The GTX 780 arrives – 25 Games benchmarked!
Nvidia is announcing its new mainstream flagship replacement for the GTX 680 today; the $649 GeForce GTX 780 based on its GK110 GPU on 28nm Kepler DX11.1 architecture. This new 7.1 billion transistor single-GPU flagship card is the culmination of Nvidia’s Kepler strategy for a mainstream yet exotic card that is aimed at the highest end of PC gamers.
The GTX 780’s industrial design is very similar to the GTX 690 and the Titan which are already aimed particularly at gamers who want the absolute fastest video card at any cost. However, the Titan and to a lesser extent the GTX 690, are special-purpose cards while the GTX 780 is a video card that attempts to capture the performance of the highest-end cards but is aimed at the upper end of the mainstream PC gamers.
The GTX 780 is Nvidia’s brand-new single-GPU flagship video card based on GK110 just as the $1000 Titan is. At $650, the GTX 780 replaces the GTX 680 which is currently selling for about $450-$500. This time, Nvidia is aiming for just-below GTX Titan performance on a single card but with 3GB of vRAM instead of 6GB, and 2 less SMX units, but with higher clocks to compensate somewhat.
The GeForce GTX 780 offers “up to a 70% performance improvement” upgrade over the Fermi GF110 GTX 580 according to Nvidia, and the GTX 780 is supposed to be up to 34% faster than last year’s GeForce GTX 680. Of course, we shall check out these claims and we’ll also compare the performance of the GTX 780 to Nvidia’s last and current dual-GPU video cards, the GTX 590 and the GTX 690 as well as to AMD’s competing cards.
With the same TDP of 250W as Titan, it is clear that the GTX 780 GK110 GPU is built for higher frequencies and it should overclock at least as well as the Titan does. We have been benching and playing games with the GTX 780 for the past week under NDA and it has been an exceptional experience that we would like to share with you.
Here is our testbed of competing cards and we shall test 25 games and 5 synthetics using Core i7-3770K at 4.5GHz, EVGA’s Z77 FTW motherboard and 16GB of Kingston “Beast” 2133MHz HyperX DDR3:
- GTX 780 (brand-new mainstream GK110 – single-GPU Kepler flagship)
- GTX 780 Overclock
- GTX Titan (GK110 current special purpose Kepler – gaming multi-display/compute)
- GTX 690 (GK114 – current dual-GPU Kepler flagship)
- GTX 680 (GK114 – now being replaced, single-GPU Kepler flagship)
- GTX 580 (GF110 – former single-GPU Fermi flagship)
- GTX 590 (GF110 – former dual-GPU Fermi flagship)
- HD 7970 GHz Edition (Tahiti – current AMD single GPU flagship)
- HD 7970 (Tahiti – mainstream original AMD single-GPU flagship)
- HD 6990 (Cayman – former AMD Dual-GPU flagship)
AMD’s Catalyst drivers have shown good performance improvements over the past few months, and the HD 7970 GHz edition has taken the single-GPU performance crown from the GTX 680. Although Titan is much faster than the AMD offering, Nvidia is determined to own the single-GPU performance crown with the new mainstream flagship GTX 780.
This evaluation will pit the stock and overclocked GTX 780 against the reference GeForce Titan, GTX 690, GTX 680 and GTX 590, against our PowerColor reference design HD 7970 at stock and at GHz edition at locked-on boost speeds (1050MHz) as well as the HD 6990, using 25 modern games and 5 synthetic benchmarks at 1920×1080 and 2560×1600 resolutions.
Although the GTX 780 is the replacement for the GTX 680, we are especially interested to see the comparison between the GTX 780 GK110 and the GTX 580/590 of the GF110 generation to see how much improvement has come from these big die GPUs, from one generation to the next.
We will also look very closely at the just-released Metro: Last Light to compare PhysX ‘on’ versus ‘off’. In an upcoming evaluation, we shall then compare Nvidia’s 3-panel Surround working off of a single GTX 780 at 5760×1080 resolution to see if its 3GB framebuffer has any disadvantage compared to Titan’s 6GB. In that same upcoming evaluation, we will also bench 3D Vision 2 at the very popular 1920×1080 resolution.
What’s New with the GTX 780?
Nvidia’s marketing buzzwords for the original GTX 600 series launch were, “Faster. Smoother. Richer.” The GTX 780 is also designed for extreme efficiency and high performance and we note that it’s TDP is 250W – way above the 195W of the last Flagship, the GTX 680, and as high as Titan’s own TDP! One thing we have noted is that the GTX 780 is noticeably quieter than the GTX 680 and its fan speed is more constant.
The GTX Titan’s Kepler architecture is SMX-based, now with 2688 CUDA cores. It promises better geometry and texture processing than Fermi thanks to its improved instruction throughput and redesign. In addition, Nvidia brings “GPU Boost 2” – a more dynamic way to boost clocks speeds and maximize performance for each game, now based on temperature instead of assumed power draw as in the original Boost.
New kinds of anti-aliasing – FXAA and TXAA – now compete with MSAA in terms of IQ while not sacrificing as much performance. And there is a new “Adaptive VSync” that helps to reduce tearing and stuttering associated with regular VSync.
While average frames per second (FPS) are the most popular and also an important performance measurement for comparing videocards, the smooth delivery of frames is just as crucial. Great hardware needs great software to support it, and Nvidia is also a software company. They claim to give a lot of attention to how the frames are delivered with a special eye on reducing lag and input delay thus minimizing jitter.
Nvdia now gives more voltage unlocking options with the GTX 780 than with the rest of the Kepler GPUs except TITAN. GeForce GTX 700 series GPUs feature their second generation GPU Boost technology – the cooler the GPU operates, the faster it performs. Boost 2.0 also gives gamers more powerful controls for tweaking their GPU. Now users can set a target temperature, and for enthusiasts who wish to overclock their GPU, Boost 2.0 also supports overvoltage which can stabilize higher clocks for overclocking.
With GTX 780 as with the rest of the GTX 600 series plus Titan, it is possible to play games spanning 3 displays in Surround or in 3D Surround from a single GeForce GPU, something Fermi could not manage. And this time, the GTX Titan brings two dual-link DVI connectors plus HDMI and a DisplayPort for a 4th accessory display.
There are even more features launched with the GTX 780!
How about quieter? There is a new adaptive fan controller that uses a better algorithm to minimize fan speed fluctuations which result in a quieter experience without the fan constantly revving up and down.
New Software – Shadowplay and GeForce Experience
New software was launched with the GTX 780. Today, the GeForce Experience (GFF) comes out of beta and becomes a regular feature for Nvidia gamers. No longer does one have to (although some of us love to) fiddle with settings to find the best combination for our particular hardware combination.
Just one optimize button customizes the settings for a “best playable experience”Shadowplay is a better alternative to Fraps when it comes to recording video. The compression is much better and the overhead from recording ones own game is much lower.Shadowplay should be available to Kepler owners this Summer and we will bring you details of it.
How does the GTX 780 compare with its rival, AMD’s top single GPU HD 7970 GHz Edition and is it worth $200 more?
Here is the big question: How does the GTX 780 at $649 compare with the GTX 680 at $450-$500, the HD 7970 GHz Edition at $420-$450 and with Titan at $1000? Of course, Titan is a special-purpose halo card that is not only equipped with 6GB of very expensive Samsung GDDR5 for multi-display, it also comes equipped with Dual-precision enabled for compute and CUDA programming, and it commands a price premium.
First, let’s take a closer look at the new GTX 780.