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Written by Olin Coles   
Monday, 07 March 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
AMD Radeon HD 6990 Antilles Video Card
Radeon HD 6990 Appearance
Antilles Detailed Features
Antilles Features and Specifications
Video Card Testing Methodology
DX9 SSAO: Mafia II
DX10: 3DMark Vantage
DX10: Crysis Warhead
DX11: 3DMark11
DX11: Aliens vs Predator
DX11: Battlefield Bad Company 2
DX11: BattleForge
DX11: Lost Planet 2
DX11: Metro 2033
DX11: Unigine Heaven 2.1
Overclocking and Temperatures
VGA Power Consumption
Radeon HD 6990 Conclusion

Radeon HD 6990 Appearance

The AMD Radeon HD 6990 video card is an exclusive product, and launches concurrently with Dragon Age II DirectX-11 video game. To capitalize on this theme, the Radeon HD 6990 we received for testing came inside a nice aluminum carry case with a removable Dragon Age II poster on the front. This is a nice touch, but an expected one, especially considering the $699 price tag that accompanies the Radeon HD 6990 video card. Inside the package, you can expect: the Radeon HD 6990 graphics card, CrossFireX bridge, one mini-DisplayPort to passive single-link DVI adapter, mini-DisplayPort to active single-link DVI adapter, and mini-DisplayPort to passive HDMI adapter.

AMD-Radeon-HD-6990-Dragon-Age-II-Case.jpg

High-performance video cards often emphasize function over fashion, and usually offer more attractive looks on the display screen than on the hardware itself. Still, that doesn't mean the AMD Radeon HD 6990 isn't an interesting specimen. Completely redesigned to cool a pair of Cayman GPUs, the 6990 takes on a look that is unique to the Radeon family. The first obvious difference is the relocated blower fan, which is now positioned directly at the center of the board so that it can best cool the opposing Cayman GPUs. Later into this article, we'll see how well this design works.

AMD-Radeon-HD-6990-Top.jpg

The AMD Radeon HD 6990 may occupy the same profile as its predecessor the Radeon HD 5970, but that simply confirms how big this card is. Measuring a full 12" long by 1.25" tall and 3.75" wide, the Radeon HD 6990 stretches past the 11" long Radeon HD 5870, 10.5" long GeForce GTX 580 or Radeon HD 6970, and 9.75" long Radeon HD 6870.

AMD-Radeon-HD-6990-Corner.jpg

Current AMD Radeon HD 6900-series video cards already look similar to their previous generation of 6800- and 5800-series products, and the Antilles design adheres to the newly minted tradition of boxy black fan shroud-ed video cards. A few add-in card partners will dress-up their Antilles parts with the simple application of an adhesive graphic applied over the top of the fan shroud, with potential color changes to certain plastic components. Otherwise, expect all Radeon HD 6990 to look the same.

AMD-Radeon-HD-6990-Front-Angle.jpg

At its core, Antilles is a multi-monitor video card. One single dual-link DVI (DL-DVI) port joins four mini-DisplayPort 1.2 outputs on the 6990. The included adapters will enable 3x1 gaming right out of the box with DVI monitors, but with additional display adapters or DisplayPort monitors, you will be able to drive up to five displays in portrait Eyefinity (5x1 Portrait mode). AMD's HD3D technology currently supports only one 3D display, with plans for multi-monitor 3D available in the future, so the Radeon HD 6990 could be the perfect fit for gamers looking to plan ahead for multi-display 3D setups.

AMD-Radeon-HD-6990-Rear-Angle.jpg

Because there is a 40nm Cayman GPU embedded at each end, the blower fan orientation is positioned dead-center between them both. This also means that heated exhaust air comes out of both ends, with half of it recirculating back into the computer case. CrossFire configurations are possible, but AMD recommends at least one card slot of space between Radeon HD 6990's. Gamers with CrossFireX sets must ensure proper cooling inside their computer case for these video cards to receive fresh air.

AMD-Radeon-HD-6990-Bottom.jpg

The AMD Radeon HD 6990 requires two 8-pin PCI-Express power connections for normal operation. AMD suggests that maximum TDP power demands are 375 watts using PowerTune with the BIOS set to 830MHz, or 450 watts when set to 880MHz. We confirm this with our own power testing results, discussed later near the end of this article.

AMD will announce other new developments on the same day they launch the Radeon HD 6990 video card. The first is their Catalyst Control Center 11.4 'Preview' driver, but AMD is also unveiling new branding names based on the system configuration. On an AMD based platform the driver will be called AMD VISION Engine Control Center, and when a discrete AMD GPU is used with any Intel CPU it will be called AMD Catalyst Control Center.



 

Comments 

 
# Power requirementsBanzai 2011-03-08 05:45
Power seems to be respectable compared to other cards, it really manages itsel properly while giving good perfomance. Although it lost at Metro against ali'd rigs, the 6990 seems to do well.
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# RE: AMD Radeon HD 6990 Antilles Video CardAdam 2011-03-08 08:54
AMD's got some nice ideas there, but it's not exactly the most impressive card ever due to the numerous drawbacks.

The dual-bios switch is a pretty awesome idea even if the actual overclocking potential of the 6990 was a huge 'meh'.

I suppose these cards are never intended to be particularly sensible though and are aimed are that certain type of gamer (more money then sense, possibly).
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# CrossFire in the modern worldBruceBruce 2011-03-08 09:12
There has been a dearth of mainstream motherboards with dual 16x PCI-Express connections lately. My 1156/i5 combo is a very cost-effective platform for gaming, but with high end cards, the 8X PCI-E connectivity starts to hit bandwidth limits. This card, as over-the-top as it may seem, is an excellent way to get the full performance of two 6970-class GPUs with one slot.

I know it seems ironic to talk about budget when we're discussing a $700 video card, but if I take the money I would have spent on an X58/LGA1366 motherboard and a top-of-the-heap CPU and put it towards the video card, I think it's a better bang for the $$$$.
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# RE: CrossFire in the modern worldAdam 2011-03-08 09:49
I can see where you're coming from, but I dont think 1366 is expensive enough to justify buying the 6990 over a cheaper crossfire/Sli setup which will have comparable performance.

Another problem is, whilst high end cards are great fun and all that, they're currently redundant. Current PC games are becoming so heavily gimped by the console market that we're not seeing anything worth buying these parts for.
Having said that I've not played Crysis 2 yet, but it's a console port. Bleh.
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# Not.Suhaib 2011-03-08 10:21
Crysis 2 isn't a console port, it was developed for PC from scratch, and it will support DX11 in the final release.
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# RE: Not.MikeFunktastic 2011-03-09 04:51
Suhaib is correct. I don't know where people are getting their news from. Just because it's going to consoles doesn't mean it was PORTED from consoles. Crytek has stated multiple times that CryEngine3 was developed for the PC first, ported to consoles second.
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# RE: Not.RagingShadow07 2011-03-09 08:05
Have you played the multiplayer demo? As soon as you start up the game, you're greeted by a "PRESS START TO CONTINUE" screen regardless of if you're on keyboard/mouse or controller (or were, I think they patched it). They pulled an Infinity Ward on Crysis 2. There's even an aim assistance option in the settings menu. If not for console, it was definitely designed for the controller, which, to me, is still showing how little most devs care about PC now.
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# RE: RE: Not.Suhaib 2011-03-10 00:52
Is that your logic? have you ever considered people who prefer controllers in the PC consumer base?
RagingShadow, I suggest you wait until the game is released.
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# RE: RE: RE: Not.Adam 2011-03-10 07:00
Do you honestly think that enough people use controllers for FPS's on the PC to justify them putting the default message as "press start to continue"? Really?
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# What did you expect?Olle P 2011-03-09 02:19
In terms of overclocking I don't expect a 450W card to reach very high until some more efficient form of cooling is applied.

In this case I don't count the "What the lawyers make us say" setting at 830MHz 1.12V as the reference setting, but just a safe adaptation to get the card within the PCIe standards.

880MHz and 1.175V is the reference speed, and from there the card can be overclocked a bit. How much past 900MHz is still anybody's guess though...
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# rip offtechman 2011-03-08 22:01
What a rip off.699.00 thats a hundred over the hd 5970 when it was released.The only reason it is this high, is the fact that there is no competitive card out there.An extra 2 gigs doesn't cost a hundred dollars.
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# The price is right.Olle P 2011-03-09 02:22
The $700 is the price of a pair of 6970, which is essentially the equivalent but require more space, two more power cables and an extra PCIe slot.
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# RE: The price is right.David Ramsey 2011-03-09 10:01
...and is faster, quieter, and gives you the option of starting with one 6970 and upgrading later. Aside from "fastest single graphics card" bragging rights, I really don't see the point to a card like this.
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# Future proofMichael 2011-12-03 03:45
Its a card that will last a long time as a high end graphics card. Its a future proof card.
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# Right PriceComputer Support 2011-03-09 23:38
Yes it is very expensive product
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# RE: AMD Radeon HD 6990 Antilles Video CardSuhaib 2011-03-10 09:11
They fixed it with a patch, and they've also talked about crysis 2 shipping with DX9, and being patched later to DX11.

And almost all my friends and I use controllers when we feel like it.
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# DnaAngelDnaAngel 2011-03-19 20:34
Adam makes a very Valid point with the Push start to continue message. Cytek can say this and say that but the game is obviously geared towards the Console market. As far as the card goes, weve seen this power struggle between Nvidia and Ati for years now. It is funny that Nvidia top 2 cards ATM have to be in SLI'd just to keep up. but soon as Nvidias 6xx series comes out then yep you guessed it balls back in Nvidia court again until Ati releases their 7xxx series. the pattern continues on. But not one person here can disagree that the PC gaming world IS being hindered one way shape or form of the badly aged current gen Console market.And until Microsoft/Sony and yes Nintendo release their next gen consoles PC gaming will be at a Tech crunch. and really until then these type are cards ARE redundant, with only a FPS gain, but a decent CPU and Crossfire/SLI setup is more then enough for even the newest of games at eye candy Resolution/Settings.
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# BenchmarksMarko 2011-07-12 14:11
One thing that is good to know though, ONE 6990 os almost as good as TWO GTX580's. Wow, nVidia fanboys are gonna rage at this.
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