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NVIDIA GTX 690 Review

ccokeman    -   May 3, 2012
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Testing:

Testing of the NVIDIA GTX 690 will consist of running it and comparison cards through the OverclockersClub.com suite of games and synthetic benchmarks. This will test the performance against many popular competitors. Comparisons will be made to cards of a range of capabilities to show where each card falls on the performance ladder. The games used are some of today's newest and most popular titles, which should be able to provide an idea of how the cards perform relative to each other.

The system specifications will remain the same throughout the testing. No adjustment will be made to the respective control panels during the testing, with the exception of the 3DMark Vantage testing, where PhysX will be disabled in the NVIDIA Control Panel, if applicable. I will first test the cards at stock speeds, and then overclocked to see the effects of an increase in clock speed. The cards will be placed in order from highest to lowest performance in each graph to show where they fall by comparison. The latest press release driver will be used in testing of the GTX 690 and GTX 680. Other NVIDIA comparison cards will be using the 296.10 drivers; AMD will be using Catalyst 12.3 drivers.

 

Comparison Video Cards:

 

Overclocking:

  • NVIDIA GTX 690 — Core 1202MHz, Memory 1620MHz

Overclocking a Kepler-based GPU is somewhat different from what we have been used to with prior generation NVIDIA video cards. Or for that matter any video card. While you still have to raise the clock speed, voltage and memory clocks, how they are applied is where the difference comes into play. NVIDIA uses GPU Boost to dynamically raise the clock speeds under load to increase performance as high as possible while still falling into the thermal (98C) and power design (300 watt) envelopes. If you have had fun overclocking a Sandy Bridge-based CPU from Intel you kind of get the gist of how it all works. NVIDIA uses both a hardware and software-based set of controls to ensure thermal and power envelopes are not exceeded while still allowing the highest possible performance. The baseline clock speed of 915MHz is used when the most demanding games are played yet in every game I tested the clock speed was usually above the 1019MHz GPU Boost clocks for the majority of the test. It seems as though the controls used by NVIDIA seem to allow this kind of speed at will.

To raise the clock speed above these levels a software based utility such as EVGA's Precision or MSI's Afterburner can be used to adjust the memory and GPU core clock speeds. A difference from past NVIDIA cards is the lack of a third clock domain to worry about as Kepler GPUS only use the GPU and memory core clocks. The highest clock speeds I could reach on this card are 1202MHz on the two cores and 1620Mhz on the GDDR5 memory. To reach the highest clock speeds I adjusted the GPU core voltage to a maximum of 1175mv and raised the core clock speed by 100MHz and proceeded to test stability using Unigine Heaven Benchmark 3.0 at a resolution of 5760x1080 using the maximum settings. I continued in 10MHz increments until the benchmark failed. Failure came pretty quickly at just +123MHz for a +13% increase in clock speed or 1028MHz. GPU Boosted clocks ranged from 1189MHz to 1202MHz in this configuration. To get the most from the GDDR5 memory I followed the same scaling and ended up with a memory clock speed of 1620 MHz or 6480MHz effective or an 8% bump in speed. Although not massive increases on a percentage basis the increases deliver measurable increases in performance across the board from an already fast card.

 

Maximum Clock Speeds:

Testing for the maximum clock speed consists of looping Unigine 3.0 for 30 minutes each to see where the clock speeds fail when pushed. If the clock speed adjustment fails, then the clock speeds are adjusted and the test is rerun until each card passes the testing.

 

 

  • Gaming Tests:
  1. Metro 2033
  2. Batman: Arkham City
  3. Battlefield 3
  4. Sid Meier's Civilization V
  5. Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.5
  6. DiRT 3
  7. Mafia II
  8. 3DMark 11
  • Usage:
  1. Temperature
  2. Power Consumption



  1. Introduction & Closer look
  2. Closer Look: The Video Card
  3. Specifications & Features
  4. Testing: Setup & Overclocking
  5. Testing: Metro 2033
  6. Testing: Batman: Arkham City
  7. Testing: Battlefield 3
  8. Testing: Unigine Heaven Benchmark 3.0
  9. Testing: Sid Meier's Civilization V
  10. Testing: DiRT 3
  11. Testing: Mafia II
  12. Testing: 3DMark 11
  13. Testing: Temperatures
  14. Testing: Power Consumption
  15. Conclusion
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