AMD Radeon HD 7990 Review: The Quiet Beast

Update: Prototype Drivers Tested

AMD sent over a prototype driver late in our review process, which was engineered to help alleviate some of the frame latency / frame pacing issues currently affecting CrossFire configurations. We didn’t have time to test the driver before the embargo was due to lift, but did spend some time experimenting with them yesterday.

We re-tested three games with the prototype driver to see if they had any effect on frame rates and frame latency, and compared them to the 13.5 beta 2 driver AMD recommended for performance testing. Before looking at the results, we should note that this prototype driver is built around an older base, and does not include some performance optimizations for recently released titles.

As you can see in these AvP, Sleeping Dog, and Hitman tests, frame rate performance is essentially unaffected by the prototype driver in two of the three games. The Radeon HD 7990 put up similar frame rates in AvP and Sleeping Dogs, but its performance dropped quite a bit in Hitman. We’re not sure if that’s a result of the frame pacing fixes or optimizations missing from the driver, but it’s probably the latter as you’ll see in a moment...

1920x1200 - Click For An Enlarged View

1920x1200 - Click For An Enlarged View

1920x1200 - Click For An Enlarged View

The three games we tested each behaved differently with the prototype driver. AvP showed some serious improvement in the beginning of the run, but got wonky again by the end. Hitman Absolution showed very little change, but frame pacing improved dramatically in Sleeping Dogs. The Sleeping Dogs result is an interesting case, because it shows that the frame latency issues can be addressed, without negatively impacting frame rates.

Although posting this video on-line is somewhat pointless because its resolution is scaled and its framerate is much lower than the original, we wanted to show you something very cool we’re able to do with the FCAT test system. What you see here is a side by side comparison of the actual video captures from Sleeping Dogs, with the Radeon HD 7990 using the stock beta driver (left) and the prototype driver (right). The video on the right was flipped horizontally and both were cropped so that they could be stitched together for direct comparisons.

In full resolution, full frame rate comparisons, the prototype driver is clearly producing smoother animation. We even did a couple of “blind taste tests” with non-techies and both selected the video on the right when we asked which was smoother. We just have to figure out good way to present these videos to you on-line in a way that’s representative of the original captures.

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