PowerColor AX6990 4GBD5-M4D Video Card E-mail
Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards
Written by Bruce Normann   
Sunday, 20 March 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
PowerColor AX6990 4GBD5-M4D Video Card
Closer Look: PowerColor Radeon HD 6990
PowerColor Radeon HD 6990 Detailed Features
Features and Specifications
Video Card Testing Methodology
DX10: 3DMark Vantage
DX10: Just Cause 2
DX9 SSAO: Mafia II
DX11: Aliens vs. Predator
DX11: Battlefield: Bad Company 2
DX11: DiRT-2 Demo
DX11: H.A.W.X. 2
DX11: Lost Planet 2
DX11: METRO 2033
DX11: Unigine Heaven 2.1
PowerColor HD 6990 Temperatures
Overclocking
AMD Radeon HD 6990 Final Thoughts
PowerColor Radeon HD 6990 Conclusion

Video Card Testing Methodology

With the widespread adoption of Windows7 in the marketplace, and given the prolonged and extensive pre-release testing that occurred on a global scale, there are compelling reasons to switch all testing to this highly anticipated, operating system. Overall performance levels of Windows 7 are favorable compared to Windows XP, and there is solid support for the 64-bit version, something enthusiasts have anxiously awaited for years. After almost a year of product testing with Win7-64, I can vouch for its stability and performance; I can't think of any reasons why I would want to switch back to XP.

Our site polls and statistics indicate that the over 90% of our visitors use their PC for playing video games, and practically every one of you are using a screen resolutions mentioned below. Since all of the benchmarks we use for testing represent different game engine technology and graphic rendering processes, this battery of tests will provide a diverse range of results for you to gauge performance on your own computer system. All of the benchmark applications are capable of utilizing DirectX 10 or DirectX 11, and that is how they were tested. Some of these benchmarks have been used widely for DirectX 9 testing in the XP environment, and it is critically important to differentiate between results obtained with different versions. Each game behaves differently in DX9 and DX10 formats. Crysis is an extreme example, with frame rates in DirectX 10 only about half what was available in DirectX 9.

At the start of all tests, the previous display adapter driver is uninstalled and trace components are removed using Driver Cleaner Pro. We then restart the computer system to establish our display settings and define the monitor. Once the hardware is prepared, we begin our testing. According to the Steam Hardware Survey published at the time of Windows 7 launch, the most popular gaming resolution is 1280x1024 (17-19" standard LCD monitors) closely followed by 1024x768 (15-17" standard LCD). However, because these resolutions are considered 'low' by most standards, our benchmark performance tests concentrate on the higher-demand resolutions: 1680x1050 (22-24" widescreen LCD) and 1920x1200 (24-28" widescreen LCD monitors).

Each benchmark test program begins after a system restart, and the very first result for every test will be ignored since it often only caches the test. This process proved extremely important in several benchmarks, as the first run served to cache maps allowing subsequent tests to perform much better than the first. Each test is completed five times, the high and low results are discarded, and the average of the three remaining results is displayed in our article.

A combination of synthetic and video game benchmark tests have been used in this article to illustrate relative performance among graphics solutions. Our benchmark frame rate results are not intended to represent real-world graphics performance, as this experience would change based on supporting hardware and the perception of individuals playing the video game.

HD_6990_Default_Tab1.png

Intel P55 Express Test System

  • Motherboard: ASUS P7P55D-E Pro (1002 BIOS)
  • System Memory: 2x 2GB GSKILL Ripjaws DDR3 1600MHz (7-8-7-24)
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-750 (OC @ 4.0 GHz)
  • CPU Cooler: Prolimatech Megahalems (Delta AFB1212SHE PWM Fan)
  • Video: PowerColor Radeon HD 6990 4GB GDDR5 (Catalyst 8.840.3.0)
  • Drive 1: Corsair P64 SSD, 64GB
  • Drive 2: Western Digital VelociRaptor, 150GB
  • Optical Drive: Sony NEC Optiarc AD-7190A-OB 20X DVD Burner
  • PSU: Corsair CMPSU-750TX ATX12V V2.2 750Watt
  • Monitor: SOYO 24"; Widescreen LCD Monitor (DYLM24E6) 1920X1200
  • Operating System: Windows 7 Ultimate Version 6.1 (Build 7600)

DirectX 9/10 Benchmark Applications

  • 3DMark Vantage v1.02
    • Extreme Settings: (Extreme Quality, 8x Multisample Anti-Aliasing, 16x Anisotropic Filtering, 1:2 Scale)
  • Just Cause 2
    • Extreme Settings: (Max Display Settings, 8x Anti-Aliasing, 16x Anisotropic Filtering, Motion Blur ON, GPU Water Simulation OFF, Bokeh OFF)
  • Mafia II
    • Extreme Settings: (Antialiasing, 16x AF, High Shadow Quality, High Detail, High Geometry, Ambient Occlusion, PhysX Off)

DirectX 11 Benchmark Applications

  • Aliens vs Predator
    • Extreme Settings: (Very High Quality, 4x AA, 16x AF, SSAO, Tessellation, Advanced Shadows)
  • BattleField: Bad Company 2
    • Extreme Settings: (Highest Quality, HBAO, 8x AA, 16x AF, 180s Fraps Single-Player Intro Scene)
  • DiRT-2 Demo
    • Extreme Settings: (Ultra Preset, 8x MSAA)
  • H.A.W.X. 2
    • Extreme Settings: (8x AA, Max Quality Levels, Terrain Tessellation)
  • Lost Planet 2
    • Extreme Settings: (8x CSAA, High Shadow Detail, High Texture, High Render, High DirectX 11 Features)
  • METRO 2033
    • Extreme Settings: (DX11, Very High Quality, 16x AF, 4x MSAA, PhysX Off, Tessellation On, Depth of Field On)
  • Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.1
    • Normal Settings: (High Quality, Normal Tessellation, 16x AF, 4x and 8x AA)

Video Card Test Products

Graphics Card

Cores

Core Clock

Shader Clock

Memory Clock

Memory

Interface

MSI GeForce GTX 460 (N460GTX Cyclone 1GD5/OC)

336

725

1450

900

1.0 GB GDDR5

256-bit

MSI Radeon HD 6870 (R6870-2PM2D1GD5)

1120

900

N/A

1050

1.0 GB GDDR5

256-bit

PowerColor Radeon HD 5870 (PCS+ AX5870 1GBD5-PPDHG2)

1600

875

N/A

1250

1.0 GB GDDR5

256-bit

PowerColor PCS++ Radeon HD6950 (AX6950 2GBD5-P22DHG)

1408

800

N/A

1250

2.0 GB GDDR5

256-bit

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 480 (GV-N480SO-15I Super Over Clock)

480

820

1640

950

1536 MB GDDR5

384-bit

PowerColor Radeon HD 6990 (AX6990 4GBD5-M4D)

3072

830

N/A

1250

4.0 GB GDDR5

256-bit



 

Comments 

 
# RE: PowerColor AX6990 4GBD5-M4D Video CardRobert17 2011-03-20 15:16
Well done Bruce. After all the effort, sacrifice, and no telling how many years of enthusiasm/experience you bring to the fray, I feel compelled to offer a sacrifice of my own. Since the card is out of warranty, I volunteer to take it off your hands for long term testing, say a couple of years, and deal with any and all warranty issues in your stead. I know, I know, my altruism knows no bounds.

(wink, wink, nudge, nudge)

Good job.
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# Counter OfferBruceBruce 2011-03-20 16:19
Thanks for the props, Robert. As for your boundless altruism, I'll go you one better. You put gas in my wife's car for the time that you have the card, and it's a deal. [%^)
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# RE: Counter OfferRobert17 2011-03-20 16:22
Does she actually drive it?
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# Just got mineCom-Tek Chris 2011-03-22 06:43
I know this was written for the PowerColor card but I just received my HIS yesterday and installed it last night. I guess my bottle neck is my resolution and my monitor. I have a 28" 60Hz, 1920x1200 Hanns-G monitor with 3ms response. I just don't see the gain from this series and going back to my 2x 465 GTX Nvidias or my 2x 580 GTX's in SLI. For the ATI fans I also have 2x 5850's in X-Fire and they also run like beasts. Its kinda like having a Race Car that does 205+ MPH but because you live in a heavy school zone there are always police which limits your choice to either follow the law or get arrested (Kind of a bad analogy but I'm sure you get my drift).

So now I have spent $720 on this card, damn I need a new hobby, I've now spent over $2,500 on video cards in the last 6 months.
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# RE: Just got mineOlin Coles 2011-03-22 07:17
I'm curious what kind of games you're playing, because that could be an indication of your bottleneck. Anything will play Battlefield or Starcraft at high frame rates, but the same cannot be said for titles such as Metro 2033.
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# RE RE: Just got mineCom-Tek Chris 2011-03-22 07:33
I'm playing Battlefield Bad Company 2 and a few other FPS games. I figured that was my problem. And BFBC2 is more CPU intensive, I playing Battlefield on my AM3 1090T 6 Core which is more than enough for that game. I need to start HA (Hardware Anonymous) for geeks, but I'm afraid it would be a blood bath of which brand name was better, lol.
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# A thoughtCom-Tek Chris 2011-03-22 06:59
How come we are pitting this against the Nvidia 400 series and not a set of 560ti's in SLI or a a single 580 GTX? I notice that the scores are up against a set of 460 GTX's in SLI and a couple of 6xxx series in cross-fire mode but none of the big cards from Nvidia in SLI. Was this because of a price to power thresh hold? Or because of availability in cards? I know my 2 580 GTX's his the $1,100 mark when I purchased both so maybe it is unfair to compare it to a single card that is $400 less, but still it would be nice to have the scores posted for comparison for both sides of the fan base. Hands down though, I love this 6990, its fast, sweet, and feels like there is a lot of technology in it. Even Nvidia Fan Boys would be impressed with the sheer speed of this card.
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# RE: A thoughtOlin Coles 2011-03-22 07:18
If we had two of everything, we'd put them in SLI or CrossFire. Since one card arrives as another is ready to launch, we're restricted by deadlines and must move to the next project.
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# RE RE: A thoughtCom-Tek Chris 2011-03-22 07:34
Do you have to send back the cards your given? If not what do you do with them? Or do I dare ask, lol.
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# RE: RE RE: A thoughtOlin Coles 2011-03-22 07:37
Only a few products get returned, but it's a matter of finding time to review more than one product of the same series before the next arrives. These reviews take more time than you could imagine (I invite you to try sometime), and after one article in published a manufacturer usually has something new in our hands.
All of my video cards sit in a giant cardboard box, and get sold about 16 months after they've launched and gone EOL.
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# RE: RE RE: RE: A thoughtCom-Tek Chris 2011-03-22 08:43
I have done Bench Marking in the past with all new hardware, always trying to squeeze that extra 100 points out, lol, I don't do much anymore just because of the time it takes. I am a business owner and there are days where I start at 6am and get home at 10pm only to find that I have a 1/2 dozen build outs that are to be done by the next am, so I pull a 24hr shift that turns into a good 36hr shift, lol, did I mention I have a wife and 5 kids?...................so the drama continues in the life of "Im a computer engineer/network security consultant/Father/Guy who likes to game/Guy who races cars in the SCCA in the season which is here now/Guy who builds computers and provides support for local residents and business's and also donates computers to new local schools that burnt down 2 years, lol, yes I love life and all it offers..........did I mention I love Chinese food and hot pockets?
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# RE: RE: RE RE: RE: A thoughtOlin Coles 2011-03-22 08:48
Replace kids with friends, keep computer engineer/network security consultant/SCCA racer, and add target shooting enthusiast. Also replace Chinese food with Thai, and hot pockets for Wheat Thins, and we're on the same page.
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# Thanks BruceCom-Tek Chris 2011-03-22 07:15
Thanks Bruce for the in-depth article, it was very informative and I'm sure will encourage decisions on owning this card. Keep up the good work.
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# You're WelcomeBruceBruce 2011-03-22 20:34
Olin's spot on about product availability v. time to do the review. As Einstein said, "The reason time exists is so that everything doesn't all happen at once." My corollary to that is, "Space exists so that everything doesn't all happen at the same place."

So, check out Olin's HD 6990 reviews for comparisons to the GTX 570 and 580 cards. I was surprised that the 580 SLI didn't wipe the mat with the competitors. It was faster, but not in another league, you know....

I'm very curious to see how well NVIDIA manages the balance between electrical power, heat and processing power with their rumored dual-GPU card. At this stage of the game (40nm GPUs), there's only so much juice that you can pump through a single card and the winner is the one that's more efficient per watt. We'll have to wait another week or so, to see.

FWIW, I prefer Triscuits....LOL
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# RE: You're WelcomeOlin Coles 2011-03-22 20:37
Ah, Triscuits and wine cheese. One of my nostalgic favorites!

PS: Check back here at 6AM PST on 03/24 for "The Next Big Thing".
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# RE: RE: RE RE RE: RE: A thoughtCom-Tek Chris 2011-03-22 09:07
My wife pushes the wheat thins/Crackling Oat Bran Cereal.....a lot! And I just tried Thai recently, the curry wasn't to bad. My goal is to lose 30 pounds this year. I just got over the Flu and I have kept 12 pounds of that off, lol, its going to be a good year. Now if I can just get my hands a new AM3+ 8 Core, another 6990 for X-Crossfire Mode, now that would finish the year off with a POW!
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# PC Case SizeVaughn Janes 2011-03-22 16:49
What PC Case do you have in that picture, I hope its not really expensive. If it is do you think you could link a cheaper Pc case?
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# CM Storm SniperBruceBruce 2011-03-22 17:30
It's a CM Storm Sniper, which I reviewed here: benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=398&Itemid=61

It's not cheap, unfortunately, unless you find a deal. The good news is that there have been a ton of inexpensive gaming chassis reviewd on this this site recently, and I'd bet at least half of them would be able to handle this card, at 305 mm long.
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# Forgot to make it a replyVaughn Janes 2011-03-22 17:39
Ok Coolio, its way cheaper than the one I found (##shopbot.ca/pp-corsair-obsidian-800d-corsair-price-208226.html) Thanks.
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