ASUS ROG Solves The GTX 780 Water or Air Cooled Question
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 first came out in May 2013 and even though the card is no longer 'new' it is still a very powerful solution that is continuously being updated and improved upon. ASUS has been working on rather interesting variant of this graphics card called the Republic of Gamers (ROG) Poseidon Platinum GTX 780 3GB graphics card. This card is sold under part number POSEIDON-GTX780-3GD5 and has an MSRP of $599. What makes this card so special is that ASUS came up with a hybrid cooler that allows you to use just air to keep the Kepler GPU cool or you can add water for greatly improved thermal performance.
The ASUS Posideon GTX780 3GB is powered by a single 28nm GK110 GPU that has 2,304 stream processors, 64 ROPs and 3GB (2 x 2GB) of GDDR5 memory on a 384-bit memory bus. This card features NVIDIA GPU Boost 2.0 technology and has been factory overclocked with GPU base clock of 954MHz, a boost clock of 1006MHz and the memory is clocked at 1502MHz (6008MHz effective). Since this is an ROG series card, you can be assured that there is room left for overclocking with the optional ASUS GPU Tweak overclocking utility that can be downloaded and installed to push the card to the top edge of stability.
The key selling point to this card is having the ability to do both air and water cooling. ASUS says that the Poseidon GTX 780 runs 7C cooler than the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 reference card on air and 24C cooler when hooked up to a typical custom water cooling loop.
The slide above shows all of the detailed specifications of the ASUS Poseidon GTX 780.
The ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 has a refined appearance as ASUS has moved away from solid black and gone over to more of a gun metal grey and red color scheme. We are big fans of the new look and like the look of the plastic fan shroud. Two large 9-blade cooling fans that have an actual fan blade measurement of 86.25mm help dissipate the heat from the large aluminum cooling fin array that they sit over. Under the fans you'll find a vapor chamber with a water cooling pipe in it and above that sits an aluminum cooling fin array that features three 6mm copper heatpipes to help disperse the heat.
Here is an exploded diagram provided by ASUS that shows that shows you the fan shroud, heatsink, vapor chamber, PCB and the backplate.
The ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 video card has one 8-pin PCIe and one 6-pin PCIe power connector located along the top edge of the card that are both needed for proper operation. ASUS flipped the power connectors 180 degrees to make installation easier and also placed on power status LED lights that let you quickly know if the power is properly connected. ASUS suggests using a 600W or greater power supply with at least 38 Amps on the +12V rails for proper single card operation.
The ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 has a single pair of SLI bridge connectors, so you can run Quad-SLI with another card if you wanted to do so for an even more powerful graphics solution. It should be noted that the ROG logo on top of the card does have an LED light that pulsates in red when the card is active.
Looking down at the top of the card you you can see the water inlet and outlet that need to be hooked up to your water cooler should you want to go that route. ASUS does not supply any threaded G1/4-inch barbs, but you should be able to pick some up some 1/2", 3/8" or 1/4" barbs online. It is very tough to find G1/4-inch fittings locally unless you happen to have a Frys or Micro Center in your area. The ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 measures in at 11.3-inches in length.
On the back of the Poseidon GTX 780 you'll find the backplate that looks great and helps protect the components on the back of the card. We were shocked to find an anti-tamper sticker on one of the backplate screws. If you break this sticker it means that you have voided your 3-year warranty. We won't go there due to that, but ASUS says that the Poseidon GTX 780 features a 10-phase Super Alloy Power along with DIGI+VRM. DIGI+ VRM is a digital voltage regulation that provides ample room for overclocking and performance tuning while reducing power noise by 30%. Along with Super Alloy Power specially formulated concreted chokes and harden MOSFETs to withstand greater stress and heat, Poseidon GTX 780 also uses Japanese-made black metallic solid-state capacitors (Nichicon GT-Series) for 20% better temperature endurance and 5 times longer lifespan.
The one thing that we noticed the second that we picked up the card is that the plastic fan shroud moved. It turns out that the fan assembly is just clipped onto the two outer sides of the cooling fin array. This means that you can pop off the fans and have quick and easy access to the cooling fins. This should make cleaning out dust super easy in the years ahead.
Here you can see that the two fans actually sit down inside the cooling fins and that ASUS really maximized all the space that they had to ensure they had good air cooling despite having the water pipe and vapor chamber on the card.
ASUS said it was okay to post the ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 reviewers guide, so we figured that we'd post it up as ASUS did put together a rather nice slide deck for this card that is certainly worth taking a look at.
Let's take a look at the retail box or accessory bundle before we move along to benchmarking!
ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 Retail Box and Bundle
The ASUS retail packaging for the Poseidon Platinum GTX 780 is pretty plain on the front, but says that you have the choice to do air or liquid cooling.
The back of the retail box shows an exploded diagram of the card, full specifications and the video display outputs. The back of the box is excellently prepared as it tells consumers all the key features, clock speeds, PSU requirements and even the length of the card.
When you flip open the lid of the box you'll find even more details out about the key features of this card. Here ASUS explains that this card should be cool running thanks to the hybrid cooler, how robust the DIGI+ VRM & Supper Alloy Power design is and how the card has a red backlighted logo that pulses when there is GPU activity.
When it comes to the accessory bundle you get a dual 6-pin PCIe power to 8-pin PCie power adapter, ROG emblem, a quick setup guide and the driver/utility disc.
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
ASUS GTX 780 Poseidon Video Card GPU-Z Info:
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 ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 was put up against some GeForce GTX 780 Ti cards that we recently tested. The ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 retails for $599 and the GeForce GTX 780 Ti cards start at $659 after rebate, so they start out at 10% more and they do offer substantially more performance.
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 27.4 FPS on the ASUS Poseidon GTX 780. We'd like to be above 30FPS at all times, so with a card like this you'll need to lower the MSAA or overall image quality setting to get that buttery smooth performance on a 4K display.
Benchmark Results: The ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 dipped down to 20FPS in BF3 at 3840x2160 at one point in our benchmark run.
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 ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 averaged 17.8 FPS on Cysis 3 with these aggressive settings on the 4K display.
Benchmark Results: While performance averaged 17.4 FPS on the Poseidon we never experienced any major drops on our test run.
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 ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 averaged 25 FPS in FarCry 3, which was 5-7 FPS lower than the factory overclocked GeForce GTX 780 Ti cards.
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 ASUS Poseidon averaged 35.5 FPS at 3840x2160 and ran the game title great on our 4K setup.
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 ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 averaged 37.4 FPS in Thief with normal image quality settings and the game looked and ran great.
Benchmark Results: The performance over time chart showed that the ASUS Poseidon 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 ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 scoring 9,181 3DMarks with a GPU score of 10,008.
Temperature & Noise Testing
Temperatures are important to enthusiasts and gamers, so we took a bit of time and did some temperature testing on the ASUS Poseidon GTX 780.
ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 3GB Temps:
At with the boards air cooling solution we got 25C at idle and hit a high of 72C when gaming. GPU-Z shows that the ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 video card had an GPU voltage of 0.875V at idle and 1.158V when at full load gaming. The fan speed at idle was 1028 RPM and 2153 RPM at load when gaming.
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.
The ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 was fairly quiet and ran at 39.3 dB when at idle and hit 49.4 dB when gaming.
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.
ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 3GB GPU Overclocking
How well does the ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 graphics card overclock? We were wondering the same thing and fired up ASUS GPU Tweak v184.108.40.206 to find out. We quickly found that GPU Tweak was not enjoying our 4K monitor at all, so we opted not to use it due to the issues that we were experiencing. We let ASUS know about the issue and they are looking into duplicating it over in Taiwan in order to fix it.
Update (3/25/14 8:30am): ASUS informed us that GPU Tweak version 220.127.116.11 was released this morning and fixed the native 4K resolution issue. We downloaded this build and confirmed that it works properly on our 4K display with a native 3840x2160 screen resolution.
We switched over to EVGA Precision (sorry ASUS) and went about overclocking the card without any issues. We were able to bump up the power target to 104%, increase the GPU clock offset to +180MHz and the Mem Clock offset to +400MHz.
The ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 out of the box with the latest GeForce drives scored 9,181 points in 3DMark Fire Strike.
After our overclock we were able to get a score of 10,428 3DMarks. This is an improvement of 1247 points or 13.6% from the overclock that we were able to perform. Not bad and we are happy to see that there is still plenty of room left for overclocking with this card.
Final Thoughts and Conclusions
The ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 turned out to be a really nice graphics card and will likely go down as one of the best NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 cards ever produced. The ASUS pater cooler appears to be well done and eliminates the need to purchase a third party waterblock. Therein lies the largest issues with this card. It is not cheaper than buying the lowest cost GeForce GTX 780 and installing a full coverage water block on your own. To give you an idea of pricing in North America, the ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 is $599.99 plus shipping and the ASUS GTX780-DC2OC-3GD5 is $499.99 shipped. This means you are paying $100 for the option to water cool and to have the beefed components on the card with water cooling when you stick with ASUS branded products. The lowest price NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 that we could find today is the MSI N780 TF 3GD5/OC at $469.99 shipped after rebate and it just happens to have the same clock speeds as the ASUS Poseidon GTX 780. Is it worth it? If you wanted to go water cooling without having the hassle of fitting blocks and worrying about voiding your 3-year warranty it certainly could be. If you are looking for the best bang for the buck, probably not, but when you are looking at enthusiast cards like this you are likely willing to pay a premium to get exactly what you want. ASUS designed and built this card for power users and prosumers, not people looking for the best deal.
When it comes to performance the ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 proved to be a powerful card, but was a tad underwhelming now that the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti cards are out. The ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 comes pre-overclocked and runs at 954 MHz and boosts to 1006 MHz. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 reference card is clocked at just 854MHz. This card has a ton of overclocking headroom in it and should be able to reach a base clock of 1100MHz with ease. That means you'll be able to get another 15% performance boost by overclocking and that basically puts it on a level playing field with a stock GeForce GTX 780 Ti despite the fact it has fewer CUDA cores. We've had pretty good luck getting many GT 780 cards to boost 1200 to 1250 MHz (depending on temperature, power draw and load) and this card was no exception and was able to hit 1254MHz before becoming unstable. This card will be able to run pretty much all of the popular display configurations out there as you saw from our 4K test results at 3840x2160.
At the end of the day the ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 proved itself to be a solid graphics card. We love that runs great with air cooling, but that you have the ability to move into water cooling by adding it to you existing custom water loop. If you want that kind of cooling flexibility there aren't that many choices on the market and we are glad that NVIDIA has a niche card like this. We hope that ASUS keeps this design moving forward and will offer it on the next generation NVIDIA Maxwell GPU powered cards when they arrive. We also wouldn't mind seeing this card updated with a GTX 780 Ti GPU, but from what we have been told by ASUS that will not be happening.
The ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 was made available in North America on March 25th, 2014 and is available to now for $599.99 shipped.
Legit Bottom Line: The ASUS Poseidon GTX 780 gives you the ability to pick between air and water cooling, so now you can be flexible with your system configuration!