So yes, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 690 is a vastly expensive card, and is also incredibly niche. But then so is every SLI graphics configuration out there.
If you're talking about the absolute fastest fantasy graphics setup then we'd have previously been talking about a pair of GTX 680s in SLI. What the GTX 690 does then is throw that into question.
Of course the absolute fastest is still the GTX 680s, but only by a hair's breadth. There are many more reasons to opt for the slightly slower GTX 690 instead.
The primary reason is one of power demands.
In both fully loaded and idle states the GTX 690 draws less power than either Nvidia GTX 670 or GTX 680 SLI configurations. It also only requires a pair of PCIe power connectors making it more universally compatible with your PSU.
That said, if you're spending this much on your graphics, chances are you're building your entire rig around it.
And in the rig-building world is where the GTX 690 is probably most likely to be seen.
System integrators are going to be able to craft impressively powerful machines from this card without needing elaborate power supplies or vast chassis to house it.
But for that to happen supply will need to be there, and there is a part of us that struggles to believe we'll see that many Nvidia GeForce GTX 690s out in the wild.
Where we also struggle with the GTX 690 is in the choice of cooling solution Nvidia has employed. We understand that having the fan sat in between the two GPUs allows them both to be cooled equally, but it also means half the hot air is being exhausted inside your PC.
In many PC configurations that would automatically mean a constant blast of hot air pushing over your storage drives. Obviously then component layout is going to be vital to any GTX 690 build, and you'll probably need an exhaust fan pulling out of the chassis on the front.
We can also understand, now that the GTX 670 has been released, why Nvidia decided to push the GTX 690 out of the door only a week ahead of its little brother.
A pair of those cheaper cards will offer very similar performance metrics compared with the very pricey GTX 690.
You've got to really care about the extra 14W of fully loaded power draw to want to spend an extra £200/$200 on the more expensive card.
We can't help but feel the trivalent chromium plating and injection moulded magnesium alloy are only there in a bid to justify the vast expense of the card.
Yes, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 690 is a very elegant solution to the SLI problem, with its luxury components and design elements, but that price tag still sticks in the craw.
Even more so with far cheaper options offering very close performance.
Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 review
AMD Radeon HD 7970 review
Nvidia GeForce GTX 670 review
AMD Radeon HD 7950 review
The design of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 690 is immaculate. From the fan-housing to the chromed aluminium chassis it's a thing of technological beauty.
It's also impressive that Nvidia has managed to get so close to the full GTX 680 SLI performance in this single slab of PCB.
The comparatively low power draw and quiet operation of the card also impresses us.
The big issue we have with the GTX 690 is the appearance of the GTX 670 just a week after launch. A pair of those far cheaper cards will give you incredibly close performance compared with the more expensive card.
And that price tag is another thing that is tough to love about the GTX 690. It's true that it is no more than a pair of GTX 680s, but does it really cost as much to manufacture one of these as two GTX 680s?
We're also a little displeased at the amount of hot air that will inevitably be left washing around inside your PC as the GTX 690's cooling setup blasts half of the heat back into the chassis.
The GTX 690 is a beautifully designed, and wonderfully engineered graphics card. Truly a thing of tech pornography.
That said the performance it has on offer isn't anything wondrous compared to the cheaper GTX 670 SLI alternative.