Conclusion and Rating
AMD find themselves in an interesting position with the 7990 reference card. Both PowerColor and ASUS have shown comparable models which exceed this version in terms of build quality. Not that this card is disappointing, in fact we are very pleased to see AMD finally understand that enthusiasts want low noise, high performance coolers… even on reference cards. However overall, this is just a solid reference card when we take into consideration what NVIDIA have been doing in recent generations.
Moving on to design, there is little to fault here with the card retaining a 2slot profile which is great and not being too much longer than its direct competition… the 7990 is less than an inch longer. That said we would have loved to see AMD go with a six output card for those who want to take advantage of 2×3 Eyefinity displays rather than 1×5.
When looking at value there are two hugely different aspects to the 7990. On one hand it is probably a touch more expensive than it should be… we don’t see this as competition to the Titan, more to the GTX 690 and that is currently on offer for around £760 in the UK with the 7990 hitting the £850 price point. £799Inc VAT at most seems a more suitable price, especially when two 7970 OC cards, which would offer better framerates can be had for around £700. We do need to consider though that the 7990 has what we consider to be the best game bundle ever included with a card (inc Crysis 3, Bioshock Infinite, Tomb Raider and Far Cry 3).
There really is only one notable absentee to the free game bundle from recent big titles and that is Assassins Creed 3 which brings us nicely on to performance. No game shows the limitations of CrossFire, or AMD dual GPU, more than AC3. Essentially we get no scaling in that game and cannot play in Eyefinity… yes the same can happen with SLI too but either way it is a huge disappointment when one of the biggest games of the last 6months or so has such major issues.
Elsewhere on the performance front we would like a little more flexibility out of the box from AMD when it comes to overclocking limits. We assume these will be opened up after launch… they really should be for an enthusiast card like this and like NVIDIA there is still some work to be done on frame latency from AMD. For frame rates AMD, mostly, have the edge where it matters. They offer higher FPS in Crysis 3, Battlefield 3 and Bioshock Infinite at 5760×1080 for example while remaining competitive in Tomb Raider and Far Cry 3.
An odd release from AMD, bringing a card to market which really is already available. It should however allow for more competitive pricing compared to the existing "7990s". Great to see AMDs high end use a low noise high performance cooler, for once, though a strange choice of outputs is present… that said gaming performance is impressive.