GeForce GTX 690 - Perfection Inside and Out

Tonight we give you a quick sneak peek of what is coming very soon from our friends at NVIDIA. There has been a lot of speculation about a dual GPU card and exactly what technology it will be comprised of. We have had some hands on time with the new GeForce GTX 690 and we have to say it is perfect, inside and out.

Kepler X2

Jen-Hsun Huang , president and CEO of NVIDIA, sent his best on a mission. That mission was to build the best dual GK104 video card they could. That mission has been successfully executed and what we have here today is the GeForce GTX 690.

GeForce GTX 690

Can you imagine a video card without any flimsy plastic parts? Now you can because the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690 will not be composed of any cheap plastics. A heavy duty dual vapor chamber cooling system relying on heavily nickel plated finstacks will sweat what little heat these GPUs pump out. A cast aluminum frame with trivalent chromium plating gives the card a unique look and tremendous rigidity. An injection molded magnesium fan housing adds to the formidable stiffness of the card. A brand new thixomolding process was used to get the required part precision.

The fan housing is made from injection molded magnesium alloy. Magnesium alloys are used throughout the automotive and aerospace industry (including the engines of the Bugatti Veyron and F-22 Raptor) for their light weight, heat dissipation and acoustic dampening properties - which is the same reason we use it in the GTX 690.

Clear polycarbonate windows that let you peer inside. A center mounted axial fan with optimized fin pitch and air entry angles is a top quality unit used to move cool air through the finstack. While we have not gotten to hear the fan yet, we are told its controller is top notch, which will be underlined by the decibel specs below. A ducted baseplate works with the low profile PCB components. And that is just the cooling system. The GeForce GTX 690 thermal unit cost more than 3X more than NVIDIA has ever spent on thermal system for a retail video card before.

The PCB and its components were not overlooked in the process either. A 10 layer, 2oz. copper PCB is supplied sporting dual 1536 core GK104 "Kepler" silicon all being pushed by a 10 phase "heavy duty" power supply, all in a 300 watt TDP package. If you take a closer look at the PCB you will notice that all usually protruding components have been "shaved" to cut way down on turbulence, allowing better airflow throughout the GTX 690. Also the less turbulence we have, the less noise we have. An on board SLI bridge logic provides independent PCI-e 3.0 x16 access to both GPUs.

Clocks - Noise - RAM

NVIDIA tells us the sound profile of the GeForce GTX 690 will be 36db at idle and a mere 46db under full gaming load.

Base clock on the GeForce GTX 690 is what will be considered "low" by most [H]'ers at just 915MHz Base and 1015MHz Boost, but don't get your panties in a wad just quite yet. Here is the kicker. Being that this is the most expensive and exotic cooling system ever sold by NVIDIA, you think you would expect great overclocking and we are told that you exactly should expect great overclocking. 1300MHz was thrown around more than once while discussing this new GTX 690's overclocks.

Finally this will be the one specification that some will shake their heads at, but from what we have seen in our testing, RAM has not been bottleneck for the most part except in very stressful situations as you can see here in our GTX 680 SLI Review. The GeForce GTX 690 will carry with it 4GB of RAM utilizing a 512-bit GDDR5 infrastructure.


For the record, NVIDIA would not discuss pricing with us in any way shape or form. But given that NVIDIA views the GTX 690 as two GTX 680 cards, you might have a solid guess at what the price would be and our first guess was $999, but given the stock clocks that seemed a bit off. Sources outside NVIDIA have told us that GeForce GTX 690 MSRP will $899, but keep in mind that this is not official information.

Update: NVIDIA site says $999 MSRP, but I still have some reasons to second guess this. Surely we will find out soon.

The Bottom Line

It has been a little while since I got a weak in the knees for a piece of hardware, but that feeling is back with the GTX 690. I am almost getting that Voodoo II 12MB SLI feeling again! If you are one of "those guys," you are going to want a GeForce GTX 690. We are told that while availability will not be huge, there will be thousands in North America for sale within the first 30 days in retail. NVIDIA also explained that this is not a one-time SKU and would be sold for close to a year. So while we have seen some AIB Halo cards in the past that were limited to very low numbers of production, we should not be seeing that with the GeForce GTX 690. And yes, if you want to SLI two of these GTX 690 cards, you will be able to.

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690 GPU will be available in limited quantities starting May 3, 2012, with wider availability by May 7, 2012 from NVIDIA's add-in card partners, including ASUS, EVGA, Gainward, Galaxy, Gigabyte, Inno3D, MSI, Palit and Zotac. Expected pricing is $999.


These are card shots supplied by NVIDIA.

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