AMD Radeon HD 6990 4GB Review
When AMD first launched their second generation DX11 lineup with the HD 6800-series, their plans for the whole Northern Islands family of GPUs were laid bare. The original timeline called for the release of the Barts, Cayman and Antilles products before the end of 2010 and for the most part, this was accomplished. The Cayman-based HD 6970 and HD 6950 made their way onto the market in mid December but the eagerly anticipated Antilles dual GPU card was pushed back to Q1 2011.
The official reason behind the Antilles’ delay will likely be shrouded in mystery for the foreseeable future but several issues did arise due to its devolution from a 32nm flagship to using existing 40nm technology. When trying to push the limits of DX11 performance, the 40nm process poses some unique challenges in terms of power consumption and heat production. In order to engineer their way around these obstacles, AMD had to come up with some innovative ways to overcome them while striving to keep cost down.
We have had our fair share of great experiences with cards like Antilles in the past but it’s important to remember its type of design has had inherent problems as well. Unsteady drivers, low availability and horrendously loud fans have become stumbling blocks time and again. The HD 6990 aims to smash these preconceptions and forge a new chapter in the history of dual GPU cards.
Regardless of launch dates and other challenges, the card we now know as the HD 6990 should become available at retailers as you read this for a vertigo inducing price of $699. This actually makes some cruel sense since it pegs Antilles to compete with dual HD 6970s plus a price premium for the “convenience” of a dual GPU card.
Some may question the reasoning behind the release of a $700 dual core graphics card in today’s market. However, the HD 6990 isn’t geared towards people who really care about saving money or want to save on their energy bills; it’s for gamers who want uncompromising performance regardless of mere worldly common sense. It also gives AMD the ability to once again plant their flag into ultra high end soil while giving consumers access to what is (for the next few weeks at least) billed as the fastest graphics card in the world.
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