Ramifications of GTX690

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Nvidia GTX690This weekend, Nvidia announced plans to release the GTX690 dual core GPU.  Key specs include 3072 CUDA Cores, 4GB of 512-bit GDDR5 memory, a Base/Boost clock of 915Mhz/1019Mhz, and a memory speed of 6Gbps.  A powerful card for sure!  What are the ramifications of this for 3D Vision users?

First, even though this is more to do with marketing than actual support (because available displays that work in this mode are slim to none right now), we expected Nvidia to come out with a competing part to AMD’s 7900 series GPUs that support HDMI 1080P 120Hz bandwidth.  Instead, Nvidia’s 690GTX doesn’t have a native HDMI connector at all.  According to Nvidia, it uses a D-Link DVI connector to HDMI 1.4 bridge that has the 720P limitation in 3D (for 60FPS gaming in 3D).

The remaining questions we had for Nvidia were:

I. How would you describe the 3D Vision game compatibility with SLI?  Will it be any more or less compatible than a single core GPU, and are special 3D Vision SLI profiles needed to benefit from the full performance for the graphics card?

II. Are there performance and power advantages of having a single graphics card with two cores versus two full sized GPUs in SLI?  How does the 690 compare to two 680s?

Nvidia hasn’t provided answers to our remaining questions, so this is only an analysis on our part until Nvidia fills in the gaps.

This is an SLI graphics card.   Even though it’s powerful, it will only work with 3D Vision with full performance if the 3D Vision drivers can address both cores in stereoscopic 3D mode.  Based on 3D Vision user posts, there are mixed results with SLI, so you won’t get full performance with every game.

Efficient power use is likely the big winner between two GPUs versus one, though a clear performance advantage is hard to say sight unseen.  Is this the best choice graphics card for Nvidia 3D Vision owners?  It depends.

If you are committed to an SLI multi-screen display based on 3D Vision approved DisplayPort 1.2 monitors or D-Link DVI, this GPU makes sense.

However, if you have a single screen, it will probably pay to wait.  The GTX580 and GTX680 offer plenty of processing power for 3D gaming which is resolution capped at 1080P gaming anyway.  HDMI is going through a transitory state right now with more bandwidth expected, so you will want your next big expense GPU to be 100% compatible with the updated 3D spec.  It’s one thing if a GPU is a few hundred dollars, but at over $1,000 a pop, it’s important to give this some thought.

Finally, GPU prices go down, not up.  3D Vision users have the luxury to wait, and not run the risk of missing out.  When the pricing is right, it will be easy to double up your GTX680 when it is cost effective to do so.

If you are a DDD driver user, steer clear of the GTX690.  To the best of our knowledge, their multi-GPU support is limited to AMD CrossFire.  Since the GTX690 is an SLI based dual core GPU, you would only get half the performance for twice the price!  Stick with a single core Nvidia or AMD GPU for best results.