Nvidia GTX 690.
The power under your PC's hood
Meet the new Nvidia GTX 690.
Meet the GTX 690. We’re looking at a pair of fully enabled GK104 GPUs (1536 CUDA cores) clocked at 915MHz, paired with 4GB of 6GHz GDDR5 (2GB per GPU) all on a single card. Taken altogether, this means the GTX 690 should be able to reach at least 91% of the GTX 680 SLI’s performance and probably closer to 95% depending on where GPU boost tops out
To say that I was impressed with what the GTX 690 has to offer would be an understatement. In the past NVIDIA has delivered excellent gaming performance when they dropped a dual GPU card on the market such as the 9800GX2, GTX 295, and the GTX 590. Each offered significant gains in the all important FPS arena but suffered from the same challenges of running two GPUs on one card with increased power consumption and compromises made to cooling the card down that resulted in lower clock speeds than single GPU cards. The GTX 690 for the most part is almost immune to these challenges with a robust 10 phase power circuit and 10 layer, 2oz copper PCB to manage the power needed to maximize performance and stay within the 300 watt TDP of the card; in most games running near a quoted 276 watts.
For cooling NVIDIA does not use a design that uses air passed from one heat sink into the other like earlier dual GPU cards such as the original GTX 295. By using a split system with an axial mounted fan, each independent vapor chamber based heat sink is able to deliver temperature parity for increased overclocking potential by keeping the load temperatures within a degree or two at most. The base plate and fan design help channel all that airflow through the fin arrays helping deliver the cool temperatures and reduce the noise signature. Surprisingly the GTX 690 is incredibly quiet for a card of this type. NVIDIA went and optimized the fan profile to increase airflow without an increase in noise, which is significant with the reduced venting on the mounting bracket. What is not noticed is that it has also changed the fan speed algorithms from noticeable steps to a linear profile that gradually increases fan speed, of course staying quiet in the process. So much so that I had to pull the side off to make sure the fan was running during the testing. Manually setting the fan to its maximum level results in an barely audible (outside the chassis) whirring from the fan and a rushing from the airflow out of the mounting bracket. Anything below 73% was not audible in this scenario. Both wins all the way around. The only concern with the cooling solution is that some of the GPU's discarded thermal load is recycled into the chassis from the vent on the tail end of the GTX 690. Anything behind this vent will get hot. I measured a constant 55+C temperature during my load testing from the rear vent of the card. The better the airflow in the chassis the less of a concern this is.
With a card of this nature you know it is going to carry a steep price tag. There is no way around it as we have seen in the past with dual GPU cards costing nearly as much or more as the £899 entry point for the GTX 690. It's not cheap or even close but the performance delivered speaks for itself. In the end it all comes together with NVIDIA hitting a home run as it did with the GTX 680, delivering the ultimate gaming gear for the gamer that has to have the best card on the market to run the highest resolutions and detail levels while enjoying all the NVIDIA ecosystem has to offer. It's got great performance to go with the great looks. What more is there to say.