NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti Ready To Become The Fastest Video Card

When we first told you about the NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan video card back in February 2013, we noted that it was powered by NVIDIA’s GK110 ‘Kepler’ GPU and that one of the Streaming Multiprocessors (SMX unit) was disabled. Our review on the GeForce GTX Titan 6GB showed that the card was easily able to beat any single-GPU powered card on the market at the time. NVIDIA followed up the launch of the GeForce GTX Titan 6GB with the more affordable GeForce GTX 780 3GB  that had two more SMX units disabled at the end of May 2013.  Those two cards were all that NVIDIA needed to dominate the high-end desktop graphics card market for nearly a year. Many gamers and enthusiasts forgot that a fully enabled Kepler GK110 GPU even existed. NVIDIA had certainly not forgotten, they just didn't mention it. NVIDIA was keeping this trump card close to their chest and waiting for the right time to unleash the beast. 

best-gpu-ever

When AMD released the Radeon R9 290X video card, they claimed it was the fastest in the world and our review showed that it was overall the gaming graphics card on the market at normal resolutions and then again when we tested it on a 4K monitor.  Around the time of the AMD Radeon R9 290X launch, NVIDIA announced that the would be releasing the GeForce GTX 780 Ti that would be their new flagship card. Shortly after that announcement, NVIDIA cut the prices some of the cards and said that the GeForce GTX 780 Ti would be $699.  This was a very unusual move as seldom do we see NVIDIA announce a card, let alone the pricing, weeks in advance.

AMD was able to say they had the fastest video card on the planet for exactly two weeks, but now NVIDIA has released the GeForce GTX 780 Ti and claim that they now have the fastest card in the world!

NVIDIA GK110 Block Diagram

Compared to the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780, the GeForce GTX 780 Ti has had 3 extra SMX units enabled inside the NVIDIA GK110 Kepler GPU.  This means that all 15 the SMX units in the 5 graphics processing clusters are now fully enabled and that the GK110 is running all out (unless there is a sixth cluster). The GK110 block diagram above shows all 15 SMX units on the GK110 Kepler GPU.  Each SMX unit has 192 CUDA cores, so the GeForce GTX 780 has 2304 CUDA cores and the GeForce GTX 780 Ti has a whopping 2880! This is a 25% increase in just the number of cores and that is before NVIDIA bumped up the clock speeds!

gtx780ti

NVIDIA just didn't enable more cores though and walk away. They also increased the GPU clock speeds on the GeForce GTX 780 Ti to 875MHz base and 928MHz boost from 863MHz base and 902MHz boost on the GeForce GTX 780.  This is a subtle 1.4% increase on the base clock and 2.9% on the boost clocks, but remember that the GeForce GTX 780 Ti has 25% more cores as well.  NVIDIA gave the memory a major 16.5% speed increase, so the 3GB of GDDR5 memory running on the 384-bit bus has increased from 6008MHz (effective) to 7000MHz (effective). This frequency increase has caused the memory bandwidth to go from 288.4 GB/s all the way up to 336.0 GB/s, so a 16.5% clock increase yields exactly that when it comes to memory bandwidth! 
 
gtx780-gpuz
 
Many were keeping their fingers crossed that the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti would have more graphics memory, but NVIDIA left the frame buffer at 3GB.
 
  GTX 780 Ti GTX Titan GTX 780 GTX 680
GPU GK110 GK110 GK110 GK104
Streaming Multiprocessors 15 14 12 8
Stream Processors 2880 2688 2304 1536
Texture Units 240 224 192 128
ROPs 48 48 48 32
Core Clock 875MHz 837MHz 863MHz 1006MHz
Boost Clock 928MHz 876MHz 902MHz 1058MHz
Memory Amount 3072MB GDDR5 6144MB GDDR5 3072MB GDDR5 2048MB GDDR5
Memory Clock 7000MHz 6008MHz 6008MHz 6008MHz
Memory Bus Width 384-bit 384-bit 384-bit 256-bit
Memory Bandwidth 336.0 GB/s 288.4 GB/s 288.4 GB/s 192.26 GB/s
TDP 250W 250W 250W 195W
Suggested Power Supply 600W 600W 600W 550W
Transistor Count 7.1B 7.1B 7.1B 3.54B
Manufacturing Process TSMC 28nm TSMC 28nm TSMC 28nm TSMC 28nm
Street Price
$699 $999 $499 EOL

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti looks virtually identical to the GeForce GTX 780 as it uses the same PCB design and GPU cooler. This means that the card is 10.5" in length and that you'll need a 600W or greater power supply with the needed 8-pin and a 6-pin PCIe power connectors for proper operation. We have a gallery of seven PR images of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti graphics card that you can scroll through below.

[gallery ids="128040,128039,128045,128042,128041,128044,128043"]

Since there are no visual changes other than the updated name on the fan shroud we’ll skip straight to testing.

 

Test System

Before we look at the numbers, let's take a brief look at the test system that was used. All testing was done using a fresh install of Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. It should be noted that we average all of our test runs. There has been some concern of people testing a cold card versus a hot card, but we've always done out testing 'hot' since the site started back more than a decade ago.

Video Cards & Drivers used for testing:

Intel X79/LGA2011 Platform

test-system

gtx780ti-gpuz

The Intel X79 platform that we used to test the all of the video cards was running the ASUS P9X79 Deluxe motherboard with BIOS 4401 that came out on 09/02/2013. The Corsair Vengeance 16GB 1866MHz quad channel memory kit was set to 1866MHz with 1.5v and 9-10-9-27 2T memory timings. The OCZ Vertex 3 240GB SSD was run with firmware version 2.25.

 

The Intel X79 Test Platform

 

Component

 

Brand/Model

 

Live Pricing

 

Processor

 

Intel Core i7-3960X

 

Motherboard

ASUS P9X79 Deluxe

 

Memory

16GB Corsair 1866MHz

 

Video Card

 

Various

 

Solid-State Drive

 

OCZ Vertex 3 240GB

 

Cooling

 

Intel RTS2011LC

 

Power Supply

Corsair AX1200

 

Operating System

 

Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

 

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3GB Video Card GPU-Z Information:

 gtx780-gpuz

gtx780ti-idle

 Update 11/7/2013 at 11am CT: We've been getting some e-mails and comments from people as to why we are testing in PCIe 2.0 and not PCIe 3.0.  We assure you that we are testing in PCIe 3.0.  GPU-Z reads the current power state of the card when the screen shot is taken.  There is a question mark next to the bus interface that explains why you might see a lower than expected value.

gpuz-pcie

Our board is setup to run PCIe 3.0 and we forced PCIe 3.0 mode on the NVIDIA graphics cards.

link-speed

Battlefield 3

Battlefield 3 Screenshot

Battlefield 3 (BF3) is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA Digital Illusions CE and published by Electronic Arts. The game was released in North America on October 25, 2011 and in Europe on October 28, 2011. It does not support versions of Windows prior to Windows Vista as the game only supports DirectX 10 and 11. It is a direct sequel to 2005's Battlefield 2, and the eleventh installment in the Battlefield franchise. The game sold 5 million copies in its first week of release and the PC download is exclusive to EA's Origin platform, through which PC users also authenticate when connecting to the game.

Battlefield 3 Screenshot

Battlefield 3 debuts the new Frostbite 2 engine. This updated Frostbite engine can realistically portray the destruction of buildings and scenery to a greater extent than previous versions. Unlike previous iterations, the new version can also support dense urban areas. Battlefield 3 uses a new type of character animation technology called ANT. ANT technology is used in EA Sports games, such as FIFA, but for Battlefield 3 is adapted to create a more realistic soldier, with the ability to transition into cover and turn the head before the body.

BF3

Benchmark Results: The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti was found to be ~17% faster than the GeForce GTX 780 and ~8% faster than the GeForce GTX Titan at 1920x1080. It also topped our performance chart and was the fastest graphics card that we have ever tested on BF3 with Ultra settings at 5760x1080, 2560x1600 and 1920x1080.  The new GeForce GTX 780 Ti was 4% faster than the AMD Radeon R9 290X at 5760x1080 and 13.7% faster at 1920x1080. It looks like enabling all those cores and bumping up the CUDA core and memory clock speeds was enough for NVIDIA to get back on top of the charts!

Bioshock Infinite

BioShock Infinite is a first-person shooter video game developed by Irrational Games, and published by 2K Games. BioShock Infinite is the third installment in the BioShock series, and though it is not part of the storyline of previous BioShock games, it does feature similar gameplay concepts and themes. BioShock Infinite uses a Modified Unreal Engine 3 game engine and was released worldwide on March 26, 2013.

Bioshock Infinite

We tested BioShock Infinite with the Ultra game settings.

bioshock

Benchmark Results: The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti was back on top in Bioshock Infinite.  The GeForce GTX 780 Ti was 6.2% faster than the Radeon R9 290X in Uber mode at 1920x1080, but just 1.5% faster on our triple monitor 5760x1080 setup.

Hitman: Absolution

Hitman: Absolution is an action-adventure stealth DirecX 11 video game developed by IO Interactive and published by Square Enix. It is the fifth entry in the Hitman game series, and runs on IO Interactive's proprietary Glacier 2 game engine. This game title uses the Glacier 2 game engine and was released on November 20th, 2012.

hitmanabsolution_550.

We benchmarked Hitman: Absolution with Ultra Settings.

hitman

Benchmark Results: Hitman: Absolution has the AMD Radeon R9 290X and Radeon R9 290 video cards both performing better than the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti. The AMD Radeon R9 290X was ~5% faster at 1920x1080 and ~17% faster at 5760x1600.

Metro Last Light

Metro: Last Light is a first-person shooter video game developed by Ukrainian studio 4A Games and published by Deep Silver. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world and features action-oriented gameplay with a combination of survival horror elements. It uses the 4A Game engine and was released in May 2013.

Metro: Last Light

Metro Last Light was benchmarked with Ultra settings

metro

Benchmark Results: We see a huge performance jump for NVIDIA in Metro: Last Light! The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti was found to be 21.6% faster than the GeForce GTX 780 reference card and 8% faster than the AMD Radeon R9 290X at 1920x1080.

Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider

On March 5th, 2013 Square Enix released Tomb Raider, billed as a reboot of the franchise. In Tomb Raider, the player is confronted with a much younger Lara Croft who is shipwrecked and finds herself stranded on a mysterious island rife with danger, both natural and human. In contrast to the earlier games Croft is portrayed as vulnerable, acting out of necessity, desperation and sheer survival rather than for a greater cause or personal gain.

Tomb Raider Settings

The game has been built on Crystal Dynamics's game engine called the "Crystal Engine" and the graphics look fantastic. AMD and Crystal Dyanmic's worked on a new technology called TressFX Hair, which AMD describes as “the world’s first in-game implementation of a real-time, per-strand hair physics system” for this game title. We set the image quality to ultimate for benchmarking, but we disabled TressFX Hair under the advanced tab to be fair to NVIDIA graphics cards that don't support the feature.

tomb-raider

Benchmark Results: Tomb Raider showed the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti up top once again with a 4.6% performance lead over the Radeon R9 290X Uber and a 20.6% advantage over the GeForce GTX 780 reference card at 1920x1080!

3DMark 2013

3Dmark Fire Strike Benchmark Results - For high performance gaming PCs

Use Fire Strike to test the performance of dedicated gaming PCs, or use the Fire Strike Extreme preset for high-end systems with multiple GPUs. Fire Strike uses a multi-threaded DirectX 11 engine to test DirectX 11 hardware.

3DMark Fire Strike

 

Fire Strike Benchmark Results:

firestrike

Benchmark Results: We've never seen a single-GPU powered reference card from AMD or NVIDIA break the 10,000 point barrier on 3DMark Fire Strike, but GeForce GTX 780 Ti came damn close to doing just that.  The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti turned in a score of 9,941 on 3DMark Fire Strike with the default clock speeds.  That is crazy fast and 2.2% faster than the AMD Radeon R9 290X and 14.6% faster than the GeForce GTX 780.

Fire Strike Extreme:

firestrike-x

Benchmark Results: On the Fire Strike Extreme benchmark test the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti nearly broke 5,000 3DMarks!  The GTX 780 Ti was 1.4% faster than the AMD Radeon R9 290X and 12.8% faster than the GeForce GTX 780 Ti. 

Catzilla

Catzilla is a relatively new benchmark that is made the Polish demoscene group Plasticis. It is being produced in collaboration with Polish post production company, Plastige. Plastige is the company that worked on Witcher 2 Enhanced Edition and some of the developers there were behind the PlayStation Network game Datura. The benchmark uses a parallel graphics engine that takes advantage of multi-core CPUs. This isn't a benchmark being made in some kids basement and it doesn't appear to be bought off by any companies yet, so it should be a good benchmark to use.

catzilla-benchmark

While this benchmark is in beta phases, we still have found that Catzilla is a good cross-API benchmark. You also can't go wrong with a benchmark that has a giant animated cat nuke cities with its laser eyes as you do. You can watch a video of the benchmark in action below.

We purchased Catzilla Advanced and ran the full Catzilla benchmark at 2560x1440.

catzilla

Benchmark Results: The 1440P benchmark in Catzilla showed the GeForce GTX 780 Ti at the top of the chart again and that it was 21.2% faster than the GeForce GTX 780.

Temperature & Noise Testing

Temperatures are important to enthusiasts and gamers, so we took a bit of time and did some temperature testing the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti.  The AMD Radeon R9 290X and R9 290 both run fairly hot, so it will be interesting to see how this card compares.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3GB Idle Temperature

gtx780ti-idle

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti was found to idle at 32C with the fan running around 1125-1150 RPM. It should be noted that the ambient room temperature was 22.0C (72F).

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3GB Gaming Temperature:

gtx780ti-gaming

The temperature target of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti is 83C by default, so it shouldn't be a big shock that we were hitting 83C and not going over that temperature. The fan was spinning at 2373RPM or 56% and it wasn't obnoxious or anything like that. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 reference card topped out at 80C and ~2050 RPM, so the GeForce GTX 780 Ti is a touch hotter and louder.

temperature

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti is the hottest NVIDIA GeForce GTX card that we have tested in recent months, but the new AMD Radeon R9 290X and R9 290 make it look chilly. NVIDIA was able to bump up their temperature target a few degrees and get away with it thanks to AMD significantly raising theirs!

Sound Testing

We recently upgraded our sound meter to an Extech sound level meter with ±1.5dB accuracy that meets Type 2 standards. This meter ranges from 35dB to 90dB on the low measurement range, which is perfect for us as our test room usually averages around 36dB. We measure the sound level two inches above the corner of the motherboard with 'A' frequency weighting. The microphone wind cover is used to make sure no wind is blowing across the microphone, which would seriously throw off the data.

noise

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti noise levels were acceptable.  We found that it was basically the same as the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 reference card at idle (41dB), but was a bit louder when gaming (51dB versus 54dB).

Power Consumption

NVIDIA_GeForce_GTX_780Ti_Angle

For testing power consumption, we took our test system and plugged it into a Kill-A-Watt power meter. For idle numbers, we allowed the system to idle on the desktop for 15 minutes and took the reading. For load numbers we ran three games at 1920x1080 and averaged the peak results seen on the power meter.

power-consumption

Power Consumption Results: The entire platform with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti installed was consuming 106 Watts at idle and hit a maximum of 474 Watts when gaming. This is 69 Watt or 17%  jump in power consumption over the GeForce GTX 780 and puts the GeForce GTX 780 Ti at the top of the chart for power consumption.  If NVIDIA would have released this card before the GTX titan and Radeon R9 290/290X were released it would have been considered a power hog as it consumes ~100 Watts more than the Radeon HD 7970 and ~120 Watts more than the GeForce GTX 680. Now that the Radeon R9 290X has been released, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti power consumption looks okay as it is just 10-20 Watts more!

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti Overclocking

We installed the EVGA Precision X v4.2.1 overclocking utility to see how the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3GB video card could be overclocked! You can use whatever software utility you like for overclocking, but this is the one we used today.

780ti-overclocking

In case you forgot, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti card is clocked at 876 MHz base and 992 MHz boost and the memory is clocked at 7000MHz (effective). Let's see how much higher we can get a fully enabled GK110 GPU with 2880 CUDA cores!

precision-max-oc

We increased the power target to 106% and the temperature target to 95C. This is the highest possible setting for each. We then slowly increased the GPU clock offset and memory clock offset to see how far we could go before the card would become unstable. We ended up with a GPU clock offset to +270MHz and the mem clock offset to +300MHz before we started to get encounter some issues. Anything over these clock speeds and we would hard locks when gaming followed by a total crash and system reboot. This overclock meant that we were running at 1289MHz thanks to NVIDIA Boost 2.0 on the core and 1901MHz (7604MHz effective) on the 3GB of GDDR5 memory. The card was running in the 80C temperature range with this overclock and we saw the power use in games hitting around 510 Watts.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti Stock:

780ti-firestrike

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti Overclocked:

gtx780-max-oc

Not a bad overclock at all for a reference card with the stock GPU cooler and fan settings! This is an 1,794 point increase in our overall 3DMark score, which represents a performance gain of 18 percent.

max-gaming-oc

Sadly, we had to reduce our overclock for it to be fully stable in all game titles.  By reducing the GPU clock offset from +270MHz to +235MHz we were able to get full system stability in any game title. This put the GPU clock at 1255MHz when boosting and everything was totally stable.

  GeForce GTX 780 Ti Stock GeForce GTX 780 Ti OC'd Percent Difference
Bioshock Infinite      
2560x1600 85.70 99.92 +16.6%
1920x1080 139.86 160.94 +15.1%
Tomb Raider      
2560x1600 85.1 99.8

+17.3%

1920x1080 144.3 168.5 +16.8%
Hitman Absolution      
2560x1600 31.1 36.6 +17.7%
1920x1080 51.9 61.1 +17.7%

A quick look at three game titles played at two different resolutions showed there was a 16.9% performance increase had from overclocking!

 

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

 

780ti-horsepower

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti finally shows what the GK110 GPU has been capable after all these months.  We weren't told why NVIDIA didn't release this card from day one, but it looks like they made the right move and were able to sell a ton of GeForce GTX 780 and GeForce GTX Titan cards in the mean time.  When AMD took back the performance lead with the Hawaii GPU on the Radeon R9 290X video card, it made NVIDIA release a fully enabled GK110 card and that would be the GeForce GTX 780 Ti.  The GeForce GTX 780 Ti didn't crush the AMD Radeon R9 290X, but it did beat it nearly every benchmark and resolution that we tested. The test results speak for themselves and NVIDIA did take the performance crown back from AMD. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti is the fastest single GPU-powered card on the market today.

We were worried that overclocking might be a disappointment on the GeForce GTX 780 Ti since all the SMX units were enabled, but found otherwise.  The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti proved to be a great overclocker and we saw on average a 16.9% performance increase thanks to overclocking.  In most game titles we were 17-22% faster than the GeForce GTX 780 at HD resolutions, so an overclocked GeForce GTX 780 Ti really raises the bar.

All that performance does come at a price though.  The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti had stellar performance thanks to the full GK110 GPU with 2,880 CUDA cores, but that caused an increase in power draw, noise levels and temperatures. The AMD Radeon R9 290X runs loud and hot, so the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti was able to sneak under the radar this time around. NVIDIA perfectly timed the launch of this card as it would have been massacred by enthusiasts back in February, but these numbers are now acceptable.  Well played NVIDIA!

 

holiday-programNVIDIA informed us that this is a hard launch, so the first NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti video cards should be available to purchase later today with more inventory coming next week. NVIDIA recently reduced the price of the GeForce GTX 780 to $499 and has priced the GeForce GTX 780 Ti at $699. The AMD Radeon R9 290X runs $549 and the AMD Radeon R9 290 is priced at just $399. This means that the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti is more expensive than the competing cards. NVIDIA currently has a holiday game bundle that gives you three really good game titles: Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Batman Arkham Origins and Assassin's Creed IV. On top of that there is a $100 discount on the NVIDIA SHIELD. The AMD Radeon R9 290X doesn't have a game bundle at $549, so if you don't already own these game titles, it does help the appeal of the GeForce GTX 780 Ti.

NVIDIA_GeForce_GTX_780Ti_3QTR

NVIDIA has managed to take back the performance crown and release a card that we have enjoyed using.  We spent some time yesterday playing Battlefield 4 with the GeForce GTX 780 Ti at 2560x1600 with Ultra settings and had a perfect gaming experience. With our gaming headset on we couldn't hear the GPU fan even though the system was just a couple feet away and running all out.  This is the way gaming is meant to be played and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti delivers.  If you want the fastest GPU that money can buy, the GeForce GTX 780 Ti is it and it runs $699.

LR Editors' Choice

 

Legit Bottom Line: The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti video card is the World's fastest single GPU powered card!