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 8, 2011 - link

    2 HD 6970 Cards for $640? I don't think so! These cards are over $300 everywhere. I purchased 2 for $710 shipped and I thought that was a deal. Maybe reviews like yours here inflated the price and I purchased after the price adjustment. I have the same luck with gasoline on days I fill my tank. Reply
  • ViRGE - Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - link

    Looking at the Egg, there's 2 different 6970s at $320, which is probably where AT got $640 from.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...
    Reply
  • Figaro56 - Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - link

    All right, you got me there. I only buy XFX double lifetime warranty cards when I start spending this much on replacing my dual GPU solution.

    I seem to manage to actually re-sell my used video cards when I can offer then to a buyer with a lifetime warranty. XFX double lifetime warranty is not a sales gimic, it works. Heck, I would buy a used card if it had a lifetime warranty, it's kind of a no brainer given you actually want to buy that card int he first place.
    Reply
  • Arbie - Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - link

    Thanks for keeping the Crysis Warhead minimum FPS charts!! To me, Crysis/Warhead remains the defining game (and not only technically). I don't even look at the numbers on the other titles.

    Also of prime importance to me are the idle power and, to a slightly lesser extent, idle noise.

    Of course, like most people reading your review, I wouldn't be buying a 6990 even if it were silent. In fact, given that PC graphics requirements are apparently ramping down to console levels, I wonder how AMD/Nvidia are going to sell any significant number of cards above midrange. My HD 5770 will run everything at 1920x1200, though not always with all sliders maxed. However, I don't see much if any difference (in DX9) when I do enable 4xAA vs 2xAA etc. Certainly not enough to double the price of this $140 card.

    A nit on the Crysis Warhead minimum fps chart for 1920x1200 Frost Bench - Gamer Quality - Enthusiast Shaders + 4xAA: Your Dec 10 chart shows 6970CF at 66.2 fps but this Mar 11 chart shows 66.6. Can you believe anyone would actually notice this, much less comment on it? We are too absorbed in this tech stuff (ain't it grand...).
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - link

    They did say the new drivers made a slight difference, that seems likely to be one of the configurations they retested Reply
  • morphologia - Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - link

    That isn't portrait orientation in the picture...it's landscape. Reply
  • taltamir - Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - link

    The card was measured at 77.3db in the article.
    1. At what distance was it measured?
    2. What is its db measurement 1 meter away?
    Reply
  • taltamir - Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - link

    I just looked it up, gold is worth 1430$/ounce right now.
    I highly doubt a watercooled 6990 will weigh half an ounce.
    Reply
  • ekrash - Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - link

    The performance bottleneck is also seen in nvidia's dual gpu offerings. Dual GPU cards operating in X16 PCIe slots must have their data lanes divided between the gpu's, so they are effectively operating at X8 data rates, not at X16 data rates. Whereas single gpu cards will utilize all X16 express lanes, and even then the PCIexpress standard may soon be obsoleted. I hope we can look forward to Intel's fiber optic technology effectively replacing all data bus signalling with 10GB fiber optic bus and peripheral device signalling which can simultaneously and independently utilize all of the different data protocols used for inter-device and system bus communications. Imagine soon AMD and Nvidia will be producing video cards with fiber-optic data buses which may change requirements for power supplied to present day PCI express slots and may change the standards in power supply manufacturing to require that additional power connector to a video card since the 75 watt PCIe slot will be obsolete.

    But ATI and Nvidia may also have to work with motherboard manufacturers to see if Intel's "Thunderbolt" fiber optic data buses can increase or freely throttle the video data bandwidth through its 10GB interface and would be tantamount to increasing data lanes from X16 to X32. It would be almost unlimited video bandwidth which far exceeds any bandwidth limitations vs availability that is needed today. Dual GPU's cannot promise the performance with the limitation of the PCIe X16 slot being divided to dual X8 channels, but it would be nice to see how they perform with unlimited bandwidth potential over a single 10GB fiber-optic. And that would change the battlefield between ATI-AMD and Nvidia.

    My 4870 X2's (Can run Quadfire) still rocks on enthusiast settings in Crysis and Warhead without any hiccups and I've not seen a slowdown of any sort on any level in Crysis.
    The price to performance ratio is declining and may affect my decision to purchase another dual GPU card, opting instead for single GPU card CF solutions that can utilize all X16 lanes by the GPU.

    BTW I did notice the lack of DATA on Crysis @1920x1200 with full enthusiast settings, so that data is missing from this review. Its Gamer plus enthusiast shaders.....not full enthusiast. As above the 4870 X2 runs full enthusiast settings, not one setting is scaled back, and not one hiccup....just smooth play throughout on a single 28" display.
    Reply
  • cmdrdredd - Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - link

    Why are we still using Crysis Warhead at "Gamer Quality"????? With cards like these why not turn everything maxed in game and then fidget with AA and the like? I don't get it. Reply

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