AMD Radeon HD 7990 Review: The Quiet Beast
Our Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: There are a number of points related to the Radeon HD 7990’s performance we should discuss in this summary—frame rates, frame latency, power consumption, and noise. As the results on the preceding pages have shown, the Radeon HD 7990 puts up some impressive frame rates, outpacing the similarly priced GeForce GTX 690 and GTX Titan more often than not. Those frames, however, are not always delivered to the screen in a consistent, fluid fashion, which can result in stuttering or interruption of motion that can detract from the overall experience. The card is rendering the frames, but they’re not being sent out to the display at regular intervals. Some frames are displayed correctly, while others are dropped or only displayed for a few scan lines.
These frame latency issue are a shortcoming of AMD’s current CrossFire implementation, and the company is currently working on a fix. We actually received a prototype driver yesterday (which unfortunately came in too late to test) that reportedly addresses some of the issues, but they won’t be fully optimized and released to the public until sometime this summer. From talking with AMD (and NVIDIA), we believe AMD is going to be able to resolve the frame latency issues with CrossFire setups, but it’s unclear at what cost. Performance may ultimately be impacted, but we won’t know for sure until the drivers drop in a few months.
Power consumption under load was relatively high for the Radeon HD 7990, but we were expecting that to be the case considering the card is packing 8.6B transistors and 6GB of memory. At this point, it's clear that NVIDIA has the more power efficient GPUs in this generation, and nothing is going to change that fact. Despite the card’s relatively high power consumption though, noise is a non-issue. AMD has done an excellent job with the cooling solution on the Radeon HD 7990, plain and simple.
AMD reports that the Radeon HD 7990 will be available at e-tail in roughly two weeks for $999, and that price includes eight games as part of the “Never Settle Reloaded” bundle. The games include BioShock Infinite, Tomb Raider, Crysis 3, Far Cry 3, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, Hitman Absolution, Sleeping Dogs and Deus Ex Human Revolution. We’re told the games will be included directly in the Radeon HD 7990’s product box in any region that the bundle is available. That’s a lot of coin for a graphics card, but it is right in line with NVIDIA’s competing offerings, which don’t include nearly as many triple-AAA games.
On some levels we think the Radeon HD 7990 is one of the most impressive products ever to come out of AMD. There are obviously some kinks that need to be worked out and the card will always be limited by its software support; the fact that we saw performance scaling issues with 3DMark Fire Strike and Batman proves that point. But that is the case with all multi-GPU solutions, though, AMD’s track record isn’t as good as NVIDIA’s in that regard. With that said, the Radeon HD 7990 is immensely powerful and it runs surprisingly cool and quiet, considering its performance.
Here’s hoping AMD squashes the frame pacing issues currently affecting CrossFire configurations and keeps the driver updates flowing. It would be a shame for AMD not to exploit this card to its fullest potential. The AMD Radeon HD 7990 is a beast.