|NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690 Video Card Features|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Wednesday, 02 May 2012|
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First Look: GeForce GTX 690
NVIDIA has built the GeForce GTX 690 for the ultra-performance hardware enthusiast and hard-core gamer wanting to play PC video games at their maximum graphics quality settings with the highest screen resolution possible. It's a small niche market that few can claim, but also one that every PC gamer dreams of enjoying.
The outer dimensions for the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690 give this 1.5" tall double-bay, 3.9" wide, 11.0" long graphics card a similar profile to their last generation GeForce GTX 590 dual-GPU graphics solution, yet offers a more compatible length compared to the AMD Radeon HD 6990 that reaches 12.0" long.
NVIDIA engineers went overboard tweaking the design on GeForce GTX 690, such as the cast aluminum shroud frame that is protected with (Chem-101 alert!) trivalent chromium plating. This special highly-bonded trivalent chromium plating gives the GeForce GTX 690 a sleek look while also being highly durable. The fan housing on GeForce GTX 690 is made from injection molded magnesium alloy, which takes advantage of magnesium's light weight, superior heat dissipation, and improved acoustic dampening properties. By positioning a clear polycarbonate window above each cooling unit, NVIDIA gives this video card an added design dimension.
Specified for 300W Thermal Design Power output, the GeForce GTX 690 dramatically outperforms NVIDIA's previous generation dual-GPU solution. Because TDP demands have been reduced from 365W TDP for the GeForce GTX 590 to 300W TDP, NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 690 runs cooler and has move power available for overclocking. NVIDIA has added a "GeForce GTX" logo along the exposed side video card, and the LED backlit letters glow green when the system is powered on. GeForce GTX 690 requires two eight-pin PCI-E connections, and NVIDIA recommends a 650W power supply for computer systems equipped with one of these video cards.
The standard GTX 690 reference design offers four simultaneously-functional connections: three dual-link DVI (DL-DVI) ports and a mini-DisplayPort 1.2 connection. Add-in partners may elect to remove or possibly further extend any of these video interfaces, but most will likely retain the original engineering. Only one of these video cards is necessary to drive triple-display NVIDIA 3D-Vision Surround functionality. Each of these video interfaces consume exhaust-vent real estate, but this has only a minor impact on cooling performance because each 28nm Kepler GPU generates less heat than past GeForce processors, and also because NVIDIA intentionally positions the heatsink far enough from these vents to equalize exhaust pressure.
A slightly reward 80mm (3.15") cooling fan mounted with a small above-surface offset takes advantage of the chamfered depression to draw cool air into the angled fan shroud, allowing more air to reach the intake whenever two or more video cards are combined in close-proximity SLI configurations. To create the intricate geometries required for the fan housing, NVIDIA used a form of injection molding called thixomolding, in which liquid magnesium alloy is injected into a mold. It's unlikely that add-in card partners will offer cooling solutions that surpass the benchmark of this reference design.
As with past-generation dual-GPU GeForce GTX series graphics cards, the GTX 690 is capable of a two-card "Quad-SLI" configuration. Because GeForce GTX 690 is PCI-Express 3.0 compliant device, the added bandwidth could potentially come into demand as future games and applications make use of these resources. Most games will be capable of using the highest graphics quality settings available using only a single GeForce GTX 690 graphics card, but multi-card Quad-SLI configurations are perfect for gamers wanting to experience high-performance video games played at their highest quality settings with all the bells and whistles enabled across multiple monitors.
In our next section, we disassemble the GeForce GTX 690 for a more detailed look and inspect the internal component technology that NVIDIA used to build this dual-GPU video card...