NVIDIA told us from the start that the GeForce GTX 680 is designed for gamers. Our testing showed that this card did phenomenally well with DirectX 11 game titles and is currently the overall fastest graphics card for gaming. It didn’t flat-out win every benchmark at every resolution, but it placed ahead of the AMD Radeon HD 7970 ($549) and the MSI R7970 Lighting ($599) more times than not. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 also ran quieter, used less power, is smaller in length, and had a lower price. If the GeForce GTX 680 had lower temperatures and would have dominated in all the tests then it would have flat-out massacred the AMD Radeon HD 7970 ‘Tahiti’ graphics card.
In the seven game titles that we tested today, we found the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 to be 14.34% faster than the stock AMD Radeon HD 7970 reference card when we compared all of the tests results at a resolution of 1920×1080. Factor in that the GeForce GTX 680 costs $50 or 9% less and you got yourself some pretty good reasons to go with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 over an AMD Radeon HD 7900 series card. The fact that the card uses less power, is smaller, quieter and has lower power supply requirements is icing on the cake. NVIDIA also has innovative technologies like PhysX, SLI, full stereoscopic 3D with wireless NVIDIA 3D vision glasses, Adaptive Vertical Sync, TXAA and more.
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 is unlike anything that we ever overclocked before, but after a few minutes the light bulb clicks and you figure it out. We were able to overclock the card to where we had GPU Boost hitting 1275.8MHz! This overclock gave us a solid 6-13% performance increase over the default GeForce GTX 680 clock speeds. This is a significant performance increase and one that you can notice when gaming at higher resolutions.
It appears that NVIDIA really likes the $499 price point as the company has launched the GeForce GTX 480, GeForce GTX580 and now the GeForce GTX 680 with a suggested retail price of $499. NVIDIA says that retailers will begin selling cards tomorrow, but our sources have informed us that the supply tomorrow will be extremely limited. (Newegg does have the cards available, but the ASUS cards sold out in under thirty minutes) NVIDIA says that the supply will get better in the weeks and months ahead, so expect these cards to be out of stock from time to time. For $499 the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 appears to be the right choice for someone looking to spend $500 on a graphics card. AMD’s competing graphics cards are the Radeon HD 7950 3GB is $457 shipped and the Radeon HD 7970 is $549.99 shipped.
If there was to be an Achilles’ heel with the GeForce GTX 680 it appears it would be GPU compute performance as it is fairly obvious that NVIDIA is not focused on GPU compute performance on this desktop gaming graphics card. They did not give us a compute performance power rating, distributed computing programs like folding at home aren’t working yet, and LuxMark didn’t show great results. We asked NVIDIA about this and they said that a folding update is in the works and that they are focused on compute cases in actual games with things like PhysX. This makes sense and helps separate the GeForce and Quardro product lines a bit better.
We heard from ASUS and EVGA that they will be coming out with custom designed cards over the next 60 days! EVGA sent over a picture of their EVGA Geforce GTX680 Hydro Copper card as a teaser! The price isn’t set on this card, but we expect it to be about $200 more than the reference card, so around $699.
Now that the NVIDIA GeForce 600 series and AMD Radeon HD 7000 series have both been announced we can see how the graphics card selection is going to look like for the rest of 2012. It appears that both companies have excellent solutions and that the gamers are going to be the real winners this time around. When we published our AMD Radeon HD 7970 launch article in December 2011 we concluded that article by asking if AMD had released a product that could hold off NVIDIA’s upcoming Kepler based GPU’s. AMD had the lead three months ago, but as you can see NVIDIA managed to catch up and for the most part pass up the AMD Radeon HD 7970!
Legit Bottom Line: We didn’t expect to see NVIDIA launching the GeForce GTX 680 in March, but we are glad the card was launched early and very happy with the performance numbers and features!