NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690 4 GB Review 175

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690 4 GB Review




NVIDIA made the surprise announcement of GeForce GTX 690 launch last weekend. A little later, we found ourselves opening a classy wooden crate with a crowbar NVIDIA sent a little earlier, in it was the GeForce GTX 690. The GTX 690 is NVIDIA's quest for absolute performance leadership in the graphics processor market. Despite being months behind AMD in launching its 28 nm Kepler GPU lineup, NVIDIA caught up with it, in the performance segment, with the GeForce GTX 680, and now it seeks to settle the disputed absolute performance lead between GeForce GTX 590 and Radeon HD 6990, with the new GeForce GTX 690.

In more ways than one, this launch is an assertion of NVIDIA's technological leadership, because AMD still hasn't launched its enthusiast-segment dual-GPU graphics card, yet, and one can't expect it to be out before June. The GeForce GTX 690 is a dual-GPU graphics card with two 28 nm GK104 GPUs, the same chips found in the GeForce GTX 680. The two chips each are clocked slightly lower than GeForce GTX 680, and rely on a PCI-Express 3.0 bridge chip for bus interface, however, NVIDIA claims that GTX 690 should provide performance comparable to GeForce GTX 680 2-way SLI. The card also costs the same as two GTX 680s, at US $999. Which makes it the most expensive reference design graphics card ever released.

The GTX 690 has two GK104 Kepler GPUs arranged in an internal SLI configuration. Each GK104 chip has all its components enabled, including 1,536 CUDA cores, 128 TMUs, 32 ROPs, and four independent geometry processing units. Each GPU further has a 256-bit wide GDDR5 memory interface, with which it talks to 2 GB of memory. The total memory on the card, hence is 4 GB. In this GeForce GTX 690 review, we verify NVIDIA's performance claims (of it matching 2x GeForce GTX 680), because that is key to ascertaining whether the card is worth $999, or if NVIDIA is already having the spoils of war.

GeForce GTX 680 Market Segment Analysis
GTX 580
HD 7950
HD 7970
GTX 680
HD 6990
GTX 590
GTX 690
Shader Units5121792204815362x 15362x 5122x 1536 
ROPs483232322x 322x 482x 32 
Graphics ProcessorGF110TahitiTahitiGK1042x Cayman2x GF1102x GK104 
Transistors3000M4310M4310M3500M2x 2640M2x 3000M2x 3500M 
Memory Size1536 MB3072 MB3072 MB2048 MB2x 2048 MB2x 1536 MB2x 2048 MB 
Memory Bus Width384 bit384 bit384 bit256 bit2x 256 bit2x 384 bit2x 256 bit 
Core Clock772 MHz800 MHz925 MHz1006 MHz+830 MHz607 MHz915 MHz+ 
Memory Clock1002 MHz1250 MHz1375 MHz1502 MHz1250 MHz855 MHz1502 MHz 


Package Front
Package Back


We received the card from NVIDIA in a wooden crate that had to be opened using a crowbar.

Retail boards will probably use a different form of packaging and certainly come with the usual accessories.

The Card

Graphics Card Front
Graphics Card Back

NVIDIA engineered a beatiful cooling solution around their dual GPU card. It uses lots of metal and plexiglas. For me this is one of the most sexy and elegant coolers out there.

Graphics Card Height

NVIDIA's card requires two slots in your system.

Monitor Outputs, Display Connectors

Display connectivity options include three dual-link DVI ports, and one mini DisplayPort. You may use all the outputs at the same time, thanks to NVIDIA Kepler's new display output controller.

An HDMI sound device is included in the GPU, too. It is HDMI 1.4a compatible which includes HD audio and support for Blu-ray 3D movies. The DisplayPort outputs are version 1.2 which enables the use of hubs and Multi-Stream transport.

You may combine up to two GTX 690 cards from any vendor in a quad-GPU SLI configuration for higher framerates or better image quality settings.

Graphics Card Teardown PCB Front
Graphics Card Teardown PCB Back

Pictured above are photos of the front and back, showing the disassembled board. High-res versions are also available (front, back). If you choose to use these images for voltmods etc., please include a link back to this site or let us post your article.
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