So we've looked at the reference GTX780 and found it to be probably the most impressive card we've ever reviewed. A country mile ahead of anything remotely comparable, and a darn sight cheaper than the only only single GPU that came close, the GTX Titan.
Clearly you want a GK110 in your system. Heck we all do. But maybe you don't want to go with a reference designed card which is a bit warm and a bit noisier than some third-party cooling options. Enter the Gigabyte GTX780 Windforce, the GTX780 equipped with the tri-fan Gigabyte cooling solution.
This extra cooling potential should enable us to get the most out of the GK110, so without further ado let's take a look at the Gigabyte GTX780 Windforce, and put it through its paces.
We've often commented about how the Windforce cooler is a good performer but really looks awful, because it's always stuck onto cards without much care for how much hangs over the edge. Thankfully with the GTX780 PCB it looks great, matching up perfectly with the length of card. It's also good to see Gigabyte resist the temptation to use their bright blue PCB and stick to the all black number.
Oddly we miss the big Geforce GTX stamp on the side of the reference card. We understand why Gigabyte have focussed upon their own brand, but who wouldn't want to shout loudly about the beast at the heart of their system? It's why windows in cases were invented.
The Windforce cooler is a combination of a lot of heatpipes, a high fin density and three fan which provide consistent cooling across the card without needing to spin at the speed of the galaxy to achieve their cooling potential.
Connectivity is the regulation nVidia 6+8pin power, and DisplayPort, HDMI and twin DVI outputs.
Gigabyte GTX780 Windforce
nVidia Forceware 320.18
Intel Core i7-3960X @ 4.6GHz
ASUS Rampage IV Extreme
Corsair Dominator Platinum
Corsair Neutron GTX
Windows 7 x64
The GTX780 is already clocked faster than the GTX Titan, and with the extra cooling performance of the Windforce we're able to push the card further still. Merely adding 5% to the power, which is more of a stability option than anything, we gain 75MHz on the GK110 GPU Core, and a whopping 250MHz (1GHz effective) on the GDDR5.
Given how close the scores between the stock GTX780 and stock GTX Titan were, we think this should be enough to put the Gigabyte GTX780 Windforce to the top of the single GPU
Two things to note. Firstly with our overclock we increased the fan speed to ensure that the card remained cool and stable throughout our testing, which is why there is a couple of degrees reduction in the temperature. Secondly when compared to the reference cooler the Windforce is far superior at keeping the GK110 frosty.
3D Mark Vantage
We said on the previous page that we thought the extra boost of the overclock would be enough to bring the GTX780 Windforce to the top of the tree, and so it proves. It just shades the GTX Titan, and equally the stock card bests the reference model.
3D Mark 11
3D Mark 11 gives us the same result as we saw from Vantage. Impressive stuff.
Looking at the Cloud Gate and Ice Storm tests it would be possible to assume that the benchmark itself is going as quickly as possible on this configuration. After all, the stock results are the same as the overclocked ones. It's only when the Windforce is overclocked that we see a benefit, and in Fire Strike there is a lot of extra performance to be had from some judicious tweaking of the Gigabyte card.
So far, so good for the Gigabyte take on the GTX780. The performance is better than the reference card and the overclock gives a nice linear improvement.
Batman Arkham City
By now we're all used to the results we get from Arkham City. The GTX780 is perfectly capable of handling it regardless of resolution, and the overclock brings nothing to the table.
Bioshock Infinite, which was mildly disappointing on the reference card, is much better on the Gigabyte model. It's particularly stunning with the overclock which smoothed out a lot of the locked frame effect we see in the 2560x1440 test.
Even on an overclocked GTX780 Crysis 3 proves a hard nut to crack, with the 1920 test just shy of the magical 60FPS average barrier. The extra performance helps most in the higher resolution test, with those 3 extra frames taking you to console levels of performance with vastly superior eye-candy.
Far Cry 3
The performance of the GK110 is most certainly not limited by the architecture and proves very responsive to clock speed increases. You can almost draw a line from the reference model, the Gigabyte at stock and the overclocked Gigabyte card. It spanks the GTX Titan.
Resident Evil 6
Again in Capcom's Zombie shooter we see a clear improvement to be had from the extra GPU and memory performance of our overclocked GTX780.
The adventures of Agent 47 are spectacular on the GTX780 Windforce. Indeed, as we suspected, the overclocked GTX780 manages to outgun the GTX Titan thanks to the higher clockspeed and improved drivers. Only the multi-GPU HD7970CF setup beats it out.
If you ever need an indication of the improvement that nVidia has given to the GTX780 when compared to the GTX680, you need only to look at Metro 2033 where an SLI GTX680 setup has the same performance as a single GTX780. Pretty amazing we think you'll agree.
The excellent Sleeping Dogs continues the trend of the Gigabyte GTX780 Windforce being better than the reference model and really responding well to the overclock. In fact the overclock is so impressive it would be a shame to leave the card at stock.
Lara Croft continues the demonstration that the GK110 overclocks on a beautifully linear scale.
We often see how the architecture eventually becomes the limiting factor, yet once again our results are nearly entirely dependant upon the clockspeed of the GPU and memory rather than any other elements. The GTX780 is a stormer.
More of the same in the Unigine Heaven benchmark. The Gigabyte GTX780 Windforce is better than the reference card at stock and when overclocked it's better than a GTX Titan.
Increasing the image quality to the maximum seems to have no effect on the results we obtain. The only scores higher than our overclocked GTX780 are multi-card setups.
Unigine Heaven Hi-Res
It doesn't matter if you're increasing the level of detail, the amount of anti-aliasing, or even the sheer volume of pixels to be rendered, the GTX780 keeps doing what it does best, which is providing extraordinary frame-rates.
Such is the demanding nature of Unigine Valley, and also the amazing performance of the Gigabyte GTX780, that only in the very highest test, the 2560x1440 8xAA setting, does the extra CUDA cores and GDDR5 of the GTX Titan allow it to squeak ahead of the GTX780.
Whenever we're reviewing midrange cards we often discuss how your performance is limited by a combination of clockspeed and the architecture.
On the average card you can overclock it quite a lot and obtain a result similar to the next model up in the range, with no particular downside. However, certain games or certain benchmarks will demand a lot from the architecture of the GPU as much as the clockspeed and therefore you always reach a point at which there is no more performance to gain from overclocking, and you're reliant upon an increase in shaders or CUDA cores or memory to gain further frames per second.
The GTX Titan was a full-on, no holds barred graphics card with all the CUDA cores and GDDR5 you could ever need to run the most demanding games at their most demanding settings. The GTX780 with a handful fewer CUDA cores and half the memory still was capable of running the GTX Titan close, as we saw in our review of the reference card.
With the extra cooling performance of the Gigabyte Windforce cooler enabling us to overclock this one, that gap in architecture has been overcome with pure clockspeed. This is largely because whilst there is a reduction between the GTX780 and the obscenely powerful GTX Titan, when comparing the GTX780 to any other card on the market it's a behemoth of unparalleled proportions. So much extra performance is available that all of scores scaled in a linear manner, with the reference GTX780 in third, then the stock Gigabyte card, and then the overclocked one. To the point it is often the highest rated single GPU in our graphs.
To explain why the stock Windforce card improved upon the reference one, you only need to look at the temperatures and the GPU Boost 2.0. The nVidia Forceware drivers automatically overclock the card if there is heat available to do so, and the Windforce cooler with it's near 20°C of extra headroom, is easily capable of overclocking further than the reference card is at stock.
All in all it's a close run thing between the GTX Titan and the Gigabyte GTX780 Windforce, and when overclocked the Gigabyte card can genuinely claim to be the fastest single GPU on the planet. It's a cooler, quieter version of an already insanely good graphics card, and for that reason it will surprise precisely nobody to know that it wins our OC3D Gold Award.
Thanks to Gigabyte for providing the GTX780 Windforce for review. Discuss your thoughts in the OC3D Forums.