AMD Radeon HD 6990 "Antilles" Video Card Review

The Radeon HD 6990 is being launched today, and we have full coverage of specifications and our gameplay experiences compared to several high-end dual-GPU solutions out there. If you are looking for a single video card package that packs a punch and provides headroom for hardware enthusiasts, this is a solid solution.

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Crysis: Warhead

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We are using the full version of Crysis: Warhead. We will be playing Warhead with the latest patches installed in 64-bit and DX10. We are playing the entire "Train" level. Our run-through starts off with us getting on the train, manning the gun turrets, and blowing up everything along the way as the train progresses down the tracks. We stop at the tower, perform the mission there, and continue on until the end.


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Yes, you are seeing things correctly, we have brought out an oldie but goodie, Crysis: Warhead. We have brought this game out of retirement because this game, as old as it is, is still a good test of shader intensively and memory capacity utilization. Since Crysis 2 is on the wings, its a good idea to remind ourselves how far we've come with Crysis: Warhead since its release. This game used to challenge video cards to no end. Now, here we are using this game on modern video cards running in Eyefinity and NV Surround at insane resolutions that were not possible when this game was launched with video cards of that day. We really have come a long way in performance and this game proves it.

The GeForce GTX 580 SLI provides the best gameplay experience by allowing us to run at 5760x1200 with all "Enthusiast" settings. This means "Enthusiast" shaders as well, which before, were not playable on any video card configuration before now at this insane resolution. The framerates don't look as high as the other cards, but rest assured, this game was playble at these settings on this configuration and it felt smoother than CrossFireX.

The AMD Radeon HD 6990 and AMD Radeon HD 6970 CrossFireX setups were the next best playable video cards in this game. We were able to play at 5760x1200 but we had to turn the shaders quality down to "Gamer" which is one notch below Enthusiast. However, we were able to have all the other in-game quality settings at "Enthusiast." We were even able to turn on 2X AA once we lowered the shader quality. The performance was now there to allow us to enable 2X AA and these video cards had the memory capacity to allow that with the 2GB per GPU. This means we may not have been using the highest shader quality, but we were able to smooth out some of the jaggies.

The GeForce GTX 570 SLI setup was the worst performing in this game. We had to lower to "Gamer" shaders at 5760x1200 and we were not able to have AA enabled at all. Therefore, AMD Radeon HD 6990 and HD 6970 CrossFireX deliver a better experience than the GeForce GTX 570 SLI.


Apples-to-Apples

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In Crysis: Warhead we are pushing the video cards by testing with 4X AA enabled at 5040x1050 with all "Enthusiast" game settings and shader quality.

When we did this, we see an interesting result, the AMD Radeon HD 6990 pushes ahead of the GeForce GTX 580 SLI! GeForce GTX 570 SLI falls way behind at these settings. The AMD Radeon HD 6990 video card is 6% faster than GTX 580 SLI at these settings.

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Once again we find Radeon HD 6970 CrossFireX to be slightly faster than the AMD Radeon HD 6990. In this case it has a 5% performance lead.