Joined on 12/01/09
Barely edges the HD 7990 to retain "Top Card" honors.
Pros: If you're researching this card, you've likely already seen the benchmarks. It's fast, obviously. Here's why I would recommend this card over 2 GTX 680's in SLI: First, heat and power consumption. If you don't mind a slightly higher power bill and slightly more heat being pushed out into your room, the 680's might be better for you. Second, the availability of PCI-e ports. You will likely need 5 available PCI-e slots to accommodate two 680's, assuming you leave 1 port worth of space between them for ventilation. If you're not concerned with future expansion (tri-SLI) or motherboard space is not an issue with your setup (such as watercooled setups) then the 680's may be a better option. And finally, on the topic of future expansion, the 690 gives you the option of doubling your power by simply adding one more card. Three 680's will take up more space and produce far less performance than two 690's. Two 680's in SLI will produce slightly better performance than one 690. So if none of the concerns above apply to you and you're simply after the most FPS, the 680's are a solid option. However, I like the fact that the 690 runs quieter, cooler, leaves more open space in my case for airflow, and consumes less power. Those positives, to me, are worth sacrificing a few frames per second here and there. You can make up your own mind for what best fits your situation.
Cons: -- For anyone using their GTX 690 for HDMI audio out: There is an issue with the HDMI audio out that for whatever reason does not seem to like my hardware setup. I feed my audio/video straight from the GTX 690 into my home theater receiver for true 5.1/7.1 digital surround sound for the few games that support it. However, when the card is under load, the audio pops, clicks, and hisses constantly. I've been through three different GTX 690 cards and all have the same problem. My other hardware is brand new, and I've tried every single troubleshooting test I can manage. After posting in countless forums, getting the generic "Your card must be defective, please replace it" reply from EVGA, and trying the card in other builds with other audio receivers (amps, TVs, etc), I've come to the conclusion that there is a design flaw somewhere in the HDMI audio out design that conflicts with certain hardware. It's not a latency issue, not a cable/wiring issue, and not a BIOS setting/PCI-e configuration issue. I've seen forums with other users experiencing the same problems, with no solution ever having been found. It could perhaps be a driver issue that will one day be fixed with an update to the HD Audio driver, but until then, users with similar hardware as me (listed at the bottom of this review) who use their video card for digital surround sound to their theater receiver via HDMI may want to take caution if they do not have a dedicated sound card. My solution was to buy an ASUS Xonar HDAV 1.3 sound card (they're not easy to find these days) which is one of the few sound cars that has an HDMI output for 7.1 uncompressed audio. -- For anyone hoping to someday game in 4k resolutions: If you plan on buying a 4K TV in the future, be aware that 2GB of memory is not optimal for these resolutions. You'll be able to get by, but recent tests have shown that you WILL likely run out of VRAM in graphic-intensive games with only 2GB of memory per card. Although the 690 says "4GB", you are in reality limited to 2GB per card, which does not increase overall memory capacity even when run in SLI. This is more than enough for 1080p on a single monitor, so memory is only an issue if you plan on Ultra HD resolutions or multi-monitor play. The GTX Titan, by comparison, has 6GB of memory in just a single card, so make sure memory isn't an issue for you when buying this card.
Overall Review: With the release of the HD 7990, the debates against the GTX 690 will surely heat up. The 7990 will push a few more frames per second and will run as much as 10db quieter than the GTX 690 depending on the load. And it also has more memory, which will make it better suited to handle 4K resolutions. But it will consume a good bit more power, it will not have nVidia's level of driver support, and to be honest, it's a massive letdown in the looks department. Aesthetics shouldn't be a make-or-break factor when talking about top-end video cards, but in my personal opinion, the GTX 690 truly looks the part of an "enthusiast card", while the HD 7990 does not. Also, there is always risk involved in buying a top-level video card. That risk comes with the knowledge that by this time next year, there will likely be another card out (possibly a dual-Titan card) that will make you regret spending $1,000 on a much slower card instead of just waiting for the latest and greatest. But that's just how technology works. If you have the money, in my opinion, the GTX 690 is still the king of GPUs, all things considered. So if you're on the fence about Titan vs. 690 vs. HD 7990, I would say get what best fits your PC and situation. But my vote goes to the GTX 690 for sure. My hardware: Intel i7 3930 ASUS Rampage IV Formula OCZ Vertex 4 SSDs Cooler Master Silent Pro Gold 1000W PSU Corsair Vengeance LP RAM
Great case. Rampage III Extreme users please read!
Pros: - Great cooling, obviously. The number of fans and fan placement is superb. The filters provide an extra layer of protection against those unwanted dust bunnies. - Lots of vertical space within. But for those who require a little more horizontal space for their hardware, please read Cons below. - Looks fantastic - which is purely a matter of taste and personal preference, of course. - Very secure inner pieces. You could probably throw this thing off a building the inner workings of the case itself would look like new. Yes, there are lots of thumbscrews for the drivebays... It would be easy to make the case that they are unnecessary. But honestly, I only leave 1/4 of them in, so I only have to take off one side of the case when I need to remove the bays to clean the filters. If your case stays in your home and just sits there, you can easily just leave out many of the thumbscrews - mine is still perfectly secure even with only 1/4 of the screws in there.
Cons: I currently use the extra fan add-on for the middle drive bay to help cool down my GPU's - the only problem is, there is absolutely no room whatsoever to plug the SATA cables into the motherboard. I have a few 90-degree angled SATA plugs that I use, but I can only fit half of them, and even then the wires are extremely pinched. If you have a very wide motherboard like the RIIIEx, you can run out of space quick when adding that extra fan. The add-on window will not fit with some motherboards/coolers - I can confirm that you will NOT have room for the extra window fan if you use a Rampage III Formula mobo with one of the larger, dual-fan Noctua coolers. The RIII Extreme gives the Noctua the extra clearance it needs to fit. I just wish there was ONE case on the market that let you completely turn of all case/fan LED's. Being able to turn off the LED for just the top fan is, honestly, a little pointless. Also, the RIIIEx mobo will cover many of the cable management holes, so be warne
Overall Review: As with every case on the market, this one couldn't possibly be designed to flawlessly fit EVERY combination of hardware. Yes I have about 6 inches of wasted space at the top of my case that I wish could be used to more easily accommodate the horizontal components - but I'm sure that extra space is a blessing for others with longer motherboards. Yes removing the dust filters requires removing a lot of thumscrews, but you shouldn't have to clean them very often. The stock fans are relatively quiet, and the fact that they all have speed controllers is fantastic. I've owned this case for over a year, and although not everything is perfect of course, I haven't encountered anything yet that would make me give this product any less than 5 stars.