AMD’s new dual-GPU card finally makes an appearance
For our shoot-out, AVADirect came loaded for bear… as well as grabboid, sandworm, and arachnid, too. Yeah, basically AVADirect enters the scene packing a cartoonish amount of hardware firepower.
In what arguably pushes the definition of a small form factor rig, AVADirect’s Compact Gaming PC sports an Intel 3.46GHz Core i7-990X, 12GB of DDR3/1600, and two of AMD’s Radeon HD 6990 cards in CrossFireX mode.
Tucked in behind the 1,200W PSU are two Radeon HD 6990 dual-GPU cards and a Prolimatech Megahalem.
Also jammed into the Lian Li PC-V354R chassis are an Asus Rampage III Gene X58 board, a 250GB Intel 510 SSD, a 2TB Barracuda XT, and an LG Blu-ray burner.
Interestingly, instead of using a closed-loop liquid cooler, AVADirect cools the CPU—overclocked to 4.4GHz—using a gigantic Prolimatech Megahalem cooler.
This being our first encounter with a Radeon HD 6990 in a shipping system, we were curious to see how the new dual-GPU cards performed. It was hit or miss against the two rigs outfitted with Nvidia’s dual-GPU GTX 590 cards. In our Far Cry 2 benchmark, which is mostly a CPU benchmark these days, the AVADirect was even. But in STALKER: CoP, the quad-SLI configs blew the doors off the CrossFireX setup. In the Heaven benchmark, the AVADirect was about 17 percent slower, as well. The AVADirect got within striking distance in 3DMark 2011, but only if you consider a 7 percent disparity close.
AVADirect’s SFF is a head-turning rig loaded to the gills with firepower.
In app performance, the AVADirect’s hexa-core saves face by acing all other machines in Sony Vegas Pro 9 and also sliding past the Sandy Bridge boxes in our MainConcept test. The major problem with the AVADirect is acoustics. In CPU-only tasks, there’s no problem, but kick on any 3D game at higher resolutions for longer than 15 minutes and the fans in the system begin to howl at intolerable levels. Like ruin-your-music-or-gaming-experience kind of loud.
And that’s really a shame because when we originally uncrated the AVADirect box, we were floored by its configuration. Overall, performance, especially in multithreaded tests, is superb, but in gaming, the CrossFireX takes a back seat to quad SLI. Combined with the noise, it’s a deal breaker and a bit of a heartbreaker, too.
Our current desktop test bed consists of a quad-core 2.66GHz Core i7-920 overclocked to 3.5GHz, 6GB of Corsair DDR3/1333 overclocked to 1750MHz, on a Gigabyte X58 motherboard. We are running an ATI Radeon HD 5970 graphics card, a 160GB Intel X25-M SSD, and the 64-bit version of Windows 7 Ultimate.