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)
Features & Design
Value for Money
Performance in other games was just as impressive. Crysis 2 at 1,920 x 1,080 and its Ultra settings - the trickiest the game offers - saw the GTX 690 average 57fps, the same score as a single GTX 680, but the HD 7970 fell behind with a 36fps average. Again, though, upping the resolution put clear air between the cards: the GTX 690 averaged 55fps, and its single-core stablemate scored 33fps at 2,560 x 1,600.
DiRT 3 and Just Cause 2 didn't provide much of a challenge to the GTX 690. In the former the card averaged 122fps at 2,560 x 1,600 and Ultra quality settings, and in the latter it brushed aside high resolutions and quality settings with disdain. With everything turned up and at 2,560 x 1,600, the card averaged 128fps.
The only way to see what the GTX 690 can really do, though, is to run benchmarks across three screens, and at the huge resolution of 5,760 x 1,080. After a lot of fiddling we managed to get it up and running, and the results were impressive: 108fps in Dirt 3, 83fps in Skyrim, and 56fps Battlefield 3, all with 4x anti-aliasing enabled, blowing every other card out of the water.
Nvidia has made plenty of play of the GTX 690's frugality when it comes to power, noise and heat and, while it's certainly at the high end of every scale - it requires two eight-pin power sockets, after all – it performed relatively well in our tests. At idle and full load, the power consumption of our test rig came in at 96W and 373W - not that much more than that of the GTX 680. And its thermal properties were even more eye-opening: under full load the temperature topped out at only 65°C.
Those decent results can be attributed to the card's pair of vapour chamber coolers, both of which are visible through one of the GTX 690's unique features - two polycarbonate windows. The rest of the card has an air of luxury about it, too: it's made from cast aluminium and protected with a hi-tech chromium coating, the fan housings are constructed from injection-moulded magnesium alloy, and the GTX 690 logo on the side of the board is laser-etched plastic with LED backlights.
Of course, given the luxury feel and stupendous levels of speed, you'd expect the GTX 690 to come with a ludicrous price - and at £840 you'd be right. That's a ridiculous amount to spend on a single component, and we cant possibly recommend you do unless you're planning to game on three screens at the highest quality levels. That's the only place this card makes sense, but as an exercise designed to further cement Nvidia's status as top dog in graphics, it certainly does the trick. Your move, AMD.
Author: Mike Jennings
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
DVI to HDMI
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
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
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
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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