Review: Worthy GTX 680 substitute
Upon Nvidia’s launch of GTX 670 graphics cards, Gainward already had two products to compete with. Today we’ll show you a special model – Gainward GTX 670 Phantom 2GB. The other GTX 670 we mentioned is based on reference model and clocks.
Nonreference coolers are quite popular and Gainward’s Phantom series has always been a standout product in that respect. The series boasts some nice overclocks as well, not least due to quality cooling.
GTX 670 Phantom’s GPU ticks at 1006MHz while the memory is at 1527MHz (6108MHz effectively). Note that reference clocks are 915/1502MHz for the GPU/memory.
While GTX 680 comes with eight SMX units and 1536 CUDA cores, GTX 670 has seven SMX units and 1344 CUDA cores. Coincidentally, reference GTX 680’s GPU runs at 1006MHz, which is the exact clock of our Gainward GTX 670 Phantom.
The card packs eight memory chips totaling at 2GB of GDDR5 memory. Good news for Nvidia fans is that the company kept the identical memory system used on its GTX 680 card, meaning four 64-bit memory controllers (256-bit memory interface) and 2GB of GDDR5 memory. The company didn’t change memory clocks compared to the GTX 680, and it stands at 1502MHz (6008MHz effectively) on reference GTX 670 cards.
With the launch of GTX 670, Gainward launched a new version of its ExperTool, which is now in version II. ExperTool allows for overclocking Kepler based graphics, displaying sensor readouts or doing simple fan RPM control. It looks much better than the previous versions as well. You can find it here.
We must say it would be great if Gainward threw in a Frame Rate Target and sensor readouts for the second card in SLI chain as well.
Clicking Overclock G button opens up a new window, where users are free to set their OC parameters.
Info key reveals some important information about the card.
Status monitor is a welcome addition to any tool.
In the box you’ll find:
Quick Installation Guide
DVI to VGA Dongle
HDMI to DVI dongle
1x Molex to 6-pin Power Adapter
Gainwardov GTX 670 Phantom’s cooler is definitely a looker. The fans are hidden behind the heatsink so it may trick users into thinking it’s a passive cooler. Still, if you peek through the heatsink, you’ll see silhouettes of two fans.
GTX 670 Phantom is about 24.7cm long, which is about the same as the reference GTX 670.
Below is a picture of Gainward’s 670 2GB graphics card, which runs at reference clocks. As you can see, they more than just a bit different.
Gainward GTX 670 2GB
Nvidia GTX 670 2GB
Things get interesting once you flip the GTX 670 over. Namely, the PCB ends where the power connectors are placed.
The PCB is only 17.2cm long.
Reference GTX 670 cards are powered via two 6-pin power connectors, just like the factory overclocked Gainward GTX 670 Phantom.
The reference card’s TDP stands at 170W, but the higher clocks on Gainward’s GTX 670 Phantom’s higher clocks should increase this number slightly. Still, two 6-pin power connectors coupled with PCI Express power will be more than enough for the GTX 670.
Gainward used its own PCB, which is pretty clear once you see that its memory modules aren’t distributed as on the reference GTX 670 (picture below). Namely, odd and even memory chips were placed on opposite sides of the PCB, while the Phantom’s memory chips are all on the front.
Nvidia GTX 670 2GB
Nvidia GTX 670 2GB
The following photo shows GTX 670 Phantom with the cooler off.
GTX 670 comes with 2GB of memory. It has eight memory chips, just like the reference card.
Good news for Nvidia fans is that the company kept the identical memory system used on its GTX 680 card, meaning four 64-bit memory controllers (256-bit memory interface) and 2GB of GDDR5 memory. The memory runs at 1502MHz (6008MHz effectively), again just like the GTX 680.
Gainward’s GTX 670 Phantom runs Hynix memory chips (model No: H5GQ2H24AFR-R0C). The chips are specified to run at 1500MHz (6000MHz GDDR5 effectively). GTX 670 Phantom’s memory runs at 1527MHz (6108MHz effectively)
The Phantom’s heatsink houses three heatpipes and it’s not a mystery as to why the card takes up three slots. The fans are on the cooler and are protected with an aluminum grill. Taking off the plastic shroud that holds the fans, e.g. for cleaning or something, is a breeze.
The memory is air cooled and you can see a few modules through the heatsink.
For the cooler base Gainward used aluminum instead of more commonly used copper.
Gainward GTX 670 Phantom graphics comes with two dual-link DVIs, but only allows for analog VGA. If you want to use VGA, you’ll have to use the DVI connector that’s level with HDMI and DisplayPort connectors. It’s important to note that Nvidia addressed its previous multi-display “disadvantages” so Kepler based cards can now run up to four displays simultaneously.
The card has two SLI connectors.
Motherboard: EVGA X79 FTW
CPU: Sandy Bridge-E Core i7 3820 (3.6GHz)
CPU Cooler: Thermalright HR-02 (Thermalright-Europa Distri www.PC-Cooling.de).
Memory: 8GB ADATA DDR3 1600 XPG Gaming series
Harddisk: OCZ Vertex 2 100 GB
Power Supply: CoolerMaster Silent Pro 1000W
Case: CoolerMaster Cosmos II Ultra Tower
Operating System: Win7 64-bit
Frame rate target is a function Nvidia launched with its GTX 680 series. If your favorite game isn’t very demanding and your graphics card is capable of spewing out a super high frame rate, then you can limit it to 60fps or lower. This will lower the GPU temperatures, noise and your electricity bill as well.
As you can see from the curve, we dropped below the 60fps during gaming, which meant frame rate target wasn’t active.
The graph you see on the picture below (left) shows the workload and consumption when frame rate target is off. On the right you see what happens when frame rate target is on. GPU was utilized to about 100% until we turned on the frame rate target option, which significantly decreased it. Additionally, consumption also went down. The values you see were measured while playing AvP at 1920x1080.
We used EVGA’s Precision v.3.0.2. and this tool allows setting frame rate target to any value from 25fps to 120fps. Note: you must restart the application for the setting to apply.
GPU Boost technology takes care of the card so overclocking is not as simple. Kepler GPU has two clocks – one being the Base clock, which is the guaranteed clock, while the other is Boost clock, average auto-overclocking clocks.
If the card needs more power to boost performance to a certain level, and the thermals aren’t too high, it will auto overclock to the specified max threshold.
When we want to overclock the GPU, we increase the Base clock and hope that GPU Boost technology will “grant” our request. Unless we overdid it, GPU Boost will make sure to squeeze out more juice from the chip.
Gainward GTX 670 Phantom 2GB is a factory overclocked card whose GPU runs at 1006MHz, and the memory at 1527MHz. Gainward also launched its ExperTool tool (picture below), which of course supports overclocking of all GTX 600 series graphics cards.
The maximum stable GPU clock for the GTX 670 Phantom 2GB was 1056MHz. We achieved a similar result with our EVGA GTX 670 Superclocked graphics cards (1067MHz).
GPU Boost continued to auto-overclock the card so we recorded clocks up to 1215MHz.
Phantom cooler did a good job but didn’t quite blow us away (no pun intended). Perhaps our high expectations had something to do with it, but we’re used to seeing Gainward’s Phantom coolers excelling. However, thermals were good even after our overclock. We left the fans in AUTO mode, since manual settings didn’t affect overclocking that much.
The fans can be heard clearly but aren’t too loud, much like with reference coolers. Bear in mind though that Phantom is cooling a factory overclocked GPU. The fans are quiet in idle mode, but not quite inaudible.
It’s clear that the card is overclocked from the increase in consumption, but it’s well worth the performance.
GTX 670 Phantom 2GB is Gainward’s premium model for gamers and enthusiasts, which is pretty much clear from the fact that it runs at reference GTX 680’s clocks. The memory and 256-bit system are common for both of these cards, whereas Phantom actually has slightly faster memory. Still, that wasn’t enough to beat the GTX 680, which has eight SMX units and 1536 CUDA cores. GTX 670 on the other hand has seven SMX units and 1344 CUDA cores.
At the end of the day though, Gainward GTX 670 Phantom has every reason to stand proud because it showed excellent performance. In fact, on few occasions it even manages to beat the GTX 680.
We’ve seen that there’s some overclocking headroom left as well, even despite the already high GPU overclock to 1006MHz. Thanks to our overclock, Gainward GTX 670 Phantom even managed to beat GTX 680 in Crysis 2 by 4 percent. Gainward will also provide you with its upgraded card management tool ExperTool II.
The only thing that didn’t impress us is the Phantom cooler, which is what the card should be notable for. Performance wise, it beats the reference GTX 670’s solution, but noise levels are about the same. That’s not to say that it’s very loud, but we can’t say it’s inaudible either. Despite the overclocked core, we’d still much rather see Gainward keep the tradition of making coolers that beat reference solutions in both cooling and noise departments.
If you’re yearning for GTX 680’s performance but can’t quite afford it, then Gainward’s GTX 670 Phantom will save you some €50 while delivering comparable performance. You can improve its score even more if you’re into tweaking, which makes the card one sweet package.