Gigabyte GTX680 Windforce Review
There is an old saying that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. So let's start off with a spoonful of sugar.
The Gigabyte GTX680 Windforce starts of strongly with a truly stunning cooler, especially if silence is your thing. We've seen a swathe of quiet cards in recent times, but even compared to some excellent ones that have come before, the Windforce cooler still stands out. Normally when you increase the amount of fans you increase the amount of noise, but not so here. It's whisper quiet, even under load. You pay a small price in pure cooling ability, but if you value your ears then it's a no brainer. Secondly the performance is, compared to most other cards, very good. Even if you've got a GTX580, the GTX680 is enough of an improvement to be worthy of a look. Finally the card overclocks to very near the levels of the hardcore AMP!, so in pure megahertz terms you wont get short changed.
Having sweetened the spoon a little we have to give the medicine too.
Despite the card having a mild overclock out of the box, and nearly matching the Zotac AMP! with our manual overclock, the performance was disappointing throughout our testing. We only had a couple of games that the Gigabyte card even kept up with the other GTX680s, and although the benchmark tests (3D Mark and Unigine) showed good results the gaming tests most certainly didn't. Time and time again the Gigabyte was left trailing in the wake of the near equally clocked Zotac effort, and far too often for comfort it was behind the overclocked reference card.
Indeed it's this lack of performance that makes the decision to require a 8+6pin power arrangement even more baffling. If the reference card can suffice with 6+6 and the Zotac AMP!, which consistently spanks the Gigabyte in our graphs, also happily puts up with a 6+6 setup, why on earth does the middling performance of the Windforce need 8+6? It's not as if the overclock benefits. All in all it's rather baffling.
So it comes on a bright blue PCB, the performance is only okay, the temperatures aren't the coolest but aren't hot, but it's seriously quiet. All in all it's a bit of a mixed bag, but the power of the GTX680 shines through enough to leave the Gigabyte GTX680 Windforce deserving of our Bronze Award.