The dual-chip, single card war rages on between AMD and Nvidia – both the HD 6990 and GTX 590 are ridiculously expensive and powerful, so which do you choose?

There's so little difference in performance terms it's nigh-on impossible to call a winner by simply analysing benchmarks. But with the arrival of the Define XL from Ginger6, we've now seen gaming PCs built around both cards.

Perhaps it's here, in the real world, that we can establish the better of the two cards? Well, perhaps if Ginger 6 had paired the HD 6990 with Intel's all-conquering i7 2600K CPU we'd have a straight fight.

Last issue, Dino PC went and clocked the 2600K up to 5GHz for its Evolution 2600K rig, and working with the GTX 590 the resultant benchmark results were frankly bonkers. Ginger6's rig comes in at exactly the same price point, but instead it's the cheaper, less powerful Core i5 2500K inside the Define XL.

Don't get us wrong, the 2500K is a great chip. It offers great value for money for those fiscally disinclined to plump for the i7. The thing is, using a phrase like 'value for money' about a component in the same PC as a £540 graphics card seems a bit silly. The HD 6990 isn't about value; it's about extreme performance.

The i5 2500K's presence means two things. Firstly, you won't be making the most of that ridiculous graphics card. Try as it might, the HD 6990 won't render as many frames with a 2500K as it would with the 2600K. In all fairness, Ginger6 have overclocked this i5 up to an impressive 4.8GHz, but it's a four-core, four-thread CPU. Compared to the eight threads of the 2600K (which smart applications can dedicate individually to GPU rendering tasks), it's a far from ideal pairing with the HD 6990.

Secondly – and rather damningly – it means that the Define XL has less performance to offer for more money than the Evolution 2600K. Not only is the GTX 590 a pricier card, but the i7 2600K CPU has been squeezed in to that £1,799 price tag. In short, it's impossible to recommend; there's absolutely no reason not to buy the Dino PC instead, even with the option to have this Ginger6 machine with a GTX 590 in as well.

Benchmarks

CPU performance

Cinebench index: Higher is better
Define XL - 7.50
Evolution 2600K - 8.97
Phoenix Hydro X - 7.84

DirectX 11 tessellation performance

Heaven 2.0 Frames per second: Higher is better
Define XL - 38.3
Evolution 2600K - 32.4
Phoenix Hydro X - 38.4

DirectX 11 gaming performance

Dirt 2 Frames per second: Higher is better
Define XL - 94.6
Evolution 2600K - 178
Phoenix Hydro X - 90

Good points

Aw, now we've told the Define XL off and its monolithic face is looking all sad. Let's mention the good aspects of this build, redundant though these have been made by the CPU debacle.

The Fractal Design XL case is amazing. Long after all the components are rendered obsolete by Moore's Law and the deafening stampede of technological advancement, you'll still use this case. It's huge, quiet, solid, and packed with drive bays.

Actually, storage has been bizarrely overdone – 120GB of SSD and 2TB of HDD space enough for you? It's all very well and good, but we'll bet any gamer would rather the money was spent on a better CPU.

It's a swing and a miss from Ginger6 then, and a missed opportunity to settle the AMD vs Nvidia flagship card wars.

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