NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 SLI

Gamers want the ability to play any PC game, including popular AAA titles like CRYSIS 3 and METRO: Last Light with buttery smooth frame rates. If you are gaming at the now defacto screen resolution of 1920x1080, that really isn't that tough to accomplish with most high-end discrete graphics cards. Those that are gaming at Ultra HD or 4K resolutions have a much harder time getting the smooth frame rates at the image quality settings they would like. If you game on a 2560x1600 single panel or a 5760x1080 multi-panel setup, it might be time to look at a multi-GPU solution to give you that performance increase that you need to get the most from your time spent gaming.

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We recently reviewed the MSI GeForce GTX 770 Gaming Graphics Card (N770 TF 2GD5/OC) and found it to be a great card than can be purchased for $399.99. You could run a pair of these cards in 2-way SLI for $799.98, which is $200 less than what a GeForce GTX Titan 4GB video card would cost you at $999.99. A GeForce GTX 770 SLI setup should perform much faster than a GeForce GTX Titan and do so for hundreds less.

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The performance of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 is already impressive with just a single card, but NVIDIA's internal performance numbers show that you can get nearly double the performance with a pair of GeForce GTX 770 cards run in SLI. We had to give it a try, so we got our hands on a pair of cards and tried it out for ourselves!

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Setting up NVIDIA SLI and NVIDIA Surround on a GeForce GTX 700 series GPU couldn't be simpler. You just need to go into the control panel and enable SLI for a single monitor setup or with NVIDIA Surround, you just span the displays. Aesthetically, identical monitors are preferable, but it not a requirement.

NVIDIA 2D Surround Setup

The one trick to getting 2D NVIDIA Surround configured is that you can't just plug in any cable that you want into the eight available video outputs. We used DVI cables on three of our Dell monitors and plugged two into the primary card and one into the secondary card.

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When all is said and done, you'll be up and running an NVIDIA SLI setup in just a few minutes. Since we have doubled the number of GeForce GTX 770 2GB video cards in our system we are hoping to see performance numbers that also show nearly double the performance!

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.

Video Cards & Drivers used for testing:

Intel X79/LGA2011 Platform

NVIDIA Test Setup

Test System Settings

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

 

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

MSI GeForce GTX 770 SLI GPU-Z Information:

 

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We ran the cards with the stock clock speeds of 1059MHz (base), 1111MHz (boost) and 1753MHz (7012MHz effective) on the GDDR5 memory. When run in SLI the cards would hit 80C, which is the default temperature setting on NVIDIA Boost 2.0.

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

Benchmark Results: The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 SLI setup that runs ~$800 easily beat the NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan that costs $999! The GeForce GTX 770 SLI setup performed great on the NVIDIA 2D Surround setup at 5760x1080 and was able to average 63 frames per second! A single MSI GeForce GTX 770 Gaming card gets 34 FPS at the same resolution, so we are nearly doubling performance!

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 Infinite Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: The MSI GeForce GTX 770 Gaming cards in SLI were amazingly fast once again as we were able to perform  29% faster than the GeForce GTX Titan at 5760x1080.

Far Cry 3

Farcry3 Game Screenshot

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.[11] After a vacation goes awry, player character Jason Brody has to save his kidnapped friends and escape from the islands and their unhinged inhabitants.

FarCry 3 Quality Settings

FarCry 3 Video Quality

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. 

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Benchmark Results: On a single monitor the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 SLI setup was amazing as we were gaming at 2560x1600 on our 30-inch panel at nearly 51 FPS on average versus just 26 FPS with a single card. When we moved over to NVIDIA Surround gaming on our 3-panel setup we encountered really bad performance and a gaming experience that was unplayable. We contacted NVIDIA to let them know about this situation over a week ago and they never got back to us with an answer as to what is going on. Their answer was for us to go back and try older drivers to see if we can isolate the issue, but we don't have the man power to go back and try several drivers to find their bug!

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.

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We benchmarked Hitman: Absolution with Ultra Settings.

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Benchmark Results: The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 SLI setup was able to beat the GeForce GTX Titan at 2560x1600 by 38% and was nearly twice as fast as a single card. We again had NVIDIA Surround performance issues as we got just 8.8 FPS at 5760x1600.  The game performed no better or worse than with a single card!  Of the dozen game titles that we played games at in 2-way SLI with NVIDIA 2D Surround enabled we ran into issues in just Hitman Absolution and Far Cry 3.

Metro Last Light

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.

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Metro Last Light was benchmarked with the games built-in benchmark with Very High quality settings, 16x AF, normal motion blur and DX11 tessellation set to normal. Advanced PhysX was disabled.

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Benchmark Results: Metro Last Light is tough on video cards, but the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 SLI setup gave a nice performance boost and made the game run much smoother. At 2560x1600 we were running at nearly 60 FPS and were 30% faster than a GeForce GTX Titan.

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: The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 SLI setup tears up Tomb Raider as we were getting nearly 200 FPS at 1920x1080 and at 5760x1080 we were getting just shy of 80FPS!

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:

3dmark-firestrike

 

Benchmark Results: The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 SLI setup scored 11599 3DMarks with the Fire Strike preset. This was enough to put it at the top of the performance chart and it was even significantly faster than the EVGA GeForce GTX 780 SC with the highest overclock that we could get on it!

Fire Strike Extreme:

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Benchmark Results: 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme benchmark found the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 SLI setup to score 6074 3DMarks, which is nice because a single card scored 3498 3DMarks!

Catzilla

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.

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.  This 1440p benchmark is designed for high-end computers, which is perfect as that is where these video cards are going to end up!

Catzilla

Benchmark Results: The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 SLI setup scored 9408 3DMarks in the 1440P benchmark, which is by far the highest score that we have seen to date!

Power Consumption

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 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 SLI setup uses roughly 20 Watts more power at idle than a single card and about 200 Watts more at load! The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 2GB reference card has a TDP of 230W, so this is right about where we expected to see the 2-way SLI configuration land. NVIDIA recommends at least a 600 Watt power supply with a minimum +12V current rating of 42A for one GeForce GTX 770 video card.  Since each card has a 250W TDP, it is safe to assume that you should have a 850W or larger power supply for a setup like this.

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

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The performance of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 2-way SLI setup was very impressive. We had a perfect game experience on our 30-inch panel and was able to crank up all the image quality settings and play at 2560x1600 with no issues at all. If you are gaming at 2560x1600 or on a 4K monitor we can easily recommend a setup like this.

When we switched over to our three panel setup to run 5760x1080, we did encounter some issues.  In Far Cry 3 we found the 2-way SLI setup to perform worse than a single card and in Hitman Absolution we found no performance gains. These are likely driver related issues and we expect NVIDIA will quickly take care of them in the next driver release. The GeForce Release 320 series drivers are still very new and the GTX 700 series hasn't even been out for a month yet.

The best part about this setup is most certainly the price. You can buy  pair of MSI GeForce GTX 770 Gaming Graphics Card (N770 TF 2GD5/OC) for $799.98. This makes them $200 less than the $999.99 GeForce GTX Titan 4GB video card and we found the GeForce GTX 770 SLI setup did indeed perform much faster than a GeForce GTX Titan! We also found performance scaling to be excellent with SLI and nearly doubled the performance in every game title and benchmark application that we tested. NVIDIA has done a great job with SLI and it is very mature now. If you tried NVIDIA SLI many years ago when it came out in 2004 and haven't since, you are really missing out. The setup is so simple and the driver issues are pretty much non-existent. We still ran into a couple quirks with NVIDIA Surround technology, but we expect them to be sorted sooner rather than later!

Legit Bottom Line: Running a pair of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 video cards in SLI will give you a massive performance boost and give you a setup that will perform better than NVIDIA's flagship parts and for less money!

 

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Don't forget you can always add more!