AMD Radeon HD 6990 Evaluation: Luxurious Twin-GPU Energy

AMD introduced its first Radeon HD 6000 graphics card last October when we tested the mid-range Radeon HD 6870. Since then, AMD has unveiled its GPU roadmap and the cards that hit the market soon after.

The high-end Radeon HD 6970 and HD 6950 models also arrived late last year, while the dual-GPU version of the latest-generation AMD graphics series, codenamed Antilles, is expected to appear shortly thereafter. Coincidentally (or maybe not) it took AMD and Nvidia a few months longer than expected to show off their hardcore dual GPU graphics cards. The former took the first step to finally introduce the Radeon HD 6990.

After looking at most of the previous generation Crossfire and SLI products, we were definitely looking forward to what AMD has in store for us with this dual GPU monster.

We don't think AMD will sell large quantities of these dual GPU cards. In fact, previous versions of their top deals have been known to be temporarily disappearing from retail stores and then returning to stock. Even so, the Radeon HD 6990 is a key product in the AMD lineup, as it can do a lot for the series' reputation just like the HD 5970 before.

As both AMD and Nvidia strive to develop their graphics technologies beyond PC games, including the use of embedded graphics in motherboards and processors, it has also caused the low-end, discrete GPU market to shrink, and hence, to shrink Mid-range offers are taking a new priority.

Holding the performance crown can be a big deal, and AMD has been undisputedly doing this for a while with the Radeon HD 5970. As you may recall, the GeForce GTX 400 series was just too hot to glue a pair of GPUs onto a single board and hence Nvidia was never able to respond with its own dual GPU offering. Nvidia has now resolved all of these issues and released its latest generation architecture with several GeForce 500 series products available today.

The GeForce GTX 580 can compete with the Radeon HD 5970 with two GPUs and even outperform them in a number of areas. With the arrival of the Radeon HD 6990, AMD is hoping to take back the performance crown it is expected to hold until the arrival of the GeForce GTX 590.

Under the hood, the Radeon HD 6990 is essentially a pair of overclocked Radeon HD 6970 GPUs on a massive printed circuit board. This is the same as the Radeon HD 5970, which has a pair of HD 5870 GPUs that operate at slightly lower frequencies.

When developing the older Radeon HD 5970, AMD worked hard to meet the PCI Express specification, which requires a maximum TDP of 300 watts. With 294 watts, the HD 5970 was just there and was still the most power-hungry graphics card of its time. However, the new Radeon HD 6990 is much closer in specification to the HD 6970 than the HD 5970 is to the HD 5870. As a result, the card's TPD rating has increased to an astonishing 375 watts.

Maybe that's not the biggest shock for some. The new Radeon 6990 is slated to sell for $ 699, which is a premium of $ 100 over the price of the HD 5970 at launch. Alternatively, at this price point, gamers can buy a pair of Radeon HD 6970 cards and still save a few bucks while getting a little more performance. With that in mind, let's take a closer look at the almighty Radeon HD 6990 …

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