GeForce GTX 690 Review: Testing Nvidia's Sexiest Graphics Card

Test Setup And Benchmarks

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Test Hardware
ProcessorsIntel Core i7-3960X (Sandy Bridge-E) 3.3 GHz at 4.2 GHz (42 * 100 MHz), LGA 2011, 15 MB Shared L3, Hyper-Threading enabled, Power-savings enabled
MotherboardGigabyte X79-UD5 (LGA 2011) X79 Express Chipset, BIOS F10
MemoryG.Skill 16 GB (4 x 4 GB) DDR3-1600, F3-12800CL9Q2-32GBZL @ 9-9-9-24 and 1.5 V
Hard DriveIntel SSDSC2MH250A2 250 GB SATA 6Gb/s
GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 690 4 GB
Row 5 - Cell 0 2 x Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 2 GB
Row 6 - Cell 0 2 x AMD Radeon HD 7970 3 GB
Row 7 - Cell 0 AMD Radeon HD 7950 3 GB
Row 8 - Cell 0 AMD Radeon HD 6990 4 GB
Row 9 - Cell 0 Nvidia GeForce GTX 590 3 GB
Row 10 - Cell 0 Nvidia GeForce GTX 580 1.5 GB
Power SupplyCooler Master UCP-1000 W
System Software And Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
DirectXDirectX 11
Graphics DriverNvidia GeForce Release 301.33 (For GTX 690)
Row 16 - Cell 0 Nvidia GeForce Release 300.99 and 301.10 (For GTX 680)
Row 17 - Cell 0 Nvidia GeForce Release 296.10 (For GTX 580 and 590)
Row 18 - Cell 0 AMD Catalyst 12.2 (For HD 7950 and HD 6990)
Row 19 - Cell 0 AMD Catalyst 12.4 (For HD 7970)

As a rule, we do our testing with the latest drivers each time we start a new story. This ensures that any fixes or performance improvements introduced by a software update get reflected in our coverage.

This time around, however, we don't have that luxury. So, the GeForce GTX 690 is tested using Nvidia's new 301.33 build. From there, we spot-checked the GeForce GTX 680 on its own and in SLI using the public 301.10 release. Then, we did the same thing with AMD's Radeon HD 7970 in one- and two-card configurations using Catalyst 12.4.

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Battlefield 3Ultra Quality Settings, No AA / 16x AF, 4x MSAA / 16x AF, v-sync off, 1920x1080 / 2560x1600 / 5760x1080, DirectX 11, Going Hunting, 90-second playback, Fraps
Crysis 2DirectX 9 / DirectX 11, Ultra System Spec, v-sync off, 1920x1080 / 2560x1600 / 5760x1080, No AA / No AF, Central Park, High-Resolution Textures: On
Metro 2033High Quality Settings, AAA / 4x AF, 4x MSAA / 16x AF, 1920x1080 / 2560x1600 / 5760x1080, Built-in Benchmark, Depth of Field filter Disabled, Steam version
DiRT 3Ultra High Settings, No AA / No AF, 8x AA / No AF, 1920x1080 / 2560x1600 / 5760x1080, Steam version, Built-In Benchmark Sequence, DX 11
The Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimHigh Quality (8x AA / 8x AF) / Ultra Quality (8x AA, 16x AF) Settings, FXAA enabled, vsync off, 1920x1080 / 2560x1600 / 5760x1080, 25-second playback, Fraps
3DMark 11Version 1.03, Extreme Preset
HAWX 2Highest Quality Settings, 8x AA, 1920x1200, Retail Version, Built-in Benchmark, Tessellation on/off
World of Warcraft: CataclysmUltra Quality Settings, No AA / 16x AF, 8x AA / 16x AF, From Crushblow to The Krazzworks, 1920x1080 / 2560x1600 / 5760x1080, Fraps, DirectX 11 Rendering, x64 Client
SiSoftware Sandra 2012Sandra Tech Support (Engineer) 2012.SP4, GP Processing and GP Bandwidth Modules
LuxMark 2.064-bit Binary, Version 1.0, Room Scene
Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.
  • robwright
    I wonder, given the price of the 690, just how limited the quanitities will be. Which brings up another question, one that Nvidia (and AMD as well) would probably be reluctant to answer: are they making and shipping fewer of the top-shelf Halo cards today than they did 5 or six years ago?
  • milkshakez7z
    Looks very nice. Pity I'll never own one.
  • guzami77
    im waiting for the 680 3gb sli
  • Luscious
    Ah, the Bugatti Veyron of video cards... I'll take three, thanks!!!
  • chumly
    It CAN play Crysis.
  • rebel1280
    ....... Lamborghini’s Reventón ...... +infinity for mentioning that work of art T_T didn't even read the article until after I got my fix for the Lamborghini’s Reventón on the net haha. That car may be the only proof left to us of the old gods, in particular Mercury (god of transport) lol
  • lahawzel
    680s are already nearly nonexistent, so I expect these 690s to be just as mythical and hard-to-find as the Radeon 6990.
  • phamhlam
    LaHawzel680s are already nearly nonexistent, so I expect these 690s to be just as mythical and hard-to-find as the Radeon 6990.
    6990 aren't that hard to find. Back in January before the 7000 series came out, you could easily pick one or two up. I am pretty sure in 6 month, the 690 will be easy to grab.
  • Marcus52
    That pair of 690s with the matching bridge looks so sweet, I want 2!

  • frombehind
    I wonder if someone will come out with a version that has a stock water-cooler built in? Then it really would the card to get ^^