While we were expecting AMD to come through first with a new ultra high-end bi-GPU graphics card, in fact Nvidia have drawn first with the GeForce GTX 690. So what do you get from a €1000 graphics card?
The GeForce GTX 690 looks to be very much along the lines of the GeForce GTX 590 and comes in the same format. Nvidia however wanted to offer more. As energy consumption is better mastered on its new GPU, performance levels can be pushed higher within the available thermal envelope. This card also has an exemplary finish with Nvidia choosing exclusively high quality materials to give us a very exclusive model, on sale at no less than €1000!
This is very expensive, a record for a reference card. You’ll no doubt have understood, apart from the small market interested in such a product, the GeForce GTX 690 has above all been designed for the shop window to get the enthusiasts dreaming.
The GeForce GTX 680 in SLI, or almost
The GeForce GTX 690 uses two GK104 GPUs based on Kepler architecture
which has a significantly better energy yield than Fermi architecture. Given that the thermal envelope is the most important factor in what it is possible to do with a bi-GPU card, the improved efficiency means Nvidia can offer higher specs here. This is particularly true when the best GPUs are selected. Each GPU used in the GTX 690 is thus very similar to the one used in the GeForce GTX 680
Nvidia is using complete GK104s here, each with 1536 processing units. Their base clock is lower than on the GTX 680 with 915 MHz vs 1006 MHz but their official GPU Boost clock is similar (1019 MHz on the GTX 690 and 1058 MHz on the GTX 680).
In practice, this GPU Boost clock isn’t actually part of the spec but corresponds to the minimum clock at which the GPU can be validated. On the GeForce GTX 680, this clock can go up to at least 1123 MHz and the two GPUs in our GeForce GTX 690 sample are able to go up to 1071 MHz.
/For memory the two cards have 2 GB of GDDR5 clocked at 1503 MHz and interfaced at 256 bits. Performance levels are thus much closer between two GTX 680s in SLI and a GTX 690 than the comparable set-ups on the previous generation were.