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Products like the HIS R6990 shown today are always trivial to recommend and most of all, to clarify. They are expensive and they perform at a level that hardly anyone requires let alone needs. Still that doesn't change the fact that within it's segment and audience, the most high-end cards are desired by a lot of you. Whether it's just to gain a humongous e-peen, an x-factor product or you simple have a desire for the best gaming performance, it's these people that will purchase the Radeon HD 6990. Fact is, it is a very impressive card.
Crossfire then? Heck how do we justify that? Well... it's cool, funny and lovely to play around with but there's no way we can rationalize 1200 EUR for four GPUs to play some games on. Now one card with two GPUs, if properly supported scales extraordinary well. With 4 GPUs setup in CrossfireX mode, well... things get increasingly difficult. In some games the performance of four GPUs is magnificent, in others 4-way multi GPU mode does not kick in, and then in other scaling becomes an issue whether or not that is driver or CPU limitation related.
Where the 4 GPUs did kick in, they kicked in hard though. But you need to be at extremely high resolutions, have extreme amounts of CPU horsepower and a fairly spicy power supply. Our system peaked to a power draw of 902 Watt at one point -- which is a new record all by itself really. I am not so sure if we need to be proud of that though. Four way GPUs in Crossfire also meant much more noise pressure, as such we reached 50 DBa with the GPUs stressed, really... that's a lot
So CrossfireX is absolutely lovely as gimmick and to fool around with. It's however not a questionable enough solution as the negatives very likely do not outweigh to positive. But sure, it is a heck of a lot of fun, and some people just do not care and want the fastest available. Well .. hats off to AMD, my man.
So for now we say, stick to just one R6990 as that card all by itself already offers ridiculous performance levels of course.
For a single card like the HIS R6990 temperatures hover at roughly 85 Degrees C, that's high but not a big concern. To get that temperature down AMD needed to revert to a huge cooling solution, they opted a dual-radiator design with one fan in the middle. Here again, it's very audible towards noisy... but not annoying. These two factors you do need to weigh in, this is the most high-end product your money can get you and as such, you will need to compromise on that. One can only wonder if and when liquid cooling blocks will be released for the Radeon HD 6990, as that would make it astonishing alright. But yeah, this needed to be said. TDP wise we already knew that AMD has things well under control. And with 331W to 370W (our measurements) depending on what mode you choose, sure we acknowledge it's a lot to swallow, but again the TDP remains very credible for what you are getting in terms of performance.
Performance wise you will receive a product that oozes and chunks out ridiculous numbers in terms of frame rate. I mean we test at 4xAA / 8xAA and honestly, this card just does not care what you throw at it, it'll eat it alive with feathers and all, then it will spit out the bones and ask for more. Remember though to pair a card like this with an appropriate PC. Even our Core i7 Nehalem based quad core processor overclocked at 3750 MHz still will run into some CPU limitation with the somewhat aging games. By the way, CPU limitations / bottlenecks are not necessarily a bad thing. As long as you pass 60 FPS -- honestly who cares?
So with that much perf in-house, please do flick open all image quality settings a game offers you. I mean, if I take Battlefield 2 Bad Company, which is massively GPU dependant and enable all and only the very best image quality settings, apply 8xAA and we still get 80 FPS on average in a monitor resolution of 2560x1600 (!), well that just says it all really. That's pure, raw and unadulterated performance.
Size wise we do need to make one remark. Please make sure you have enough space to seat the card, it's 31cm in length, that's 12", also make sure that a card like this receives plenty of ventilation inside that chassis. A good in and outwards airflow will help you a lot in managing temperatures and thus noise levels as well.
The HIS Radeon HD 6990 can be found soon and is tagged with a MSRP price tag of 599 EUR, a huge amount of money for a graphics card alright, but it's 300 EUR per GPU.
The card itself is 100% reference, with the difference being the sticker and the bundle. HIS delivers a very complete package with all kinds of VGA/DVI/HDMI/DP adapters to make sure you can connect this product to pretty much any monitor, even if you choose eyefinity. That was very nice to see, but HIS always makes sure the bundled gear is alright.
The x-factor of the HIS Radeon HD 6990 is pretty extensive and the performance is phenomenal when that 2nd GPU kicks in and if you like to go really wild with multiple-monitors then this product is starting to make a whole lot of sense. Complete l33t and g33k stuff alright !
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