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.

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  • EmmetBrown - Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - link

    Nice, but what about the Radeon HD 6450, 6570 and 6670?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_ATI_Gra...

    Why they are available for OEM only? They looks interesting, especially the 6670, which with its 480 SP should be faster than the 5670 which has 400 SP and lower frequency. Do you plan to review them?
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - link

    As you note, they're OEM only. AMD will release them to the retail market eventually, but clearly they're not in a hurry. It's unlikely we'll review them until then, as OEM cards are difficult to come by. Reply
  • misfit410 - Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - link

    I have to ask, if you bring up the price and say that you might as well do two 6950's in SLI when this thing doubles the performance of the GTX580, I mean would it also not be the better solution than a GTX580 which is $500 while two 6950's can apparently double it for $550 being they can be found for $225 after rebates these days. Reply
  • Figaro56 - Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - link

    You sound a little confused. You can't run ATI cards in SLI, they run in what is called crossfire (or crossfirex which is the same thing). Two 6950's don't equal GTX580 in SLI. You need two HD 6970 cards in crossfire to nearly equal two GTX580 in SLI.

    In my opinion, why limit your performance with 2 HD 6950 cards, why not just bye the 2 HD 6970 cards and never have to second guess if you should have or not? But... That's just me. I have a job.
    Reply
  • silverblue - Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - link

    Totally unnecessary closing comment there, considering most people here do actually have jobs. Not everyone who has a job can afford such gear as there's more important things to spend money on. Reply
  • Thanny - Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - link

    You sound confused, too. He miswrote SLI, but you misunderstood his point entirely. He's saying that two 6950's are significantly faster than a single 580 for almost the same price. Reply
  • Loiosh - Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - link

    Hey guys, you forgot one other usage case that would necessitate this card: ATI+physx setup: http://www.shackpics.com/viewer.x?file=DumbVideoca...

    I'm currently running one and it requires a dual-GPU card. :/

    In my case I'm waiting for a watercooled version. BTW, you didn't say the release date for this?
    Reply
  • nanajuuyon - Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - link

    Funny after reading this review I went into town (Tokyo) to buy a new hard disk and saw this card for sale. So in Japan at least it is already on the market..... price was ridiculous though, 79,000YEN or $945 US..... I'm sure it will be available everywhere soon.

    Waterblocks on the other hand could be a couple month or so away I guess...
    Reply
  • Vinas - Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - link

    If you buy this you better have it on water. 'nuff said about all this tri slot cooler talk. Reply
  • JPForums - Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - link

    First off, nice article Ryan.
    Good data, relevant commentaries on said data, and conclusions.

    You mention in the article that you believe some of the shortcomings of the 6990 to be a lack of PCIe bandwidth. This got me thinking that perhaps it is a good time to revisit the effect of PCIe bandwidth on modern cards. Given the P67 only natively supports 16 lanes, I'm curious to see what effect it has on CF/SLI. It could make big difference in the recommended hardware for various levels of gaming systems.

    Typically, someone looking for a CF/SLI setup will get a board that supports more lanes. However, I have seen a situation where a friend built a budget i5 system and about 4 months later was in a position to acquire an HD5970 on the cheap (relatively speaking). Clearly, two HD5850s/HD5870s would have been an option.

    If newer cards are effectively PCIe bandwidth limited, then a 6990 may perform more closely to an HD6970 CF setup in such a system than it does in these graphs. This would be even more of a consideration at the high end if the rare boards with support for 4x8 lane (spaced) PCIe give you no real benefit over a more common 2x16 lane board (comparing 4 HD6970s to 2 HD6990s).
    Reply

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