Did you spend some time this week wondering what Nvidia was planning for today's announcement? Everyone who guessed GeForce GTX 690, you're right. Powered by two GK104 graphics processors, we have the scoop on Nvidia's soon-to-be flagship.
Performance that’s comparable to two GeForce GTX 680s, a significantly lower combined thermal ceiling, less noise—what’s the catch?
According to Nvidia, it over-engineered the GeForce GTX 690, giving it extra rigidity, addressing acoustics, and increasing cooling headroom.
The exterior frame is built of chromium-plated aluminum, rather than the plastic materials covering most other cards (including the GeForce GTX 680).
The fan housing itself is a magnesium alloy, which purportedly aids heat dissipation and logically improves vibration dampening compared to plastic shrouds.
Dual vapor chambers cover each of the GPUs, similar to what we’ve seen from both Nvidia and AMD in the past. This time, however, a polycarbonate window over each fin stack allows curious enthusiasts to peer “under the hood.” An LED up top can actually be controlled through a new API Nvidia is making available to partners. So, it might respond to load, getting lighter and darker, as an example.
As with dual-GPU boards from the past, Nvidia is using a center-mounted axial fan, which it claims is optimized for moving air without generating a lot of noise. The trouble with axial fans in this configuration is that they exhaust the heat from one GPU out the rear I/O panel, while the second chip’s thermal energy is jettisoned back into your chassis. Both AMD and Nvidia went the axial route last generation, so we have to surmise that it’s logistically the only approach that makes sense. At least the TDP on GeForce GTX 690 is lower than 590, indicating less maximum heat to dissipate.
The 690’s rear I/O panel plays host to three dual-link DVI outputs and a mini-DisplayPort connector, accommodating four screens total. A single SLI connector up top links the GeForce GTX 690 to one other card, enabling quad-SLI arrays.
Pricing And Availability
When I first heard about the GeForce GTX 690, it was suggested to me that the card would cost more than two GeForce GTX 680s—already $500 boards. It turns out that it’ll be priced right at $1000, though. Providing it does everything Nvidia says it does, a thousand-dollar price tag makes it an option for two kinds of people.
- For anyone who was ready to go the 2 x GeForce GTX 680 route right off the bat, this should come close to similar performance, is supposedly quieter, and crams all of the same hardware into a dual-slot form factor. You pay just as much, this card looks cooler, so why not, right?
- If quad-SLI was ever a serious consideration, this is probably the easiest way to achieve it without sweating your motherboard’s capabilities. With that said, if you’re down to spend two grand on graphics, the thought of X79 and Sandy Bridge-E probably doesn’t bother you much anyway.
Nvidia claims that GeForce GTX 690 will be available starting May 3rd in limited quantities, with more cards showing up on May 7th. We gave the company some latitude with its GeForce GTX 680 launch, but availability of that single-GPU board is still downright inconsistent. We’ve seen a number of email notifications from Newegg, so we know cards are out there, but the boards never last longer than a couple of hours. Thus, we’re approaching GeForce GTX 690 more cynically.
And what about reviews? We haven’t received a GeForce GTX 690 yet, but we’re expecting it soon. The final word on GeForce GTX 690 will go live shortly thereafter.