Gigabyte Goes WindForce 3X on The GTX770
NVIDIA's reference design for the GeForce GTX 770 is solidly built, but most video card makers have opted to use their own PCB design and custom GPU coolers on the cards that they bring to market. Gigabyte has come out with a rather impressive NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 2GB/4GB video card that has the company's WindForce 3X GPU Cooler and a custom designed PCB. This card stands out from the crowd due to the WindForce 3X GPU cooler that uses six copper heatpipes (2x 8mm and 4x 6mm) and three 75mm cooling fans to keep this factory overclocked card running smoothly. This beefy GPU cooler marketed as being able to handle thermal designs of up to 450 Watts.
That is complete overkill for the reference GeForce GTX 770 clock speeds, so Gigabyte overclocked this card with the highest frequencies that we have seen to date. A standard reference card comes at 1046MHz base clock with a 1085MHz boost clock, but the Gigabyte GTX 770 WindForce 3X comes clocked at 1137MHz core and 1189MHz boost. a nice 9-10% increase in clock speeds on the 1536 stream processors! The 2GB of GDDR5 memory runs on a 256-bit bus and is clocked at 1753MHz (7012MHz), which means that is has not been overclocked.
The Gigabyte GTX 770 WindForce 3X 2GB video card is sold under part number GV-N770OC-2GD and retails for $409.99 shipped. There is also a 4GB version of the same card that has part number GV-N770OC-4GD that sells for $449.99 shipped. It you are gaming on a triple panel setup it is advisable to spend the extra $40 to get twice as much frame buffer as many game titles use more than 2GB at a screen resolution of 5760x1080 and higher.
The Gigabyte GTX 770 WindForce 3X is a dual-slot card that measures 11-inches in length, which is half an inch longer than the reference design. This card has some weight to it and weighs just over two pounds!
The back side of the card is not covered by a back-plate and none of the GDDR5 memory chips are located on the back of the 2GB card that we are looking at today. Notice that the GPU cooler does extend past the PCB, so Gigabyte tried to make it as large as possible.
The Gigabyte GTX770 WindForce 3X video card looks sharp from the front, with a nice nameplate and all, but once installed in a case this is what you would see. It would have been nice if Gigabyte would have installed some branding on the back of the cards metal fan shroud that extends above the card. It's just a blank piece of metal that is sticking out when installed in a traditional PC case.
The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 OC WindForce 3X 2GB GDDR5 graphics card has a total of four display connectors. You have dual-link DVI-I, dual-link DVI-D, HDMI and DisplayPort outputs. All of the video outputs are standard size, so no adapters are needed, which is nice. The only downside to using full size connectors is that the exhaust fan outlet is small, but due to the WindForce 3X GPU Cooler design most of the air is blown back into the chassis.
Here is a closer look at the bottom of the video card to show how the fan shroud is pretty much open all the way around the card. The fans push air down into the two large aluminum heatsinks and then the air pretty much goes out in every direction once it hits the PCB.
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 graphics card supports triple-SLI, so Gigabyte supports it as well and the card has a pair of SLI connectors along the top of the PCB for multi-GPU systems. Gigabyte ships the card with blue colors protectors on all the video outputs, PCIe slot and the SLI connectors.
Gigabyte went with 6-pin and 8-pin PCIe power connectors on the GeForce GTX770 WindForce 3X video card and recommends at least a 600 Watt power supply with a minimum +12V current rating of 42A. It should be noted that when we plugged in the PCIe power connectors that they made contact with the WindForce 3X GPU cooler, so it is a tight fit to get them on and really tricky to get them off! You just have to be gentle and finesse it!
Now that we have covered the basics of the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 WindForce 3X, let's move along and take a quick look at the retail packaging and accessory bundle for all those folks that like unboxing details.
Retail Box and Bundle
The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 WindForce 3X 2GB cards comes in a nice looking black retail box that lists some of the key features of the card. For example it shows that is has a 450 Watt cooler, is factory overclocked and has 2048MB of GDDR5 256-bit memory.
When it comes to the accessory bundle you get a 6-pin and 8-pin PCIe power to dual 4-pin Molex power adapters, a quick setup guide and the driver disc. Right now there is no game bundle with any of the GeForce GTX 700 series video cards, so what you see is what you get right now.
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 2
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
Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 WindForce 3X 2GB Video Card 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: The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 WindForce 3X 2GB performed faster than the MSI GeForce GTX 770 and ASUS GeForce GTX 770 OC Edition cards since it was overclocked to a higher frequency on the stream processors. The Gigabyte GTX770 WindForce 3X was easily able to play BF3 with Ultra settings and averaged 34FPS at 5760x1080 and 54FPS 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 Gigabyte GTX770 WindForce 3X 2GB card was about 2FPS faster than the other GTX770 cards thanks to the higher core clock speed. You can see that it easily trades punches with the Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 Vapor-X 2GB OC Edition card as well.
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 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 and GTX 680 cards don't do too hot on Far Cry 3 at 5760x1080 as this game needs more than 2GB of frame buffer when running three monitors at this resolution. This is why all the cards that have less than 3GB of frame buffer perform so poorly. At 2560x1600 the Gigabyte GTX770 WindForce 3X 2GB card still stuttered a bit here or there in the first person maps we played, so we'd stick to 1920x1080 for this game title even on a $400 video card like the Gigabyte GTX770 WindForce 3X 2GB.
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: Hitman: Absolution is a pretty tough game title on graphics cards with the Ultra setting, but the Gigabyte GTX770 WindForce 3X 2GB was able to perform smoothly at 1920x1080. At 2560x1600 it was a bit choppy, so those on a 30-inch monitor will need to reduce the image quality settings down to high in order to get smooth performance.
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 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.
Benchmark Results: Metro Last Light is tough on video cards, but the Gigabyte GTX 770 WindForce 3X 2GB video card performed really well and was easily able to play the game at 2560x1600 with Ultra image quality settings. Once you go up to a triple panel setup and start gaming at 5760x1080 you'll see the minimum frame rate touch 20FPS with the average being around 25FPS. You can easily lower the image quality settings to medium or high though and have a great gaming experience at 5760x1080.
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 Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 WindForce 3X 2GB was able to run at nearly 60 FPS at 2560x1600 in Tomb Raider and that is perfect!
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 Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 WindForce 3X 2GB card had an overall score of 7260 3DMarks in Fire Strike, which is just a hair faster than the Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 3GB Vapor-X GHz edition card!
Fire Strike Extreme:
Benchmark Results: When moving up to the 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme benchmark found the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 WindForce 3X 2GB had a score of 3564 3DMarks and was again ahead of the Radeon HD 7970!
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 Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 WindForce 3X 2GB video card scored 6056 points in Catzilla on the 1440P test. This was just over 200 points higher than the MSI and ASUS GeForce GTX cards with the slower core clock speeds.
Noise and Temps
Temperature & Noise Testing
Temperatures are important to enthusiasts and gamers, so we took a bit of time and did some temperature testing on the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 WindForce 3X 2GB video card
Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 WindForce 3X 2GB Idle Temperature:
The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 WindForce 3X 2GB video card had an idle temperature of 33.0C in a room that was 22.0C (72F).
Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 WindForce 3X 2GB Gaming Temperature:
When playing Far Cry 3 and Battlefield 3 for about 30 minutes each, we hit 70C and did not get any hotter than this as that is the temperature target of this video card. The Gigabyte WindForce 3X cooler does an impressive job keeping the GeForce GTX 770 factory overclocked card running nice and cool. Notice the fan speed went from just 800RPM at idle to 2280RPM 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 three 75mm fans a bit when they start spinning at 2300RPM. Notice that the card is hitting 1215 MHz on the core clock right out of the box thanks to NVIDIA GPU Boost 2.0 and these nice low GPU temperatures!
The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 WindForce 3X isn't the coolest or hottest card in our performance chart, but we can live with 33C at idle and 70C at full load! Those are very nice temperatures and this card should last for many years in that range with the quality components it uses.
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.
When it comes to noise levels the WindForce 3X GPU cooler was one of the quietest that we have tested in recent months thanks to the low idle fan speed of just 800RPM. At full load we were jumped up from ~41dB to ~47dB, which isn't bad at all considering the old NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 reference design was at ~54dB! The new GeForce GTX 700 series is very quiet and that is one of the key selling points with one of these new cards. Hard to complain when it runs faster, cooler and quieter than your 2-3 year old video card at the same price point.
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 Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 WindForce 2X 2GB performed right between the MSI and ASUS versions of the same GPU when it comes to idle performance. At full load it used just 1-10 Watts more, which makes sense due to fact that the Gigabyte card features the highest overclock of the trio of GTX770 cards that we have for testing. This is a great sign and everything appears to be in order when it comes to power use on this custom card. Our entire LGA2011 platform was pulling 101 Watts at the wall at idle and when gaming we hit 365 Watts. Keep in mind that this is peak Watts as well, so the GeForce GTX 770 isn't a power hog.
Gigabyte GTX770 WindForce 3X Overclocking
We installed the EVGA Precision X 4.2.0 software utility to see how the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 WindForce 3X 2GB video card could be overclocked! You can use whatever software utility you like for overclocking and we used this one since we are familiar with it and it was already installed on our test machine.
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 Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 WindForce 3X has a base clock of 1137MHz, a boost clock of 1189MHz and the memory runs at 7012MHz. Let's see how much more we can get out of this factory overclocked card!
To see how much higher we could get we increased the power target to 111% 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 +90MHz and the mem clock offset to +200MHz before we started to get encounter some issues like artifacts.
The highest fully stable and 24/7 game ready overclock was found to be 1227MHz base and 1279MHz boost on the core clock and 7412MHz on the 2GB of GDDR5 memory. In game titles we saw the card hitting 1293.4MHz thanks to GPU Boost on the core. 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 7260 to 7689 by overclocking the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 WindForce 3X 2GB video card. This is a performance gain of 5.9%, which isn't bad considering how it was already overclocked higher than any other GeForce GTX 770 video card that we have tested.
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 WindForce 3X 2GB video card looks good and has the performance to back up the good looks. The WindForce 3X GPU cooler is about as big of a GPU cooler that we have ever seen on a dual-slot video card. It stretches 11-inches in length and is comprised of two aluminum finned heatsink arrays that use six copper heatpipes to help dissipate the heat from the NVIDIA Kepler GPU. Gigabyte rates this GPU Cooler as being able to handle up to 450 Watts and we have no reason to doubt that. It was able to keep our cards temperatures under control at both stock and overclocked speeds!
The card that we looked at today is the Gigabyte GTX 770 WindForce 3X 2GB and it is sold under part number GV-N770OC-2GD for $409.99 shipped. Not a bad price considering that is only about $10 more than what most GeForce GTX 770 reference cards sell for. If you game at 2560x1600 or higher when it comes to screen resolutions then you might want to step up to the 4GB version of the same card to help 'future proof' your high-end video card purchase. The 4GB variant of this card is sold under part number GV-N770OC-4GD that sells for $449.99 shipped. If you are gaming on a triple panel setup it is highly advisable to spend the extra $40 to get twice as much frame buffer as many game titles use more than 2GB at a screen resolutions of 5760x1080 and higher. All Gigabyte GeForce 700 series cards are backed by a 3-year limited warranty.
At the end of the day there are a ton of GeForce GTX 770 video cards available for sale. When we looked this morning we found one dozen different GeForce GTX 770 cards for sale ranging in price from $399.99 to $509.99 plus shipping. The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 WindForce 3X just happens to be on the low end of that price range and that came as a shock to us. This card is the least expensive GeForce GTX 770 that you can buy right now. It easily performed better than the ASUS and MSI cards that we compared it against and those cards cost about $10 more. Gigabyte has a solid card here and it is hard to believe that a card like this is the entry-level GeForce GTX 770 card!
Legit Bottom Line: The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 WindForce 3X 2GB video card performs great, has solid overclocking numbers and is currently the lest expensive NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 video card on the market today.