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

3DMark Vantage Performance Tests

3DMark Vantage is a computer benchmark by Futuremark (formerly named Mad Onion) to determine the DirectX 10 performance of 3D game performance with graphics cards. A 3DMark score is an overall measure of your system's 3D gaming capabilities, based on comprehensive real-time 3D graphics and processor tests. By comparing your score with those submitted by millions of other gamers you can see how your gaming rig performs, making it easier to choose the most effective upgrades or finding other ways to optimize your system.

There are two graphics tests in 3DMark Vantage: Jane Nash (Graphics Test 1) and New Calico (Graphics Test 2). The Jane Nash test scene represents a large indoor game scene with complex character rigs, physical GPU simulations, multiple dynamic lights, and complex surface lighting models. It uses several hierarchical rendering steps, including for water reflection and refraction, and physics simulation collision map rendering. The New Calico test scene represents a vast space scene with lots of moving but rigid objects and special content like a huge planet and a dense asteroid belt.

At Benchmark Reviews, we believe that synthetic benchmark tools are just as valuable as video games, but only so long as you're comparing apples to apples. Since the same test is applied in the same controlled method with each test run, 3DMark is a reliable tool for comparing graphic cards against one-another.

1680x1050 is rapidly becoming the new 1280x1024. More and more widescreen are being sold with new systems or as upgrades to existing ones. Even in tough economic times, the tide cannot be turned back; screen resolution and size will continue to creep up. Using this resolution as a starting point, the maximum settings were applied to 3DMark Vantage include 8x Anti-Aliasing, 16x Anisotropic Filtering, all quality levels at Extreme, and Post Processing Scale at 1:2.

3DMark Vantage GPU Test: Jane Nash

3DMark_Vantage_Jane_Nash_1680.jpg

Our first synthetic test shows the base HD 6990 configuration establishing a firm lead over all the other graphics cards. This is in the 830 MHz configuration; we'll look at the "overclocked" settings later. These synthetic tests really thrive on shaders, the more the better. There's a catch, though as the new VLIW4 shaders in the HD 6000 series is more efficient than the VLIW5 units in the HD 5000 series, So despite the fact that the CrossFireX combination of HD 5870 cards brings 3200 shaders to the party, the HD 6990 with only 3072 shaders tops it, operating with a 45 MHz core clock deficit no less. The top 3 performers in this test all have a combination of 64 ROP units on the back end, which equalizes their performance somewhat. It's a bit surprising to see the HD 6870 duo doing so well, but the 6870 has some unique talents that help it to keep up with its bigger brothers in some benchmarks.

3DMark_Vantage_Jane_Nash_1920.jpg

At 1920x1200 native resolution, things are much the same as the lower screen size; just the absolute values are lower, the ranking stays the same. Once again, the PowerColor Radeon HD 6990 puts on a stellar performance. This benchmark was running smooth as silk with the 6990, even at its lower clock rate of 830 MHz for the core.

Let's take a look at test #2 now, which has a lot more surfaces to render, with all those asteroids flying around the doomed planet New Calico.

3DMark Vantage GPU Test: New Calico

3DMark_Vantage_New_Calico_1680.jpg

In the medium resolution New Calico test, the GeForce cards show a little extra muscle, particularly the GTX 460 SLI pairing which jumps into third place ahead of the HD 6870 CrossFireX duo. The PowerColor Radeon HD 6990 pulls way ahead, which is exactly what I would expect, based on the cards I used in this comparison.

3DMark_Vantage_New_Calico_1920.jpg

At the higher screen resolution of 1920x1200, the PowerColor HD 6990 once again comes out swinging and leaves the lower-spec cards gasping for air. The consistent performance gains that the 6990 shows over a CrossFireX pair of HD 5870 cards is a good sign that the architecture improvements of the HD 6000 series are working well. Don't forget, these are the 830 MHz (keep my warrantee) numbers for the Radeon HD 6990. We'll look at the overclocked performance later in the article.

Our next test is a relatively new one for Benchmark Reviews. It's a DirectX 10 game with all the stops pulled out. Just Cause 2 uses a brand new game engine called Avalanche Engine 2.0, which enabled the developers to create games of epic scale and with great variation across genres and artistic styles, for the next generation of gaming experiences. Sounds like fun, let's take a look...

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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