NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti Roundup With MSI, Gigabyte and EVGA
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti is hands down one the most powerful video cards on the market that money can buy. The GeForce GTX 780 Ti is powered by the fully enabled GK110 'Kepler' GPU that features 2880 CUDA cores. The NVIDIA GTX780 Ti reference card runs at 875MHz core (928MHz boost) and has 3GB of GDDR5 memory running on a 384-bit bus at 1750MHz (7000MHz effective), but there are a number of add-in-board (AIB) partners that have released cards with factory overclocks and custom cooling solutions. If you want to build a kick ass gaming system and don't have any budgetary constraints, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3GB card at $659.99 to $769.99 is most certainly the front runner. It should be noted that the NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Black is the flagship video card from NVIDIA, but shares the same GPU with different clock speeds and double the amount of memory (6GB) for a cool $1009.99 to $1099.99. Only a select few that are pushing several 4K monitors will need that much memory, so the GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3GB card has the flagship GPU with just the right amount of memory for 99.5% of gamers out there.
If you are looking to improve your graphics performance you might be ready to move up to a GeForce GTX 780 Ti, but which one? There are more than a dozen NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti cards on the market in North America and many might have a hard time between picking one to purchase. Pretty much all the AIB partners use high-end components and use fancy jargon for their components, so so we know it can be tough to find a card. We got our hands on three factory overclocked cards with custom coolers and will be putting them to the test on our 4K monitor to see how the perform.
First up we have the GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3GB (GV-N78TGHZ-3GD) Video Card at $724.99. The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 780 Ti GHz Edition card runs at a 1085MHz base clock, boosting up to 1150MHz. The 3GB of Hynix GDDR5 memory runs at 1750MHz (7000MHz) and is connected to a 384-bit bus. The card uses a Gigabyte WINDFORCE 3X 450W GPU cooler that is equipped with two 8mm and four 6mm cooper heat-pipes. One of the noteworthy changes on this card is that Gigabyte was the only company that we are looking at today that includes two 8-pin on their overclocked card to help deliver over 250w+ of power to the card.
The MSI GeForce GTX 780Ti GAMING 3GB Video Card that runs $689.99 (currently $669.99 after rebate). The MSI GeForce GTX 780 Ti Gaming card features the TwinFrozr IV GPU cooler with dual fans along with heatpipes and one Superpipe for improved cooling performance. This card is pre-overclocked like the rest, but can be used with the MSI Gaming App that will allow you to run the card in one of three performance modes :
- OC Mode: 1020MHz Core (Boost Clock:1085MHz) - 1750MHz Memory
- Gaming Mode: 980MHz Core (Boost Clock:1046MHz) - 1750MHz Memory
- Silent Mode: 876MHz Core (Boost Clock:928MHz)- - 1750MHz Memory
Lastly, the EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Ti Superclocked 3GB w/ ACX Cooler (03G-P4-2884-KR) that retails for $729.99 ($719.99 after rebate). This card is factory overclocked and runs with a 1006MHz base clock with the ability to boost up to 1072MHz. The memory runs at 1750MHz (7000MHz) on the 3GB of GDDR5 memory. One of the key features on this card is EVGA's ACX cooling solution that uses a beefy GPU cooler with a pair of fans that has ball bearings.
So, all the cards cards use the same 28nm GK110 core with 2880 CUDA Cores (5 Graphics Processing Clusters, 15 Streaming Multiprocessors) along with 240 texture units and 48 ROPs. The only real big difference between the cards are the GPU coolers and the clock speeds. There are most certainly come component differences between the cards, but none has a capacitor that is known to fail or anything like that. All three brands also back their cards with a 3-year warranty.
The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 780 Ti GHz Edition was the only GeForce GTX 780 Ti card of the trio that came with a blackplate. We are big fans of backplates as it makes the card look finished and protects the components on the back.
When it comes to video outputs EVGA, Gigabyte and MSI all use NVIDIA's standard configuration of DisplayPort, HDMI and two DVIs. The EVGA and MSI cards have a couple more exhaust holes in the bracket, but not all of the fan exhaust is routed out the back on any of these cards, which means this shouldn't really matter. The HDMI is connector on the Gigabyte and MSI cards is gold plated, but again we have never seen any difference in image quality between standard and gold plated HDMI connecters over the past six years or so. All of the cards share the same four connectors and that means you can run up to four panels. You can run three screens as an NVIDIA Surround gaming arrangement and then the fourth display can be an accessory display for web surfing, chat, e-mail and so on. All of the cards support up to a 240Hz max refresh rate, 2048x1536 resolutions on analog and 4096x2160 on digital.
When it comes to power connectors all of the cards have the power connectors located along the top edge at the end of the card. The MSI and EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Ti cards have a 6-pin and 8-pin PCIe connector, while the Gigabyte card has a pair of 8-pin connectors. Most of the companies recommend a 600W power supply with a +12 Volt current rating of at least 42 Amps.
Now that you should have a pretty good feel for the general differences between these cards we can skip along to taking a look at the test system and get to benchmarking!
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 8 Pro 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:
- NVIDIA GeForce 335.23
Intel X79/LGA2011 Platform
The Intel X79 platform that we used to test the all of the video cards was running the ASUS P9X79 Deluxe motherboard with BIOS 1501 that came out on 01/15/2014. We went with the Intel Core i7-4960X Ivy Bridge-E processor to power this platform as it is PCIe 3.0 certified, so all graphics cards are tested with PCI Express Gen 3 enabled. The Kingston HyperX 10th Anniversary 16GB 2400MHz quad channel memory kit was set to XMP Profile #2. This profile defaults to 2133MHz with 1.65v and 11-12-12-30 1T memory timings. The OCZ Vertex 460 240GB SSD was run with latest firmware available. A Corsair AX860i digital power supply provides clean power to the system and is also silent as the fan hardly ever spins up. This is critical to our testing as it lowers the ambient noise level of the room and gives us more accurate sound measurements than the old Corsair AX1200 power supply that we used from 2012 till this year that had a loud fan that always ran.
Here are the exact hardware components that we are using on our test system:
|The Intel X79 Test Platform|
Intel Core i7-4960X
ASUS P9X79-E WS
16GB Kingston 2133MHz
OCZ Vertex 460 240GB
Intel TS13X (Asetek)
Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit
Sharp PN-K321 32" 4K
EVGA GTX 780 Ti Superclocked w/ ACX Cooler GPU-Z Info:
Gigabyte GTX 780 TI GHz Edition GPU-Z Information:
MSI GeForce GTX 780 Ti Gaming GPU-Z Information:
Batman: Arkham Origins
Batman: Arkham Origins is an action-adventure video game developed by Warner Bros. Games Montréal. Based on the DC Comics superhero Batman, it follows the 2011 video game Batman: Arkham City and is the third main installment in the Batman: Arkham series. It was released worldwide on October 25, 2013.
For testing we used DirectX11 Enhanced, FXAA High Anti-Aliasing and with all the bells and whistles turned on. It should be noted that V-Sync was turned off and that NVIDIA's PhysX software engine was also disabled to ensure both the AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards were rendering the same objects. We manually ran FRAPS on the single player game instead of using the built-in benchmark to be as real world as we possibly could. We ran FRAPS in the Bat Cave, which was one of the only locations that we could easily run FRAPS for a couple minutes and get it somewhat repeatable.
The CPU usage for Batman: Arkham Origins was surprising low with just 10% of the Intel Core i7-4960X being used by this particular game title. You can see that the bulk of the work is being done by one CPU core.
Benchmark Results: The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 780 Ti GHz Edition 3GB video card had the highest core clock speeds of the three GeForce GTX 780 Ti cards and therefore had the best gaming performance of the three cards. The MSI GeForce GTX 780 Ti Gaming and EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Ti Superclocked card with ACX Cooling were very similar when it came to gaming performance as just 13MHz separated the cards factory rated boost clock speed. All of the GeForce GTX 780 Ti cards were easily able to outperform the overclocked NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 card that we used for reference.
Benchmark Results: When you look at performance over time all of the cards were able to run above 40FPS and that is pretty good for this Ultra HD (3840x2160) test setup.
Battlefield 4 is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA Digital Illusions CE (DICE) and published by Electronic Arts. It is a sequel to 2011's Battlefield 3 and was released on October 29, 2013 in North America. Battlefield 4's single-player Campaign takes place in 2020, six years after the events of its predecessor. Tensions between Russia and the United States have beem running at a record high. On top of this, China is also on the brink of war, as Admiral Chang, the main antagonist, plans to overthrow China's current government; and, if successful, the Russians will have full support from the Chinese, bringing China into a war with the United States.
This game title uses the Frostbite 3 game engine and looks great. We tested Battlefield 4 with the Ultra graphics quality preset as most discrete desktop graphics cards can easily play with this IQ setting at 1080P and we still want to be able to push the higher-end cards down the road. We used FRAPS to benchmark each card with these settings on the Shanghai level.
Battlefield 4 is more CPU intensive than any other game that we benchmark with as 25% of the CPU is used up during gameplay. You can see that six threads are being used and that the processor is running in Turbo mode at 3.96GHz more times than not.
Benchmark Results: In Battlefield 4 with Ultra settings at 3840x2160 we were able to average over 30 FPS on all three of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti cards. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 3GB card was unable to run over 30FPS as it averaged just 27FPS.
Benchmark Results: The cards shadowed one another very closely in BF4 with a noticeable gap between the GTX 780 and GTX 780 Ti cards at 3840x2160. The MSI, EVGA and Gigabyte GeForce GTX 780 Ti cards were very similar again due to the slight clock speed differences.
Like the others, it is a first-person shooter developed by Crytek, using their CryEngine 3. Released in February 2013, it is well known to make even powerful system choke. It has probably the highest graphics requirements of any game available today. Unfortunately, Crytek didn’t include a standardized benchmark with Crysis 3. While the enemies will move about on their own, we will attempt to keep the same testing process for each test.
Crysis 3 has a reputation for being highly resource intensive. Most graphics cards will have problems running Crysis 3 at maximum settings, so we settled on no AA with the graphics quality mostly set to Very High with 16x AF. We disabled v-sync and left the motion blur amount on medium.
Crysis 3 appeared to run for the most part on just 3 CPU threads and used up about 15-18% of our Intel Core i7-4960X processor with these settings. Notice that the processor speed was at 3.53GHz and we very seldom, if ever, saw the processor go into turbo mode on Crysis 3.
Benchmark Results: The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 780 Ti GHz Edition card averaged 22.5 FPS with these settings and that was enough to make it ~10% faster than the GTX 780 Ti cards from MSI and EVGA. Cysis 3 is tough on graphics cards and to be honest these settings are a too much for a single graphics cards.
Benchmark Results: The one thing worth noting when you look at performance over time is that none of the video cards experienced any major frame rate drops that cause stuttering.
Far Cry 3
Far Cry 3 is an open world first-person shooter video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft for Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It is the sequel to 2008's Far Cry 2. The game was released on December 4th, 2012 for North America. Far Cry 3 is set on a tropical island found somewhere at the intersection of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. After a vacation goes awry, player character Jason Brody has to save his kidnapped friends and escape from the islands and their unhinged inhabitants.
Far Cry 3 uses the Dunia Engine 2 game engine with Havok physics. The graphics are excellent and the game really pushes the limits of what one can expect from mainstream graphics cards. We set game title to 2x MSAA Anti-Aliasing and ultra quality settings.
Far Cry 3 appears to be like most of the other games we are using to test video cards and uses up about 20% of the processor and is running on multiple cores.
Benchmark Results: The GeForce GTX 780 Ti graphics cards were 5-7 FPS faster than the GeForce GTX 780. The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 780 Ti GHz Edition card was able to break 30FPS on average thanks to the fact that it's boost clock is 78MHz or just over 7% higher than that of the EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Ti Superclocked and the MSI GeForce GTX 780 Ti Gaming.
Benchmark Results: Some small variations here and there, but no big frame drops on any of the cards to report back about.
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 was benchmarked with very high image quality settings with the SSAA set to off and 4x AF. These settings are tough for entry level discrete graphics cards, but are more than playable on high-end gaming graphics cards. We benchmarked this game title on the Theater level.
We again found around 20% CPU usage on Metro: Last Light.
Benchmark Results: In Metro: Last Light the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 780 Ti GHz edition card 45 FPS at 3840x2160 and the MSI and EVGA cards were slightly slower at ~41 FPS. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 card averaged just ~35.5 FPS as it has a partially disabled GK110 'Kepler' GPU core that has fewer CUDA cores at lower clock speeds.
Benchmark Results: No big performance dips or spikes that are out of the ordinary here!
Thief is a series of stealth video games in which the player takes the role of Garrett, a master thief in a fantasy/steampunk world resembling a cross between the Late Middle Ages and the Victorian era, with more advanced technologies interspersed. Thief is the fourth title in the Thief series, developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Square Enix on February 25, 2014.
We ran Thief with the image quality settings set at normal with VSYNC disabled.
Thief appears to be running on the six physical cores of the Intel Core i7-4960X processor and averages around 17-24% CPU usage from what we were able to tell from the CPU utilization meter that is built into the Windows 8.1 task manager.
Benchmark Results: The EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Ti Superclocked and MSI GeForce GTX 780 Ti Gaming cards ran great and averaged roughly 45 FPS on our benchmark run. The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 780 Ti GHz Edition card was a touch faster an averaged 48.9 FPS whereas the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 card that was overclocked with a 1006MHz boost clock was running at 37.4 GPS.
Benchmark Results: The performance over time chart showed that the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 dipped below 30FPS a couple times and was slightly slower than the GeForce GTX 780 Ti cards across the benchmark run.
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.
Fire Strike Benchmark Results:
Benchmark Results: The 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark had the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 scoring 9,181 3DMarks and then the GeForce GTX 780 Ti cards coming in at 10,600 to 11,300 3DMarks. The performance between the three GeForce GTX 780 Ti shows how important clock speed is on this Kepler GPU powered card.
Temperature & Noise Testing
Temperatures are important to enthusiasts and gamers, so we took a bit of time and did some temperature testing on the cards.
EVGA GTX 780 Ti Superclocked w/ ACX Cooler Temps:
Gigabyte GTX 780 TI GHz Edition Temps:
MSI GeForce GTX 780 Ti Gaming Temps:
At idle all three GPU coolers were similar and the cards idled at 23-26C. The MSI GeForce GTX 780 Ti Gaming card was 2C cooler than the other cards, so you can say that it had the best idle temperature. GPU-Z shows that the EVGA and MSI cards had an GPU voltage of 0.8750 at idle, which was slightly lower than the 0.8870V on the Gigabyte card. When gaming the EVGA and MSI cards hit 1.1870V, the Gigabyte card hit 1.200V. It is apparent that Gigabtye is running higher voltages across the board to reach the higher clock speeds that come on the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 780 Ti GHz Edition card. The bad news for Gigabyte is that this made their card run the hottest at 78C. The MSI GeForce GTX 780 Ti Gaming came in at 75C and then the EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Ti w/ ACX Cooling came in the coolest when gaming at 68C. The EVGA card is certainly the winner when it comes to load temperatures, but keep in mind the voltage and clock speed differences.
We test noise levels with an Extech sound level meter that has ±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.
Having low temperatures is nice, but most people are concerned about how loud a video card is in their system. The GeForce GTX 780 Ti cards that we looked at do greatly vary when it comes to gaming load noise. At idle speeds they are all right around 39.5dB and it is though to hear a difference between the cards on an open test bench. All of the cards had a slight touch of choke whine when when gaming, which is pretty common these days. At full lad the Gigabyte GTX 780 Ti GHz edition card was the loudest at 51.7 dB and then came the EVGA and MSI cards.
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 Battlefield 4 at 3840x2160 and recorded the average idle reading and the peak gaming reading on the power meter.
Power Consumption Results: Of the three NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti video cards the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 780 Ti GHz Edition card used the most power. This was expected as it has the highest clock speeds and also higher GPU Voltages if GPU-Z is reading the voltages correctly. With the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 780 Ti GHz Edition in our test system the entire system at the wall was pulling 116 Watts at idle and 512 Watts at load. The MSI GeForce GTX 780 Ti Gaming consumes 112 Watts and idle and 470 Watts when gaming. The EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Ti Superclocked w/ ACX Cooling 3GB card used 113 Watts at idle and 460 Watts at load. The small 10W difference between the cards can be explained by the GPUs having different amounts of leakage, clock speeds and cooling fans.
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti Overclocking
We installed a third party overclocking utility and pushed the core clock up as high as we could for overclocking. We overclocked the memory on each card up to 7400MHz from 7000MHz. With that memory overclock you have about 355GB/s of memory bandwidth and that certainly won't be limiting performance in any game title, so we focused on the core clock on our overclocking journey. Since we were overclocking several cards we left the voltages at their default settings and pushed the clock speed on the 2880 CUDA cores as high as we could with gaming stability. The EVGA and MSI cards have a VDDC of 1.1870 and the Gigabyte card has a VDDC of 1.2000, so we'd expect the Gigabyte card to overclock higher since it is getting more voltage.
EVGA GTX 780 Ti Superclocked w/ ACX Cooler Max OC:
The EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Ti Superclocked w/ ACX got up to 1305MHz on the core! This was good enough for a 3DMark Fires Strike score of 11,313.
Gigabyte GTX 780 TI GHz Edition Max OC:
The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 780 Ti GHz Edition card got up to 1268MHz on the core as they card was having stability issues when we went above +40MHz on the core. This small boost was enough to give us a 3DMark Fire Strike score of 11,628.
MSI GeForce GTX 780 Ti Gaming Max OC:
The MSI GeForce GTX 780 Ti Gaming was able to get up to 1313MHz and had the highest core clock of all the three cards. The 3DMark Fire Strike score was 11,379, which wasn't the highest of the group though.
At the end of the day the EVGA and MSI cards were able to run 1305-1310MHz and the Gigabyte card hit 1268MHz. We were a bit shocked that the Gigabyte card had the best score and was the 'worst' overclocker of the bunch as it had the most voltage. All of the cards performed within 3% of eachother, so none of these overclocks are significantly different in the big picture.
Final Thoughts and Conclusions
All three of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti video cards that we looked at today are excellent examples of what companies can do on their flagship models. Each of these cards have been customized with better components to allow for higher clock speeds, lower temperatures and reduced noise levels. None of them have any obvious flaws and we did run each one of them on our test bench and personal gaming system for a couple weeks where we were able to pound on them and actually use them.
The EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3GB Superclocked card had the lowest clock speeds of the bunch, which is unusual as EVGA often uses fairly aggressive clock speeds on their SC models. EVGA offers seven GTX 780 Ti cards, so it appears that EVGA was a little conservative on this model as they needed to leave some room to differentiate the the GTX 780 Classified and GTX 780 Classified K|NGP|N Edition cards that feature higher clock speeds than this Superclocked model.Overclocking performance was superb as we were able to get beyond 1300MHz on the core clock when gaming with no voltage increase needed. The noise levels were right in the middle of the two cards and the ACX Cooler allowed this GTX 780 Ti to have the lowest temperatures at load of the three. The EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Ti Superclocked 3GB w/ ACX Cooler is sold under part number 03G-P4-2884-KR for $729.99 ($719.99 after rebate).
The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 780 Ti GHz Edition video card was hands down the winner when it came to benchmarks thanks to the rather high base clock of 1085MHz and 1150MHz boost clock. This ~75MHz advantage gave it significant performance boost over the other two cards. The only real downside to this particular model is that Gigabyte had to increase the GPU core voltage in order to run these speeds and that means more noise and heat. The Gigabyte WINDFORCE 3X 450W GPU cooler looks good, but this card ran the hottest and the loudest of the three. We were expecting to see some crazy overclocking results with this card, but was only able to get it up to 1268MHz before we started getting artifacts in games. The card boosts up to 1228MHz with the default settings, so this is just a 40MHz overclock. If you want to have a fast GTX 780 Ti and don't want to mess with overclocking this card is for you as long as you are okay with the higher fan noise. The GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 780 Ti 3GB is sold under part number GV-N78TGHZ-3GD for $724.99.
The MSI GeForce GTX 780 Ti GAMING 3GB is an interesting card mainly due to the price point. The performance on this card was solid thanks to the 1020MHz core clock and 1085MHz boost clock. This card had the largest fans and the spin slower, which meant that it had acceptable load temperatures and the lowest fan noise at load of the three cads. The MSI GeForce GTX 780 Ti GAMING 3GB video card was able to be overclocked up to 1313MHz on the core. This made it the highest overclocking card of the bunch. So, how much does this card cost? How about $699.99 or currently $669.99 after a $30 rebate. That makes it $50 to $55 less expensive than the EVGA and Gigabyte models.
All three of these NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti video card models qualify for the Daylight game promotion, so you'll get a key for the first game title that uses Epic Game's Unreal Engine 4. If we had to pick one card of the three to purchase right now we'd have to go with the MSI GeForce GTX 780 Ti Gaming due to mainly the low price point, excellent overclocking and the fact that it had the lowest fan noise when gaming. Without the $30 rebate it would get a bit tougher as all three are really solid cards and it depends on what your top selling points are!
Legit Bottom Line: EVGA, Gigabyte and MSI have taken the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti and taken it to the next level with their custom cards!