Authour: James Prior
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: April 6th, 2011
The AMD Radeon HD 6790, as is always the case with the $150 price point, risks being cannibalized by its own more powerful last generation brethren. The technical improvements in the Barts core are worth considering, especially against the Juniper core cards. You get the improved tessellation unit, plus improved RBEs for better Anisotropic Filtering. You also get 1Gb of pretty good speed GDDR5, with a nice fat 256-bit bus, and improved Eyefinity capabilities; the 5830 threw a couple of DisplayPort link failures where the 6790 was rock solid. For an HTPC card, custom heatsink and fan designs make for some good choices, and you get HDMI 1.4a and Blu-ray 3D support, with excellent HDMI/DisplayPort Audio capabilities.
Ideally the HD 6700 series would be a specifically designed ASIC for the $100-$150 market, comprised of a svelte GPU on a small PCB requiring only a single PCI-Express 6-pin power input and featuring a delightful quiet and single slot heatsink. We haven't had a product like that since the HD 4850 (which wasn't quiet), so no surprise really that there isn't one now. The HD 6790 tries gamely to compete with the slightly more expensive competition used in our testing today, and shows how it offers value. The HD 6700 product line forgoes the innovation in GPU design, but gains in non-reference design flexibility for the one consumer retail card on sale.
The win here will be defined by two aspects - who will buy one, and why won't they spend a little more than $150USD. The buck-fifty price point is very competitive and very popular, especially amongst those who often can't stay on a yearly upgrade cycle. This time last year you were looking at a HD 5750, the odd HD 5770 after rebate, or a GeForce GTS 250. The HD 6790 isn't a stellar upgrade over either of these options, but it is sizable enough that it achieves its aim of being a competent 1080p gamer card and an attractive option to those who held out on DirectX 11 cards the first time around. The kind of people who buy $150 video cards are looking for the best performance bang for the buck, and possibly don't upgrade every generation.
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