more as compared to the Nvidia GTX Titan, but it is also faster. The problem with dual-GPU solutions is the power draw, which is where Nvidia’s revised GTX 700 series gets the upper hand. The GTX 780 might be about 20-30 percent slower than the HD 7990 on average, but it also costs that much lesser, making it the ideal future-proof card for full HD gaming. However, if you want to venture into a multi-monitor setup, then the HD 7990 is the fastest card out there. We still feel the price is way too high for even enthusiasts to consider right now. If AMD can drop the price to around Rs 50,000, then it could heavily dampen the sales of the GTX Titan.

XFX Radeon HD 7990 Specifications

Processor & Bus
GPU Clock : 950MHz Boost 1000MHz
Memory Bus : 384 bit x 2
Memory Clock : 6.0 GHz
Memory Size : 6 GB
Memory Type : DDR5
Feature Technologies
AMD Eyefinity Technology : Y
AMD HD3D Technology : Y
Other Features
AMD – CrossFire ready : Y
Display Output
Display Port ready : 1.2
Dual link Support : Y
Max Supported Resolution (ANALOG) : 2048 x 1536
Max Supported Resolution (DIGITAL) : 2560 x 1600 (DVI); 4096 x 2160 (HDMI;DP)
Output – DL-DVI-I : 1
Output – mini DP : 4
External Power – 8-Pins : 2