Overclocking

With the GTX 590 NVIDIA found themselves with a bit of a PR problem. Hardcore overclockers had managed to send their GTX 590s to a flaming death, which made the GTX 590 look bad and required that NVIDIA lock down all voltage control so that no one else could repeat the feat. The GTX 590 was a solid card at stock, but NVIDIA never designed it for overvolting, and indeed I’m not sure you could even say it was designed for overclocking since it was already running at a 365W TDP.

Since that incident NVIDIA has taken a much harder stance on overvolting, which we first saw with the GTX 680. The reference GTX 680 could not be overvolted, with voltage options limited to whatever voltage the top GPU boost bin used (typically 1.175v). This principle will be continuing with the GTX 690; there will not be any overvolting options.

However this is not to say that the GTX 690 isn’t built for overclocking. The GTX 680 still has some overclocking potential thanks to some purposeful use of design headroom, and the GTX 690 is going to be the same story. In fact it’s much the same story as with AMD’s Radeon HD 5970 and 6990, both of which shipped in configurations that kept power consumption at standard levels while also offering modes that unlocked overclocking potential in exchange for greater power consumption (e.g. AWSUM). As we’ve previously mentioned the GTX 690 is designed to be able to handle up to 375W even though it ships in a 300W configuration, and that 75W is our overclocking headroom.

NVIDIA will be exposing the GTX 690’s overclocking options through a combination of power targets and clock offsets, just as with the GTX 680. This in turn means that the GTX 690 effectively has two overclocking modes:

  1. Power target overclocking. By just raising the power target (max +35%) you can increase how often the GTX 690 can boost and how frequently it can hit its max boost bin. By adjusting the power target performance will only increase in games/applications that are being held back by NVIDIA’s power limiter, but in return this is easy mode overclocking as all of the GPU boost bins are already qualified for stability. In other words, this is the GTX 690’s higher performance, higher power 375W mode.
  2. Power target + offset overclocking. By using clock offsets it’s possible to further raise the performance of the GTX 690, and to do so across all games and applications. The lack of overvolting support means that there isn’t a ton of headroom for the offset, but as it stands NVIDIA’s clocks are conservative for power purposes and Kepler is clearly capable of more than 915MHz/1019MHz. This of course will require testing for stability, and it should be noted that because NVIDIA’s GPU boost bins already go so high over the base clock that it won’t take much to be boosting into 1.2GHz+.

NVIDIA’s goal with the GTX 690 was not just to reach GTX 680 SLI performance, but also match the GTX 680’s overclocking capabilities. We’ll get to our full results in our overclocking performance section, but for the time being we’ll leave it at this: we hit 1040MHz base, 1183MHz boost, and 7GHz memory on our GTX 690; even without overvolting it’s a capable overclocker.

Meet The GeForce GTX 690 GeForce Experience & The Test
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  • tviceman - Thursday, May 03, 2012 - link

    Last page: Based on our benchmarks we’re looking at 95% of the performance of the GTX "580 SLI" - 580 SLI should read 680 SLI. Reply
  • UltraTech79 - Thursday, May 03, 2012 - link

    I wish there was a separate button to point out this sort of thing so they could silently correct it. Dont get me wrong, I think its good to have accurate information, just clutters things up a bit. Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Thursday, May 03, 2012 - link

    My inbox is always open.=) Reply
  • mediaconvert - Friday, May 04, 2012 - link

    p 2

    While the basic design of the GTX 690 resembles the GTX 590, NVIDIA has replaced virtually every bit "with plastic with metal" for aesthetic/perceptual purposes.

    surely "with plastic with metal" to "of plastic with metal"

    still a good review
    Reply
  • rockqc - Thursday, May 03, 2012 - link

    1st line on page 2 "Much like the GTX 680 launch and the GTX 590 before it, the first generation the first generation of GTX 690 cards are reference boards being built by NVIDIA"

    First generation has been written twice.
    Reply
  • Torrijos - Thursday, May 03, 2012 - link

    The first benchmark plotted (Crysis) has a resolution of 5760 x 1200, this has to be wrong! Reply
  • tipoo - Thursday, May 03, 2012 - link

    It's crazy but right. He tested that resolution on multiple games. Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Thursday, May 03, 2012 - link

    If you look at accumulated benchmarks across the web, the 680 Nvidia cards beat the 7970 amd cards by a much higher percentage in 1920x1080 (17.61% ahead) than they do in 1920x1200 (10.14% ahead).
    This means anand reviews always tests in 1920x1200 to give the amd cards a prettier looking review, instead of testing in 1920x1080 (the most commonly available resolution at 1920x that they could easily set their 1920x1200 monitors to).
    Hence their tests here at anand are likely also amd favorably biased in higher resolutions.
    http://translate.google.pl/translate?hl=pl&sl=...
    Reply
  • A5 - Thursday, May 03, 2012 - link

    It's not like 19x12 is an uncommon or unavailable resolution. Maybe Nvidia should improve their 19x12 performance? Reply
  • crimson117 - Thursday, May 03, 2012 - link

    Sadly, it is a very uncommon resolution for new monitors. Almost every 22-24" monitor your buy today is 1080p instead of 1200p. :( Reply

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