Gainward GTX780 Ti Phantom Single and SLI Review
Some of the conclusions about the Gainward GTX780Ti Phantom write themselves. The GK110 GPU is an absolute star and, if you'll pardon the expression, an instant classic that will sit alongside the Voodoo 2, the Radeon R300 and nVidia G80 as ones that people will remember fondly when thinking back on early computers they had or titles that blew their mind. The GTX780 was impressive, but the Ti variant is an absolute star with almost unbelievable performance.
So what does the Gainward Phantom offer beyond being based around such an impressive GPU?
Easily the star of the show is the cooler. One of the biggest problems in graphics card coolers since the dawn of time has always been the intake of dust which gradually erodes the cooling performance. Whilst it's possible to vacuum the fans and attack them with a microfibre cloth you can never get them as clean as when they were new and even if you can the fins of the aluminium heatsink still gradually get packed with dust. You could dismantle the card and clean it properly, but it's not the kind of thing that the average user will want to do, and even for experts it still voids your warranty which is hardly the top of the list of things you wish for.
Gainward have beautifully solved this problem by sandwiching the fans in the centre of the cooler and having them attach with power cables akin to a drive caddy. Just unscrew the thumb screw at the front and slide each fan out in turn and you can clean them easily and thoroughly. Whilst they're out the heatsink is then very open and available to be cleaned in a manner of your choosing. Given the importance of temperatures in the excellent nVidia GPU Boost 2.0, this cooler gives performance benefits beyond merely extending the life of your purchase. It's outstanding. There are a couple of slight issues in that it's not the most efficient setup so in a dual-card rig it has to work harder, and thus louder, to maintain the temperatures. It's fine as a single card, albeit a shade below the very best offerings.
Speaking of performance that tiny edge of cooling below some of the finer offerings means that the performance is a frame or two below the best. However, given the enormous power available from the GTX780Ti and the ease of cleaning the card we think it's a small price to pay. As a SLI setup the performance is frankly ridiculously good. We know that's not a major shock, who'd've thought two expensive top-end cards paired up give good results (everyone) but given that the Phantoms not only out-performed the GTX Titan and GTX780 SLI offerings we'd tested, but also two GTX690s we can't help but shout loudly about how impressive the two Gainward cards are. We never thought that arrangement would be beaten on the next gen, let alone from two single GPU cards rather than two (theoretical) GTX790s.
With great looks, and a hugely inventive solution to the cooling problems and eye-popping performance, the Gainward GTX780Ti Phantom is worthy of our OC3D Gold Award. That cooler is brilliant enough to earn our rare Innovation Award too. The sheer cost of the SLI option makes a Gold untenable, but the performance is so blistering that it has to win our OC3D Performance Award.