GeForce GTX 690 Review: Dual NVIDIA GK104 GPUs

Intro, Specifications and Related Info

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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