When the GTX Titan appeared we were completely blown away by the performance. It was one of the biggest leaps forward we can remember for some time. So often technology edges forwards, but not so with the big nVidia GPU.
The next card to appear was the GTX780, and it doesn't take much to see how it's placed itself at the very top of the graphics card list, and indeed if you're looking for the biggest bang regardless of buck, it's the card we recommend.
Today sees the launch of the GTX770 which has been given the extremely difficult task of following on from two of the best value cards around. The GTX570, which was so good it should be illegal, and the GTX670, which was easily the best price/performance card in the GTX680 range.
So is the GTX770 worthy of the x70 brandname, one that promises incredible performance at a sensible price?
Because the GK110 GPU was already cut-down to appear on the GTX780, it would be a bit much to cut it down again for the GTX770. For this reason nVidia have taken the rather bold step of combining the GPU from the GTX680 with the PCB/memory of the GTX780 to give us something which is neither one nor the other.
We're very against rebranding existing technologies to pretend that they are new, so the GTX770 needs to bring a lot to the party. Thankfully with the memory at least it does. The GDDR5 on the GTX770 runs at a whopping 7Gbps, which is far faster than the 6Gbps of the GTX680 and GTX780, so should help smooth out some of those rough edges. Otherwise it's only gained a small boost in the clock speed.
So being a GTX680 by another name, perhaps you were all expecting the card on the left?
Thankfully that isn't the case at all, with the new Titan PCB and cooler at the heart of the GTX770. If anything it only emphasises how gorgeous it is when compared to the acres of black plastic that the GTX680 had to suffer with.
We know that looks are, rightly or wrongly, a large reason why we all want certain items of hardware. There is a ridiculous amount of pressure from the e-peen brigade to have the biggest and best, which is why we love that nVidia has homogenised their range. Here, take a guess which is the £800 GTX Titan, the £550 GTX780 and the £330 GTX770.
As you can see, only the location of the barcode (ignoring the extra GDDR5 on the back of the Titan) gives a clue which card is which. So you can have a powerful GPU that didn't bust the bank, without it being obvious that you're not running the very top of the line number.
Intel Core i7-3960X @ 4.6GHz
ASUS Rampage IV Extreme
Corsair Dominator Platinum
Corsair Neutron GTX
Windows 7 x64
The GTX770 overclocks very readily indeed. All of the settings are capable of being pushed further than stock. The memory, already at incredible levels, is particularly free and easy with accepting a higher speed.
Because the nVidia drivers rely heavily upon varying the clock speed to attain a thermal target, it's not a great surprise to see that the card tops out at 80°C both at stock and overclocked. Although this might mean our overclock wont be as beneficial in the results as we might expect.
3D Mark Vantage
Thanks to the extra memory speed the GTX770 easily outperforms the GTX680 it is based upon. It's faster than a SLI GTX650Ti Boost setup.
3D Mark 11
Things are much closer with 3D Mark 11, although the GTX770 is still in the category of "impressive".
In Ice Storm we're clearly limited solely by the i7-3960X, if limited by such a chip is the right expression. As the test intensity rises the GTX770 remains extremely close to the best of the HD7970s, although the incredibly stern Fire Strike Extreme test performs better on the nVidia offering.
107FPS on the GTX680 plays 111FPS on the GTX770. But then Alien vs Predator isn't the most demanding benchmark on the planet.
Batman Arkham City
To the surprise of nobody, Arkham City runs well on the GTX770. As hardcore PC gamers we can't help feeling offended at how little difference the hardware can make. Although if you want a game that will be smooth and gorgeous regardless of the size of your monitor, this is the one.
Performance in Bioshock is variable across all of our tests. Some settings seem to have an enormous impact, and yet others seem to free the Unreal Engine up. Even with maximum settings and the resolution at a whopping 2560x1440, the GTX770 devours it. Booker, catch.
Now we've been able to run Crysis 3 on a range of hardware we're starting to wonder if the engine is a repeat of the Crysis Warhead fiasco. When a HD7970CF setup performs the same as a GTX650Ti which is only a few frames behind the GTX770, yet that has half the performance of the GTX780, then we're left scratching our heads.
Far Cry 3
The flipside to the Crysis 3 issue, Far Cry 3 performs very well on the GTX770, only 7 frames per second behind its big brother, and a frame behind the best HD7970 on the market, the Club3D Royal Ace.
Resident Evil 6
Speaking of being close to the GTX780, Resident Evil 6 gives the GTX770 a score of S (with S being the highest), and in actual terms a thousand points behind the far more powerful GTX780.
The assassination plots of Agent 47 are only average on the latest nVidia card when compared to the other cards above it in the nVidia range, but when you compare it to the GTX680, which has the same GPU at the heart of it, the result becomes far more impressive.
Finally Metro 2033 reaches the end of its life, and not before time. It's still a great game, but we've had to run through it far too often for our liking. At 2560x1440 the GTX770 matches the GTX680, but the extra memory performance makes a big difference in the 1080P resolution, being a whopping 10 FPS better on average.
Considering that this is still primarily a GTX680, just on steroids, it's amazing how much extra performance the GTX770 squeezes out of its GK104 core.
The Lara Croft reboot is yet another title that demonstrates how well sorted the GTX770 is. Over 60FPS and, most notably, a hair ahead of the reference GTX780. An imposing result we think you'll agree.
The CatZilla test shows what a big step the full GK110 on the GTX780 was when compared to the GK104 in the heart of the GTX770. Especially when you move from the standard 1080P resolution to the extreme 1440P version.
Unigine Heaven 0xAA
Such is the reliable nature of the Unigine Heaven benchmark that you can clearly see how much better the GTX770 is than the GTX680. Even at stock it out-performs the best GTX680 we tested, the Gigabyte Super OC.
Unigine Heaven 8xAA
With the extra stress of 8xMSAA in place the GTX770 cannot make the extra GDDR5 speed count, as it drops to half a frame behind our best GTX680.
Unigine Heaven - HiRes
In the higher resolution benchmark the GTX770 is a mixed bag when we compare it to the GTX680. Without the anti-aliasing then the faster GDDR5 can make a big difference regardless of resolution, yet once you've stressed the card as hard as it can go it's clear that the GPU only has so much to give.
Finally Unigine Valley. It's plain to see that if you demand the very highest performance then the GTX780 is the one to go for, but when it comes to a card for a sensible amount of money the GTX770 has to be considered. The Club3D HD7970 is the best Radeon around, yet the GTX770 is better.
Do we like it? You bet.
Initially when word first reached us here at OC3D Towers that the GTX770 would be based around the GK104 GPU that last saw service in the GTX680, we have to confess we were fairly disappointed. We knew the GTX Titan was staggeringly brilliant. We had yet to discover what a stunning piece of kit the GTX780 was. In short, we were taken back to the dark old days when a model was taken off the production line, had a new sticker put on it and was priced like a fresh item. Thankfully the GTX770 certainly isn't such a shameless marketing stunt.
Yes, the GPU at the heart of it isn't the GK110 that comes as part of the GTX Titan or GTX780, but the GK104 that was in the GTX680. But nVidia have given this GPU some of the fastest GDDR5 we've yet seen, running at an insane 7Gbps, and boosted the GPU core speed by around 30MHz. By combining this faster GPU and RAM with a vastly more attractive cooler, it's already ahead of the GTX680 in the desirability stakes. But lets make no mistakes for all the trolls out there, if you want to call this a 680, its a 680 on steroids, its the fastest 680 we have ever seen. We know we joked around with the GTX680 with a GTX770 sticker on it, but when you compare that lump of black plastic with the gorgeous brushed aluminium number that the GTX770 is equipped with, it's a different league. We love the fact that you could have a Titan, or a GTX770 in your system, and anyone who isn't a complete nerd would struggle to be able to guess which nVidia card you were running.
One thing we have heard people moaning about already is why didnt Nvidia cut down the 780 a bit more rather than beefing up the 680, well here are our thoughts on it. If you were to trim back the 780 a bit we would have thought straight away youd be looking at a £400 price tag for only marginally better performance over the card they have delivered us as a 770. To put it in plain terms they have beefed up the 680 as shown in our graphs but still kept it around abouts if not slightly cheaper than what the 680 is a present, yet it looks like its worth £500 because of the Titan style cooler.
So it's £325 for a card that is quicker and better looking than the GTX680 it's based upon, equally as quick as the very best HD7970 on the market and occasionally close to the £200+ more expensive GTX780. In fact the only area that it's lacking is the cooler, and we know that nobody buys the reference models anyway, and the fact that nVidia haven't got the outstanding gaming package that AMD's Gaming range has. Of course most people buy a game, realise their system isn't up to it and then upgrade, rather than upgrade and then see what games they can play, so we can't knock too much off. All in all it's another winner for the high-midrange nVidia cards, and obviously OC3D Gold worthy.
Thanks to nVidia for supplying the GTX770 for today's review. Discuss your thoughts in the OC3D forums.