There are lots of them out there but some quick review at Tom’s Hardware. The unit you get depends a little bit on what you want to do. The big decision is whether to go water cooled or not. If you do then a pair of PNYs (as described by overclocker.com)will really help make a small quite build. If you don’t care about noise then:
- The best priced unit right now is the nVidia GTX-670 at sub $400. Get a pair of these are you within a few percent of the monster GTX-690 and the Asus GTX670-DC2T-2GD5 is nice and quiet.
- The GTX-690 makes the most sense if money is no object and you want small because it is two GTX-680s on the same board. That makes it easy to go 4x GPUs in a simple ATX motherboard with only two slots. This thing is a howling monster though.
- However the other thing is keeping this stuff from howling away, turns out the PNY makes a liquid cooled GTX680 that would have been perfect, but they’ve discontinued it. Darn it. Although Inno3D has announce a GTX670 liquid cooled with unknown date or pricing and if you are brave enough, you can remove the factory cooler and use frozencpu.com to put your own custom one on. I actually did that with one of my homebrews a few years ago. Not for the faint of heart, but it did work at least then. There are quite of few of these solutions around it looks like the Arctic
nVidia GTX-670 vs. AMD HD7970. These seem to be the two well priced cards with good price performance at $400 or so per card and incredible SLI performance. The GTX-670 is probably the value leader right now and it is basically a GTX-680 with one of its 8 cores disabled. This is a truly monster care with double width just for the integrated cooling fan. It draws something like 130 watts and needs an auxiliary power plug since a PCIe slot only supplies 75 watts.
Performance-wise, they are pretty close and it really depends on the game, but for a single card here is a Battlefield 3 sample:
And as an aside if you are going to do a pair of card in SLI anyway, you might get the nVidia GTX-690. This is a pair o GTX-680s built onto the same card. Means that you don’t need to do the SLI thing and could go to a smaller motherboard. As you can see above, this gets you a free SLI configuration and performance is essentially double the GTX670. Alternatively, if you want to save some money, get a pair of GTX670s for $700 and save $300. AMD by the way is about to do the same trick with their next model to give the GTX690 as run for its money.
On the other hand, a pair of GTX 690s is going to a 4 way GPU in 2 PCIe slots, although you will have to find 600watts (?!!) of power just to make both boards go. I have to say having even a pair of 680s is quite a monsterous proposition as the photos shows:
And once you decide on the chip you want, then there is the question which manufacturer do you want to buy from. Tom’s Hardware looked at seven implementations of the GTX670 for example. Of note is that the Asus GTX670-DC2T-2GD5 was very quiet and had high overclock. Nice if you don’t want have to take apart your GPU to watercool it. But the all around best was the Gigabyte N670OC-2GD so again the two giants trade back and forth but the Gigabyte is current $399 vs $420 for ASUS with 10% knocked off. So if you are planning to go mineral cooled anyway, the Gigabyte is a better buy 🙂
If you want to get crazy, then there is an unusual product, the PNY liquid coolled system.