Articles

PowerColor DEVIL13 HD7990 Video Card Review

Author:Brent Justice

Editor:Kyle Bennett

Date: Tuesday , November 20, 2012

PowerColor has beaten AMD to the punch with its own creation of a dual-GPU Radeon HD 7970 CrossFireX solution in a single video card package. We evaluate this awe inspiring video card and of course overclock it to its highest potential. We put it up against the best GTX 680 SLI solution also overclocked, all with the latest drivers.

Introduction

Once in a while a video card comes along, that despite its price, makes you want to have it your system as a hardware or gaming enthusiast. The new PowerColor DEVIL13 HD7990 (part number: AX7990 6GBD5-A2DHJ) is one of those video cards.

Despite the "HD7990" in the product name, this is not what people would assume would be AMD's official dual-GPU 7970 on a single printed circuit board (PCB) video card called the HD 7990. The DEVIL13 is a custom built video card designed and manufactured by PowerColor that brings a unique product to the market place that did not exist before. While AMD has not provided any official information or even a hint of a dual-GPU video card to combat the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690, PowerColor has come along and filled this gap and beat AMD to the punch.

The PowerColor DEVIL13 HD7990 is a single video card, one printed circuit board containing two Radeon HD 7970 GPUs on board along with 3GB of memory per GPU. This is essentially Radeon HD 7970 CrossFireX in a single video card package, instead of two separate video cards. If AMD were to come along with a solution such as this, as it has done in the past, it makes sense it would be called the Radeon HD 7990, based on past product names. However, PowerColor has built its own "HD7990" and branded it the "DEVIL13."

What makes this video card very special is that nothing on it is gimped. You are getting two fully specified Radeon HD 7970 GPUs with the same shader count, the same clock speed, the same memory bandwidth, and the same memory capacity. Now, these are not "Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition" GPUs, but that can easily be overcome by overclocking as we will explain. Still, this is essentially two very real Radeon HD 7970 video cards combined into one package.

This is not going to come cheap; the one downside to this video card is the high $999 MSRP asking price. Yes, the DEVIL13 is a $1000 dollar video card. We can argue if it really is worth $999 considering you can buy two separate Radeon HD 7970 video cards for less. It is a very important point, and we will discuss that in the conclusion after our testing.

PowerColor DEVIL13 HD7990

Let's talk about the specific clock frequencies. This video card, similar to the entire Radeon HD 7000 lineup, supports AMD's dual-BIOS feature. PowerColor has utilized this BIOS switching feature to provide two different operating clock frequencies for this video card. Instead of using the default switch atop the video card, as other Radeon HD 7000 series based video cards, PowerColor has invented a special "Turbo" button on the backside of the video card that is easily accessible with the video card installed in the system. You will easily be able to reach around to the back of your computer and switch between the two clock frequency modes without having to take a panel off your case.

The default mode of this video card runs with the button in the "out" position (not lit up). In this mode, the frequency of both GPUs runs at 925MHz, this is the default frequency of regular Radeon HD 7970 video cards of the non-GHz Edition variety. With one press of this button in the "in" position (with the button lit up) the frequency of each GPU is increased to 1000MHz (1GHz). Along with the frequency boost also comes a voltage boost to keep everything stable.

With both GPUs operating at 1GHz with the Turbo button enabled, these are now operating at the core clock frequency of "GHz Edition" Radeon HD 7970 GPUs. However, these aren't running at the 1050MHz of the boost clock of that series. At only 50MHz shy, you can easily manually overclock to 1050MHz with both GPUs and maintain the exact same performance as Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition CrossFireX on a single video card. We tested this, and it was stable.

All of the other specifications remain exactly the same as the Radeon HD 7970 or 7970 GHz Edition. The memory all run at 1375MHz (5.5GHz) on a 384-bit memory bus, and there is 3GB of RAM available to each GPU. That means in total there is a whopping 6GB of memory installed on this one video card. Though as we know CrossFireX cannot utilize all of this memory in one pool, it operates as if there were 3GB available, specific to each GPU. On board this video card is also a PLX chip that bridges the gap, literally, between the GPUs and provides the necessary PCI-Express lanes. The video card itself supports PCIe 3.0 when you plug it in. CrossFireX is hardwired between the GPUs, and is enabled by default when you install the drivers.

The PowerColor DEVIL13 HD7990 comes in a big black box, well secured and layered in goodies inside. The box is sealed by wax which has the DEVIL13 logo imprinted into the wax. When the two inner flaps are opened there are two chambers in the first layer. There is a "recovery chamber" and an "equipment chamber" on the first layer.

Opening the recovery chamber reveals a full Wiha Interchangeable System 6 toolset. It certainly will make building computers easier with the interchangeable tools. Also in the recovery chamber is PowerColor's Power Jack system, which allows you to prop up heavy video cards on the back end in your case. Important here because this video card is quite hefty.

Finally, in the equipment chamber we find the drivers and accessories. PowerColor is including three 6-pin to 8-pin power connectors, since this video card requires three 8-pin connectors. You will also find a mini-Display Port to Display Port cable. There is also a mini-Display Port to single-link DVI adapter. A DVI dongle and CrossFireX cable are also included. This video card does support Quad-GPU CrossFireX with a second DEVIL13.

When you take out the first layer of the box, the second layer reveals the awe inspiring video card. The video card itself measures a full 12 inches in length. The PCB however is a bit shorter, at eleven and a half inches, the heatsink sticks out another half an inch to make it exactly 12 inches total. The video card will take up three full slots in your computer. The video card has a height of 4.5 inches, so make sure there is room from where you screw it down on the connector panel to the panel of your case.

There are three large fans that exhaust the air out the back. Two copper plates sit atop each GPU, and there are a total of 5 heatpipes per heatsink, for a total of 10 heatpipes in the design overall. The entire video card is covered in a shroud and feels solid in your hands. The back is completely covered with a heat plate that also makes contact using pads to memory and components. The MOSFETs also have heatsinks to help keep them cool and this video card uses a 12+2+2 Power phase with digital PWM.

On the display side of things this video card has two mini-Display Ports, one HDMI 1.4 port, one dual-link DVI-I port and one single-link DVI-D port. The single-link DVI-D port can only support up to 1920x1200 DVI or 2048x1536 VGA. The dual-link DVI-I connector supports 2560x1600. Both Display Port and HDMI connectors support 4096x2160. The DEVIL13 can output to all five connectors at once, for a 5 display setup. In fact, this video card supports 3-way and 5-way Eyefinity.

Three 8-pin power connectors are required, and the recommended power supply is no less than 850W.

Installed in the system, it takes up quite a lot of space and extends well past our motherboard. The video card is sitting right on top of the SATA connector ports on this motherboard. While it is sitting on these, it didn't impede us from making full contact in the PCI-Express slot, so it wasn't an issue.

When the button on the back is pressed in, it lights up red and this indicates the Turbo clock speeds are enabled. Also on the back of the video card are LEDs which indicate the power phases being uses. In full gaming, you'll see all of these lit up most of the time.

As you can see, we have enabled Eyefinity with one DVI connector and two Display Port connectors without any issue. If anyone is wondering if moving Windows between the displays with the DVI and Display Port still causes tearing, yes it does. Moving windows between the two Display Port displays doesn't have this tearing. However, while it is something noticeable in Windows, on the desktop, we never noticed any tearing between the displays while gaming.