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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

Antilles Dual-BIOS Overclocking

The Radeon HD 6990 video card offers a special dual-BIOS feature that enables users to boot-up their computer with either a standard or factory-overclocked configuration. As the most powerful graphics card on the market there's more then enough performance available without the added GPU overclock, but some gamers and hardware enthusiasts may want to take a chance at setting a benchmark record or give their frame rate an extra boost. BIOS position '2' is the default shipping position, and yields 830 MHz GPU clocks at 1.12 volts each. BIOS position '1' is a hardware overdrive option, and increases the clocks to 880 MHz while adjusting voltage to 1.175 volts.

WARNING: AMD's product warranty does not cover damages caused by overclocking, even when overclocking is enabled via AMD software and/or the Dual-BIOS Function on the AMD Radeon HD 6990.

AMD-Radeon-HD-6990-Dual-BIOS-Switch.jpg

AMD and NVIDIA already stretch their GPUs pretty thin in terms of overclocking head room, but there's a difference between thin and non-existent. In this section, Benchmark Reviews compares stock versus overclocked video card performance on the Radeon HD 6990. Here are the test results:

GPU Overclocking Results

Test Item Standard GPU Overclocked GPU Improvement
Radeon HD 6990 830 MHz 880 MHz 50 MHz GPU
DX9+SSAO: Mafia II 73.0 74.8 1.8 FPS (2.5%)
DX10: 3dMark Jane Nash 56.2 58.2 2.0 FPS (3.6%)
DX10: 3dMark Calico 45.4 47.3 1.9 FPS (4.2%)
DX11: 3dMark11 GT1 40.6 42.5 1.9 FPS (4.7%)
DX11: 3dMark11 GT2 50.0 52.1 2.1 FPS (4.2%)
DX11: 3dMark11 GT3 59.3 61.6 1.9 FPS (3.9%)
DX11: 3dMark11 GT4 28.9 30.3 1.4 FPS (4.8%)
DX11: Aliens vs Predator 76.0 78.7

2.7 FPS (3.6%)

DX11: Battlefield BC2 123.5 127.4 3.9 FPS (3.2%)
DX11: Metro 2033 54.1 55.2 1.1 FPS (2.0%)
DX11: Heaven 2.1 75.5 78.0 2.5 FPS (3.3%)

Overclocking Summary: Our baseline results show a 2.0~4.8% average increase in performance (at 1920x1200 resolution), which usually amounts to an added 2+ FPS in most games. That's not a whole lot of performance boost in relation to the increased power consumption, but every extra frame translates into an advantage over your enemy. In our overclocked testing with the Catalyst 11.4 'Preview' drivers, there were occasions when the driver would crash during a benchmark test, so it's unclear just how far enthusiasts can stretch the Radeon HD 6990. There were other issues to contend with, such as...

Radeon HD 6990 Temperatures

Benchmark tests are always nice, so long as you care about comparing one product to another. But when you're an overclocker, gamer, or merely a PC hardware enthusiast who likes to tweak things on occasion, there's no substitute for good information. Benchmark Reviews has a very popular guide written on Overclocking Video Cards, which gives detailed instruction on how to tweak a graphics cards for better performance. Of course, not every video card has overclocking head room. Some products run so hot that they can't suffer any higher temperatures than they already do. This is why we measure the operating temperature of the video card products we test.

To begin my testing, I use GPU-Z to measure the temperature at idle as reported by the GPU. Next, I use a modified version of FurMark's "Torture Test" to defeat NVIDIA's power monitoring and generate the maximum thermal load. This allows us to record absolute maximum GPU temperatures at high-power 3D mode. The ambient room temperature remained at a stable 20°C throughout testing. FurMark does two things extremely well: drives the thermal output of any graphics processor much higher than any video games realistically could, and it does so with consistency every time. Furmark works great for testing the stability of a GPU as the temperature rises to the highest possible output. The temperatures discussed below are absolute maximum values, and not representative of real-world temperatures while gaming:

Video Card Idle Temp Loaded Temp Loaded Noise Ambient
ATI Radeon HD 5850 39°C 73°C 7/10 20°C
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 26°C 65°C 4/10 20°C
AMD Radeon HD 6850 42°C 77°C 7/10 20°C
AMD Radeon HD 6870 39°C 74°C 6/10 20°C
ATI Radeon HD 5870 33°C 78°C 7/10 20°C
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 Ti 27°C 78°C 5/10 20°C
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570 32°C 82°C 7/10 20°C
ATI Radeon HD 6970 35°C 81°C 6/10 20°C
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 32°C 70°C 6/10 20°C
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 590 33°C 77°C 6/10 20°C
AMD Radeon HD 6990 40°C 84°C 8/10 20°C

Although the Radeon HD 6990 uses an enhanced cooling solution with AMD's latest power efficiency technology, the temperatures did force the fan to run at audible levels most of the time. Resting at idle the Radeon HD 6990 measured 40°C in a 20°C room, which is actually on-par with some of the mid-range graphics cards. Once the GPU's were stressed to 100% using multi-GPU Furmark, the differences began to surface. The Radeon HD 6990 produced 84°C under full load (measured at 20°C ambient after ten minutes), which is similar to other video cards, but enough to force the cooling fan into a noisy high-power mode.



 

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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