EVGA GeForce GTX780 w/ ACX Cooler
When we reviewed the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 video card last month we were impressed by what what it could do and we just had the NVIDIA reference design on-hand to come to that conclusion. Today, we will be looking at our first add-in board partner card, the EVGA GeForce GTX 780 3GB Superclocked with ACX cooling. This card retails for $659.99 shipped and features higher clock speeds and a greatly improved cooling solution. Not bad, considering it retails for only $10 more than the base model!
When you first look at the EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Superclocked with ACX cooling video card you can see that it is certainly not using the reference cooler. EVGA has developed a new GPU cooling technology in-house called Active Cooling Extreme or ACX for short. This cooler will be available on both EVGA GeForce GTX 770 and 780 series cards, so you'll be hearing about this cooler a bunch in 2013!
EVGA GeForce GTX 780 w/ AVX Cooling Key Features:
- Ultimate GPU Cooling – 15% average lower GPU and Memory temperatures give you the low temperatures needed for extreme overclocks, and with GPU Boost 2.0, it ensures your card maintains the maximum boost clock possible.
- No Compromise Heatsink Design – An increase of 40% in heatsink fin volume distributes heat evenly and efficiently.
- Low Noise Levels – The dual fan design dramatically increases airflow, meaning the fans only need tos pin at a much lower RPM, reducing noise levels significantly. In fact, it is 15% quieter on average!
- Double Ball Bearing Design – The EVGA ACX cooler features a double ball bearing design, meaning the fans have an average lifespan of 12 Years! This is 4X longer than the competitors sleeve bearing fans.
- Superior Blade Design – EVGA even went as far as crafting each individual fan blade with the utmost in quality. The fan blades on the EVGA ACX cooler are 700% stronger and weigh 25% less than competitor’s versions. This makes the fans 20% more efficient by requiring lower power levels.
- Dual Slot Design – No need to worry about bulky heatsink designs that cover unnecessary PCI-E lanes, the EVGA ACX cooler is a dual slot design, the optimal size for all forms of NVIDIA SLI.
- Dual Cooling Subsystems – Minimizing air turbulence between fans, this makes sure the airflow is distributed evenly, and reduces noise level.
- Reinforcement Baseplate – This helps to maintain a straight PCB, and helps lower mosfet temperatures by 7% and memory temperatures by 15%.
Some of you might not know what the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 reference card looks like, so here is a shot of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 reference card with it's single fan blower style GPU cooler and the EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Superclocked w/ ACX Cooling that we'll be looking at today. This is a "Superclocked" card, so right off the bat you should know that it has been overclocked from the start. The EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Superclocked with ACX cooling comes with a base clock of 967 MHz a boost clock of 1020 MHz. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 reference card is clocked at 863 MHz base and 902 MHz boost, so this is a 12-13% clock increase on the 2304 CUDA Cores! EVGA opted not to overclock the 3GB of GDDR5 memory and it operates at 6008 MHz (effective) like the reference card.
EVGA also didn't touch the Printed Circuit Board (PCB) and used the same exact PCB as the NVIDIA reference design. This means it features single 8-pin and 6-pin PCIe power connectors to supply enough power to the 250W TDP card and a pair of SLI connectors for 3-way SLI support. The EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Superclocked w/ ACX is 10.5" in length.
Display outputs include two dual-link DVIs, one HDMI and one DisplayPort 1.2 connector. This video card easily supports 4K resolution monitors and supports up to four monitors concurrently. This is great for those wanting to run NVIDIA Surround or NVIDIA 3D Vision Surround technology.
Let's move along and take a closer look at the EVGA ACX Cooler!
Taking Off the EVGA ACX Cooler
The new double ball bearing ACX cooler from EVGA is said to redefine traditional enthusiast coolers. Since EVGA took the time to design such a GPU cooler we thought it was only fair to dedicate a page to it!
EVGA provided us with a marketing slide that shows all of the key differentiating features of the EVGA ACX Cooler in one image. That image is self-explanatory, so we'll let you look that over and then we'll take the EVGA ACX Cooler apart.
EVGA says that the ACX Cooler has a 40% increase in heatsink volume and is more efficient at dissipating heat, allowing for 15% lower GPU temperatures.
With the fan shroud removed you can see how EVGA was able to increase the heatsink volume. At the end and middle of the heatsinks there are larger fins for increased volume. EVGA also places small holes in the raised cooling fins to act as air channels to increase airflow and to reduce dead spots. Just be sure to use some compressed air every so often to make sure these small holes and the cooling fins are clear of dust or animal hair. Yeah, humans are nasty creatures!
EVGA also spent time to ensure that even the fan blades were of the highest quality; with a 700% increase in strength, and 25% lower weight when compared to competitors dual fan designs. This makes the fans 20% more efficient by requiring lower power levels. Of course, EVGA is also using double ball bearing fans which offer a 12 year lifespan, this is 4X longer when compared to competitors! We removed the fans and found they were nine blade Power Logic PLA09215B12H 92mm frameless cooling fans. These fans are PWM-controlled, so you'll be able to fully control them with software applications like EVGA Precision X.
Here is a slide that shows the dual ball bearings that EVGA uses for the fans on the ACX Cooler versus the sleeve bearings that most competitors use. Sleeve bearings are often found on cheaper low quality fans. Ball Bearings fans add a bit to the overall build cost, but have a 4X longer lifespan, and are more efficient, using less voltage to spin the fan.
Only four screws need to be taken off to remove the EVGA ACX Cooler from the circuit board and there are just four screws that hold down the black fan plastic fan shroud, so it has easy access for when it comes time to clean it out or perform other maintenance tasks.
The five heat pipes found on the ACX cooler do not directly touch the NVIDIA GK110 "KEPLER" GPU, but a nice base plate does. We were shocked to find that the bottom was polished, appeared flat and had a mirror-like finish. We also like the black-chrome look!
Here is a closer look at the reinforcement baseplate that helps keep the PCB straight. It also helps dissipate heat by up to 7% on the MOSFETs and 15% on the GDDR5 memory IC's! Under the baseplate you'll find the 3GB of GDDR5 memory. EVGA is using Samsung (part number K4G20325F0-FC03) GDDR5 memory IC's on this card.
Here is a look at the 6-phase PWM for the GPU and the 2-phase PWM for the GDDR5 memory.
And lastly here is the OnSemi NCP4206 voltage controller.
Now that we know all about the EVGA ACX Cooler and what is under it, we can move along to benchmarking the GeForce GTX 780 Superclocked card!
Retail Box and Bundle
The EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Superclocked with ACX Cooling video card comes in a rather boring box for such a high-end card with such impressive features and looks. It's got a clean look to it, but it is a bit boring and we have a hard time seeing how this will make it stand out on retail shelves at stores like Frys, Micro Center or Best Buy.
Inside the retail box you'll discover the Quick Installation Guide, Driver DVD, EVGA Gaming Poster, EVGA Case Badge, EVGA stickers and a note about PCIE 3.0 compatibility.
You also get several adapters that might make life a bit easier for some. Included are a DVI-to-VGA video adapter and a dual-6-pin to single 8-pin adapters and a dual 4-pin Molex to 6-pin Power Adapter. There should be a reason that you can't get this card running out of the box as long as you have a power supply that can handle it. EVGA recommends a 600W or greater power supply for proper operation of the EVGA GeGeForce GTX 780 Superclocked with ACX cooling graphics card.
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.
Video Cards & Drivers used for testing:
- NVIDIA GeForce 320.18
- AMD Catalyst 13.6 Beta
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 0305 that came out on 12/25/2012. The Corsair Vengeance 16GB 1866MHz quad channel memory kit was set to 1866MHz with 1.5v and 9-10-9-27 1T memory timings. The OCZ Vertex 3 240GB SSD was run with firmware version 2.25.
|The Intel X79 Test Platform|
Intel Core i7-3960X
ASUS P9X79 Deluxe
16GB Corsair 1866MHz
OCZ Vertex 3 240GB
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Superclocked with ACX Cooling GPU-Z Information:
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 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.
Benchmark Results: Holy Crap! The EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Superclocked with ACX Cooling and a $659 price tag just took down the mighty NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan that costs $999! The two cards are pretty much tied on an NVIDIA 2D Surround setup at 5760x1080, but the EVGA GeForce GTX Superclocked leads at 2560x1600 and 1920x1080! The EVGA GTX780 was found to be 14.6% faster than the NVIDIA GTX780 reference card at 2560x1600.
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.
We tested BioShock Infinite with the Ultra game settings.
Benchmark Results: The EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Superclocked with ACX Cooling was able to beat Titan at 1920x1080, but lost to it at 2560x1600 and 5760x1080. At 2560x1600 we found the EVGA GTX780 SC to be 8.1% faster than the stock GTX780.
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 8x MSAA Anti-Aliasing and ultra quality settings.
Benchmark Results: The EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Superclocked with ACX Cooling was able to beat the GeForce GTX Titan at 1920x1080, 2560x1600 and 5760x1080! At 2560x1600 we found the EVGA GTX780 SC to be 9.5% faster than the stock GTX780.
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.
We benchmarked Hitman: Absolution with Ultra Settings.
Benchmark Results: The EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Superclocked with ACX Cooling was able to beat the GeForce GTX Titan at 1920x1080, it tied it at 2560x1600 and lost at 5760x1080! At 2560x1600 we found the EVGA GTX780 SC to be 4.7% faster than the stock GTX780.
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 Ultra settings
Benchmark Results: The EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Superclocked with ACX Cooling was able to beat the GeForce GTX Titan at all three resolutions in Metro Last Light! At 2560x1600 we found the EVGA GTX780 SC to be 9.6% faster than the stock GTX780.
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.
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.
Benchmark Results: The EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Superclocked with ACX Cooling was able to beat the GeForce GTX Titan at 1920x1080 and 2560x1600, but was a tad slower at 5760x1080! At 2560x1600 we found the EVGA GTX780 SC to be 10% faster than the stock GTX780.
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: 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark has the EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Superclocked w/ ACX Cooling scoring 9304. This makes it 6.9% faster than the reference NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 card.
Fire Strike Extreme:
Benchmark Results: 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme benchmark found the EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Superclocked w/ ACX Cooling scoring 4730. This makes it 7.2% faster than the reference NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 card.
Catzilla is a relatively new benchmark that is made the Polish demoscene group Plasticis. something we are using for that reasonis 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.
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. This 1440p benchmark is designed for high-end computers, which is perfect as that is where these video cards are going to end up!
Benchmark Results: The EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Superclocked w/ ACX Cooling scored 7750 points in the 1440P benchmark, which is just 4 points behind the GeForce GTX Titan and makes it 12.5% faster than the reference NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 card.
Temperature & Noise Testing
Temperature & Noise Testing
Temperatures are important to enthusiasts and gamers, so we took a bit of time and did some temperature testing on the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 video card.
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Idle Temperature:
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 video card had an idle temperature of 24.0C in a room that was 22.0C (72F). Running at nearly the ambient temperature is very impressive. Keep in mind that the NVIDIA GK110 "Kepler" GPU has over 7 billion transistors!
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Gaming Temperature:
When playing Far Cry 3 and Battlefield 3 for about 30 minutes each, we hit 65C and did not get any hotter than this. The EVGA ACX cooler does an impressive job keeping the GeForce GTX 780 Superclocked card running nice and cool. Notice the fan speed went from 1300RPM at idle to 1860RPM when gaming. You really can't hear the card with it in your system at idle, but when you start gaming you can hear the fan a bit. Notice that the GeForce GTX 780 Superclocked card is hitting 1123.5 MHz on the core clock when gaming thanks to NVIDIA GPU Boost 2.0 and these nice low GPU temperatures!
This low idle temperature makes the EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Superclocked w/ ACX Cooling the coolest running card of our test group at idle! Not bad considering the MSI GeForce GTX 770 Gaming card is in there with the Tein Frozr IV GPU cooler and so is the ASUS GeForce GTX 770 DirectCU II OC Edition. These cards have popular CPU coolers and are on a GPU with a lower TDP and still don't perform as well as the EVGA ACX Cooler. At load the ASUS DirectCU II cooler is at the bottom of the chart, but the EVGA ACX Cooler is the next card in line.
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.
The new GeForce 700 series cards are much quieter than what we had on GeForce GTX 500/600 series cards, so it's not a big shocker that the GTX 580 and GTX 680 were at the top of the noise charts. The EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Superclocked wasn't the quietest we have ever seen, but the new cooler doesn't sound bad at all and is not overpowering.
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 Results: The EVGA GeForce GTX 780 SC w/ ACX Cooling has pretty insane power numbers and was actually more energy efficient than the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 reference card. This caused us to look a little deeper and we discovered that the EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Superclocked has a vBIOS with different voltage settings than our reference card. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 reference card idles at 875mV and the EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Superclocked idles at 861mV. These voltage differences and the different cooling fans are likely the reason there is a power difference and it just happens to be in EVGA's favor this time around.
EVGA GTX 780 SC w/ AXC Cooling Overclocking
We installed the EVGA Precision X 4.2.0 software utility to see how the EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Superclocked w/ ACX Cooling 3GB video card could be overclocked!
EVGA Precision X v4.2.0 includes a few new features that are new to some of the high-end NVIDIA graphics cards. Not only can you adjust the power target, GPU and Memory clock offsets within a certain range, but you can now also adjust the temperature and power targets. By default the power and temp targets are linked together, but you can unlink them and adjust them independently.
In case you forgot, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 reference card has a base clock of 863MHz, a boost clock of 902MHz and the memory runs at 6008MHz. The EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Superclocked w/ ACX Cooling card comes already overclocked to 967MHz core and 1020MHz boost, but the memory is left at 6008MHz. This card should have some room left to overclock as EVGA also offers a FTW and Classified versions of this card with even higher clock speeds than this. Let's take a look and see if we can tap into that extra overclocking headroom to get a free performance gain.
To see how much higher we could get we increased the power target to 106% and the temperature target to 94C. 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 +100MHz and the mem clock offset to +400MHz before we started to get encounter some issues.
We found this overclock to be rock solid and we saw the EVGA GeForce GTX 780 SC was hitting 1215MHz thanks to boost on the core and 1709MHz memory (6808MHz effective). This is not a bad overclock and we were very happy with the performance gains it gave us.
For example in 3DMark Fire Strike we saw performance go from 9304 to 10080 by overclocking the EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Superclocked w/ ACX Cooling video card. This is a performance gain of 8.3% and enough extra power to outperform a stock GeForce GTX Titan! The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 reference card scores 8700 points in Fire Strike, so this is nearly a 16% performance improvement over a default reference card! That is very impressive and enough to surpass the GeForce GTX Titan 6GB video card that costs $999!
When it comes to power use we took a look at the peak power in 3DMark Fire Strike Game Test 1 (GT1) and found that it jumped up 18 Watts on average when we looked at three runs on each setting. This is a 4.5% jump in power consumption, which isn't bad considering that we are getting a 16% performance increase in this application.
The EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Superclocked w/ ACX Cooling is an impressive card with the factory overclocked settings, but it can easily be overclocked beyond that and become one helluva graphics card!
Final Thoughts and Conclusions
We haven't been impressed by an add-in board partners card in some time, but that quickly changed after we spent some time with the EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Superclocked with ACX Cooling video card (part number 03G-P4-2784-KR). What you get for an extra $10 over the cost of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 reference design is downright amazing. You get a video card that performs right around 9% faster than the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 with stock speeds and is faster than NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan video card more often than not. This is something that is hard to believe since the GTX 780 has fewer cores and texture units than Titan, but the numbers don't lie. Also keep in mind that at $659.99 shipped, the EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Superclocked is $340 less than the GeForce GTX Titan. That is a steal! This will likely make NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan owners a tad angry as you got a card that came out a few months later than can perform the same and do so at a lower cost.
Overclocking performance on the EVGA GeForce GTX Superclocked with ACX Cooling was also very impressive. We were able to get another 100MHz out of the core, which put us up to 1215MHz when GPU Boost kicked in thanks to our aggressive power target settings. With the card overclocked we were able to break the 10,000 point mark on 3DMark Fire Strike and reach a score that was 7.6% higher than a stock clocked NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan. Hard not to be impressed by overclocking results like that!
If you are looking for a high-end gaming graphics card and game at high resolutions the GeForce GTX 780 is a very nice card that clearly performs better than an AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz edition graphics card. The only real competition for this card is the AMD Radeon HD 7990 and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690, which are dual-GPU cards that are right around the $1000 mark. We haven't had a chance to run those cards on our new test setup, but they'll likely perform better. The best bang for the buck though is a card like the EVGA GeForce GTX Superclocked with ACX cooling though as at $659 it is a price versus performance winner. Who cares how EVGA is able to sell this card for only $10 more than the reference design as it great news for consumers and this card is a force to be reckoned with. If you have $650 to spend right now for a video card, this is the card that we would get and we wouldn't hesitate. Don't forget you have the peace of mind from the EVGA 90 day step-up program and the card itself is backed by a 3-year warranty if you register it within 14 days of purchase.
Legit Bottom Line: The EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Superclocked with ACX Cooling is a great looking card that is able to compete with a GeForce GTX Titan and costs $340 less. What is there not to like?