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Final Thoughts

Whether or not AMD calls the Radeon HD 6790 the successor of the Radeon HD 5830, that’s what it is. So 5830 comparisons are quite appropriate, both to look at what AMD did well at and where it doesn’t quite escapes its ancestor.

Perhaps the biggest problem with the 5830 was that it was a 3rd tier part from a high-end GPU; power, temperature, and noise could approach the levels of a high-end GPU without the matching performance. Barts is not a high-end GPU, and as such even if the 6790 were as hot/loud/power-hungry as the 6870, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Thankfully it looks like power consumption is being kept in check, so partners should be able to develop reasonably cool & quiet cards. In practice the 6790 will probably be a bit worse than the 6850 in this regard, which again is not great given that it achieves only 85% of the performance, but it’s not unreasonable. The 6790 is still a 3rd tier product, but it’s learning from the past.

The problem with the 6790, much like the 5830 before it, is pricing. When you can pick up a GeForce GTX 460 768MB for $150 or a Radeon HD 6850 for $10 more, what sense does a $150 6790 make? It doesn’t make any sense, and there’s the problem. The impression I get is that AMD wanted to make a card to thoroughly trample the GTX 550 Ti, and indeed the 6790 can do that. The problem is that they’re pricing it against the GTX 460 and 6850 right now. The GTX 550 Ti is a good $20 lower (and probably should be cheaper still).

At the end of our 5830 review last year, we said the issue came down to $20: the 5830 was $20 too expensive for what it offered. It’s fitting then that this seems to be the same problem with the 6790. If it were a $130 card it would fit in well between AMD’s other cards; it would beat the GTX 550 Ti, and it would make NVIDIA think long and hard about what to do with the GTX 460 768MB. Instead AMD is committing the same mistake as the 5830 and as the GTX 550 Ti by launching it at $150. $150 is quickly becoming a great place to mislaunch cards.

Long term I’m a bit worried that the $150 price will stick, giving AMD a price floor to bring up 6800 series prices. The 6790 is solidly ahead of the GTX 550 Ti, so if that’s the only thing AMD bases all of their pricing around they can charge more than the GTX 550 Ti, and more for the 6800 series on top of that. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but we have seen video card prices creep up before.

For the time being there’s not much going for the 6790 to recommend it. Throw some rebates on the Radeon HD 6790 to get it down to $130 and we can talk. Until then the GeForce GTX 460 768MB or the Radeon HD 6850 are both much better products.

Power, Temperature, & Noise
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  • SquattingDog - Tuesday, April 05, 2011 - link

    "it's LEANING from the past..." should be it's LEARNING from the past. Otherwise a great article, very speedily put out. Looks to be an interesting card, depending on what pricing it is available at here. Of course the 6850/6870 are much better and the 6850 looks to be better bang for buck, but when people cannot squeeze a few extra bucks out of the wallet, it should be pretty reasonable. Especially once the GTX460s are out of circulation, which is bound to happen soon enough.

    Glad to see more competition and finally some products reaching further down in the retail sector not just OEM from AMD.
    Reply
  • ZL1Corvette - Tuesday, April 05, 2011 - link

    2nd to last page possible typo:
    "Last but not least as always is our look at the power consumption, temperatures, and acoustics of the GTX 550 Ti."

    Did you mean 6970?
    Reply
  • ZL1Corvette - Tuesday, April 05, 2011 - link

    See, we all make mistakes. I meant 6790. Reply
  • stm1185 - Tuesday, April 05, 2011 - link

    800 Stream Procs, 40 Texture Units, 16 ROPs, 256 bit memory bus. Only the 6970 has a 840mhz clock compared to 750 mhz, and 1050mhz on the memory compared to 900mhz on the 4870.

    My card has held up well it seems.
    Reply
  • james.jwb - Tuesday, April 05, 2011 - link

    I have a 4890 with a 2560x1440 screen, and to my surprise, i can play quite a few games at 30fps, and most older ones at 60+fps. Like F1 2010, around 50fps.

    What a card, eh?
    Reply
  • WhatsTheDifference - Tuesday, April 05, 2011 - link

    hello. nice card. I play everything at 19x12 with my 4890 (in this case, an msi cyclone soc) with never a problem of any kind. it bloodies the 285's face.

    kind of a wondrous thing, then, that anandtech.com has banned the 4980 from all benchmarks...ain't it? XD
    Reply
  • B3an - Wednesday, April 06, 2011 - link

    *rolls eyes* ... They dont have any 2xx series here either. The ATI 4xxx and NV 2xx series do not belong here.

    If you want to see how your 4890 stacks up simply go the the GPU Bench page to compare.
    Reply
  • WhatsTheDifference - Saturday, April 09, 2011 - link

    what would you say these are, at least at first sight?

    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 295
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285
    NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 Core 216

    and

    AMD Radeon HD 4870X2
    AMD Radeon HD 4870

    ......?
    please make your way to 'index' and 'the test'. or, maybe I'm confusing articles.

    now adding the always-juvenile *rolls eyes*
    Reply
  • pandemonium - Tuesday, April 05, 2011 - link

    Gotta take the bad with that good though.

    Both the 4870 and 4870x2 run much hotter and take a butt load more power to produce lower framerates. And the 4870 was never a lower tier card by any means. Plus, no DX11 support on the 4870. Not that it's incredibly important, but just another note.

    I'd say this is a good example of hardware evolution.
    Reply
  • edpierce - Tuesday, April 05, 2011 - link

    I disagree. Recent video card innovations have been real unimpressive lately. It really does seem like we are not much further than 3 years ago in terms of visual video card performance. Are we hitting a massive roadblock here? Reply

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