AMD Radeon HD 6790 Graphics Card Review - HotHardware

AMD Radeon HD 6790 Graphics Card Review

16 thumbs up

How We Configured Our Test Systems: We tested the graphics cards in this article on a Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD5 motherboard powered by a Core i7 980X six-core processor and 6GB of OCZ DDR3-1333 RAM. The first thing we did when configuring the test system was enter the system BIOS and set all values to their "optimized" or "high performance" default settings. Then we manually configured the memory timings (DDR3-1333, CAS 7) and disabled any integrated peripherals that wouldn't be put to use. The hard drive was then formatted and Windows 7 Ultimate x64 was installed. When the installation was complete we fully updated the OS and installed the latest DirectX redist, along with the necessary drivers, games, and benchmark applications.

HotHardware's Test System
Intel Core i7 Powered

Hardware Used:
Core i7 980X (3.3GHz)
Gigabyte EX58-UD5 (X58 Express)

Radeon HD 6870
Radeon HD 6950 1GB
Radeon HD 6850
Radeon HD 6850 OC
Radeon HD 6790
GeForce GTX 560 Ti
GeForce GTX 460
GeForce GTX 550 Ti
GeForce GTX 550 Ti OC

6GB OCZ DDR3-1333
Western Digital Raptor 150GB
Integrated Audio
Integrated Network

Relevant Software:
Windows 7 Ultimate x64
DirectX Nov. 2010 Redist
ATI Catalyst v11.4 preview
NVIDIA GeForce Drivers 267.59

Benchmarks Used:

Unigine Heaven v2.1
Futuremark 3DMark11
FarCry 2
Just Cause 2
Alien vs. Predator
Metro 2033
Lost Planet 2
F1 2010*

* - Custom benchmark

Unigine Heaven v2.1 Benchmark
Pseudo-DirectX 11 Gaming


Unigine Heaven

The Unigine Heaven Benchmark v2.0 is built around the Unigine game engine. Unigine is a cross-platform real-time 3D engine, with support for DirectX 9, DirectX 10, DirectX 11 and OpenGL. The Heaven benchmark--when run in DX11 mode--also makes comprehensive use of tessellation technology and advanced SSAO (screen-space ambient occlusion), and it also features volumetric cumulonimbus clouds generated by a physically accurate algorithm and a dynamic sky with light scattering.


The new Radeon HD 6790 trailed the pack in the heavily tesselated Unigine Heaven Benchmark. In this test, the GeForce GTX 550 Ti's strong geometry performance give it a slight edge over the Radeon HD 6790, and all of the more powerful Radeons obviously pull ahead of the 6790 as well.

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Nice review!

I have to say, it looks like a nice card for the mid-range crowd but the disappointing performance numbers kind of turn me away from this card.

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Eh, performance really isnt bad considering the price and its competion. The issue for me is these 3rd Tier cards (4830, 5830, 6790) always have odd thermals, odd price points, and dont really seem to have a place in the market except to fill a relatively small void. Plus the 6850 is only a few bucks more and performs noticeably better so honestly i dont see a need for this card...its sorta awkward....

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I agree with both of you. Definitely not a card for a power user and it is awkward.

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Very true, but this card is not top rung in fact is is 3 or 4 down from the top rung in ATI's products so the perf is gonna be a bit off.

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There 850/870 are ATI's money makers I would think. So there performance compared is better than the comp. The 970 is more for BA right's!

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I my opinion, I think its time that more games get added to the test( Crysis 2,Call Of Duty, Battlefield 2) and second , these are low budget cards...while its right that they get tested in 1920x1200 and 2650x1600, this review should have the results for resolutions of 1024x768, 1280x1024 and 1680x1050, which is what they were meant for.

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@Sammy - 1024 and 1280 and compeltely pointless to test with current-generation mid or high-end graphics cards. Everything will run at playable framerates and / or be CPU bound. AMD actually targeted 1920 with this card, so I tested that resolution and one more taxing to show how it holds up in more stressful circumstances. What's interesting to note is that the 6790 actually wins more tests at 2560 than the 550 Ti, which bodes well for it in the future. Had that res not been tested, we wound't know that. 1680 is a useful resolution, but we're talking 1.76MP (1680) vs. 2.07MP (1920). The performance different is not going to be nearly as dramatic as the delta from 1920 to 2560.

As for the games, I like to stick with a set group of games / apps for as long as possible so readers can go back to previous articles and get an idea for performance not only over time, but versus older cards that may not get re-tested once they're EOL.

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Marco C:


 What's interesting to note is that the 6790 actually wins more tests at 2560 than the 550 Ti, which bodes well for it in the future. Had that res not been tested, we wouldn't know that. 1680 is a useful resolution, but we're talking 1.76MP (1680) vs. 2.07MP (1920). The performance different is not going to be nearly as dramatic as the delta from 1920 to 2560.

As for the games, I like to stick with a set group of games / apps for as long as possible so readers can go back to previous articles and get an idea for performance not only over time, but versus older cards that may not get re-tested once they're EOL.



 what is most interesting to me is the way the cards are consistently evaluated around here by Marco using a 'suite' of tests to evaluate where the card performance sits. Without that it would be pretty hard to see exactly where the card performance is and do the comparison.

Even though I have a HD 5770 it would be interesting to checkout similar benches and tests to learn along the way and have a much better appreciation for the efforts in the reviews.

Too bad my screen resolution is inappropriate as mentioned but all the same going to work with I currently have

because it would be fun.Smile

Thanks Marco

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Every time u see Marco on steam hes testing out something new! :D

Nice review, its a decent card in its range.

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Inspector:
its a decent card in its range

agreed,...not everyone can spring for a top of the line card for their system and it's good to know what works well in the lower priced categories too. I install discreet graphics for people with built-in video systems all of the time. I do it to free up their system from the video robbing the RAM and to speed up graphic performance for them.

One card that I like is the 1GB-MSI N440GT for about $79.00. It gives a tremendous boost to a low end systems graphics capabilities, and it is a Fermi card that's 3D capable, and has CUDA, and PhysX too. The card comes with regular and also low profile configurations for slim cases. (Dell boxes)

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