Crysis: Warhead

Kicking things off as always is Crysis: Warhead, still one of the toughest game in our benchmark suite. Even 3 years since the release of the original Crysis, “but can it run Crysis?” is still an important question, and for 3 years the answer was “no.” However as we’ll see the 6990 changes that: full Enthusiast settings at a playable framerate is finally in the grasp of a single card.

It should come as no surprise that with the 6990, AMD has hit a few different important marks on Crysis for a single card thanks to the card’s near-6970CF performance. As far as our traditional 2560 benchmark goes, the 6990 cracks 60fps, meaning we can finally play Crysis at a perfectly smooth framerate at 2560 with our tweaked settings on what is more or less a single video card. Perhaps more importantly however, performance is to the point where Crysis in full enthusiast mode is now a practical benchmark. Thanks in big part to the extra VRAM here, the tops the 5970 by nearly 30%, coming in at 42.8fps. This is still a bit low for a completely smooth framerate, but it is in fact playable, which is more than we can say for the 5970.

Overall Crysis does a good job setting the stage here for most of our benchmark suite: the performance of the card is consistently between the 6950CF and 6970CF, hovering much closer to the former. Compared to NVIDIA’s offerings the 6990 is solidly between the GTX 580 and GTX 580SLI, owing to the fact that NVIDIA doesn’t have a comparable card. The GTX 580SLI is faster, but the 580 is also still the fastest single-GPU card on the market, meaning it commands a significant price premium.

Overclocked to uber mode however only shows minimal gains, as the theoretical maximum gain is only 6% while the real world benefit is less; uber mode alone will never have a big payoff.

As far as minimum framerates are concerned the story is similar. For some reason the 6990 underperforms the 6950CF here by a frame or two per second, which given the 6990’s mostly superior specs leads us to believe that it’s a limitation of PCIe bus bandwidth.  Meanwhile we can clearly see the benefits of more than 1GB of VRAM per GPU here: the 6990 walks all over the 5970.

New Catalyst Control Center Features & The Test BattleForge
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  • Figaro56 - Tuesday, March 08, 2011 - link

    Just be prepared to upgrade your GPU every year. If you think they are going to stop leap frogging performance you are not being realistic. Reply
  • san1s - Tuesday, March 08, 2011 - link

    "AMD even went so far as to suggest that reviewers not directly disassemble their 6990"
    The next picture: The card disassembled
    haha
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Tuesday, March 08, 2011 - link

    To AMD's credit, they were good sports offered to take any pictures we needed. So all of those disassembled shots came from them. They were really adamant about it being a bad idea to take these things apart if you intended to use them in the future. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, March 08, 2011 - link

    I was looking for a comment on whether you did all your testing before disassembling or whether you got some of their super paste to reassemble. Reply
  • 7Enigma - Tuesday, March 08, 2011 - link

    My problem with the shot is the poor application of thermal paste from the picture. In a card of this magnitude having a perfect coating of thermal compound is critical. And knowing marketing if that is the shot they SHOW, how good do you really think the application is on one purchased in retail channels? Reply
  • iwod - Tuesday, March 08, 2011 - link

    I haven't been following CrossFire / SLI or these Single Card Dual GPU closely. ( Which to me are the same as two card anyway )

    Do they still need drivers to have a specific profile of the game to take advantage? I.e an Unknown Game to the Drivers will gain 0 benefits from the 2nd GPU?

    If that is so, then they are not even worth a look.
    Reply
  • Figaro56 - Tuesday, March 08, 2011 - link

    Most of the big games support SLI and CrossfireX today. For example, I play Battlefield BC2 myself and using 2 video cards blows the doors of a single card and is well worth the investment, especially if you have a 2560x1600 resolution monitor like I do. For 2 ATI cards in Crossfire you install a separate crossfire profiles pack in addition to the catalyst drivers. The profiles pack supports all the game crossfire optimization. The AI mode in the catalyst drivers exploits the game profile pack setting for crossfire so you want that enabled.

    A dual GPU HD 6990 is essentially crossfire on a single card, but for some reason it doesn't perform as well as dual single GPU cards in crossfire. Go figure.

    If you play old games that don't support SLI or Crossfire then YES there is 0 gain. If you have not tried any of the new games what are you waiting for? It doesn't suck you know?!
    Reply
  • cactusdog - Tuesday, March 08, 2011 - link

    I agree, unless you have eyefinity and one slot, paying a premium for heat and noise doesnt make sense. For most people with 1 screen a 6970 or 580 is more than enough. Reply
  • Samus - Tuesday, March 08, 2011 - link

    i'd be shocked if they sold even one of these without it being returned at some point. the noise levels are astonishing. at full blast the thing doesn't even meet federal vehicle emissions noise regulations without being classified as a motorcycle! Reply
  • MadAd - Tuesday, March 08, 2011 - link

    8%? where do we buy tubes of this phase change material? do they sell it like arctic silver? Reply

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