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Nvidia GeForce GTX 690 review


Astonishing levels of power for crazy amounts of cash, this is a card reserved for the privileged few

Review Date: 4 May 2012

Reviewed By: Mike Jennings

Price when reviewed: £700 (£840 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
6 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

6 stars out of 6

Nvidia smashed it out of the park with its GeForce GTX 680, but that clearly isn’t enough graphical grunt for the green team. In a surprise unveiling at the Nvidia Game Festival 2012 in Shanghai, CEO Jen-Hsun Huang gave us its dual-GPU beast, the GeForce GTX 690.

The formula for building one of these super-powerful cards is surprisingly simple. Two of Nvidia's GTX 680 cores are soldered onto a 280mm-long piece of PCB, with a small chip between the two to allow them to work together.

As is usual in dual-GPU cards, the cores have been clocked down a little, with the 1,006MHz stock speed of the GTX 680 now standing at 915MHz. Nvidias Turbo Boost technology remains intact, though, so that core clock will adjust up or down depending on how much work the GPUs are doing. Adjustments are made every millisecond, and the GTX 690's 915MHz core will hit a peak of 967MHz when it's at maximum load.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 690

Aside from the clock drop, little of the GTX 680 has been changed. Each core is still accompanied by 2GB of 6,008MHz GDDR5 RAM, for a total of 4GB across the board. There have been no architectural changes, either, with the eight huge clusters serving each core still packing 192 stream processors each. Across the entire GTX 690, that means there are a mighty 3,072 stream processors and just over seven billion transistors.

Thats a formidable amount of pixel-pushing power and, as expected, it translated to ridiculous benchmark results. At Full HD, the card clearly isn’t being pushed: its 73fps in our 1,920 x 1,080 Very High quality benchmark, for instance, isn't that far ahead of the HD 7970's 60fps or the GTX 680's 57fps.

Crank up the resolution and detail, though, and the two cores get to work. Running Crysis at 2,560 x 1,600 saw its score barely drop to 70fps; the GTX 680 and HD 7970, by way of contrast, ran through the same test at 42fps.

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User comments

Why oh why do you bother to review such a card.

It's out of reach of mainstream users and it hasn't even got a HDMI port.

By SKINHEAD1967 on 4 May 2012


There should be a DVI to HDMI adapter included for that price...

By Olivier on 4 May 2012

Why review this card?

...Because they've reviewed all the other cards!

I'd LOVE one but I'll wait a year and stay with my two 570s. :(

By rhythm on 4 May 2012

No. Olivier.

For the exorbitant price tag there should be a standard HDMI port built into the damned thing.

If you start using adapters you start to add signal noise & you get picture degradation, therefore you need to keep linkages as few & as simple as possible.

By SKINHEAD1967 on 4 May 2012

signal noise skinhead?

not really a problem on a purely digital connection. or maybe you buy those really excellent £100 monster hdmi cables?

By sihaz2 on 5 May 2012


The naysayers probably think a 500bhp Ferrari should not be reviwed by car magazines because it's too expensive and has no room for the family dog. Whatever...anyone who was into gaming back when the 3DFX Voodoo 1 was still a pipe dream has to find this a little bit cool.

By SirRoderickSpode on 5 May 2012

Wrong conclusion

There's another place this card makes sense: scientific computing. For anyone who can usefully program it in CUDA or run an app which is so programmed, it's a supercomputer.

By nrarnot2 on 10 May 2012


The benchmark text says 1024x768 low settings. Would anybody pay £840 to do that? For such an expensive card a wider range of benchmarks would surely be appropriate.

By milliganp on 12 May 2012

scientific computing

This is the card I will choose for science (bioinformatics).

Sadly because of 2 facts
A. Already there are many Sequencing alignment software for CUDA and I know very few for OpenCL, Else under openCL 7970 is faster than 690 ! With HALF price
Maybe in the future academics will produce more openCL aligners

B. Even if the openCL was not an issue, I would still go for a card with double processing power.

Of course I do not want to spend 5K $ on a TESLA to have the power of an AMD 7970.....

By tpaparountas on 22 Oct 2012

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