nVidia GTX680 Review
So much to cover, so little time.
There are two sides to the GTX680. On the one hand there is the elements that we can test right now, and will make a difference to the average person, and on the other we have the wealth of features that are an attempt to futureproof it to some degree.
If you're only here for pure gaming performance and number crunching then the GTX680 certainly has performance in spades. It's nearly identical to the HD7970 in the numbers we saw throughout our testing and only in a couple of instances was the HD7970 ahead. Probably the most surprising thing was how the big PhysX title (Batman) doesn't really see much of a benefit when compared to the Radeon. The high tessellation performance was another improvement that nVidia were quick to emphasise and yet in Unigine it's nearly impossible to split the two flagship cards.
Where the GTX680 really shines is in the power consumption and cooling departments. Whereas the HD7970 paid for its high performance with a huge power draw the GTX680 is an enormous improvement requiring nowhere near the same levels of power. The redesign of the cooler has also paid dividends. The card is as warm at stock as it is when overclocked and in both scenarios it's ultra-quiet. A true pleasure for the ears.
Stuffed with technology is always a good thing but there is some oddness with the good. The automatic overclocking definitely works well as throughout our tests the stock performance was very good indeed. The card might have the fastest GDDR5 we've yet seen, but from our results it doesn't make that much of a difference to performance. Equally the Tessellation improvements might be there, but the Unigine results don't lie. The other big tweak is the TXAA anti-aliasing which, from the screenshots at least, looks like we might finally be rid of the jaggies. Except nothing supports it yet and the FXAA it replaces never became that widespread by developers. PhysX is a similar story. The game development world is far too cut-throat for a company to risk alienating half the population by throwing their lot in with a proprietary technology, especially with the backwards technologies on consoles hindering PC gaming so much. So potentially it has a lot of brilliance going for it, but we'll have to wait and see before judging how useful those will be.
What cannot be denied is that the GTX680 is another great card from nVidia. It's the Fermi concept refined and polished to a high-sheen and delivers high performance at low power, which surely is the way forwards. In terms of actual frame-rates it's nearly identical to the HD7970 and for the first time in a long while you truly can throw your hat in with whichever company you prefer and know that you aren't compromising anything. The performance, low power, quietness and general usability ensure that the GTX680 is worthy of our OC3D Gold Award.
It's a great time to be a geek.