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

Mafia II DX9+SSAO Benchmark Results

Mafia II is a single-player third-person action shooter developed by 2K Czech for 2K Games, and is the sequel to Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven released in 2002. Players assume the life of World War II veteran Vito Scaletta, the son of small Sicilian family who immigrates to Empire Bay. Growing up in the slums of Empire Bay teaches Vito about crime, and he's forced to join the Army in lieu of jail time. After sustaining wounds in the war, Vito returns home and quickly finds trouble as he again partners with his childhood friend and accomplice Joe Barbaro. Vito and Joe combine their passion for fame and riches to take on the city, and work their way to the top in Mafia II.

Mafia II is a DirectX 9 PC video game built on 2K Czech's proprietary Illusion game engine, which succeeds the LS3D game engine used in Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven. In our Mafia-II Video Game Performance article, Benchmark Reviews explored characters and gameplay while illustrating how well this game delivers APEX PhysX features on both AMD and NVIDIA products. Thanks to APEX PhysX extensions that can be processed by the system's CPU, Mafia II offers gamers equal access to high-detail physics regardless of video card manufacturer. Equal access is not the same thing as equal performance, though.

With PhysX technology turned off, both AMD and NVIDIA are on a level playing field in this test. In contrast to many gaming scenes, where other-worldly characters and environments allow the designers to amp up the detail, Mafia II uses human beings wearing ordinary period-correct clothes and natural scenery. Just like how high end audio equipment is easiest to judge using that most familiar of sounds - the human voice, graphics hardware is really put to the test when rendering things that we have real experience with. The drape of a woolen overcoat is a deceptively simple construct; easy to understand and implement, but very difficult to get perfect.

Mafia_II_1680.jpg

At medium resolutions, the NVIDIA cards do very well in this benchmark, which is based on DirectX 9, surprisingly. The top three Radeon sets all perform much alike, with only 10 FPS separating the HD 6870 pair in CrossFire and the HD 6990. The older HD 5870 still does well in this test, which is understandable since this benchmark is limited to DX9 function calls. Despite the fact that Mafia II makes excellent use of PhysX and 3D as described in our NVIDIA APEX PhysX Efficiency: CPU vs GPU article, both areas where NVIDIA has an edge, this test seems equally suited to either AMD or NVIDIA solutions. Of course that's only true in the land of benchmarks, because it's so difficult to imagine turning PhysX off once you've experienced it.

Mafia_II_1920.jpg

At the higher screen resolution of 1920x1200, the NVIDIA cards start to lose some ground relative to the ATI clan. For a game clearly developed using NVIDIA hardware, it surprises me a bit to see the Radeon series doing so well. Of course, I DO miss the PhysX features, which are always turned off during comparison testing. Since Mafia II can't rely on tessellation for enhancing realism, it leans heavily on PhysX. If tessellation were in the mix, the new and improved tessellation engines in the HD 6xxx and the GTX 5xx series cards would be pushing those numbers up. Here is a game where brute force, meaning the number of shader processors, pays off and you can see that in the strong performance by the good old HD 5870. The PowerColor HD 6990 stretches out its lead a bit at 1920x1200, a trend I would expect to see carried on at even higher resolution and with multiple display arrangements.

Our next benchmark of the series is not for the faint of heart. Lions and tiger - OK, fine. Guys with guns - I can deal with that. But those nasty little spiders......NOOOOOO! How did I get stuck in the middle of a deadly fight between Aliens vs. Predator anyway? Check out the results from one of our toughest new DirectX 11 benchmarks in the next section.

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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