NVIDIA’s Dual-Core GTX 690 Will Set You Back $999

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Surprise, NVIDIA has a new insanely expensive dual-GPU graphics card in the offing, and you can have it already this Thursday, May 3…that is, if you’re willing to pay twice what the company’s charging for its flagship single-GPU model.

Meet the GeForce GTX 690: two GTX 680 GPUs strapped together on a single board and promising frame rates even higher than the ridiculously high ones the GTX 680 already delivers. The GTX 680 launched last month to mostly glowing reviews that proclaimed it “faster, cooler and quieter” than both its predecessor and the competition.

(MORE: NVIDIA Geforce GTX 680 Review Roundup: Faster, Cooler and Quieter)

We don’t have benchmarks for the GTX 690 yet — those are coming Thursday — but as Anandtech notes, it doubles the GTX 680′s stream processors (2 x 1536) and texture units (2 x 128) as well as memory (2 x 2GB) and memory bus width (2 x 256-bit) while dropping the core clock speed per GPU slightly (from 1006 MHz to 915MHz) along with the boost clock (from 1058 MHz to 1019 MHz). And where a single GTX 680 uses up to 195W of power, the GTX 690 can draw up to 300W.

NVIDIA is touting the GTX 690 as “exotic,” talking up its design, which includes a frame constructed of trivalent chromium-plated aluminum (for “strength and durability”), housing for the fan made of thixomolded magnesium alloy (for “heat dissipation and vibration dampening”), a 10-phase power supply with a 10-layer copper printed circuit board (for “lower power and less heat”), more efficient cooling (“dual vapor chambers, a nickel-plated finstack and center-mounted axial fan with optimized fin pitch and air entry angles”) and “low-profile components” to improve airflow and acoustics.

The company isn’t mincing words about performance, either: NVIDIA claims the GTX 690 achieves “close to double the frame rates” of the GTX 680 (NVIDIA was less boastful of the GTX 690′s predecessor, the GTX 590, when it launched). The GTX 690 is also said to be “more power efficient and quieter” compared to a dual GTX 680 setup running in SLI mode. And if you have $2,000 to spare, you can drop two GTX 690s into your rig and run all four GPUs in quad-SLI mode.

As with the GTX 680, the benefits for single-monitor gamers are questionable, but if you’re running a multi-monitor setup and you’ve been eyeballing two GTX 680s ($499 a piece), it sounds like the GTX 690 delivers substantially more, design-wise, for the same price. NVIDIA says to look for limited availability on May 3, and for that to broaden by May 7.

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