GeForce GTX 690 Review: Dual NVIDIA GK104 GPUs

Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary:  To put it simply, the GeForce GTX 690 is the fastest single graphics card we have tested to date--by far. In every game or benchmark, regardless of resolution or image quality settings, the GeForce GTX 690 was able to outpace every other graphics card we've ever tested. Of course, with a $1000 price tag and two of the most powerful GPUs on-board, the GeForce GTX 690 should best every other graphics card currently available.

When compared to other multi-GPU configurations, the GeForce GTX 690’s performance is still impressive, but not nearly as dominant. The GeForce GTX 690 ends up coming in just a hair behind the similarly priced dual GeForce GTX 680 SLI configuration across the board, due to GTX 690’s slightly lower base / boost GPU frequencies. Versus a Radeon HD 7970 CrossFire setup, the GeForce GTX 690 ends up being somewhat faster more often than not, but the Radeons pulled ahead in a few tests.

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690 Reference Card

Although AMD has yet to show their hand at the ultra-high end with their dual-GPU powered card, the Radeon HD 7990, based on what we know so far, it would seem NVIDIA is a strong position at this point. As we've shown, the GeForce GTX 690 is about as fast or faster than a pair of Radeon HD 7970 cards running in CrossFire mode. That means AMD would have to be able to put together a dual-GPU powered card clocked higher than the current Radeon HD 7970 to best the GeForce GTX 690. That’s not likely to happen in our opinion, as AMD's Tahiti GPUs have more demanding power requirements vs. the GK104. Although, the Radeon’s wider memory bus (384-bit vs. 256-bit) and larger frame buffer (3GB per GPU vs. 2GB per GPU), may give it an edge at some very high / multi-monitor resolutions in future games. Hopefully we'll know more in the weeks ahead. 

According to NVIDIA, the GeForce GTX 690 will be available in limited quantities from add-in card partners, including ASUS, EVGA, Gainward, Galaxy, Gigabyte, Inno3D, MSI, Palit and Zotac starting today, with wider availability by May 7. Considering the scarcity of the GeForce GTX 680 though, don't expect a ton of these cards to be floating around. Expected pricing is $999--roughly on par with a pair of GeForce GTX 680 cards. At that price, the GeForce GTX 690 is obviously not for everyone. Heck, even if you've got the coin to afford a graphics card like the GeForce GTX 690, it's tough to justify when a pair of GeForce GTX 680s is faster and costs the same. But the high-end graphics card market is never about justified costs or value, it's about performance, and the GeForce GTX 690 offers that up in spades.

And if you ask us, the card looks just freakin' cool as hell too. Kudos to the team at NVIDIA for breaking the mold and using some new high quality materials and an interesting design to further set the GeForce GTX 690 apart.


  • Killer Performance
  • Surprisingly Quiet
  • 3D Surround From a Single Card
  • Awesome Aesthetics


  • Very Expensive
  • Limited Availability

Related content