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Nvidia GTX 690 & 670

About 2 weeks ago Nvidia updated it’s Facebook page with an image of a the unnamed graphics card and the teaser “IT’S COMING”:

Nvidia "IT'S COMING" Campaign. Image taken from http://www.facebook.com/NVIDIAGeForce

Nvidia “IT’S COMING” Campaign. Image taken from http://www.facebook.com/NVIDIAGeForce

A week later we found out what “it” was. A GTX 690 – essentially 2 GTX 680 GPUs and their RAM on a single PCB. I have to admit, I was somewhat surprised by this. At the time the GTX 680s were hard enough to find due to GPU shortages (supposedly due to manufacturing difficulties with TSMC,) so to try to put two in one graphics cards seemed a crazy move. On top of this, The real money in graphics cards is made through the bulk sales of cheaper “mainstream” cards rather than the smaller sales of top end cards. The real kicker in the announcement though was that the GTX 660Ti wouldn’t be arriving until H2. I assumed this meant all the lower cards would be late too…

Just one week later, came the graphics card I was waiting for – GTX 670. The GTX 680 is a great card, but is too expensive to justify. The GTX 670, whilst still a high-end card, is some £100GBP/$150AUD cheaper. On to the hardware.

GTX 690 is easy to summarise. As I said before, it’s essentially 2 GTX 680s on one PCB. The GPUs on this board are clocked a little lower but could still boost to clock speeds higher than the 680’s base clock under the right conditions. The card reaches around 95% of the performance of a pair of GTX 680s in SLI, whilst consuming far less power, generating less noise and less heat. Heat. Herein lies the weakness of most dual GPU cards – a centrally mounted fan exhausts the heat from one GPU out the rear of the case, but exhausts the heat from the second into the PC case, where it will end up raising temperatures of other components. The card costs a similar amount to a pair of GTX 680s so this would be a great route to go if you were planning on diving straight in with two GTX 680s.

GTX 670 is based on a cut down GTX 680 GPU. In my post on the GTX 680 I questioned how Nvidia was planning on scaling it’s GK104, and now we know:

GK104 in GTX 670. Image by Nvidia

GK104 in GTX 670. Image by Nvidia

Rather than cutting out a GPC, Nvidia has disabled a SMX within one of the GPCs. This means a reduction in stream processors of 12.5% (1344 rather than 1536). On top of this the GPU runs 9% slower (915MHz rather than 1006MHz). Rather surprisingly, this graphics card only runs 5-10% slower than the GTX 680, this is due to the aggressive GPU boost settings which can boost the clock speed by 18% rather than the GTX 680’s 10%.

In the GTX 670, we have a card that is about 25% cheaper than the GTX 680, but only 5-10% slower. Sounds like a bargain to me and will likely make it’s way into my next PC.