GTX590 vs HD6990

GTX590 vs HD6990


And so here we are.

The most surprising thing through our testing is that both the cards are incredibly similar in performance. Of course Empires have been won and lost over the smallest margins, so where are those small margins?

To begin with we had our synthetic tests. 3D Mark Vantage had an edge with the GTX590 thanks to the PhysX based testing at the end. When the resolution and AA was enlarged into the High test the cards were neck and neck. 3D Mark 11 dispenses with the PhysX side of things and concentrates largely upon shaders in the same way as most modern titles. When it comes to pure shaders the HD6990 is a bit way ahead of it’s GTX590 rival and the scores, in both Performance and Extreme, reflect this. Similarly Unigine, with a long-standing preference for the Radeon 6 series, is fairly close when the anti-aliasing is off, but as it’s moved onto 8xAA the HD6990 takes a reasonable lead.

Gaming is a far tighter thing as one would expect. Freed from the constraints of testing specific elements as synthetics do, both cards are capable of pumping out phenomenal frame-rates and enormous levels of detail.

Generally there is little to choose between them throughout the gaming tests, except for Crysis. Both Warhead and the newly improved Crysis 2 are utterly dominated by the GTX590 with the HD6990 trailing behind a fair bit. Otherwise the only significant difference is to be found in the minimum frame-rates. Whilst average frame-rate is important, you want as few stutters as possible and, whilst never hideous, the HD6990 doesn’t quite keep things flowing as smoothly as its nVidia rival.

Of course we need a pithy summary of all this.

If money is no object, and Crysis isn’t the absolute be-all and end-all of your existence, then on pure performance the GTX590 just about shades things by the tiniest of margins. We’d expect shaders to become more and more important in the next wave of gaming, and so one would assume that the HD6990 with its truly amazing shader performance would be the one to go for.

However we never review on theoretical future performance and the only game we’ve got to hand that makes the absolute most of the very latest DirectX 11 tricks is Crysis 2, and in that game the GTX590 is a comprehensive victor.

But the most important thing above all this is the real-world. If you ignore Cryteks efforts the cards are nearly identical, but to obtain this level of performance you pretty much have to to water-cool your HD6990 otherwise it’s so outstandingly loud as to be the equivalent of having a Dyson running next to your ear. Whereas the GTX590 can give out these numbers on air without needing the complexities and cost of having a water-loop.

So if you’ve got infinitely deep pockets then really the choice is entirely yours as both cards will give the kind of eye-candy that’s so sweet it should be fattening. But if you just want a card to buy, install and then run without going deaf you have to buy the GTX590.

Thanks to all the companies involved in getting the Shadow H20 together and enabling us to run this series of reviews. Discuss in our forums.