MSI GeForce GTX 760 SLI
Earlier today we brought you a review of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 2GB reference card. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 uses the GK104 "Kepler" GPU and has 1152 CUDA cores with a base clock speed of 980MHz, while the boost clock speed is 1033MHz. The 2GB of GDDR5 memory runs on a 256-bit bus and is clocked at 6008MHz (effective). Pretty impressive specifications for a desktop graphics card in the $250 price segment.
However, pretty much every NVIDIA board partner will be offering factory overclocked GeForce GTX 760 boards that run at even higher clock speeds along with custom GPU coolers for improved cooling. This is great for consumers as when you purchase a desktop graphics cards you have a a wide variety brands and models to pick from. The number of different cards can be daunting, but you can get exactly what you want. The very first retail board partner GeForce GTX 760 card that we will be looking at is the MSI N760 TF 2GD5/OC. We were told to call it the MSI N760 TF 2GD5/OC, but if you go by the retail box it would be the GeForce GTX 760 Twin Frozr Gaming OC Edition.
The MSI GeForce GTX 760 Twin Frozr Gaming OC 2GB looks nothing like the NVIDIA Reference card as you can see from the image above.
| GeForce GTX 760
||MSI Twin Frozr Gaming 2GB
|Model||N760 TF 2GD5/OC||reference|
|GPU boost clock||1085MHz||1033MHz|
|GPU base clock||1020MHz||980MHz|
|Memory clock||1502MHz (6008MHz)||1502MHz (6008MHz)|
The MSI GeForce GTX 760 Twin Frozr Gaming OC is clocked at 1020MHz on the core and 1085MHz on the boost clock. This is a 4% overclock on the base clock and a 5% overclock on the boost clock. The 2GB of GDDR5 memory runs at 1502MHz (6008MHz effective), so the memory has not been overclocked and is running at stock speeds.
MSI was kind enough to send over a pair of their GeForce GTX 760 Twin Frozr Gaming OC cards for us to try out in both single card and 2-way SLI.
The MSI GeForce GTX 760 Gaming features two 100mm (10cm) fans and the Twin Frozr IV GPU cooler that has 5 copper heat pipes. At start up the fans are audible but quickly fade to nearly inaudible.
MSI uses Military Class 4 components on the Gaming series card, so they have Hi-c CAP, new SFC and Solid CAP. The dual 10cm PWM fans have propeller blade technology with dust technology, so they spin backwards for a second when first started to prevent dust from blowing into the heat sink.
MSI went with an 8-pin and 6-pin PCI-e power connectors for their GeForce GTX 760 gaming edition card. MSI suggests a 500 Watt or greater power supply for proper operation.
Here we can see the video output connectors for the GTX760 card. It has a pair of dual-link DVI connectors, the bottom is a DVI-I while the top is DVI-D. Display Port is at the bottom left and HDMI is in the middle. The design looks is identical to the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 reference card, so the video outputs are the same.
Here we have the back side of the card where it should be noted that this card uses a PCB that is 10.0" in length, but the GPU cooler extends past the card making it nearly 10.25" in length. This is about 0.75-inches longer than the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 reference card.
From this angle you can better see that the Twin Frozr 4 GPU cooler extends past the PCB and how it pushes air in all directions. Not much air is exhausted out of the chassis, so it will be interesting to see how the temperatures are during our SLI testin.
MSI is using SK hynix GDDR5 IC's that are marked H5GQ2H24AFR-R0C. These are the same exact ICs that NVIDIA used for the frame buffer on the reference card. According to the SK hynix website these specific IC's are rated to run at 6.0Gbps (0.3ns) at 1.5V.
Let's take a look at the retail box and bundle!
Retail Box and Bundle
MSI has a sharp looking retail packaging for the new cards as you can see from the image above. The overall box design is identical to the GeForce GTX 770, so that might get confusing at retail stores where the only difference shown on the front of the box is the model number.
The back of the retail box lists some of the key features and touches on some of this cards selling points.
When it comes to the accessory bundle you get a 6-pin and 8-pin PCIe power to dual 4-pin Molex power adapters, DVI-to-VGA adapter, 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.
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 320.39
- 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
MSI GeForce GTX 760 2GB OC 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 MSI GeForce GTX 760 2GB Gaming Edition OC video card was able to play BF3 with Ultra settings and averaged 27FPS at 5760x1080 and 43FPS at 2560x1600. This is just shy of the GeForce GTX 680 and should be right around a GeForce GTX 670. When we added another card and ran two card in SLI we saw performance jump up greatly and BF3 was playable on Ultra settings at 5760x1600.
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 MSI GTX 760 Gaming OC card was able to get a leg up on the reference GTX 760. At the resolution of 1920x1080 the MSI card was 2.07 frames per second faster than the NVIDIA reference card. At 2560x1600 the MSI GTX 760 Gaming OC card was 1.12 frames per second or 2.3% faster than the reference NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760. With the triple monitor display at 5760x1080 the MSI GTX 760 Gaming OC graphics card was 4.9% faster than the reference card running the default clock speeds.
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 MSI GeForce GTX 760 Gaming OC graphics card was able to edge out the reference design GeForce GTX 760. At 1920x1080 the MSI Gaming OC card was nearly 2% faster than the reference design from NVIDIA and averaged 39.822 frames per second. At 2560x1600 the MSI GeForce GTX 760 Gaming OC card was just shy of 9% faster than the reference design but we averaged 23.967 frames per second. Running at 5760x1080 the MSI GeForce GTX 760 Gaming OC card was 10% faster, though averaged 9.933 frames per second and it certainly isn't playable at this level.
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 MSI GeForce GTX 760 Gaming OC graphics card was a hair faster than the reference desing. At 1920x1080 the MSI card averaged 31 frames per second in Hitman: Absolution while the reference design averaged 30.4 frames per second. With the resolution increased to both 2560x1600 and 5760x1080 the MSI GeForce GTX 760 Gaming OC card was .1 frames per second faster than the reference design.
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: The MSI GeForce GTX 760 Gaming OC card was able to take a small lead over the reference NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 graphics card. At 1920x1080 the MSI GeForce GTX 760 averaged 45.33 frames per second while the reference card averaged 44.33 frames per second. At 2560x1600 the MSI Gaming OC card averaged 28 frames per second versus the reference average of 27.33 frames per second. At 5760x1080 the MSI GeForce GTX 760 averaged 19 frames per second, .33 frames per second faster then the reference design.
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 MSI GeForce GTX 760 Gaming OC graphics card was 1.3 frames per second faster than the reference design at 1920x1080 with an average frame rate of 77.9 frames per second. Hopping all the way up to 5760x1080 the MSI GeForce GTX 760 was able to average 32.4 frames per second which was .8 frames per second faster than the reference GeForce GTX 760 from NVIDIA.
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 MSI GeForce GTX 760 Gaming OC graphics card was able to score an overall score of 5711 points in 3DMark Firestrike. That's an improvement of 155 points over the reference design GeForce GTX 760.
Fire Strike Extreme:
Benchmark Results: When moving up to the 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme benchmark the MSI GeForce GTX 760 Gaming OC card was able to hit an overall score of 2825 which is 90 points higher than the reference design.
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 MSI GeForce GTX 760 Gaming OC card was 79 points faster than the reference design GeForce GTX 760 from NVIDIA.
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 MSI GeForce GTX 760 Gaming OC 2GB video card
MSI GeForce GTX 760 Gaming OC 2GB Idle Temperature:
The MSI GeForce GTX 770 WindForce 3X 2GB video card had an idle temperature of 22C to 23C in a room that was 20C (70F) when used as a single card. When run in SLI we noticed that the outer card was running at 24C with the inner card running at 26C.
MSI GeForce GTX 760 Gaming OC 2GB Gaming Temperature:
When playing Far Cry 3 and Battlefield 3 for about 30 minutes each, we hit 61C with a single card and did not get any hotter than this as that. Notice the fan speed went from just 990RPM at idle to 1230RPM when gaming. You really can't hear the card with it in your system at idle or when gaming. When run in 2-way SLI we found that the outer card was running at 59C with the inner card running at 79C. This is a massive 20C temperature difference due to the fact that the inner card is sucking air off the back of the other card. Oddly, the peak boost clock speed on the cooler card was about 14MHz lower for some reason.
When compared to other single card solutions the MSI GeForce GTX 760 Gaming OC Edition was found to be the coolest running card of any that we have tested. Hitting just 23C at idle and 61C when gaming is awesome.
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 MSI GeForce GTX 760 Gaming OC 2GB card was the quietest that we have tested in recent months thanks to the low idle fan speed of just 990RPM. At full load we were jumped up from ~41dB to ~44dB, which isn't bad at all considering the old NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 reference design was at ~54dB! This card is damn near silent! When running 2-way SLI the idle noise level was 42.1dB and the load was 44.7dB, so running two cards is a bit louder than one.
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 MSI GeForce GTX 760 Gaming OC Edition card used slightly less power than the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 reference card. A single card setup was using 97 Watts at idle and 329 Watts at load. A dual card SLI setup used 107 Watts at idle and 520 Watts at load.
MSI GTX 760 Overclocking
We installed the EVGA Precision X 4.2.0 software utility to see how the MSI GeForce GTX 760 Gaming OC Edition 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 MSI GeForce GTX 760 Gaming OC as a base clock of 1020MHz, a boost clock of 1085MHz and the memory runs at 6008MHz. 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 145% (likely a vBIOS issue here) 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 +165MHz and the mem clock offset to +200MHz before we started to get encounter some issues like artifacts.
This overclock was found to be 11185MHz base and 1250MHz boost on the core clock and 6408MHz on the 2GB of GDDR5 memory. In game titles we saw the card hitting 1320MHz 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 5711 to 6384 by overclocking the MSI GeForce GTX 760 Gaming oC Edition 2GB video card. This is a performance gain of 12% over the cards stock overlcock.
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
The MSI GeForce GTX 760 Gaming OC Edition 2GB video card is a well designed card that improved upon the weak points of the NVIDIA reference card. The factory overclock helps the card perform better and Twin Frozr IV GPU cooler ensures that the card runs quiet and cool. At just $259.99 it easy to justify spending an extra $10 to purchase this video card versus one based off the reference design.
When it comes 2-way SLI performance the pair of MSI N760 TF 2GD5/OC video cards performed really well. When it comes to multi-gpu performance NVIDIA SLI is the way to go and the scaling was excellent. We often saw the GeForce GTX 760 SLI setup performing better than a GeForce GTX Titan 6GB video card at 1920x1080 and 2560x1600. That is very impressive as the MSI GTX760 SLI setup runs $520 versus $999 for the Titan. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan 6GB card easily won at 5760x1080 and beyond as it had the frame buffer and horsepower to keep things running smoothly.
Overclocking performance on the MSI GeForce GTX 760 Gaming OC 2GB video card was easy to do as the GK104 GPU has plenty of overclocking headroom and the Twin Frozr IV keeps the temperatures under control. When it comes to overclocking we were able to get the base clock up to 1185MHz with the boost at 1250MHz. In game titles we saw the card hitting 1320MHz thanks to GPU Boost and that gives you a measurable performance boost when gaming.
The only concern that we have with the MSI N760 TF 2GD5/OC video card was found when running in SLI. We noticed that one GPU was running 20C hotter at load than the other. We have an open slot between the cards on the motherboard, but we also test on an open test bench. Just for fun we placed the cards into a PC case and similar temperatures were observed. Since the MSI TwinFrozer IV GPU cooler doesn't exhaust all the hot air from the case the inside card will suck in that hot air off the back of the card next to it and run hotter. Even with a 20C temperature difference we didn't notice any major performance issues, but the system was louder and that is a negative.
If you are looking for a GeForce GTX 760 2G video card the MSI N760 TF 2GD5/OC for $259 deserves a closer look. When run as a single card we were totally impressed with it and the performance, noise and power consumption were all great. It tore up the game titles we threw at it on a resolution of 1920x2560 and the overclock helped at 2560x1600. Besides the raw performance numbers we also liked the fact that this card supports NVIDIA GPU BOOST 2.0, NVIDIA SLI, NVIDIA 3D Vision Surround, and NVIDIA PhysX and TXAA for a great overall gaming experience.
Legit Bottom Line: The MSI N760 TF 2GD5/OC video card performed great and should be on your short list of $250 video cards to buy.