NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Reviewccokeman - May 23, 2013
Category: Video Cards
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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Introduction:
Here we are just a scant few months removed from the introduction of the fastest single GPU on the market, NVIDIA's GTX Titan that rewrote the book on single GPU performance. Priced at $1000 it was and is a part for the uncompromising gamer with deep pockets, especially when you look at running more than one in an SLI configuration. The cash outlay adds up fast when you get in that rarefied air. So where do you go from that point with the single fastest GPU and one of the best implemented DUAL GPU solutions in the GTX 690? Refreshing the lower end of the product stack? With parts like that no way! How about stepping down the performance just a notch to improve on what the GTX 680 has to offer or just adding another performance layer into the product stack? Nope!
NVIDIA's strategy with the GTX 780 is to replace the aging GTX 680 by using the GK110 core used in the GTX Titan but scaling it back a bit allow it to fit into a more attractive price/performance point. Surely we don't need another $1000 behemoth running around. At $649, the GTX 780 is going to fill that price point that the GTX 680 filled at introduction but bring with it that measurable up swing in the level of performance it is capable of delivering.
NVIDIA's GTX 780 is built around the Kepler GK110 core with a core clock speed of 863MHz and a boost clock of 900MHz by way of NVIDIA's GPU Boost 2.0 technology. GPU Boost 2.0 dynamically adjusts the clock speeds and voltages to fit within not just a power envelope but to fit within a temperature envelope that really lets the clock speed scale as long as cooling is up to the task. You want higher clock speeds you raise the thermal limit. As long as the cooling keeps up you get a higher clock speed when under boost conditions. To further improve the GTX 780's noise profile, an adaptive fan controller is employed to even out the fan speeds of the card while under load.
Having drivers ready and available for new games are a source of pride for NVIDIA and with this card the GeForce Experience is coming out of beta and will be officially launched with the 320 series launch driver for the GTX 780. GeForce Experience takes the guesswork out of finding the best settings for the games you play. NVIDIA does all the back end work to ensure you get the best possible experience when playing your games, new or old. Along with the new you still get the added value support items including 3D Vision/Surround support, Adaptive VSync, PhysX, TXAA, and SLI that all add in value to the gaming experience. A few months back we saw what the Titan could deliver; let's see what the GTX 780 can do to try and live up to that legacy!
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Closer Look:
Straight out of the packaging we get a card that for all intents and purposes looks like the GTX Titan from all angles. You get the great looking aluminum shroud with a clear polycarbonate window that shows off the vapor chamber cooling solution. The look is still just a stunning as when introduced on the GTX 690. The one key give away that shows this is not the GTX Titan is the GTX 780 logo at the front end of the aluminum fan shroud. The GTX 780 is 10.5 inches in length, allowing it to fit in a vast majority of the chassis on the market today. The efficient dual slot vapor chamber-based cooling system is coupled with a blower style fan to exhaust all of the thermal load generated by the card outside of the chassis. This brings up some interesting possibilities when it comes time for small form factor builds; one of the tenets when putting together the GTX Titan. Along the top of the card is the GeForce GTX logo that lights up to show your competition what's inside your rig.
Display connectivity is a carryover from GTX Titan with a pair of Dual Link DVI ports, a single full size DisplayPort 1.2 port, and an HDMI 1.4a port. With this configuration up to four monitors are supported in a 3+1 configuration. The thermal load is all exhausted through the mounting bracket and surprisingly does not impact the noise signature of the card with the single slot opening. Along the back end of the card is an opening with part of the finned aluminum heat sink packages that takes incoming airflow to help cool the VRM circuit before running through the main vapor chamber heat sink.
Much like the GTX Titan, the GTX 780 should support up to 4-Way SLI solutions for those looking for the ultimate in gaming horsepower. By using a dual slot cooling solution it should fit a board that supports a 4-Way SLI solution. A pair of SLI Bridge connections are used to interconnect the cards through an SLI bridge. NVIDIA suggests a power supply of at least 600 watts with both 6-pin and 8-pin PEG connectors standard to supply the 235 watt max TDP for the card and components.
By constantly evolving the cooling solutions and hardware controls, NVIDIA hit a high point with the design used on the GTX Titan. It leverages that design on the GTX 780 with new enhancements that include an adaptive temperature controller to improve acoustics. Using this controller and a new fan algorithm the fan speed stays almost at a consistent level during load situations. This eliminates the constant fan cycling under load for a more pleasant experience. An aluminum base is used to cool the 6+2 phase power circuit and eliminate board flex to improve longevity.
Last but not least we get to the GK110 core used as the heart and soul of the operation. This implementation of the GK110 core is built on a 28nm process that houses 7.1 billion transistors. This time around we get four or five Graphics Processing Clusters, 12 SMX with 192 CUDA cores that takes us up to the 2304 core count, 1.5MB of shared L2 cache, 198 Texture units, 48 ROPs, and a drop to 3GB of GDDR5 memory running through the still new 6x64-bit (384-bit) bus. Clock speeds are set dynamically based on how GPU Boost 2.0 manages the thermals and power windows. Out of the box we see a base core clock of 863MHz on the 2304 CUDA cores with a boost clock of 902Mhz or higher on the core with 1502MHz on the GDDR5 memory. Samsung once again gets the nod for the memory and supplies 3GB on the GTX 780.
New with the launch of the GTX 780 is the release candidate for a new tool NVIDIA has been working on to allow gamers to take advantage of the hard work NVIDIA does on the back end to provide the best possible gaming experience, hence the name of the tool called GeForce Experience. This tool is multifaceted as it helps keep your drivers up to date so you have the latest releases for the newest games, provides system information, and most importantly it provides a resource to tweak the settings for each game based on the GeForce hardware you own. Say you get tired of testing and tweaking the visual quality settings trying to find that good balance between FPS performance and visual quality. No problem. Open up GeForce Experience, choose your game from a list, and you see the optimized settings. You can choose to change them on your own or just hit the optimize button and then sit back and enjoy the highest FPS performance/visual quality settings your hardware can use.
Now let's dig into what the GTX 780 has to offer the gamer in us all. As AMD ramps up its operations, is this a preemptive strike or a way to say take your best shot, we got it covered!