A dual R9 290X card isn't here yet, but the 7990 is the next best thing
The Mission The ongoing war between Nvidia and AMD for supremacy over the PC gaming landscape has been like the Hatfields and the McCoys of enthusiast computing: long, bitter, and deeply entrenched. AMD's Radeon HD 7990 is the company’s biggest salvo yet, combining two HD 7970 GPUs onto one card. It didn't come out until spring 2013, though, which was long after Nvidia's own dual-GPU behemoth, the GeForce GTX 690, had dug in its heels. And it wasn't until mid-summer that AMD began to address the stuttering issues that marred its multi-GPU setups. With AMD's R9 series arriving in October 2013, this crown jewel didn’t really have much time to shine. Today, we'll try and change that, pitting this Cadillac of a card against nothing less than Battlefield 4, with everything maxed out and running at 1920x1080. With the previous Battlefield regularly favoring Nvidia cards, this might seems like enemy territory. But this time, AMD is working closely with the developer to make sure nothing goes awry. And in December, BF4 will be the first game to feature Mantle, which AMD has positioned to replace Microsoft's DirectX API. In the end, the HD 7990 could set the bar.
Note: This article was originally featured in the Holiday 2013 issue of the magazine.
Nvidia’s GTX 690 finally has some serious competition
Today the embargo is lifting on the AMD Radeon HD 7990 that was teased back at GDC, so here’s the TLDR version; yes it’s just as fast and a tiny bit quieter than theNvidia GTX 690, and it includes a mega bad ass eight-AAA-game bundle and costs the same price as its nemesis, making it quite a tempting package for those with the budget for it. Whether or not that will be enough to convince anyone to actually buy it remains to be seen of course, but at least AMD can no longer be knocked for conceding the $1,000 GPU market to Nvidia. It also signifies somewhat of a resurgence for AMD, who first came off the bench late last year and early this year with its totally righteous Never Settle game bundles, then attacked the midrange recently with the surprisingly powerful and quiet Radeon HD 7790 card, and is now going for the jugular with the dual-slot and triple-fan HD 7990. Whether AMD wins or loses that battle is slightly less important than the overall significance of this introduction, as in our minds its designed to not only beat Nvidia’s offering, but also to send a very clear signal to hardcore PC enthusiasts everywhere — AMD is still in the game, and doesn’t intend to give an inch of ground to Nvidia any time soon.
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.”
TUL Corporation's PowerColor division just unveiled one hell of a graphics card. It's the Devil 13 HD7990, and this fiery card wages war with dual Tahiti XT GPUs, the same as found in AMD's single GPU Radeon HD 7970 videocard. It's the first to launch out of AMD's much anticipated HD 7990 series, and the card looks every bit as beastly as you would expect from a part that takes up three slots.
Imagine a graphics card weighing 5.25 pounds with three (yes, three) 8-pin PCI Express power connectors. Now imagine this card taking up three PCI Express slots and almost sucking the life out of an 850W power supply.
That may be one reason Asus named this card after the Roman god of war. It's probably the most powerful single graphics card we've tested, but that power comes at a substantial cost. You'll need the right type of motherboard and case, too—one where you can install a three-slot-wide card that's 12.25 inches long and 5 inches tall.
It's hot, it's loud, but for those unwilling to sacrifice performance at any cost the Nvidia GeForce GTX 480 is the card to beat. Naturally however if one GTX 480 is great, two is even better right? That's what we thought when we came across leaked photos of the new ASUS Mars 2 featuring a pair of GeForce GTX 480 chips on a single card.
In terms of power consumption the images we came across revealed three 8-pin power connectors, and outputs for a single DVI, HDMI, and what looks like a display port. Fitting both of these massive chips onto a single PCB is a stunning accomplishment, but we can't wait to get a glimpse of the cooling solution if and when this thing ever comes to market. If it can successfully manage and channel that much heat, it will be nothing short of an engineering masterpiece.
Depending on the price, this could really put a dent in the market share for the new "Ares" 5970. Let's just say if you have $1,000+ in your upcoming GPU budget, you might want to hold off just a little bit longer to see how this story shakes out.
The current lineup of budget cards from both companies has never been better, but for those looking to indulge, it's about time we had a few worthwhile options.
Compared to AMD’s gracefully engineered Radeon 3870 X2, Nvidia’s GeForce 9800 GX2 (represented here by Gigabyte’s implementation) is something of a kludge. But when we consider the performance that Nvidia’s design delivers, it’s hard to complain about elegance.
AMD’s Radeon HD 3870 is a fine GPU for the money. It doesn’t outperform Nvidia’s GeForce 8800 GTX, and it lags far behind the extravagant 8800 Ultra, but it does deliver a phenom— er, make that a tremendous price/performance ratio.