It was clear from the PR campaign that NVIDIA embarked on over the last few weeks that they felt an upcoming product was going to be a hit. This is all well and good but how often have manufacturers fallen foul of their own PR, overselling an items capabilities or raising expectations too high which can result in a product not being able to live up to the hype.
In the case of the GeForce GTX 690 NVIDIA were right to be making a fuss about their latest product, this is an exceptional card. The great user experience starts with the hardware which looks great and has a well-built feel to it. A mixture of aluminium with trivalent chromium and injection moulded magnesium alloy (as used in F-22 Raptor’s and the Bugatti Veyron) takes it to a level unseen from a reference card and the polycarbonate windows, nickel plated fins and laser etched LED writing add that extra level of style.
It’s not all about style though as the GTX 680 also backs this up with some good design decisions, the 10 layer 2oz copper PCB for one, dual 8-pin connectors providing over 75w of extra headroom on a 10 phase design is another. That said, we would have been tempted to look at introducing two models, one with 4GB and one with 8GB… and maybe add a backplate on the more expensive model just for added style.
The reason for that 8GB model would be to smooth things out at 5760×1080 with high levels of anti-aliasing and maximum detail where the GTX 690 can on occasion fall behind dual 7970 cards. That said the GTX 690 is a phenomenal overclocker and at our maximum overclock we achieved playable framerates, even in Battlefield 3 at 5760×1080 with 4xAA and maxiumum detail. Power use is also class leading, improving on the GTX 680 in SLI, 7970 in Crossfire, GTX 590, Radeon 6990… the list goes on and that is before we consider this is one of the quietest cards we have ever tested.
Looking at more standard testing, in framerates other than a couple of games the GTX 690 is only beaten by the GTX 680 in SLI at 1920×1080 and even then it is very close. The GTX 680 also offers a great stereoscopic 3D experience, PhysX enhancements and good media playback performance all while running cooler and quieter, with less power draw than GTX 680 SLI… and of course using less slots.
So that brings us to value where in the UK we should see the GTX 690 for £829 including VAT. That’s £20-30 less than two of the cheapest, reference GTX 680s and significantly less than custom models that use enhanced designs. By no means cheap, but still good value in comparison to the alternative.