Zotac GTX680 SLI Review

Conclusion

Zotac GTX680 SLI Review

Conclusion

So what have we learnt today? Quite a bit we reckon.

First up is the insane amounts of performance available from the very top-end cards. Both the HD7970 and the GTX680 are CPU limited in the majority of scenarios, even with a 4.6GHz i7-3960X powering them. So powerful are they that a lot of titles just cannot stress them enough to make the extra card worthwhile.

Even more than that, if you really want to make the best out of your new setup, then you need to be very selective in your choice of game. Generally speaking, and we're not playing the 'PC Gamer Master Race' card but it's true, if you want to test your cards to the fullest of their potential then you need to choose a game which is designed as a PC game from the ground up, rather than one that's been retro-fitted from Console roots. Crysis 2 took a couple of patches to get the level of detail we demand, and even then it's clear it has a 100FPS cap on it, despite having vsync off. Equally Battlefield 3 and Batman Arkham City are as reliable as a British Leyland car. But step away from those titles to the ones that have PC roots, Far Cry 2, Mafia 2, The Witcher 2, and you find a bevy of games capable of either stressing your system to the ultimate, or at least giving you exceptional performance boosts for your second card.

As for the Zotac itself, it's still at its heart a reference card and so the main reason you'd choose it over any other would be the bundle that you get with it and or the after-sales support. The bundle is excellent with a lot of great titles, a taster of another, and the usual high quality Zotac manual. The after-sales support is, and we speak from personal experience, fantastic. If the worst does happen they have a no-fuss, quick turnaround to get you up and running as fast as you could realistically hope. Plus you get a card that stands out a bit thanks to the use of yellow rather than the ubiquitous fire-engine red.

Now we already know that the GTX680 is gold-worthy, and the quality of the Zotac name and bundle mean that this is just as true with today's card and it will be awarded our highest honour. Stepping away from that for a moment and going back to the SLI scaling, we have to say that we're eagerly awaiting some updated drivers from nVidia. Anyone who has a multi-GPU setup knows that every few months nVidia release an update that boosts SLI performance by a huge amount. So right now it's neck and neck between a GTX680 SLI and HD7970 Crossfire and no matter which you choose you'll be happy. Past experience tells us that in six months the situation could lean heavily towards the nVidia models. Of course we don't take potential in to account in our reviews, but it's worth noting.

So if you've got money to burn and desire only a handful of games, then SLI has all you could require.

If you're just wondering which of the many reference-design brands of GTX680 to choose, the bundle and customer service from Zotac should put this firmly to the top of your list, which is why it unquestionably gets our OC3D Gold Award.

(scores are solely based upon a single Zotac GTX680)

   

Thanks to Zotac for supplying the GTX680 for review. Discuss in our forums.

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Most Recent Comments

30-03-2012, 05:52:23

tinytomlogan


Are you interested in how well the latest nVidia card scales in SLI? Thanks to Zotac we can find out.

Continue Reading

30-03-2012, 06:14:04

Excalabur50
Nice review as always and it's still nice to see the brands evenly matched It's been awhile and as you have said many times in your reviews it don't matter which camp you want they are both as good as each other if you want Nvidia go that way if you want AMD go that way it great to see.

30-03-2012, 09:01:07

SieB
Some decent performance, I love how cool these 680s run as well, the fan doesn't even spin up much so they are also quiet. The scaling is bound to improve with new drivers as well, hopefully to around 80%+.

Now, where can I steal a pair of these cards form

30-03-2012, 09:44:50

Rastalovich
I don't understand the CPU limited quote, and I'll be glad when those oc-bench-score-being-slower-than-the-stock-card disappear off the comparison charts. Both the bios numbers the same on these ? (should be easy to see on the stickers)

30-03-2012, 09:47:35

yassarikhan786
Really nice review as always Tom. Not too impressed with the temps tbh. 77 C on an open test bench seems too hot imo, but since the fans don't really spin up making the cards uber quiet, it's a reasonable compromise.

30-03-2012, 13:09:00

dugdiamond
just imagine the fan power needed to cool these in a closed case ????

30-03-2012, 14:34:49

YogevSkill
AMD, Nvidia, comes down to specs at the end of the day, 3Dmark favor's the strong, and so do I.

SWeet review TTL. Thx.

30-03-2012, 15:07:03

VonBlade
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rastalovich View Post

I'll be glad when those oc-bench-score-being-slower-than-the-stock-card disappear off the comparison charts.
We report the findings, for good, bad or indifferent. As long as cards continue to produce non-linear overclock results, we'll continue to have them in the graphs.

30-03-2012, 19:24:56

UkGouki
i would love a single card but sli is beastly wonder what quad sli results are like

30-03-2012, 20:49:26

Brutos
seem to do well in sli but think i will stick with the single card setup

31-03-2012, 07:27:41

Watsyerproblem
its nice to see what can be done now with this generation of cards, i was thinking a single 680 was overkill for any game. makes my 460 seem inadequate lol

31-03-2012, 08:35:10

HighlanderHD
If the 7970 is louder but cooler and the 680 is quieter but warmer, cant you just spin down the fan speed on the 7970 and have it quite and warmer just like the 680?

31-03-2012, 08:43:50

yassarikhan786
Quote:
Originally Posted by HighlanderHD View Post

If the 7970 is louder but cooler and the 680 is quieter but warmer, cant you just spin down the fan speed on the 7970 and have it quite and warmer just like the 680?
Yeh you could and temps wise it would probably still be a little cooler

31-03-2012, 09:53:10

Grim_Reaper
Great review! As usual

Yep. 7970 seems a bit cooler, but a bit noisy (stock). The only difference between 680 is that AMD has no any useful/useless features like 680 has. Still I see no reasons for fanboy pee-war.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HighlanderHD View Post

If the 7970 is louder but cooler and the 680 is quieter but warmer, cant you just spin down the fan speed on the 7970 and have it quite and warmer just like the 680?
.

Or- you can spin up the 680 fan, to make it as noisy and cool as 7970 does

31-03-2012, 14:55:32

BKCXb
The reason the 680 preforms worse overclocked, is the overclock is to high for that load.

Just like Intel Speed Step

if the 680 has more headroom it overclocks higher(single thread apps), if it is loaded down (all cores active) it doesn't boost .

Somewhere there will be a line where a slight OC will let it boost to the max TDP, but pushing the OC just a few MHz more would cause the 680 to not boost at all, cutting performance.

Overclocking video cards just got harder, now you have to actually find a balance over your entire spectrum of applications and workloads instead of just find the highest stable MHz, because you could be cheating yourself out a bit of performance.

From Toms SLI videos the pair of 680s were never really at 100%, so they boost all they can, whatever Tom raises the base frequency, they still boost higher.

With a single card, it's workload is higher, so it doesn't boost as much, if at all.

31-03-2012, 19:00:49

fredtrix
Good read, I like these overkill reviews

01-04-2012, 22:10:18

MaXiMiZe
Nice review. Good to see how AMD and Nvidia are so close, helps us guys.

20-04-2012, 05:48:43

grammaton_feather
Having owned a Zotac 680 for 2 weeks, first week air cooled, second week liquid cooled, overclocking it brings a big performance boost. I get 500mhz+ on the vram and at least 188mhz on the core. Running kombustor DX11 immediately shows the performance boost with the minimum fps, average and max increasing significantly.

The figures I wrote down from my OCing on air:

Kombustor DX11 default clocks = 216min, 229 average.

+175core/+500vram = 247min, 266 average.

That difference is enough to make gameplay smoother on BF3 ultra on the most demanding 64 player map: Damavand Peak.

Yes, agree, if the clocks are pushed too far it can actually reduce performance but it's so easy overclocking and you quickly establish what too far is using Kombustor Dx11 mode (gives you immediate feedback of the min, max, average).

It's also important to use the EVGA OC scanner to check for artifacts. Although I had the vram at 650mhz, artifacts show past 500mhz.

Have been as high as 247+ on the gpu core.

22-04-2012, 09:24:57

Anthrax27
Beasts.

08-05-2012, 06:10:35

roisugoi
mmm im fine with one card, for one 1080p 60hz monitor you dont need more power... now testing what grammaton_feather says, I hope I get the same results xD
Reply
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