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Sep
13
2013

Unboxing and Review: AMD Radeon 7990 Sapphire

Untitled Document

The Dual-GPU AMD Radeon 7990 is one of the most powerful graphics cards currently out on the market. Utilizing two of AMD's flagship GPUs, the AMD Radeon 7990 offers up to 8.2 TeraFlops of compute power making it as much a compute card as is a graphics card.

Test Bench

Motherboard     MSI MPower Max Motherboard
CPU     Intel 4770k
Memory     8GB Corsair Vengeance 1600Mhz
Hard Drive     250GB Western Digital Velociraptor
Power Supply     Corsair GS 800 Power Supply
Drivers     AMD Radeon 13.10 Beta Drivers
Monitor     ASUS VG236H 120Hz 1080p

Architecture

With a total of 8.6 billion transistors, the AMD Radeon 7990 is one powerful graphics card. The Graphics Core Next (GCN) Architecture is AMD's push to unify graphics and computing engines. With graphics cards being used more and more for than just gaming, it is important to utilize their power for compute applications. AMD’s Graphics Core Next marks a huge change in the way that we perceive of GPUs.

Specifications

Base Clock     950MHz
Boost Clock     1000MHz
Memory     6GB GDDR5
Stream Processors     4096 (2x 2048)
ROPs     64 (2x 32)
Texture Units     256 (2x 128)
TDP     375 Watts
Transistors     8.6B (2x 4.31B)
Manufacturing Process     28nm

Box

Accessories

The Sapphire version of the Radeon 7990 comes with a CrossFire bridge, DVI to HDMI adapter, Mini DP to Display Port, Mini DP to SL-DVI Passive dongle and a Mini Display Port to SL-DVI Active dongle. It also comes with Sapphire's drivers and a code to download free games such as Far Cry: 3 Blood Dragon.

Top

Cooling the 375w TDP graphics card requires 3 fans and a huge heatsink that covers the entire card. The use of three fans allows the Radeon 7990 to stay cool without turning up the fan speed.

Bottom

Due to the Radeon 7990 being a Dual-GPU graphics card, you can see the two heatsink attachments on the left and right of the graphics card. There is also a back plate that covers the bottom of the PCB offering a clean aesthetic.

Side

Powering the Sapphrie Radeon 7990 requires two 8-pin power cables. The 375w TDP of the card demands tons of power.

Output

The Sapphire Radeon 7990 offers four Mini Display Port outputs as well as one DVI output. The Sapphire version of the card comes with a variety of dongles and adapters incase your monitor does not support Mini Display Port.

Temperature

With its 3-axial fans, the Sapphire Radeon 7990 ran at 78° Celsius while on 100% load. The three-fan design allows the Radeon 7990 to run cool and quiet.

Graphics Tests

Bioshock Infinite

We chose to use Bioshock Infinite to test the video card due to its magnificient visual qualities and the fact that it is one of the most popluar PC games out at the moment. This will allow us to get an accurate benchmark of how the card will perform in real life scenarios. We tested the Sapphire Radeon 7990 and the other graphics cards using the built-in benchmark tool under the 1920x1080 resolution with ultra graphics and DDOF enabled.

The Sapphire Radeon 7990 finished the benchmark with 113 frames per second. Even with the Radeon 7990 being a Dual-GPU card, it only showed a 19 fps increase as compared to the GTX 780.This is because SLI/CrossFire and Dual-GPU configurations perform much better in high resolution or multi-monitor setups. Unfortunately, we did not have a 2560x1440 display to test the graphics cards.

Heaven 4.0

Widely used to test the capability of a GPU, Heaven benchmark puts maximum stress on the GPU allowing you to check stability issues and real time performance of the card. It also generates real-time in game video that gives the user an accurate reading of the cards capability. The settings that we used to test the cards were as follows: 1920x1080p Full Screen, 4x Multisample Anti-Aliasing, and Normal Tessellation.

In the Heaven benchmark, the Radeon 7990 showed a 27 fps or 36% increase compared to the GTX 780.

3DMark 11

3DMark 11 offers extensive features and unbiased results. It is considered to be the best option out there when trying to find out the power of one’s computer. Each video card was subjected to four GPU graphics tests, a CPU Physics test and a combined GPU/CPU Physics test. Each of the cards was tested using the Extreme Benchmark option in 3DMark 11.

In the Extreme 3DMark 11 benchmark, the Radeon 7990 showed an increase of 1145 points or 27%.

Compute Tests

CLBenchmark 1.1.2

CLBenchmark is a high-performance compute benchmark tool that allows you to test the CL capabilities of a GPU.

    Raytrace

Raytracing is the method in which a path of waves or particles are tracked. Raytracing is widely used in the processing of special effects of movies and real-time rendering in video games.

This is where the AMD Radeon 7990 truly starts to shine. In OpenCL applications, AMD cards tend to blow NVIDIA cards away. As seen in the RayTrace benchmark, the Radeon 7990 showed an increase of 376,597 points compared to the GTX 780. That equates to a 187% or a 2.8x increase in performance.

LuxMark 2.0

LuxMark is a 100% OpenCL accelerated ray tracer program that tests the abilities of the GPU. The ability of harnessing the GPU's power allows artist to render images and movies much faster.

Again, the Radeon 7990 blew the NVIDIA cards away. In the LuxMark benchmark, there was no competition. The Sapphire Radeon 7990 was 282% or about 4x faster than the GTX 780. NVIDIA recommends that if users are going to be using compute applications that they should use Quadro or Tesla cards.

Conclusion

The Sapphire AMD Radeon 7990 is one of the fastest graphics cards out there currently on the market. It's a double-edged blade that performs well in both gaming and computing applications. If you are looking for a graphics card that performs equally as well in compute applications, the AMD Radeon 7990 might be one of your best options.

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