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Josh Norem Jan 16, 2013

PowerColor Devil 13 Radeon HD 7990

At A Glance

Wiha

Best GPU bundle ever; almost as fast as two cards in SLI; looks badass.

Snap-on

Loud; doubles as a space heater; expensive.

Holy Sh*t

There are several ways to reconcile why PowerColor named its dual Radeon HD 7970 monstrosity the Devil 13 . On the one hand, the card probably got its name from the fact that it’s an unholy abomination of GPU horsepower, combining two already-hot-running GPUs into one massive, inferno-producing card that gets as hot as Hades. On the other hand, perhaps its sinister moniker is due to the fact that this video card shouldn’t really exist, as AMD never produced one (even though we all expected it last summer.) PowerColor must have said, “Screw it, we’ll make it ourselves!” And thus the Card of Darkness was born; a rare, one-off, fire-breathing $1,000 concoction that flies in the face of power, heat, and cost concerns. And since this is Maximum PC, all we can say is, “Hell yes.”

The Devil 13 is so enormous it comes with its own vertical support stand.

PowerColor didn’t just give this card a devilish name and leave it at that; oh no, it went whole devil-hog. It comes in a black box with a simulated red-wax seal on the top that must be “broken” to get at the contents (even though it’s just a sticker, it looks cool). In addition to the video card, you also get a slew of adapter cables, a PowerJack stand to support the card in its PCIe slot, and—get this—a $100 set of adjustable Wiha tools (hex heads and screwdrivers). These are among the best best tools ever made for PC builders and their inclusion shows how far PowerColor has gone to make this card the ultimate investment for your rig.

The card itself is as decadent as you’d imagine it would be, boasting a triple-fan cooler that blows warm air away from the oversize heatsinks, each of which is fed by a copper base and five copper heat pipes. The card requires three 8t-pin PCIe power connectors and an 850W PSU minimum, but you wouldn’t buy this card if you didn’t already have a monstrous power supply. It features 6GB of GDDR5 memory connected via dual 384-bit memory buses, and includes single- and dual-link DVI, two Mini DisplayPort, and one HDMI output connector.

In testing, the Devil made quite an impression on us, both with its gaming performance and the amount of noise and heat it produced. DepEd Gordon Mah Ung put it best: “It’s a nice card to run in the wintertime,” as it gets extremely hot, but we experienced no heat-related instability during testing even though temps hovered around 78 C under full load. The card is loud, though. At one point, Gordon asked us to stop a benchmark as he was trying to talk on the phone—and his desk is roughly 20 feet away from the testing station. The card also has a red button on the I/O area that engages its Turbo mode (core clock boosts from 925MHz to 1,000MHz) and though we saw some impressive performance gains in some titles (up to 10fps gained) the extra noise created by the overclocked card was simply unbearable.

Noise aside, this is a very powerful video card, and its performance was extremely close to what you’d achieve with a HD 7970 CrossFireX configuration in almost every benchmark. In general though, we saw the HD 7990 run a little slower than a CrossFireX setup, and it was noticeably slower than its archnemesis, the GeForce GTX 690 , which runs cooler, quieter, and is about half the size of the HD 7990. The only game that gave us issues was Batman: Arkham City, which does not support CrossFire. In every other game, performance was very good, but not as good as the Nvidia cards it competes against.

In the end this card kicks a lot of ass, and is by far the fastest single video card currently available for the AMD faithful. But since the Nvidia cards are not only faster but quieter and cooler, we’re at a loss as to who would actually spend money on this GPU.

THE VERDICT

PowerColor Devil 13 Radeon HD 7990

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