Radeon HD 7990 review -
Final words and conclusion
Final Words & Conclusion
It's been a long time AMD, yay finally. Honestly, we are surprised that AMD has launched the Radeon HD 7990 at all. It really is late to the market and in fact partners like ASUS and PowerColor already have released their own designed products based on two Tahiti GPUs as well. That said, better late then never of course.
It is funny, because when I started writing this article I was having a mental revisit to the year 2008, thinking about the Radeon HD 4870 X2 with its less than 1.9 Billion transistors. Do you guys still remember that product and it's looks, no? Click here. Yeah a lot has changed alright, and then again a lot hasn't. I mean looking at the PCB, the concept certainly remained the same, that PLX bridge chip sitting in-between two big GPUs and onwards. But aesthetically speaking certainly a lot has changed. The Radeon HD 7990 seems to be attractive to the eyes, the three fan cooler is fine really in that respect and AMD kept the ATI Red/black design making it a very recognizable product.
Cooling & Noise Levels
Directly related to the cooling are the noise levels. The Radeon HD 7990 will come with three low RPM fans, indication overall is that the noise levels will remain below 40 DBa under load, and that is considered to be a silent card. The cooling performance is sufficient but expect 80 Degrees C on the GPUs under very heavy load. Really, with one card installed you are absolutely fine. In idle, you barely can hear the cooling solution and under stress, well you can hear some airflow and that's it. Perfectly fine would be the wording to use. There are some concerns though, the back-plate will get hot, very hot! Secondly, hot air is not exhausted outside the PC yet exits mostly at the top side of the R7990. I'm not a fan of this at all. So should you opt a card like this, make sure that the ventilation inside your PC is in top notch condition as two the GPUs breathe out a lot of hot air. And one thing I have to mention, coil noise. In certain power draws you can hear the a squeeky sound of coil noise coming from the card. Admittedly I was surprised to 'hear' that happen with a 999 USD card.
It is interesting, no where in the AMD press document the TDP of the product was mentioned so we had to hunt it down a little. We can be clear about it though each GPU can use up-to 200 Watts of power. The latest confirmed number I got from AMD is 375 Watt. That is slightly below yet on par with our findings, so yes, the Radeon HD 7990 is using lots of power. It's not cool, but it is what it is.
Two Tahiti XT2 clocking in at 1 GHz do bring in a heap of performance though. We've seen small anomalies in the sense that dynamics clocks on the GTX 690 and R7990 or for that matter two R7970 cards sometimes can result in much faster or lower performance opposed to the competition in relation to certain game titles. It all has to do with the power delivery, if the card reach their power limit then they'll down-clock, if they have enough juice left they'll try and reach the fastest possible clock frequency. And that makes today's graphics cards definitely much harder to test. Overall though the Radeon HD 7990 is on par with a GTX 690 and often a nice chunk faster. I mean, it's 4096 shader processors at work with 3 GB per GPU at it's disposal which on that end is clocked at 6 gbps on a 384-bit memory bus. I mean... blimey!
The sheer amount of performance at this price point remains interesting, and the game image quality you get thrown at you is very nice as well. Crysis 3 was pumping out a serious framerate of 50 FPS (on average) at a whopping monitor resolution of 2560x1440 -- astonishing. Hitman Absolution at that same resolution is above 80 FPS whilst being processor limited, Battlefield 3 at 4x AA @ 2560x1440 pushes roughly 85 FPS. These are all excellent numbers. Our Eyfinity results also show that one card can manage all modern games just fine. Meaning that one card is very sufficient. So yeah, these are some serious game performance numbers and as such the raw performance will make a lot of end-users happy -- especially the ones that game at uber high-resolutions, multiple-monitors or 3D Stereo admirers. What about micro-stuttering? It remains a growing topic of discussion, honestly guys, you can barely see it and each and every card will show a stutter at one point, no matter what brand you have. I'll leave out the verdict on this one as we want to give AMD the time they need to get the challenge ahead under control. But does gameplay look a hint better on a GTX 690, I need to be honest here.. yes. And remember as mentioned, the good news though is, AMD already released a Prototype driver with frame-(s)pacing towards press. We included the preliminary FCAT results and we do see improvements, though being far from finished.
We have to talk about pricing. The Radeon HD 7990 will become available (hopefully) in multiple thousands. Maybe 10K~20K in the first batch and we are sure we'll see additional batches fairly soon depending on sales. As always with uber enthusiast products I try not to judge on pricing, we know that if they would be pricing the cards at 1500 EUR they would still sell them, the coolness factor for R7990 is high and its gonna end up at Tier 1 system builders for high-end builds and case mods. The AMD Radeon HD 7990 SEP will be set at $999 USD.
Pending drama? AMD didn't even have enough samples to seed to the press. A quick round through some of AMDs partners all indicate that available and numbers will be low and difficult. That in the end will drive prices up even more, making this launch rushed and sure, a bit confusing. Word right now is that the card will become available at retailers within two weeks, we'll keep an eye on that including pricing.
A little more value
The cards are expensive, but what AMD does extremely well is to butter up the purchase of the AMD Radeon HD 7990 with over half a dozen of free games, yes the AAA titles from the Gaming Evolved games all are included for free. That means that AMD is including seven games:
- BioShock Infinite
- Tomb Raider
- Crysis 3
- Far Cry 3
- Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon
- Hitman Absolution
- Sleeping Dogs
- Deus Ex Human Revolution
AMD delivers the fastest graphics card to date, there's not much of a discussion about it. The product is very sweet, has low noise levels and acceptable heat levels. In this conclusion I must address some of the negatives as well though. Price, I'm not even going to discuss it. Secondly power draw, it's a lot... but not different from running a high-end Crossfire setup. But yeah, you'll be looking at 400 Watts for the graphics card alone, and that's a lot alright. Driver stability wise we can't complain this round, all games tested ran perfectly fine, and that's good to know.
The timing of this release remains unusual, it's late, perhaps too late to the market. But given the recent discoveries in regards to micro-stuttering I personally feel that it would have made more sense to wait a bit longer, that would give the driver team the chance to get the challenges ahead solved in regards to multi-GPU frame pacing. So R7990 was already late for a release, a bit more won't be bothersome then either right? I do understand AMD though, with the competition already being ready for the next generation of products. That said, micro stuttering is not an issue for some of you, and with the knowledge that it's going to be fixed in a couple of months time perhaps I'm being overly critical. But comparing GTX 690 to R7990, honestly you can see the difference. Albeit you do need to know what to look for, and that's the honest truth.
Performance wise the Radeon HD 7990 is serious stuff, it oozes out framerates at the speed of light. If we stick to the more enthusiast resolution of 2560x1440 then we see Crysis 3 performing above 50 FPS, Battlefield 3 with all eye-candy enabled is pushing over 80 FPS and if we take BioShock Infinite for a moment as well, then you are looking at 85+ FPS with all image quality setting throttled to the maximum.
It's exactly that kind of performance that makes these cards so much fun to review, and that last but is essential, fun... that's what PC gaming is all about. With that said I'm not going to make the conclusion any longer. The release of the R7990 has transformed in a well executed hardware design. That results into massive performance. With AMDs software team now forcibly focusing on micro-stuttering that "problem" will hopefully be a thing of the past in the near future as well. With that in mind, we can definitely recommend the Radeon HD 7990 to the ones that can afford a card of this caliber, it really is a top pick, but sure with some mixed feeling. It's not cheap but it is incredibly fun and silent. And with a product that is just loaded with performance it will certainly bring a smile to the faces of many.
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Radeon HD 7990 review
We review the new AMD Radeon HD 7990 including FCAT frametime measurements. The dual GPU product that you guys learned to know under codename Malta finally is released. AMD it doing it in style, two fully equipped Tahiti XT2 GPUs versus good yet silent cooling. In this review we'll look at the product, the architecture, the benchmarks, including frametime based FCAT measurements. Head on over towards our AMD Radeon HD 7990.