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Beyond simply building a more capable cooler, Nvidia claims that hand-picking low-leakage GK104 GPUs helps minimize the GeForce GTX 690’s thermal output. As a result, the card slides in under a 300 W TDP. But company representatives say there is plenty of headroom left in the card for clock rates beyond the stock 915 MHz base and 1019 MHz typical GPU Boost frequency.
Using EVGA’s excellent Precision X tool, we managed to push a 150 MHz core and 25 MHz memory offset using a 20%-higher power target. Stability was marginal at those settings, though, so we nudged the voltage up from its .988 V default up to 1.025 V, which kept the card from crashing.
The resulting gains aren’t bad, ranging from a 13%+ speed-up in Battlefield 3 to a 5%+ boost in Metro 2033 at 2560x1600.
You can call it tradition by this point. Our examination of tessellation scaling is intended to quantify claims that both Nvidia and AMD make regarding continually-improving implementations of geometry processing. We like to use real-world metrics where possible, and HAWX 2 gives us an easy on/off toggle for applying additional vertices.
The only real take-away here is that a GeForce GTX 690 does as well as two GeForce GTX 680s in SLI, which improve on what a single GeForce GTX 680 achieves on its own. We’re not sure why the 680 bleeds off so much of its performance when you turn tessellation on, but there’s clearly a bottleneck hammering the frame rate harder than geometry.