Today AMD launched the Radeon HD 7990, humbly calling it the fastest graphics card in the world. The Radeon HD 7990, codenamed "Malta", has two high-end Tahiti GPUs, the same ones used in the Radeon HD 7970 and 7950. Some of you might have the urge to scroll down to the comment section to explain that the 7990 has already been around for a while, but hold on for a second. Powercolor and Club 3D do indeed have 7990s they developed on their own, and ASUS has the extreme Ares II graphics card.
The card that came out today, however is the official 7990, and compared to the two cards we just mentioned AMD's own card is supposed to be faster, quieter and more energy-efficient. Read on to find out whether that's also the case. The recommended price is $999.
The Radeon HD 7990 joins the ranks of impressive high-end dual-GPU graphics cards of the last few years. The Radeon HD 3870 X2 (2008), Radeon HD 4870 X2 (2008), Radeon HD 5970 (2009) and Radeon HD 6990 (2011) are the precursors of the new HD 7990. AMD tends to release the dual-GPU version of its high-end cards a few months after the introduction of the flagship single-GPU model. The 6990 appeared three months after the 6970, and the 5970 appeared two months after the 5870. This time around it took much longer, as the Radeon HD 7970 came out in December, 2011. A year later people began wondering where the long lost 7990 was. Fast-forward another few months, and we finally have one in our hands.
There are some good reasons for why it took this long, as AMD had to overcome a number of obstacles to get to this point. At the start of 2012 there weren't any suitable PCI-Express 3.0 switch chips available yet. Another challenge was that the single-GPU Radeon HD 7970 already had a TDP of 300W, so having two of those power-hungry beasts does require some tweaking.
More importantly, it's likely that the 7990 didn't have the highest priority at AMD. It's not a secret anymore that two new gaming consoles are on their way later this year, and that AMD is the primary supplier of both the CPU and the GPU. The console market is exponentially bigger than the niche market waiting for a dual-GPU graphics card. It's also no surprise then that AMD allowed Powercolor to make its own dual-GPU card and even use the 7990 name.
But now there's the official 7990 card from AMD, described as being faster, quieter and more energy-efficient. AMD doesn't see any harm in the fact that there now basically are two different products on the market carrying the same product name. The company doesn't expect many people to spend 1000 euros on a graphics card without first thoroughly reading some reviews, and that's probably (and hopefully) true. The existing, unofficial cards will rapidly disappear from storeshelves. Club 3D, active on the European market, announced its existing 7990 cards are now end-of-life and that they will now transition to AMD's new 7990.
Lots of free games!
The Radeon HD 7990 is very expensive, but you do get more than just a graphics card for your hard-earned money. No less than eight AAA games are bundled with the card, including some very recent titles: BioShock Infinite, Tomb Raider, Crysis 3, Far Cry 3, Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon, Hitman Absolution, Sleeping Dogs and Deus Ex Human Revolution. If you'd buy these games individually, it would amount to about 20 percent of the cost of the video card. Of course nobody pays full price for games these days, but nevertheless it's an impressive collection that's definitely welcome.