GeForce GTX 690 Review: Dual NVIDIA GK104 GPUs

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After testing the GeForce GTX 680 last month, it was practically a foregone conclusion that a dual-GPU powered graphics card based on the same GK104 GPU was coming down the pipeline. The GK104 at the heart of the GeForce GTX 680 was able to best AMD’s current flagship GPU more often than not in our testing, and it did so while consuming less power and with a smaller chip die size. If NVIDIA could stick two of their previous-generation, much larger and more power hungry, GF110 chips onto a single card with the GeForce GTX 590, doing the same with the GK104 would come as no surprise. As you’ll see a little later though, NVIDIA did have a few surprises in store with the GTX 690, even if we all sort of knew the card was coming.

According to a few folks we spoke to at NVIDIA, company CEO Jen Hsun Huang told the team to spare no expense and build the best graphics card they possibly could, using all of the tools at their disposal. The result was obviously the GeForce GTX 690, but in building the card, the team at NVIDIA employed a number of new components and materials that set the card apart from the company’s previous dual-GPU powered offerings. In addition to a pair of GK104 GPUs and 4GB of GDDR5 RAM, the GeForce GTX 690 features laser etched lighting, a magnesium fan housing, and a plated aluminum frame, along with a dual vapor chamber cooler design with ducted airflow channels and tuned axial fan. The sum total of all of these things result in not only NVIDIA’s fastest graphics card to date, but also one of its quietest.

We’ve only had a GeForce GTX 690 in our possession for a few days now, but they begin shipping in limited quantities today. So we put our evaluation efforts into high gear and cranked out this article in record time so that the lucky few that can afford this beast know exactly what they are getting...

Dual GeForce GTX 690 Cards in a Quad-SLI Configuration. An easy 11 on the Geek Porn-o-Meter 

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690
Specifications & Features
Processing Units  
Graphics Processing Clusters 8
SMXs 16
CUDA Cores  3072
Texture Units 256 
ROP Units 64
Clock Speeds  
Base Clock 915 MHz
Boost Clock 1019 MHz
Memory Clock (Data Rate) 6008 MHz
L2 Cache Size 1024KB (512KB per GPU)
Total Video Memory 4096MB GDDR5 (2048MB per GPU)
Memory Interface 2 x 256-bit
Total Memory Bandwidth 384.4 GB/s (192.2 GB/s per GPU)
Texture Filtering Rate (Bilinear) 234.2 GigaTexels/sec
Physical & Thermal  
Fabrication Process 28 nm 
Transistor Count 7.08 Billion
Connectors 3 x Dual-Link DVI, 1 x mini-DisplayPort
Form Factor Dual Slot
Power Connectors 2 x 8-pin
Recommended Power Supply 650 watts
Thermal Design Power (TDP) 300 watts
Thermal Threshold 98° C

Leading up to this launch, NVIDIA had a little fun with a few members of the tech press. A couple of weeks back, the company sent some pry bars out to members of the press with “For Use In Case of Zombies Or...” laser etched into the bars’ surface, adjacent to an NVIDIA claw logo. Well, when our GeForce GTX 690 arrived we found out exactly what those pry bars were for...



As you can see, the GeForce GTX 690 arrived in some rather unique packaging. The card arrived encased in a wooden crate, branded with a cautionary warning that some “weapons grade gaming power” was enclosed within. Needless to say, that pry bar came in mighty handy, because you know we didn’t waste any time ripping that GTX 690 from its box and installing it in our test system.

Before we give you the low-down on the GeForce GTX 690 though, we want to direct your attention to a few other HotHardware articles related today's launch...

We've already covered the details of the GK104 GPU powering the GeForce GTX 690 in our GeForce GTX 680 launch article, including things like GPU Boost, NVENC, and TXAA, so we won't go over them again here. If you'd like a deeper look into the technologies employed in the GK104, we'd definitely suggest taking a gander at our GTX 680 coverage. The details of NVIDIA's previous-gen dual-GPU flagship are covered in our GeForce GTX 590 article, and our 3D Vision 2 and 3D Vision Surround articles cover those two NVIDIA technologies, which are obviously supported in a card like the GeForce GTX 690.

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inspector 2 years ago

Awesome card with awesome performance. This card beasted almost everycard card! Love the Sli bridge design.

3vi1 2 years ago

>> Awesome card with awesome performance...

and awful price.

I don't see many of these sell, since the people who can afford them can get a higher resolution experience by just hiring live actors to act out the games for them.

leignheart 2 years ago

3vi1 you must not be very smart, its 1000 dollars because 2 680 are 1000 dollars. so its a fair price.

NICKIEISIS30 2 years ago

My husband would probaly sell his soul for this card. How pricey is it?

Omegadraco 2 years ago

@NICKIEISIS30 the MSRP is going to be $999 on this thing so pricey.

Der Meister 2 years ago

Me want but not 1k, 600 maybe

leignheart 2 years ago

so Der Meister, you want 2 680's for 600 dollars, well you keep waiting for that and tell me if you ever find that deal. dummy. if you cant afford a 690 or 680 for that matter then get a 670 for 400 bucks.

omegadraco 2 years ago

This thing looks like a killer card that I would be proud to display in my case :) I wish they made some 680s with the same cooling technology.

rootreboot 2 years ago

Why don't you compare it with 2x 6990... oh yeah... cause it'll be destroyed.

KranK_ 2 years ago

2 6990's in crossfire would be 4 gpu's vs 2 gpu's on the gtx690....of course crossfired 6990's would be faster.Do you know anything about pc hardware?

JRumsey 2 years ago


Your not very smart are you? no kidding it would be destroyed. Because at that point your basically pitting two gpu's vs four gpu's....but one GTX 690 would destroy a ATI 6990 and two GTX 690s would also destroy two ATI 6990s. And would also do it a a much lower rate of power as well.

So really what is your point...

leignheart 2 years ago

your not a very intelligent person rootreboot, nobody on the face of the planet except little tards and trolls like you would expect and dual gpu card to beat a quad setup. its very unintelligent on your part to even bring it up.

Manduh 2 years ago

Name calling isn't necessary.

rootreboot 2 years ago

with 6990 at $600 its a fair comparison.... the dual 6990 will easily own it up HARDCORE

omegadraco 2 years ago

@rootreboot Of course it would be destroyed by two 6990 cards that is putting 4 GPU cores against 2 GPU cores.Plus the power consumption would be much higher as well.

Now if you meant 1 7990 that isn't even out then that is something that is to be determined.

inspector 2 years ago

Now why don't we compare that crossfire 6990 with sli 690... lol

marco c 2 years ago

I'll see if I can add from Quad-Fire 6990 numbers in the next day or two. I'm having issues with my second card.

CDeeter 2 years ago

Some serious power here! The performance delta between the 690 vs 590 & 6990 is incredible. The 690 just crushes them while using less power. Good job Nvidia.

KeithKnudsen1 2 years ago

Would be interesting to build a gpu based super computer with a couple of these cards.

KranK_ 2 years ago

I made an account just to reply to rootreboot.....his comment was so stupid,had to reply to it.

KranK_ 2 years ago

The price for this card is just so high....I'd rather buy one gtx 680 and sli another card when prices fall a little bit.

dejasoul100 2 years ago

Only buy this to show off to other techies... The card looks gorgeous, and offers serious performance, but unless you're running three or four 3D monitors, you really don't need this sort of card. For most users a gtx 570/560ti 448cores or a previous gen radeon 6870 will be just fine.

Great review, looking forward to results from the comparison Quad- SLI(2x690) vs Quad-Crossfire/Quadfire (2x6990)

t.luk 2 years ago

Looking good dual-GPU monster but SLI / CF still is good enough. By the way it's good that GTX 690 has lower power consumption than GTX 590 :)

Manduh 2 years ago

What on earth would anyone need 2 for? (other than the obvious overclocking) LOL

And how much does it weigh?

It freaking insane looking!!

LBowen 2 years ago

Powerful performance but still no need to update; really nice design as well. That price makes me want to crawl into a corner.

JasonInVegas 2 years ago


I'm up for it...and even more so in SLI. I use these for render rips, and CUDA-based renders scream on these. Who'll buy my used 580s tho, I wonder?

Now if nVidia could just get it into a mobile for factor.


neon_bowser 2 years ago

Is there a mobo under there?:O

boobot141 2 years ago

Does anyone know where I can get my hands on one of those sli bridges they used in that photo? I plan to pair two of these XD

Dorkstar 2 years ago


I checked around myself, and can't seem to find these. From what I read, it appears these were some sort of customer bridge used only for photos.

However, if you plan on having to pair two of these, pick me up one while your doing it and I'll handcraft one of these for you, lol. These cards are a far off dream for me.

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