Enthusiast based graphics cards, ones that come complete with all the bells and whistles, are usually to be found late in the lifespan of a particular GPU. Today we have a definite switch around of that concept as the PowerColor Devil13 HD7990 has appeared in our offices without much of a fanfare, and certainly without a reference HD7990 being hinted at, much less produced.
It's therefore perfectly possible that this will be the only HD7990 available. Two full-fat HD7970 cores in one card. It reminds us, conceptually, of the ASUS Ares. The Devil13 certainly matches up in terms of ambition and packaging, as well as price.
In some respects we're always nervous about dual-GPU cards. The power requirements and heat issues normally mean that the GPUs are cut-down from the top-end models. However, PowerColor have given us two full on Tahiti XT cores so it will be interesting to see if the card matches up against two solo HD7970s.
We have a lot to cover in this review, so let us crack on.
It's a positive beast of a thing. Triple slot cooler, 6GB of GDDR5, 3 8pin PCI-e power connections. It's extreme in every sense.
|Graphics Engine||RADEON HD7990|
|Video Memory||6GB GDDR5|
|Engine Clock||925MHz / 1000MHz|
|Memory Clock||1375MHz x 4 (5.5Gbps)|
|Memory Interface||384bit X2|
|Bus Standard||PCIE 3.0|
|Standard Display Connecors||DL DVI-I / SL DVI-D / HDMI / 2 X mini DisplayPort|
|ATI Stream Technology||Support|
|ATI Eyefinity Technology||Support|
|VGA Output||Yes, By DVI to VGA converter|
|DVI Output||DL-DVI-I/ SL-DVI-D|
|DisplayPort||On Board(mini DP) x2|
|Minimum System Power requirement (W)||850W|
|Extention Power Connector||three 8-pin PCI Express Power connectors|
The packaging for the Devil13 is incredible. Spending the best part of a grand on a GPU you want the opening to be an event, as much as the card inside to be outstanding. PowerColor have definitely given us plenty of opportunity to pore over every detail and savour each new opening.
There is so much to take in. The card comes with a set of high quality screwdrivers and a jack to help keep the card stable and reduce pressure upon the PCI Express slot.
As well as those we have DVI dongle, mini-DP to DP adaptor as well as an Active DisplayPort adaptor, power cables and a Crossfire bridge for the truly hopeful. The Devil13 itself is packed in so much foam that it will certainly arrive in mint condition, even if it was delivered by a trainee parachutist who'd forgotten their parachute.
It's a monster. Three fans, triple slot heatsink and a seriously hefty backplate are just for starters.
Up Close Cont
We all have different opinions on what constitutes a beautiful piece of hardware, but we're pretty certain that everyone will agree the Devil13 is gorgeous. As well as being in the terminally popular red and black, it is a work of art. So often coolers look as if they have just been bolted on from a parts bin (Gigabyte Windforce springs to mind) but the Devil13 is bespoke in every sense.
Although it would be a horrific oversight to not include a Crossfire finger on the Devil13, equally we can't imagine anyone will ever take advantage of it, short of winning the lottery.
Round the back we have the standard outputs of twin DVI, HDMI and two mini-DisplayPorts. The button is for the turbo mode which ups the GPU clocks from 950MHz to 1GHz. Although we hope to do better than that. Finally in keeping with the behemoth status of the Devil 13 it comes with three 8pin PCIe power connectors.
PowerColor Devil13 HD7990
Catalyst Drivers 12.8
Intel Core i7-3960X @ 4.6GHz
ASUS P9X79 Pro
Corsair Dominator Platinum
Windows 7 Ultimate x64
We'd expect that the power requirements of the Devil13 are enough to make overclocking a hopeful task at best, yet we managed to overclock both GPUs, and the GDDR5, by 125MHz. Remember that the memory is quad-pumped. This is a hugely surprising result. 12.5% increases aren't something we'd have expected from the card at all.
There has been much talk about the early batch of Devil13s having a problem with the pressure applied by the cooler leading to increased temperatures. It's exactly why here at OC3D we always wait for the final version of a product before reviewing it so that we see results you can obtain too, and the Devil13 is definitely cool, even with our overclock.
Quiet is subjective, and it's not the quietest card we've ever seen, but it's easily something you can live with and not distracting.
3D Mark Vantage
There are two obvious comparisons for the Devil13, the nVidia GTX690 and our HD7970CF setup. To be fair, in 3D Mark Vantage, it doesn't matter what you're comparing it against as the Devil13 is the fastest card we've tested. Only the SLI GTX690 beats it, and even then not by as much as you'd expect.
3D Mark 11
We're right on a par with the GTX690 at stock, and the moment the overclock comes in the Devil13 once again strolls off to the top of the charts. In benchmark terms it's frankly insane.
Alien vs Predator
Starting with AvP, the Devil13 lives up to its diabolic moniker by spanking everything else we've tested. The overclock in particular gives huge gains.
Batman Arkham City
Not every game takes advantage of your system, thanks to the "get it out the door" nature of modern PC ports. As you can see, almost anything can handle Arkham City, and the HD7990 is twiddling its thumbs a lot of the time.
We're not exactly sure what to make of this. So far the Devil13 has been standing astride the graphs like a colossus. A glance down the graph makes it look like this is a title that just prefers the nVidia option to the AMD one.
The second of our titles that have a maximum frame-rate, Crysis 2, even with these insane detail settings still doesn't make the Devil13 break sweat. Given the 102FPS cap, the average of 99 is about as perfect as any card will get in this title.
Another game, another record. PowerColor have produced something that just makes mincemeat out of everything, games and benchmarks alike. With our overclock you get a minimum frame-rate of over 200. Lunacy.
Far Cry 2
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, once again the Devil13 dominates our graph. The performance available never ceases to be amazing.
Hmm. Mafia 2 follows the Frostbite performance we saw with Battlefield 3. Of course the result we get is what we get, and so it appears the PowerColor is unimpressive in Mafia 2. Given the performance elsewhere we'd be inclined to believe that it's Mafia 2 not making full use of the card rather than the other way around.
Metro 2033 certainly is eye-popping on the Devil13. We are so used to testing single GPUs with their poor frame-rate that to see the game running how it should be is a joy. A 33% improvement over the GTX690 isn't to be sniffed at either, although we know that it likes AMD cards more than the nVidia ones.
Resident Evil 5
As dodgy as some PC conversions are, the Capcom ones are always outstanding and Resident Evil 5 is no exception, being both good looking, highly configurable and with excellent performance. The PowerColor Devil13 chews it up and spits it out without breaking a sweat.
The Heaven benchmark is a stern test and one that the Devil13 HD7990 is equal to. At stock it's just behind a pair of HD7970s but the overclock gives it a big boost.
With the antialiasing cranked up to maximum the stock card matches the best we've seen from other setups. With the overclock in place it's bested only by the quad-GPU GTX690 arrangement.
The Witcher 2
Finally Geralt of Rivia, evil enough on his own, makes for a perfect pairing with the Devil13. No game on the planet is as good looking when maxed-out and the PowerColor happily pushes the polygons and extreme image quality past the magical vSync 60FPS barrier.
To say the PowerColor Devil13 is a pleasant surprise is an enormous understatement.
So often the 'two GPUs on a single PCB' cards are great performers, albeit problematic in areas. The GTX690 SLI took us ages to get working properly, the GTX590 is really two GTX570s rather than GTX580s, and the HD6990 was let down by the underlying quality of the Cayman XT GPUs. The only cards that have really made the most of the possibilities on offer is the ASUS Mars II, and that was rarer than hens teeth and equally expensive.
The PowerColor Devil13 is expensive. Let's not beat around the bush. It's amazingly expensive. But, and this is the thing that we can't help be constantly surprised about, it actually is good value. Or perhaps it's better to say that if we had spent the money on the card we wouldn't be disappointed. You're paying a large chunk of change, but getting a large chunk in return. The packaging is outstanding. From the wax seal to the high quality of the included accessories, everything about opening it up is an event. We all know that you want to enjoy the moment for as long as possible when you get a fresh new piece of hardware but more often than not the packaging is merely a delay before getting your hands on it. Not so with the Devil13.
Of course we'd be kidding ourselves if we weren't aware of the real reason you'd splash £800 on a GPU, and the Devil13 doesn't disappoint in that regard either. Barring a couple of titles it was the fastest, highest scoring, card we've ever tested. The only setup that regularly beat it was the GTX690 SLI arrangement and that's twice the price and GPUs. So in real-terms if you buy the Devil13 you'll not only have the ultimate thing to put in your forum signature but the results will back it up too. Probably most amazing is the fact that, with a combination of the way games are coded and planned, most of the titles in our review suite aren't even taking full advantage of the card. More often than not it's only 50 or 60% utilised.
If you're the type of person who skips to our conclusion then we have to repeat that here at OC3D we always test the version that you will buy in the shops, and PowerColor have fixed the heatsink pressure problems that were on their early prototypes.
Normally a product such as this receives our Performance Award. We don't live in a vacuum and understand that value for money and price have to be taken into consideration. But the Devil13 is so impressive, so comprehensive in its "top of the world" performance, that to give it anything other than a Gold Award would be doing it a disservice. It's awesome, and that's not something we often find ourselves saying. The best GPU on the planet.
Thanks to PowerColor for supplying the Devil13 for review. Discuss our findings in our OC3D Forums.