Final Thoughts

Wrapping things up, I ended up having to sit on our Radeon HD 7990 results for a while before I could really decide what to make of them. The 7990 right now is a mixed bag for a few different reasons, and in the meantime without FCAT results we don’t have the complete picture. We’ll be rectifying the FCAT situation in the coming days, but even without FCAT there are clearly a few strengths and a few weaknesses for the 7990 that we can touch upon.

As far as performance goes, it’s interesting to note that if we throw out the extremely lopsided DiRT: Showdown, the GTX 690 and the 7990 are statistically tied at 2560x1400: on average the 7990 delivers 100% of the performance of the GTX 690. Of course there aren’t any games where they’re tied, since NVIDIA and AMD exchange the lead on an almost per-game basis. We’re going to have to look at the FCAT results to make a final determination on performance, but realistically the best-case scenario is that AMD can match NVIDIA’s frame pacing; it probably won’t be in AMD’s favor.

However that brings up a second point: if the GTX 690 and 7990 are equal in performance, are they equal overall? No, and that’s for two reasons. The GTX 690 is a 300W card and the 7990 is a 375W card. The GTX 690 consumes around 75W less power and puts off 75W less heat, full stop. From a power/performance perspective, that scenario makes the GTX 690 look like the better card. It’s very reminiscent of what we’ve already seen with GK104 vs. Tahiti in single-GPU cards; NVIDIA has AMD beat on power efficiency right now. Power consumption isn't everything, mind you, but there is a notable difference.

Yet on the other hand the GTX 690 is dated; it’s a $999 card with only 2GB effective VRAM per GPU. It’s not a problem at this moment, but 2GB at multi-monitor resolutions in particular is going to be a wall very soon, and 2560 may not be too far behind. 2GB per GPU was reasonable in 2012, but now it’s a year later and things change. So for as little as we can predict something to be future-proof, AMD certainly seems to have an edge.

Speaking of the GTX 690, this brings up our other concern: timing. There’s really not a very good way to point this out, but AMD’s 7990 is historically late. AMD usually ships their dual-GPU capstone part no more than 6 months after the launch of a new family, and instead it will have been 17 months after the launch of the first 7970 by the time the first AMD 7990 ships. That’s just shy of a year after the GTX 690, the card AMD is just tying today.

AMD to their credit hasn’t been sitting idle for 17 months. Cards like the PowerColor and Asus 7990s – even if they’re unofficially official – have AMD’s hand in them, with AMD supplying their engineering expertise to help their partners design their cards. The AMD 7990 is smaller, cooler, less power hungry, and otherwise less complex than the earlier custom cards, and the vast bulk of this is thanks to AMD binning Tahiti GPUs for the 7990. So the real head scratcher is this: why wasn’t AMD doing this aggressive binning and putting together a card like their 7990 a year ago?

Regardless, the end result is that AMD is delivering the dual-GPU Tahiti card the world has been waiting for roughly a year later would be expected. Being late doesn’t make it a bad card, it’s just hard to get excited about a dual-GPU card with this kind of performance at this stage in the game. Anyone still in the market for such a card is going to be pleased to have more options, but otherwise most hardcore gamers have probably upgraded to something like 7970CF or GTX 690 in the intervening 12 months.

Ultimately we’re not looking to be dour on the 7990, it just hasn’t particularly excited us. It’s a solid piece of engineering on AMD’s part to get a pair of Tahiti GPUs into a dual-GPU card like this, and the noise improvements over the 6990 are simply incredible. The 7990 is the natural progression of AMD’s dual-GPU cards, and with AMD’s improvements it’s a fine addition to the Radeon family.

As always however, our usual reservations about multi-GPU cards apply. We continue to favor strong single-GPU cards for their consistency, and right now at the $1000 price point that’s Titan. For buyers that have faith in multi-GPU scaling and AMD’s ability to deliver timely profile updates the 7990 can and will handily surpass Titan by about 20%.; just be aware of the pros and cons that come with such a card.

Bringing things to a close, in a few days we’ll be following up today’s launch article with an in-depth look at the 7990’s performance under the microscope of FCAT. AMD has laid out a plan to improve their frame pacing situation, and with AMD’s alpha drivers in hand we can take our first look at AMD’s changes and what kind of an impact those will bring. So please stay tuned for that.

Power, Temperature, & Noise


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  • TheJian - Saturday, April 27, 2013 - link

    I said a week or two ago you'd find an excuse to leave out fcat...LOL. You did. Even come up with a problem nobody else has, and show a large boost to AMD that places like tomshardware don't show while showing NV cards slower than their benchmarks in the exact same games and resolutions.

    Just like the percent gains in the driver post a few days ago (as I posted all of your %'s were lower than NV's own page which I linked to), you have NV scoring lower than other reviews.
    Read the last comment people...They seem to lie a lot here and it's not surprising AMD chose to talk ONLY to this site recently and avoided access even to these guys to the driver team working on the "ISSUES" AMD has.

    Heck toms last page title is this:
    "Can The World’s Best Bundle Save Radeon HD 7990?"
    ROFL...That pretty much sums up what they found...AMD sucks currently when FCAT is thrown in the picture.

    But even leaving that out they put 5 gamers in a pepsi/coke style blind play test. ALL 5 CHOSE NV 690 gtx as the better card. They even note both Titan and 690GTX gave a better gaming experience.

    It's funny you didn't mention what tom's found with noise:
    "It’s only unfortunate that power-related vibrations generate more volume than the coolers themselves."
    I guess you guys will keep claiming something about fcat problems until AMD solves their issues just as I've said before. This site is really losing credibility.
    "Perhaps they are using multiple displays for Eyefinity/Surround setups - in that case, the HD 7990 has different but equally traumatic problems. In our testing, nearly every other frame generated by all of our games tested are dropped and never shown to the gamer, resulting in frame rates at about half of what they should be and half of what is being reported by some other testing methods. That's just not acceptable. We are working on another story that directly compares the issues of Eyefinity and Surround that we hope to have up by next week along with some videos to demonstrate those complicated issues. "

    Other people draw the exact OPPOSITE conclusions from this site's conclusions...LOL. “traumatic problems” in multi-monitor setups is a pretty harsh thing to say correct?

    But then you come up with this zinger:
    "As we’ve seen in the past AMD does a bit better than NVIDIA at multi-monitor resolutions, so while the 7990 trails the GTX 690 at 2560, it immediately jumps ahead at 5760."
    From your shogun page...How much does AMD pay you guys to say complete opposites of other review sites using FCAT results? Are they completely funding your site at this point or what?

    "It’s not a problem at this moment, but 2GB at multi-monitor resolutions in particular is going to be a wall very soon, and 2560 may not be too far behind. 2GB per GPU was reasonable in 2012, but now it’s a year later and things change. So for as little as we can predict something to be future-proof, AMD certainly seems to have an edge."
    Yeah, get back to me when you're not making up stuff that isn't happening. As toms 5 gamers showed, NV was better all around and all 5 chose NV without knowing which was which. That kind of data matched their FCAT results exactly, even with the beta2 latest driver and the Prototype driver that won't be out until who knows when. After Q2 isn't specific...that could mean 2014. While the prototype driver helped at toms they still had issues and the gamers still chose NV even after testing again with prototype.

    “But when we combine the quantitative data enabled by video capture-based performance analysis and the subjective judgments of a panel of gaming enthusiasts who simply want to play their favorite titles on the best hardware possible, Nvidia’s thousand-dollar GeForce GTX 690 outshines the similarly-priced Radeon HD 7990. Our early look at AMD’s prototype driver suggests that more evenly pacing the rate at which frames are shown on-screen helps minimize frame time variance, which our gamers definitely noticed. But that release isn’t expected for months—the second half of 2013 is as specific as AMD gets.”

    Also, you tested all the way to 5760...Memory isn't a problem and won't be for a long time (don’t forget the titan has 6GB!). They don't program games for cards that barely exist. I'm guessing this is a limited run just like asus' card only had 1000, unlike NV's first titan run which was 100,000 and is sold out still today after more runs...LOL.

    Without the games as incentive toms gives this on the conclusion page:
    “And so we’re faced with a card that represents a huge improvement over its predecessor, but still comes up shy of its competition, and is priced like an equal.”

    The games get old or I already have them. But I have to live with the card itself (especially at these prices) for probably 4-5 years or maybe more.

    “For buyers that have faith in multi-GPU scaling and AMD’s ability to deliver timely profile updates the 7990 can and will handily surpass Titan by about 20%”

    Umm…Have you read Hardocp’s driver review of AMD’s situation for the last year? They were 6 months late on some game optimizations and it took them a year to get drivers even near right and Enduro still sucks according to notebookcheck’s 7970 rehash review.
    They paint a pretty POOR driver picture for a year for AMD. While you’re there read their review of the 7990 which also points to multimonitor problems:
    “We have sent our experiences to AMD, and hopefully there will be a fix in the future and then we can bring you TressFX performance under Eyefinity and CrossFire.”

    LOL. But you think it’s all good with multi-monitor’s and think the memory future proofs it eh ryan? Everyone else thinks it sucks and has issues. Comically they found a slide showing AMD claiming to be able to do 3840x2160 in tombraider. They couldn’t get it to run there at all:
    “AMD is claiming playable performance in Tomb Raider with TressFX enabled at a resolution of 3840x2160. We wanted to test this ourselves, and found where Tomb Raider stores its graphics settings in the registry. We attempted to force 3840x2160, unfortunately the game would not start at this resolution.” Followed by this little gem, “Therefore, we find it highly unlikely that AMD's claim is valid.” Well ok then. They made the same claim for crisis 3…Which again Hardocp attempted to prove (right or wrong):
    “Above is our run-through at "max settings" at 3840x2160. You can clearly see that performance is very poor on the AMD Radeon HD 7990. The minimum framerate is 10 FPS, and the average is 19.4 FPS, well under 30 FPS. This level of performance is not playable in Crysis 3.”…Well ok then…Another lie shot down eh? “This claim is clearly invalid.”
    Yeah, we hear you loud and clear. Two AMD claims, two AMD lies. It didn’t even work with 1.3mil pixels less res of 5760x1200 for them. They got below 30fps.
    Farcry note: “GeForce GTX 680 SLI has the lowest framerates, but the smoothest overall experience thanks to SLI's non-stutter gameplay compared to CrossFire in this particular title.”
    Yeah, that’s kind of what tomshardware and their 5 game players said. No stutter=BETTER gameplay.

    And when they found your memory claim kicking in:
    “Hitman is sensitive to VRAM capacity. In this case, the AMD Radeon HD 7990 and Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition CrossFire have the advantage thanks to the larger 3GB of VRAM per GPU. GeForce GTX 680 SLI only has 2GB per GPU.”
    “The drops in performance make gameplay not possible because it hitches and lags behind as you are playing.”
    So when your situation actually happens, it isn’t playable already anyway…LOL Not the minimums on all cards were under 3fps…LOL. That’s not a type man, it’s they all scored 1, 2 & 3 fps…ROFL. But you keep trying to help AMD any way you can ryan…They need it…LOL.
    Their conclusion page:
    “Hopefully after reading this evaluation you've come to the same question we have, "Where's the missing performance?"….So the card sucks then there too? They even manually turned up powertune 20% and got the same results. And again another site saying it: “Quite simply, AMD CrossFire is the stutterer in the room.” Yeah we know the 5 gamers said the same at toms. His 680 GTX experience however is described as this on the same page:
    “I was in awe. It felt smooth, really smooth, it felt like it was running at a faster framerate than it really was.”…Yeah kind of why the 5 gamers at toms picked it too. He calls the 7990 a “BAD VALUE”.

    Again, 80 pages of complaints at notebookcheck’s forums don’t lie either. People need to take all the AMD driver complaints into major consideration. Who here thinks AMD’s drivers are great and on time? We’ll be waiting months for them to fix a problem they’ve had for a year+ and enduro has had issues for as long also (notebookcheck’s first review was awful and the second fixed some but not everything, they still say it has a ways to go compared to NV). Just google 7970m & notebookcheck you’ll get there people. It’s laughable hardocp crashed trying to prove AMD’s driver claims.

    PCPER’s review conclusion page says the same about drivers:
    “With its performance completely dependent on CrossFire technology, the HD 7990 as a $1000 graphics card has a very hard time justifying its price. With our early testing of the Catalyst prototype driver showing positive results though, there is yet hope for CrossFire to be fixed in this generation, at least for single monitor users! But until that driver is perfected, is bug free and is presented to buyers as a made-for-primetime solution, I just cannot recommend an investment this large on the Radeon HD 7990.”

    LOL…HOPE…At least for SINGLE monitor users. Ryan Shrout says TITAN for multi-monitor and 690GTX for single monitor. It seems everyone says quite the opposite of you Ryan Smith. I could keep going but hopefully people get the point. NOBODY sees it like anandtech.

    Check out Techpowerup’s review also people…Shows a TON of games these guys leave out. Skyrim, Assassins Creed 3, F1 2012, Borderlands 2, StarCraft2 Heart of the Swarm, Diablo3, COD Black ops2, and World of Warcraft (awful scores for radeons on WOW). The 690GTX basically wins everything at nearly ever res. Guess that’s why NONE of these are tested at anandtech even though they are all HUGE sellers compared to crap like Warhead, Dirt Showdown. Nobody PLAYS Warhead based on server checks, and which nobody bought in the case of showdown. Makes you wonder why these two games get tested here don’t it people? Why leave out multi-million units popular sellers like these that they leave out? It’s because you’d get a very clear picture of why NV owns 65% of the gaming market. Overall in their 20 or so games Titan was 4% faster and GTX 690 was 14% faster.
    The negatives they state?:
    • High price
    • Annoying coil noise
    • Requires CrossFire game support to reach proper performance
    • Many games do not scale properly in CrossFire
    • Very high multi-monitor and Blu-ray power consumption
    • Slim performance gains from overclocking
    • Long card
    Again with the COIL NOISE and of course they note all the games with crossfire issues in their review.:
    “Out of eighteen titles, five did not scale, or worse, showed negative scaling. These are not small titles, but big AAA games: Assassin's Creed 3, Batman: Arkham City, F1 2012, StarCraft II, Skyrim, and World of Warcraft. What really surprises me is that this long list is the same as the one we had with our reviews of HD 7990 "New Zealand" implementations by board partners, like the ASUS ROG ARES II and PowerColor Devil 13. So either AMD does not care or can't fix CrossFire support with these games millions of people play.”

    Jeez…5 out of 18 games running like CRAP and they’re all AAA titles. Is this why they are all OUT of Anandtech’s gaming suite ryan? Again I ask, how much is AMD paying you guys or do you just really love them that much?
    “What is a major issue, though, is the extremely annoying coil whine the card emits as soon as it runs a 3D application.”
    He notes the 690 GTX and Titan have no such issues. Also notes it OVERPOWERS the fans just as Toms said. Forget to mention this did you ryan?
    “In order to overcome the frametime issues some of our colleagues reported, AMD is working on a new driver to improve things, and has provided us with it, but it's only for Windows 8 and sacrifices some performance for more constant frame delivery.”

    So win7 users won’t even be expecting this HOPE driver then? OF course it slows things down also. I hope you’ll be benchmarking it rather than just telling us how AMD smoothed out play…But I doubt it. You’ll forget to mention what they already found…IT’S SLOWER WITH THE HOPE DRIVER. Nuff said I guess...Read other reviews people and judge Ryan Smith yourself.
  • blackoctagon - Thursday, May 2, 2013 - link seem to have missed the fact that Ryan didn't exactly give the 7990 a glowing review mate. Reply
  • TheJian - Friday, May 3, 2013 - link

    “For buyers that have faith in multi-GPU scaling and AMD’s ability to deliver timely profile updates the 7990 can and will handily surpass Titan by about 20%”

    That doesn't sound like he'd go against it as all the others I've shown flatly did. Raise your hand if you have faith in ANY amd drivers, or them being on time. Read the stuff I linked to, every site made driver comments. Look at Ryan Shrout's comment on them ignoring millions of users and still having crap drivers. Heck he basically is recommending it for "future proof" memory crap. HOGWASH. Titan has 6GB and as hardocp showed to tap out memory you end up at 3fps or less. What good is future proof crap if you can't play when at 30fps when the future kicks in?...LOL

    Also, he said FCAT article coming last week. AS I said they won't write one until AMD fixes their issue. Where is this magical article? Every other big site has dealt with FCAT but this one. Strange yes?
  • MartinT - Saturday, May 4, 2013 - link

    Ryan, this review's been out in it's misleading form for 10 days, when do you anticipate FCAT results to be published? Reply
  • Finraziel - Friday, July 19, 2013 - link

    Well, it's been about 3 months now, so unless I'm totally missing it... I'm guessing the answer is never? Pretty crappy, guys. Reply
  • StealthGhost - Wednesday, April 24, 2013 - link

    It's damn late to the party to still lose to the 690 in games. I have nothing against AMD, I just wish they'd step it up, or maybe price this thing to compete. Reply
  • CiccioB - Wednesday, April 24, 2013 - link

    If they won't sell price will drop soon enough, If they sell there's not reason to lower it.
    This is possible an attempt to get a bit more money on their quite underpriced flagship GPU. nvidia sells a smaller GPUs for a higher price, meaning that AMD is not getting all the potential they could with such a solution.
    However I do not know how many of these cards they can sell. AMD is famous for the no-quality of their crossfire (stuttering) and for its support (there are still many games where their crossfire do not scale at all), so spending such an amount of money for something that won't deliver a good enough experience is quite useless.
    It is much better a solution made up of 2 discrete cards, so you can easily get rid of them once you (soon) become disappointed with AMD crossfire support.
  • Finally - Wednesday, April 24, 2013 - link

    Now we can compare which company comes aorund with the LESS BUGGY dual GPU $999 "hopefully it will show twice the performance - unfortunately it rarely does" mess of a product...

    It's the perfect card for the 1%, because they don't have to worry about price, power draw, noise or pretty much everything else (they sure as hell don't soil their hands with manual labor, but have them assembled for a few grand extra).
    My suggestion is to make both of them into "limited editions" by replacing every plastic part possible with solid gold...
  • Torrijos - Wednesday, April 24, 2013 - link

    So no FCAT yet for some test?!

    This is ridiculous! Why propagate possibly false information about a 1k$ card instead of waiting for the proper data?

    PCPer has FCAT data and it's damning for AMD's tech and marketing.
  • A5 - Wednesday, April 24, 2013 - link

    You could've taken like 5 minutes to read the article to see why there aren't any FCAT results and saved yourself some embarrassment. They're coming soon. Reply

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