Nvidia raised the bar once again a couple of months back when it introduced the GeForce GTX Titan. This flagship GPU pushed the performance boundary even further for a single GPU solution, making it even harder for AMD to play catch-up. The Titan wasn’t meant to replace anything, which was a bit evident from the naming convention. It didn’t fit into any particular series, but represented the very best of the Kepler architecture.
Today, Nvidia will usher in its next-generation series of GeForce cards, aptly dubbed the 700 series. The company will be following a top-down approach and the first card to see the light of day is the GTX 780. Although the naming scheme is new, it’s not a brand new card architecturally, as we will see in a bit. The GTX 780 will be replacing the GTX 680 in Nvidia’s line-up.
Design and build
The GTX 780 is the spitting image of the Titan, and that’s because it uses the same cooler. The length and weight of the card is pretty much identical as well. Like the Titan, the GTX 780 is another stunner in terms of design and build quality. The attention to detail is quite remarkable for a component that’ll never be seen once it’s inside your cabinet. The brushed aluminium topped blower-style fan and the transparent cover for the vapour chamber all add to the premium look of the product. The cooler is completely sealed off, so the fan sucks in cool air from the front and expels it directly outside your chassis.
The same stunning design as the Titan
For connectivity, we have two DVI ports (DVI-D and DVI-I) along with a full-sized DisplayPort and HDMI ports. The GTX 780 also supports SLI so you can shove two of these into your system if you plan on going with a multi-monitor setup. The GTX 780 requires a 6-pin and an 8-pin power connector to work; Nvidia recommends using at least a 600W PSU. The TDP of the card is about 250W with a maximum thermal threshold of 95 degrees Celsius.
The GTX 780 without its trimmings
The new GTX 780 is based on the same GK110 silicon as the Titan. With just 12 SMX units on the GTX 780 (total 15 on Titan), we have 2304 CUDA cores or shader units and 48 ROPs. Compared to the GTX 680, the GTX 780 has about 50 percent more cores. We also have 3GB GDDR5 memory clocked at 6008MHz (effective) running on a wider 384-bit memory bus. Overall, Nvidia claims that the GTX 780 offers up to 34 percent more performance as compared to a GTX 680. We’ll soon find out if it does actually deliver.
Good connectivity options
Other than the reworked Titan core in the 780, the card will also be launching alongside the new R320 driver suite, which will include a newer version of GeForce Experience (GFE) with new fetaures. This package will soon replace the Nvidia Update utility and will be accessible from the taskbar. New Features in GFE includes Optimal Playable Settings, where depending on your configuration, the software will automatically adjust the settings for the supported game before you launch it. We will also have support for Nvidia SHIELD and ShadowPlay.
ShadowPlay will be added soon
The latter is a FRAPS like utility, which keeps recording the last 20 minutes of gameplay. Unlike FRAPS, however, ShadowPlay uses the GPU’s cores for encoding, so there shouldn’t be that big a performance hit. This feature will only work on Kepler GPUs, however, which includes the 700 and the 600 series, scheduled to come out later.
Processor: Intel Core i7-2600K CPU @ 3.40GHz
Motherboard: GIGABYTE P67A-UD3R
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws 8GB (4GB x 2) @1600MHz
Storage: Plextor PX-256M2S SSD (boot drive), WD Velociraptor 300GB (secondary)
PSU: Cooler Master Silent Pro 1000W
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
3DMark is a computer benchmarking tool created and developed by Futuremark Corporation to determine the performance of a computer's 3D graphic rendering and CPU workload processing capabilities. The latest version makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11, including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. We used the “Performance” preset for this benchmark.
Battlefield 3 is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA Digital Illusions CE and is based on the new Frostbite 2 game engine. The game only supports DX10 and DX11, which enables enhanced in-game destruction with Destruction 3.0, creating more refined physics than its predecessor and quasi-realtime radiosity using Geometrics' Enlighten technology. The game is a visual treat and a nightmare for graphics cards, which makes it perfect for our test. We used the “Ultra High” preset, Post AA – High, Blur – Full, Field of View – 90, Level – “Fear no Evil”.
Crysis 2 is a first-person shooter video game developed by Crytek and is based on the new CryEngine 3. Just like the first iteration of the game, Crysis 2 continues to be one of the best looking shooters to date. The settings used for this benchmark were “Ultra High” preset in Adrenalin, DX11 and High-resolution texture patch.
Dirt 3 is a rallying video game and the third in the Dirt series of the Colin McRae Rally series, developed and published by Codemasters. The game is extremely scalable and features DX11 tessellation effects. We used the built-in benchmark tool, along with “Ultra” quality preset.
Metro 2033 is a first-person shooter video game that continues to bring even the toughest graphics cards down to their knees. The game has a lot of DX11 eye-candy, which really puts a strain on any GPU. All DX11 features were enabled for the benchmark and we used the “Tower” level for our test.
We were lucky to get our hands on two GTX 780s, so naturally, an SLI test beckoned. We ran the tests at the highest possible setting and compared it with a single GTX 780 and the Titan. The performance gains were quite substantial, especially in Metro 2033, which showed big leaps in frame rate. This goes to show that the GTX 780 is very scalable, should you choose to go SLI.
Verdict and price in India
Nvidia has set the starting price of the GTX 780 at Rs 48,990 and should be available immediately from Nvidia’s board partners. The card is priced a good Rs 20,000 or 30 percent less compared to the Titan, while in terms of performance, it is about 10 percent slower on average, so it’s automatically a better deal. It’s quite a bit more as compared to the GTX 680, but then, you’re getting a lot more in terms of performance as well. Moreover, the prices should normalise in a month or so once the cards flood the market. If you felt the Titan was a bit out of reach, then the GTX 780 is the next best thing and is certainly a worthy successor to the GTX 680.
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