AMD Radeon HD 7990 review
AMD claims the AMD Radeon HD 7990, codenamed “Malta”, is the fastest graphics card, and its specs certainly support this claim. It’s a two-GPU graphics adaptor, which means it uses two separate graphics chips that work in unison to provide the graphics. In this case, the two GPUs are Radeon HD 7970s running at a base clock speed of 950MHz and a boost clock speed of 1GHz. It also has a very large 6GB memory capacity and that GDDR5 RAM runs at a clock speed of 1.5GHz.
With all this technology on one board, the card is understandably long. In fact, it’s a mammoth 300mm long, so make sure your case can accommodate it before you buy. It has two 8-pin power connectors, a TDP of 375W and will draw around 50% more than that when running at peak performance. If you're not sure if your PSU will handle this card, it probably won't.
We tested the Radeon HD 7990 with Dirt Showdown at a resolution of 1,920x1,080 and 4x anti-aliasing at Ultra quality and it produced a stunning frame rate of 106.7fps. This is faster than the Nvidia GTX Titan's frame rate of 91.1fps, which was scored under the same conditions.
The AMD Radeon HD 7990 also scored highly in our Crysis 2 test, producing an exceptional 60.2fps at a resolution of 1,920x1,080 and Ultra quality. The GTX Titan produced an average frame rate of 49.6fps in the same test.
With higher resolution monitors now available, we were keen to see how the Radeon HD 7990 would perform at resolutions higher than Full HD, so we conducted the same tests at a resolution of 2,560x1,440. We weren’t disappointed, as the Radeon HD 7990 produced an average frame rate of 60.3fps in Crysis 2 and 104.9fps in Dirt Showdown, which means that a drop in performance, if there is a drop in performance, is negligible.
Indeed, AMD claims the Radeon HD 7990 is well suited to very high resolution displays, such as the new 3,840x2,160-resolution “4K” displays. Sadly, we’re unable to test the Radeon HD 7990 at these super-high resolutions, but we’re sure it’ll cope.
It certainly coped well when playing Crysis 2 and Dirt Showdown at a resolution of 5,760x1,080 over three screens in Eyefinity mode. At Ultra quality and with 4x anti-aliasing, the HD 7990 produced a stunning frame rate of 90.2fps. Reducing Dirt Showdown’s graphics quality to Medium produced an average frame rate of 112fps and reducing it even further to Ultra Low produced 156.9fps. With Crysis 2, it produced 39.6fps at Ultra quality. This is much faster and smoother than the frame rate produced by the GTX Titan when running Crysis 2 in Nvidia’s Surround multi-monitor mode, as the Titan produced just 24.6fps. Reducing the graphics quality to Extreme allowed a much smoother average frame rate of 59fps.
AMD claims the Radeon HD 7990 is quieter than the GTX Titan, a card that is impressively quiet given its great performance. To produce these low sound levels, the AMD reference design uses a large heatsink and three fans to cool the board. Although the Radeon HD 7990 is quiet, and was pretty much silent when we just used the Windows desktop, it sounds like a colony of crickets when the fan speed increases. The sound isn’t so horrid that we’d rather turn off our PC and read a book instead, but it is irritating.
The Radeon HD 7990 is certainly expensive, but it’s also the fastest graphics card we’ve seen. Multi-GPU graphics cards can sometimes have issues with drivers, and you may therefore prefer a single GPU card such as the excellent GTX Titan. If you demand the fastest graphics card at this moment in time, however, you should buy the Radeon HD 7990.
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