ConclusionWith the GeForce GTX 690, Nvidia has put a technological beast in its shop window that will get the pulses racing even if it doesn't stand up all that well to rational judgement. As is often the case in the ultra high-end segment, and even more so in the present case, such a model doesn’t really come into the reckoning for mere mortels who neither need such graphics power nor such a finish on what is after all a product that is hidden away in a PC casing. And even then, who’s willing to shell out €1000 on a graphics card alone?
Yet it’s difficult to remain indifferent in the face of what’s an excellent showing from this GeForce GTX 690, which offers a level of performance that’s very close to what you get with a pair of GeForce GTX 680s in SLI. The GTX 690 also makes less noise and takes up less room. To underline the exclusiveness of the card and justify the outsized price tag, Nvidia has worked on the design detail to an extent unheard of up until now. The luxurious finish will delight those who like nice looking objects and is something that we’d like to see more of at the high end.
If you're in search of some rational sense before going for this GeForce GTX 690, just tell yourself that a pair of GeForce GTX 680s offers a similar level of performance at the same price but without this exclusive touch. You will however need a well-cooled casing and a screen at 2560x1600/1440 (or a surround system) to fully make the most of its graphics power.
If on the other hand you’re looking for a way of avoiding succumbing to temptation and you’re out of favour with your banker, you can tell yourself that 2 GB per GPU isn’t really enough for such a monster and Nvidia should have pushed things further and gone for 4 GB. And in any case, one day or another a bigger GPU will eventually appear and will probably represent a more reasonable option.
What about the competition? Will the AMD Radeon HD 7990 be able to rival the GeForce GTX 690? In terms of performance it probably will. In terms of the price/performance ratio, it definitely will. It is however very doubtful whether the GTX 690 will be equalled in terms of finish. Unfortunately we haven’t yet seen the back of the plastic era!