AMD Radeon 6990 Review - Benchmarking

Submitted by skipclarke on 8 March, 2011 - 21:07

System Specs

All testing, except for the Radeon HD 6990, was performed with the Catalyst 10.12 drivers. There were the release drivers for the HD 6970 and HD 6950. All previous cards have been retested on the 10.12 drivers, on my current 16:9 1920x1080 displays.

  • Windows 7
  • EVGA X58 Tri-SLI Motherboard
  • Intel i7 920 at 4x2.67GHz
  • 12GB G.Skill DDR3 RAM
  • 2x Samsung 320GB T-Series HDD (one for the OS and games; one for swap file and FRAPS)
  • LG Super Multi Blu (HD-DVD/Blu-Ray Player)
  • Onboard audio
  • Corsair HX1000
  • My Open PC Doma Pro PCI Case
  • Logitch K340 Keyboard & Performance MX Mouse
  • Ergotech Heavy Duty Triple Desk Stand
  • 5x Dell U2211H IPS 16:9 1920x1080 Displays

My test rig remains unchanged, except for a new case. For easier testing, I recently migrated to the Doma Pro PCI test bench from My Open PC (review on that coming soon).

Hardware Tested

I only have AMD hardware tested for comparison in this review. This is not for lack of wanting to test NVIDIA hardware in Surround, but NVIDIA has not yet decided to support the WSGF with hardware for review and benchmarking. Considering that the WSGF is a hobby that just supports itself, I cannot justify spending the money needed to test NVIDIA cards.

Most of my time is spent working on the site (or other projects), and much of my "play time" is spent benchmarking. Cards would basically only be used for testing, and I cannot reconcile purchasing cards that would only be used for testing. It's simply not a good ROI.

Resolutions Tested

I tested both 1600x900 and 1920x1080 in widescreen, as well as 4800x900 and 5760x1080 in 3x1-L Eyefinity. Additionally I tested in 5400x1920 and 4500x1600 for 5x1-P Eyefinity. This allows for comparison between panels in the 20" and 22" range, as well as performance improvements from dialing back the resolution on notch.

Games Tested

My game selection has only had slight modification since my last round of review. I have dropped Batman: Arkham Asylum from the line-up. In testing the new GPU and driver, performance exploded at 5760x1080 - to an unexplainable manner. Previously, 1GB AMD cards crawled at this resolution with 4xAA enabled in the Catalyst Control panel. With the new driver, performance rose to levels seen with 0xAA. This made me wonder if Batman is not picking up the AA setting in the new driver.

Additionally I realized that while the game is Hor+, the demo is Vert-. This goes against our mandates for testings as fewer objects and geometry are actually shown on the screen in Eyefinity. I have replaced the Batman benchmark with the benchmark from the Just Cause 2 Demo.

Finally I dropped the HL2 titles from the line-up. The "HOC Bench" benchmark tool for Episode 2 is no longer functioning, and both Ep.2 and Lost Cost post extremely high scores at all resolutions on even middle range cards from the 5000-series. They are no longer indicitive of a real "test".

As always, all games are tested at max settings (unless otherwise noted), with 4xAA and 16xAF enabled.

Notes on Testing

In many areas, I am hitting a CPU limit in widescreen. In several instances the widescreen performance is hitting a wall at 100fps+. In some of these instances older cards appear to be outperforming newer cards by a couple fps. These minor differences are well within a margin of error, and should be considered identical performance.

Since I originally tested the 5800 series (well over a year ago), my system has gathered a certain amount of cruft due to games being installed and removed, and the video drivers being updated on a regular basis. While Windows 7 certainly handles "aging" much better than WinXP or Vista, this alone could account for the few fps difference (considering the difference is only a few percent variation).

Future Testing

I have updated my benchmarks suite as I mentioned in previous reviews. Additionally, I have retested all cards from the Radeon HD 5770 forward on the 10.12 drivers and 16:9 1080p panels. For stock benchmarking there isn't much left to do. The new Shogun 2 title will include three different benchmarks, and I will probably run everything through one or more of those.

Considering the CPU wall I'm hitting, I am going to get into OC benchmarking - for both CPU and GPU. The Intel Core i7-920 at 2.66GHz is starting to show it's age, and it overclocks well on air. My EVGA motherboard has good built in tools for easy overclocking. With the addition of PowerTune and the Radeon 6990 OC in the BIOS, there is no reason not to check out those capabilities.

In addition to that, I now have a 3D HDTV, and will be doing some reviewing and benchmarking of 3D PC gaming. There is an obvious impact when pushing 3x the pixels (and more FOV) with Eyefinity. What is the impact for rendering the same image twice (with only the original FOV)? We will know soon enough.