PowerColor DEVIL13 Radeon HD 7990 6GB Video Card Review

We check out the beast that is the DEVIL 13 HD 7990 6GB from PowerColor. Let's see what it's capable of.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Tue, Oct 23 2012 10:28 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:01 PM CST
Rating: 95%Manufacturer: PowerColor

Introduction and Package

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Days, weeks and months go by and we continue to hear nothing but rumors of the AMD Radeon HD 7990. It's a dual GPU based HD 7900 series video card to compete with the NVIDIA based GEFORCE GTX 690. It's a model that we're still yet to test since NVIDIA don't want to send us one, and with partners doing nothing with the model, they've really got no reason to promote it for the most part, as if they promote their reference card, they're promoting almost every companies card.

With NVIDIA running away with the title of the fastest video card on the market and AMD continuing to do nothing about it, it seemed that PowerColor decided to take matters into their own hands releasing the HD 7990 under the Devil 13 tag. This isn't the first time we've seen the Devil 13 tag as last year saw the PowerColor DEVIL13 HD 6970 which managed to really impress us.

This time, though, the DEVIL13 card we're looking at is a lot more than just a supped up versions of AMD's fastest single GPU offering. It's the dual GPU HD 7990 that we've been waiting for. So taking matters into their own hands, what are PowerColor able to do with this card?

Well, before we find out what's going on with the performance side of things, we've got a few things that we need to look at which starts with the box and the package that PowerColor has put together. Once we've done that we'll move onto the card itself and take a closer look at the specification side of things, before finally getting into the performance.

Package

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Looking at the box you can actually see PowerColor haven't done a lot to it with just some fairly simple branding - saying that though, it does look stunning. There's something to be said about an understated box. Apart from what you see here there's not a whole lot more to the overall box, so let's move inside and see what's going on with the package PowerColor has put together here.

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Moving inside the package you don't see anything too out of the ordinary when we look at what PowerColor is offering us. Starting at the top left we've got a driver CD and manual followed by three 6-pin PCIe to 8-pin PCIe power connectors. Below that we've got a Mini DP to DVI cable along with a Mini DP to DP cable. Finally we finish off with a DVI to VGA connector and a CrossFire bridge.

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Finally we finish off the bundle with this awesome screwdriver kit that PowerColor is offering us. The quality is awesome and it's one of those extras that come in really handy. It's a really nice improvement over the original screwdriver set we saw in the DEVIL13 HD 6970 from last year.

The Card and Specifications

The Card

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It comes as no surprise that the dual GPU PowerColor DEVIL13 HD 7990 is a big video card taking up three slots and carrying three fans. The heatsink is just extremely mean, though. Looking through the fans you can see the massive heatsink that is present and the huge amount of copper that is coming out the top of the card. Not only does it make for a big card, but a heavy one as well.

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Taking a spin around you can see power comes in the form of three 8-pin PCIe power connectors. As we showed you on the last page we've got three 6-pin PCIe to 8-pin PCIe power connectors in the bundle in the event you don't have that many 8-pin PCIe power connectors natively on your PSU.

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At the front we've got a single CrossFire connector that gives you the ability to run up to two of these cards together in CrossFire. Being a triple slot card, though, you need to make sure you have a motherboard that would support two triple slot cards.

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Finally we finish off with the I/O side of things and here you get a really good perspective of the size. On the connectivity side of things we've got a Dual Link DVI-D and DVI-I connector, HDMI and two MiniDP connectors. We've also got a button that lets us switch between BIOSs on the card which offer us two different speeds. We'll take a closer look at that in just a moment.

Specifications

Out of the box the PowerColor DEVIL13 HD 7990 6GB carries with it a core clock of 925MHz. As for the massive 6GB of GDDR5 that's present, that comes in at a pretty impressive 5500MHz QDR.

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If you hit that little button on the I/O area that we showed you just above, you'll load the second BIOS. While it still carries the same 5500MHz QDR memory clock, the core has been bumped to a really nice round sounding 1000MHz per core.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASUS and Corsair.

Looking above you can see our testbed which is described fairly clearly. If you've looked at any of our VGA reviews over the last almost year now you won't find anything too surprising as we continue to use the X79 platform for our VGA testbed.

As for the cards that are in our graphs today we've got some of the meanest single GPU video cards we've looked at starting with the AMD HD 7970 GHz Edition. Along with that we've got the Sapphire HD 7970 GHz Edition TOXIC and the Vapor-X offering overclocked to over 1200MHz.

On the NVIDIA side of things we've got the Gainward GTX 680 Phantom, Palit 4GB JetStream offering and the Inno3D Black Series clocked at over 1200MHz on the core. While we would've loved to have included a GTX 690, as we mentioned in the introduction, NVIDIA haven't sent us one and partners are not sampling due to the reference card nature of the model.

Let's get started!

The FPS Numbers Explained

When we benchmark our video cards and look at the graphs, we aim to get to a certain level of FPS which we consider playable. While many may argue that the human eye can't see over 24 FPS or 30 FPS, any true gamer will tell you that as we climb higher in Frames Per Seconds (FPS), the overall gameplay feels smoother. There are three numbers we're looking out for when it comes to our benchmarks.

30 FPS - It's the minimum number we aim for when it comes to games. If you're not dropping below 30 FPS during games, you're going to have a nice and smooth gaming experience. The ideal situation is that even in a heavy fire fight, the minimum stays above 30 FPS making sure that you can continue to aim easily or turn the corner with no dramas.

60 FPS - It's the average we look for when we don't have a minimum coming at us. If we're getting an average of 60 FPS, we should have a minimum of 30 FPS or better and as mentioned above, it means we've got some smooth game play happening.

120 FPS - The new number that we've been hunting down over recent months. If you're the owner of a 120 Hz monitor, to get the most out of it you want to get around the 120 FPS mark. Moving from 60 FPS / 60 Hz to 120 FPS / 120 Hz brings with it a certain fluidity that can't really be explained, but instead has to be experienced. Of course, if you're buying a 120 Hz monitor to take advantage of 3D, an average of 120 FPS in our benchmark means that in 3D you will have an average of 60 FPS, which again means you should expect some smooth gameplay.

Benchmarks - 3DMark 11

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1

Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/

Buy It Here

3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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Starting off with 3DMark 11 we can see the kind of performance over our other cards here. For the most part we're seeing the PowerColor offering come in at about 50% quicker than most of our other setups here.

Benchmarks - Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.5

Developer Homepage: http://www.unigine.com

Product Homepage: http://unigine.com/press-releases/091022-heaven_benchmark//

New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.

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Looking at Heaven performance we've got some awesome numbers. Compared to the standard GHz Edition we can see that performance is almost double at both resolutions. Let's see how the performance looks as we get into some of our games.

Benchmarks - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo

Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test

Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/UK/default.aspx

Product Homepage: http://www.hawxgame.com/

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2 is an arcade-style flight action game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft. The game is the sequel to Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., released in 2009.

The game begins with Colonel David Crenshaw participating in a routine patrol mission in the Middle East. After halting an insurgent attack, a volley of missiles is fired at the Air Force base that Crenshaw was stationed at, with one of the missiles disabling Crenshaw's aircraft, resulting Crenshaw being in enemy captivity. A joint strike force composed of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and a Ghost Recon squad executes an operation to rescue Crenshaw. In Scotland, Royal Navy Pilot Colin Munro encounters an unidentified passenger aircraft that explodes from an on-board bomb when undergoing training exercise. In Russia, an air force squadron led by Colonel Denisov and Captain Dmitri Sokov engages separatist aircraft but is ordered to retreat from the region after numerous Russian military installations have been attacked.

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Looking at H.A.W.X. 2 we've got both some impressive gains and just some impressive numbers overall. Of course we're not sure if anyone is really going to make use of 300+ FPS, but it gives you an idea of how much headroom we've got.

Eyefinity is clearly not going to be an issue nor will AA and AF under something like this.

Benchmarks - Mafia II

Mafia II

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.2kczech.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.mafia2game.com/

Buy It Here

Mafia II is a third-person action-adventure video game, the sequel to Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven. It is developed by 2K Czech, previously known as Illusion Softworks, and is published by 2K Games. The game is set from 1943 to 1951 in Empire Bay (the name is a reference to New York's state nickname "The Empire State"), a fictional city based on San Francisco and New York City, with influences from Chicago and Detroit. The game features a completely open-ended game map of 10 square miles. No restrictions are included from the start of the game. There are around 50 vehicles in the game, as well as licensed music from the era.

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For the most part you can see a lot of our video cards hit a bit of a wall around the 160 FPS mark. The only time we see some separation is at the highest 2560 x 1600 resolution which you can see clearly isn't a problem for this video card.

Benchmarks - Lost Planet 2

Lost Planet 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark - Test A Scene 1

Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.lostplanet2game.com/

Lost Planet 2 is a third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition which is also made by Capcom, taking place ten years after the events of the first game, on the same fictional planet. The story takes place back on E.D.N. III 10 years after the events of the first game. The snow has melted to reveal jungles and more tropical areas that have taken the place of more frozen regions. The plot begins with Mercenaries fighting against Jungle Pirates. After destroying a mine, the Mercenaries continue on to evacuate the area, in which a Category-G Akrid appears and attacks them. After being rescued, they find out their evacuation point (Where the Category-G appeared) was a set-up and no pick up team awaited them. The last words imply possible DLC additions to the game, "There's nothing to be gained by wiping out snow pirates... unless you had some kind of grudge."

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Lost Planet 2 performance is just fantastic across the board and you can see some excellent gains against the other cards here. Considering the intensity of Lost Planet 2, we can see some awesome performance at even the highest resolution.

Benchmarks - Aliens vs. Predator

Aliens vs. Predator

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.rebellion.co.uk/

Product Homepage: http://www.sega.com/games/aliens-vs-predator/

Aliens vs. Predator is a science fiction first-person shooter video game, developed by Rebellion Developments, the team behind the 1999 original PC game, and published by Sega for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The game is based on the Alien vs. Predator franchise, a combination of the characters and creatures of the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise. There are three campaigns in the game, one for each race/faction (the Predators, the Aliens and the Colonial Marines), that, while separate in terms of individual plot and gameplay, form one overarching storyline.

Following the storyline of the campaign modes comes the multiplayer aspect of the game. In this Multiplayer section of the game, players face off in various different gametypes in various different ways.

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We can again see here that gains of 100% are possible over the standard GHz edition card. We again just see the card make absolute mincemeat of our games here no matter what resolution.

Benchmarks - Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.2

Timedemo or Level Used: Dark Tower

Developer Homepage: http://www.eidos.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.justcause.com/

Just Cause 2 employs the Avalanche Engine 2.0, an updated version of the engine used in Just Cause. The game is set on the other side of the world from the original Just Cause, on the fictional island of Panau in Southeast Asia. Panau has varied terrain, from desert to alpine to rainforest. Rico Rodriguez returns as the protagonist, aiming to overthrow the evil dictator Pandak "Baby" Panay and confront his former mentor, Tom Sheldon.

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Just Cause 2 continues the trend of fantastic performance at all resolutions and you can see again those gains over the standard GHz Edition card are simply amazing.

Benchmarks - Metro 2033

Metro 2033

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.4a-games.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.thqnordic.com/

Metro 2033 is an action-oriented video game with a combination of survival horror and first-person shooter elements. The game is based on the novel Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in Ukraine and released in March 2010 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360.[3] In March 2006, 4A Games announced a partnership with Glukhovsky to collaborate on the game.[4] The game was announced at the 2009 Games Convention in Leipzig;[5] a first trailer came along with the announcement.[6] A sequel was announced, currently titled Metro: Last Light.

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We can see while all the single GPU video cards sit around that 60 FPS mark, the DEVIL13 HD 7990 from PowerColor absolutely blazes past that number and offers us some awesome performance.

Benchmarks - Dirt 3

Dirt 3

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.codemasters.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.dirt3game.com/

DiRT 3 boasts more cars, more locations, more routes and more events than any other game in the series, including over 50 rally cars representing the very best from five decades of the sport. With more than double the track content of 2009's hit, DiRT 3 will see players start at the top as a professional driver, with a top-flight career in competitive off-road racing complimented by the opportunity to express themselves in Gymkhana-style showpiece driving events.

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Dirt 3 follows the trend of both excellent performance and awesome performance gains over the standard GHz Edition of the HD 7970.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01

Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long

Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/

Buy It Here

The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montréal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.

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You can see we're hitting a wall at almost every resolution here with our minimums being separated by only two FPS at all resolutions. Let's crank up the AA and AF and see what's going on with performance.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AF

While we test all our games with maximum in-game settings, turning on Anti-Aliasing (AA) and Antistrophic Filtering (AF) helps take the intensity of our testing to another level.

Here we see video cards go from playable FPS to an unplayable FPS and the real power houses continue to help break that 60 FPS mark we always aim for to provide a smooth gaming experience.

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Here we see strong gains again at both resolutions and you can see we've got some awesome performance at both.

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While a number of the video cards here offer us playable FPS here at 1920 x 1200, you can see when we move to 2560 x 1600 all of the single GPU offerings struggle. With the PowerColor offering, though, you can see an extremely strong 84 FPS under these intensive settings.

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Even with AA and AF on it comes as no surprise that Far Cry 2 isn't an issue for the PowerColor card here as the high-end single GPU offerings are also able to offer us very strong performance.

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A lot like Aliens vs. Predator we can see that 1920 x 1200 isn't an issue with AA and AF on, but at 2560 x 1600 the single GPU cards just struggle. Like AvP, though, we can see that the PowerColor card again offers us a very strong number under the most intensive settings.

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1920 x 1200 is again no issue for the cards here, but when we move to 2560 x 1600 we can see that we're getting borderline 60 FPS out of some cards. The PowerColor offering on the other hand breaks into the 100 FPS mark, hence ensuring smooth gameplay.

Temperature Test

The temperature of the core is pulled from MSI Afterburner with the max reading used after a completed run off 3DMark Vantage and the Performance preset.

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Temperature numbers are pretty good considering the amount of power we're dealing with. At the same time we'd expect them to look pretty good considering the size of the cooler that we have here.

Sound Test

Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.

After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).

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With all those fans it comes as no surprise that the noise levels are quite high. Looking above you can see the PowerColor DEVIL13 HD 7990 6GB sits towards the top of the pack.

Power Consumption Test

Using our PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).

There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.

The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a SSD hard drive is used with a single CD ROM and minimal cooling fans.

So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.

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Power draw as you'd expect is on the higher side of things, but it's not too insane. You can see it sits in line with some of the higher end single GPU offerings when heavily overclocked.

Final Thoughts

In the end PowerColor has ultimately done what we expected AMD to do months ago, but have continued not to do. I think before we get onto anything else the first thing we've got to cover is the $999.99 price tag is associated with the PowerColor DEVIL13 HD 7990 6GB.

Is that a price tag people are willing to pay for this video card? For the most part it's not because it's simply out of budget for so many people. There's no denying, though, that the supply of the card is going to be limited and the performance is clearly here for anyone who wants serious power from a single video card setup.

PowerColor have put a really special card together here and they've really done a good job. With the associated price tag it would've been nice to see a game or two thrown into the bundle, especially as AMD are trying to promote some titles at the moment. There's little that can be faulted with this video card, though, especially if you are happy to spend the money.

If size isn't an issue and you're happy to spend some big bucks then the DEVIL13 HD 7990 is going to no doubt be the kind of card you want to pick up and install in your system. The decision to have just a single card instead of two is always nice and when the card looks as mean as the one here that PowerColor is offering, we'd prefer this over a pair of normal reference looking HD 7970 GHz Edition cards.

Performance is ultimately why you buy this card, though, and you can see that performance isn't an issue - no matter what resolution you're gaming at or what settings. This is a fantastic choice for people who want to game with AA and AF on at 2560 x 1600 or are looking for single card solution to power their multi-screen Eyefinity setup.

How it goes against the GTX 690 is something that we can't comment on unfortunately for reasons already mentioned. With the GTX 690 starting at the same price, though, in its reference form we'd be more tempted to go with this offering, as it carries with it a much larger coolness factor.

We've also been a bigger fan of Eyefinity over Surround Vision even with the DisplayPort requirement that is thrown into the mix. If you're looking for a single video card solution to power three 1920 x 1080 monitors, then this is going to be the kind of card you want. Of course you've also got the option to throw a second one into the mix if you ever wanted to go (a little more) crazy.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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