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Closer Look at ASUS EAH6990/3DI4S/4GD5

There are two opinions as to whether a top-end graphics card should come with lots of free accessories or not. Some say that a customer is entitled to expect various discount coupons, stickers, posters, or T-shirts when he pays a lot of money for an expensive product, but others hold that it's the graphics card itself that's important and there is no need for extra stuff except for the required minimum of connectors and cables. ASUS seems to agree with the latter opinion.

The ASUS EAH6990/3DI4S/4GD5 comes in a box that is embellished with a picture of an armored rider. Its design is rather conventional but it is the Voltage Tweak sticker that’s meant to make the product a more attractive buy. This technology allows tweaking the card’s GPU voltage in order to increase its overclocking potential (up to 50% as ASUS claims).

As we’ve mentioned above, ASUS has limited the accessories included with the card to the bare minimum of things:

  • 2 x Mini DP → DVI adapter;
  • Mini DP → HDMI adapter;
  • 2x4-pin PATA → 1x6-pin PCIe adapter;
  • CrossFire bridge;
  • Brief installation guide;
  • User manual;
  • CD disk with drivers and utilities.

There is nothing extraordinary here except for one adapter which is going to be handy for users of multi-monitor configurations. AMD’s Eyefinity technology for using up to six monitors simultaneously has some limitations. One of them is that you need an active mini-DisplayPort->DVI adapter to connect your third, fourth, fifth and sixth monitor. And one such adapter may cost up to $100.

The ASUS card is hardly different from AMD's reference sample we already tested for our AMD Radeon HD 6990 review. They are in fact identical save for the ASUS logo in the bottom right corner and the somewhat different color of the cooler casing. We shouldn't be upset about the lack of innovations on ASUS's part, though. The fact that ASUS has left the reference Radeon HD 6990 design without any improvements testifies to the high quality of the original PCB design developed by AMD.

The connectivity options include one standard DVI-I connector and as many as four mini-DisplayPorts (compliant with the version 1.2a specification). Thanks to the various adapters included into the box, you shouldn’t have any problems connecting any monitor or TV-set to this graphics card.

ASUS claims this product is exceptionally good at overclocking, so we checked this out in practice.

As a matter of fact, we were rather skeptical about a graphics card with a specified heat dissipation of 375 watts to be any good at overclocking. Indeed, it would get very hot and cause the system to hang up as soon as we tried to increase its voltage from the already high default level of 1.12 volts. We suspect that the default cooling system was not able to cool the power system components effectively at high loads. However, this didn't prevent us from increasing the GPU clock rate to 920 MHz and the GDDR5 clock rate to 6000 MHz. With such settings the card worked for an hour at high load in our stability tests, yet we'd strongly recommend you to ensure additional cooling if you are going to run this card overclocked. The ASUS EAH6990/3DI4S/4GD5 is rather too costly to be used under such risky conditions.

 
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