|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Video Cards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Thursday, 03 May 2012|
Page 13 of 13
GeForce GTX 690 Conclusion
IMPORTANT: Although the rating and final score mentioned in this conclusion are made to be as objective as possible, please be advised that every author perceives these factors differently at various points in time. While we each do our best to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered, there are often times unforeseen market conditions and manufacturer changes which occur after publication that could render our rating obsolete. Please do not base any purchase solely on our conclusion as it represents our product rating specifically for the product tested, which may differ from future versions of the same product. Benchmark Reviews begins our conclusion with a short summary for each of the areas that we rate.
As we discovered with the GeForce GTX 680 video card just a few weeks back, NVIDIA's Kepler architecture is designed to operate faster, offer more features, deliver more functionality, use less energy, and generate less heat. Taking these design goals into consideration, it seems that Kepler would be the perfect fit for the dual-GPU GeForce GTX 690. Making a bold claim, NVIDIA insists the GeForce GTX 690 is capable of matching performance with two GTX 680s in SLI. After running fifteen different benchmark tests, the results have proven their point. Spoiler alert: the GeForce GTX 690 easily surpassed graphics performance on every product available, and in some tests it even doubled performance of its closest competitor - AMD's Radeon HD 6990. Expect nothing short of amazing performance from the GeForce GTX 690, but let test results prove my point:
DirectX 11 tests delivered an astounding lead for the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690 in nearly all benchmarks. Testing with Aliens vs Predator, the GTX 690 enjoyed a 15 FPS advantage over the AMD Radeon 6990 and pushed nearly 35 FPS past the GTX 590. The demanding DX11 graphics of Batman: Arkham Asylum made use of Kepler's optimized architecture, delivering a staggering lead to the GeForce GTX 690 over every other graphics card tested. Battlefield 3 continued the run, pushing the stock GTX 690 more than 47 FPS beyond the Radeon HD 6990 before receiving an overclock that sent it another 10 FPS higher. Lost Planet 2 played well on all graphics cards when set to high quality with 4x AA, yet the GeForce GTX 690 still surpassed Radeon HD 6990 performance by 45 FPS. Metro 2033 is another demanding game that requires high-end graphics to enjoy quality settings, which reduced the GTX 690s lead over the Radeon HD 6990 to just over 12 FPS.
Synthetic benchmark tools produced similar performance results to those seen from our video game tests. Futuremark's 3DMark11 benchmark suite strains high-end graphics cards with only mid-level settings displayed at 720p, yet the GeForce GTX 690 makes the test look silly and nearly doubles the next best performer. Gugila GroundWiz RTS Demo uses the Alpine scene to cripple graphics cards with real-time shadows that are so demanding our tests had to run at 1280x720p just to get decent frame rate results. NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 690 did well, but it seems that AMD needs to sort out issues on their new Radeon HD 7970 which failed this test. Unfortunately AMD did not consider this issue to be worthy of response, even though the test works nicely with their other products. Finally, the Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark confirmed what we've seen in most other tests: NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 690 leading way ahead of the AMD Radeon HD 6990 (by more than 31 FPS at 1920x1080), and then leaping past it more than 41 FPS once overclocked to maximum GPU Boost.
Appearance is a much more subjective matter, especially since this particular rating doesn't have any quantitative benchmark scores to fall back on. NVIDIA's GeForce GTX series has traditionally used a recognizable design over the past two years, and with the exception transparent windows and treated materials, the GTX 690 looks very similar to their GTX 590 model. Expect most partners to dress up the original reference design by placing exciting graphics over the fan shroud or using colored plastic components. While looks might mean a lot to some consumers, keep in mind that this product outperforms the competition while generating much less heat and producing very little noise.
Construction is the one area NVIDIA continually shines, and thanks in part to extremely quiet operation paired with more efficient cores that consume less energy and emit less heat, I'm confident that GeForce GTX 690 will continue this tradition. Benchmark Reviews has published our NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690 Features Overview in a separate article, which details these improvements. Gamers wanting a single-card solution capable of driving three monitors in 3D Vision Surround will be pleased with the GeForce GTX 690, which offers three DL-DVI ports with supplementary mini-DisplayPort output.
Defining value for an ultra-premium high-end product isn't easy because hardware enthusiasts know that they're going to pay top dollar to own a cutting-edge product. GeForce GTX 690 is the ultimate enthusiast graphics card intended for affluent top-end gamers, and demonstrates NVIDIA's ability to innovate the graphics segment while establishing a huge lead in the discrete graphics market... but it comes at a cost: $999 MSRP to be exact. Keeping in mind that the GTX 690 also offers triple-display 3D gaming, PhysX technology support, GPU Boost overclocking, FXAA, and now TXAA post-processing, consumers get more than sheer graphical processing power for their purchase.
Our GeForce GTX 690 test sample took the standard 915/1020 MHz GPU clock and easily reached 1053/1158 MHz with GPU Boost helping to produce 1215 MHz when needed. Add this to the record-setting 6.0 GHz GDDR5 memory clock (which we also overclocked to 6.4 GHz), and enabling vSync on every game becomes a possibility... especially with NVIDIA Adaptive VSync now available to smooth the frame rate gaps. Using just one GeForce GTX 690 video card is enough to surpass the competition by nearly 100%, so imagine the graphics quality settings and resolutions possible with two units combined into a quad-SLI set.
In conclusion, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690 has dramatically surpassed all graphics cards on the market and could be the top contender for much longer than we expect. AMD has been forced to show their hand, and I expect the Radeon HD 7990 to surface sometime soon. Yet, even if AMD manages to double the performance of a single Radeon HD 7970, it still won't surpass GTX 690 frame rates and will still lack the thermal performance, quiet acoustics, and FXAA/TXAA post-processing.
So what do you think of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690 Kepler graphics card, and are you planning to buy one?