NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690 4 GB Review 175

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690 4 GB Review

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Value and Conclusion

  • NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 690 will be available for $999.
  • Awesome performance
  • Reaches GTX 680 SLI performance levels
  • Good performance per Watt
  • Sexy looks
  • Additional OC headroom left
  • Up to four active displays now, makes surround possible with one card
  • Quiet, given its performance class
  • Support for PCI-Express 3.0 and DirectX 11.1
  • Support for CUDA and PhysX
  • High price, most expensive reference design card ever released
  • High power draw
  • Requires SLI game support to reach proper performance
  • Dynamic OC can't be turned off
  • Manual overclocking more complicated than before
  • No technology similar to AMD's ZeroCore power
Holding NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 690 is the first hint that NVIDIA created something special. The new card feels great thanks to the dominant use of metal, both with shiny and rough surfaces. Thanks to the used magnesium alloy it is still much lighter than other dual GPU cards. Highlights like the metal screws, the Plexiglas "windows" and the glowing rubber GeForce logo add to the experience.
In terms of performance we see stunning numbers, that almost exactly match the performance of a dual card GTX 680 SLI setup, despite the lower clocks on the GTX 690. NVIDIA's new dynamic overclocking algorithm is hard at work to provide these great performance results and it works well, without any glitches. We also found that additional manual overclocking is possible, which provided an extra 14% performance boost in real gaming. Normally we see reduced overclocking potential from dual GPU cards, due to power and heat concerns, not so with the GTX 690.
Power consumption of the GTX 690 is high, reaching up to 275 W during typical gaming. But with performance taken into account, the card delivers excellent performance per Watt. In 2560x1600 it is actually the most efficient graphics card we ever tested! When compared to the dual card GTX 680 SLI setup we see significantly reduced power consumption, which is a key factor in engineering a successful dual GPU card as the limiting factors in this scenario are power draw and heat density. In terms of noise levels the card is similar to a single GTX 680, but provides 70% more performance. Nevertheless, this is certainly not a quiet card under load, reaching up to 42 dBA. But with its screaming performance, the noise levels are an acceptable tradeoff and GTX 690 is still much quieter than any competing multi-GPU setup that can provide similar FPS numbers.
Now the bad news. The card will cost $999, which is exactly twice the price of a single GTX 680. Ok, so GPU, memory and voltage circuitry are duplicated, but the PCB and cooler is not. On the other hand, the card does many things better than two GTX 680s, so the high price might be justified for some. Also seeing GTX 680 being constantly sold out, I wonder if it wouldn't have been better to make two gamers happy by using the GTX 690 GPUs to produce more GTX 680s, or does a single ultra-happy gamer count more? For NVIDIA the choice seems clear, as they are making less money on two GTX 680 sales than on a single GTX 690 sale. I'm also wondering what happened to AMD's HD 7990, which was expected for early May, but there hasn't been a word on that from AMD. I seriously doubt that they can match the whole package that NVIDIA offers with the GeForce GTX 690, so the only hope is that the HD 7990 will bring some price competition to the ultra-high end gaming segment.
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