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Thursday, 02 January 2014 12:53

EVGA GTX 780 Ti Superclocked reviewed - Hitman Absolution

Written by Sanjin Rados

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Review: Silent cooler and high factory overclock

The GTX 780 Ti is Nvidia’s new flagship graphics card and we all know AIBs like to show off when it comes to flagship products. While most AIB partners are offering one or two GTX 780 Ti cards, EVGA is going a step further, or a few steps. EVGA has no less than five different GTX 780 Ti cards and today we will take a look at one of them – the GTX 780 Ti Superclocked with ACX Cooler. EVGA decided to set the base GPU clock at 1006MHz, which is significantly higher than the 876MHz reference clock.

The next photo shows EVGA’s full GTX 780 Ti line-up. The GTX 780 Ti Dual Classified is 14MHz faster than the Superclocked version and it is aimed at overlockers, although the factory clock difference does not play a big role in overall performance. Note that EVGA is preparing to introduce yet another GTX 780 Ti card, the GTX 780 Ti Dual Classified Kingpin Edition, with three power connectors. It is said that this will be the best GTX 780 Ti to date, but the clocks have not been finalized yet.


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Note that the GTX 780 Ti Superclocked w/ACX is listed on the EVGA web shop for $729, which does not sound like a big price premium for such a hefty factory overclock. However, in Europe you will have to pay a bit more, roughly €70 to €80 more than the reference card to get the Superclocked, which starts at €674. Factory overclock raises the GPU clock by 130MHz but the memory is still running on reference clocks, i.e. 7000MHz (effective GDDR5). This is typical for EVGA, since the company rarely overclocks memory.

Before we move to test results let’s refresh our memory. Nvidia launched the GK110 in May as the Geforce GTX 780 that came with 2304 CUDA cores, 863MHz base GPU clock, 192 texture mapping units (TMUs), 48 render output units (ROPs) and 3GB of GDDR5 memory running on a 384-bit memory bus.

Specification wise the GTX 780 ended up with 50% more CUDA cores than its predecessor, the GTX 680, and this among some other things gives the GTX 780 card a significant performance boost, although the GK110 is based on the Kepler architecture used in the GTX 680. The GK104 chip used in the GTX 680 has 1536 CUDA cores. The memory bandwidth got increased, too, thanks to the wider 384-bit bus. The GTX 780 has a 384-bit bus while the GTX 680 is limited to a 256-bit interface, but the memory speed on both cards is 6008MHz.The frame buffer was increased from 2048MB to 3072MB of GDDR5 memory.

Compared to the GTX Titan ($999), the GTX 780 debuted at a more attractive price of $649. Nvidia’s response to AMD’s new R9 290X was to slash the price of the GTX 780 by $150 and launch the full GK110 Geforce GTX 780 Ti.

The GTX 780 Ti has 25 percent more cores than the original GTX 780 and it has the same size as any GK110 chip, 533 mm2. The suggested retail price for the Geforce GTX 780 Ti was set at $699. The GK110-425-B1 that powers the GTX 780 TI has 5 graphics processing clusters, 15 streaming multiprocessors, 2880 CUDA cores, 240 TMUs, 48 ROP units, and 3GB of GDDR5 memory running on a 384 memory bus. GTX 780 Ti card comes with faster memory 7000MHz effective, compared to the 6008MHz on the GTX 780.

Important new features announced alongside the GTX 780 Ti are ShadowPlay, an automatic game recorder that uses GPU encoding and it comes with Geforce Experience 1.7 and higher. Shield PC streaming as well as G-Sync are supported as well. These new features should help add a bit more appeal to the GK110. G-Sync can synchronize Geforce Kepler cards and your G-Sync capable monitors, which are expected to ship in early 2014. This technology will eliminate frame stuttering and tearing due to a lack of synchronization between your graphics card and monitor, but it requires a new G-Sync enabled monitor and works only on Kepler cards, GTX 780 Ti included. The Geforce GTX 780 Ti also features the same GPU Boost 2.0 technology used in the Geforce GTX Titan, with more advanced controls for auto-overclocking, fan control, and hardware monitoring.

Note that all Geforce GTX 780 Ti cards from EVGA come with Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Batman: Arkham Origins, and Splinter Cell Blacklist. EVGA also exclusively bundles in for FREE the following games: Deadfall Adventures, Painkiller Hell and Damnation, and Rise of the Triad.

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In the box you’ll find:

EVGA Full Size Poster
A User Guide and Quick Installation Guide
Driver DVD
A small note about PCIE 3 compatibility
A new sticker set (Enthusiast Built)
A new EVGA Case Badge
DVI to VGA Dongle
1x Molex to 6-pin Power Adapter
1x 6-pin to 8-pin Power Adapter

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EVGA is constantly working to improve its custom components and come up with cards capable of trumping the competition. Even in its reference form, the GTX 780 Ti is a top notch card with a great cooler and Nvidia partners had to put a lot of effort into designing even better coolers. As a result, EVGA’s GTX 780 Ti Superclocked uses the ACX (Active Cooling Xtreme) cooler which we already had a chance to try out on earlier cards, including the GTX 780 Superclocked ACX. The new ACX cooler impressed us both in terms of performance and low noise.

Before we proceed, let’s see how it looks. It is a dual-slot, dual-fan design and it looks like it means business.

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High-end graphics cards generate plenty of heat and many AIB partners resort to bulky triple-slot coolers to reduce noise and allow higher clocks, while keeping the GPU under the thermal threshold. With the ACX cooler EVGA took things to the next level, as the reference cooler was tough to improve upon. Since it is a dual-slot design, it is also perfect for enthusiasts who plan to use the card in three-way or four-way SLI setups.

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EVGA designed a special heatsink with a lot of dissipation surfaces. The heatsink was designed in such a way to minimize airflow turbulence between the fans, with clever barriers directing the airflow.

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To maximize dissipation volume, EVGA used a few tricks, such as tall fins at the sides of the cooler. Also the heatsink was elongated to match the full length of the PCB. Airflow channels provide better airflow and prevent pockets of hot air from creating inside the heatsink and they should be kept clean.

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The ACX cooler comes with five elaborate heatpipes.

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The Power Logic PLA09215B12H fan has some good features. First of all it was chosen due to its dense, curved blade design and double ball bearing design.

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A poor blade design generates more noise but, this particular 9-blade fan seems to be up to the job. EVGA says that the blades are up to 700 percent more rigid than fan blades used in competing fans, which also results in a 25 percent weight reduction. As we said in past ACX reviews, these fans really do live up to these claims. The fan uses a double ball bearing design. The noise generated by ball bearing designs tends to be very low, at least while they are new. However, since this fan uses two ball bearings it should last a bit longer and generate a less noise even after a couple of years of wear. This is what the bearings look like in real life, opposed to standard sleeve bearings used in most fans.

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The GTX 780 Ti Superclocked ACX cooler is 27cm or just under 11 inches long and sports a dual-slot, dual-fan cooler design.

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A combination of 6-pin and 8-pin power connectors is necessary to keep the card juiced up.

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The GTX 780 Ti SC ACX PCB looks a lot like the reference GTX 780 Ti board. EVGA decided to reinforce the baseplate to strengthen the PCB and provide a bit more cooling to the memory chips and MOSFET.

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The card uses an OnSemi NCP4206 voltage controller.

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The card has 3GB of GDDR5 memory. The SK Hynix chips, (model H5GQ2H24AFR-R2C) are specified to run at 1750 MHz (7000 MHz GDDR5 effective). All the memory modules at the front of the PCB are underneath the reinforcement plate.

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The GTX 780 Ti SC ACX features one standard HDMI connector (1.4a compatible), one standard DisplayPort out and two DVI outs (one single-link and one double-link).

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The GTX 780 Ti SC ACX is ready for multi-GPU action, be it in standard two-card SLI, or 3-way and 4-way SLI. Therefore it features two SLI connectors.

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Testbed:
- Motherboard: Intel DZ87KLT-75K
- CPU: Intel Core i7 4770K, 4x3.5GHz (Haswell)
- CPU Cooler: EVGA
- Memory: 2x4GB Corsair DDR3 2400MHz  
- Harddisk:   Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB
- Case: CoolerMaster Cosmos II Ultra Tower
- Operating System: Win8.1 64-bit

Drivers:

- Nvidia 331-70
- AMD 13.11_beta9


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Nvidia decided for GTX 780 Ti to use practically the same cooler used previously on the GTX Titan and GTX 780, and this was a logical choice. We already had a chance to get acquainted with Nvidia's reference GTX Titan/780 cooler and we found it being adequate for cooling the massive GK110 chip. The cooler was designed to provide superior cooling performance, but generate less noise than previous Nvidia reference coolers. We can confirm that this is also true of the GTX 780 Ti graphics card, the reference cooler is very good indeed. The GK110-425-B1 chip used on the GTX 780 Ti is in its core the same as chip used for the GTX 780 but it comes with more shaders and a slightly higher GPU clock; 2880 cores and 875MHz Base clocks compared to the GK110 chip on the GTX 780 which features 2304 cores and 863MHz Base clock.

Because GTX 780 Ti is more powerful than the GTX 780 and it uses the exact same cooler, we were wondering what Nvidia did to keep the new card quiet. In previous reviews we noticed that the GTX 780 Ti tended to hit 83 degrees Celsius after a bit of gaming, and very rarely it can hit 85 degrees Celsius. The GTX 780 maxed out at 80 degrees Celsius. Nvidia simply changed the max temperature target, trading silence for better cooling. The new Boost 2.0 algorithm will reduce the GPU Boost clocks on the GTX 780 and on the GTX 780 Ti too if the GPU temperature goes over 80 and 83 degrees Celsius respectively.

According to EVGA, the Active Cooling Xtreme (ACX) cooler should provide 15 percent lower GPU and memory temperatures on average. We can confirm that the EVGA ACX cooler is superior to the reference design as it keeps the GPU temperatures below 74 degrees, which is 9 to 12 percent better than the reference unit. If the ACX cooler wasn’t as good, GPU Boost 2.0 would kick in and throttle the card once it gets too hot. The ACX cooler ensures your card maintains the maximum boost clock possible for as long as possible.

The card is completely silent in idle where we measured 32 degrees Celsius. The ACX cooler is very quiet, even under load. It’s not inaudible, of course, but it won’t be any distraction, as you will can hear only some airflow.

The fan management is excellent and two 88mm fans won’t surprise you with sudden RPM changes. The fan gradually accelerates when we start a game and slowly decelerates when we’re done gaming.


Power consumption for the GTX 780 Ti SC ACX is slightly higher (15W to 30W) compared to the reference GTX 780 Ti. However higher power consumption is due to high factory GPU overclock, but for that you get better performance. Overall, performance-per-watt is still good. Recent Geforce cards tend to consume 10 to 40 watts less than competing Radeon cards in a multi-monitor scenario.

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The EVGA GTX 780 Ti SC ACX works at a 1006MHz base clock, while the reference GPU base clock is set at 876MHz. Nvidia's GPU Boost 2.0 takes the average GPU clock to 900MHz for the reference GPU and to 1106MHz for the SC ACX card. The overclocking potential is very good considering that this is a factory overclocked card. Using standard voltage and AUTO fan settings we managed to push the GPU 130MHz over the factory clocks. Memory overclocking is vital in any attempt to squeeze out more performance from a graphics card. The memory produced average results with a total 150MHz (effective 600MHz) overclock.

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Previous generations of Geforce reference designs featured relatively noisy coolers, but luckily this is no longer the case. Although many average users should have no concerns about picking up a reference GTX 780 Ti, overclockers might need something a bit better. When overclocked, the reference GTX 780 Ti can be loud, much louder than the EVGA GTX 780 Ti Superclocked ACX at the same clocks. Furthermore, the ACX cooler also allows for more overclocking headroom.

Note that the factory overclock raises the GPU clock by 130MHz, but we managed to squeeze additional 130MHz out of the already overclocked card, which is very impressive. If you are a hard core overclocker we suggest you wait for the EVGA GTX 780Ti Dual Classified Kingipin Edition card, as it is supposedly designed specifically for overclockers, at least those overclockers that will be able to afford it.

The factory overclock was enough to make the GTX 780 Ti SC ACX one of the fastest single-GPU graphics card on the market as it ends about 9 percent faster than the reference GTX 780 Ti. Combined with our overclock we measured up to 19 percent better performance.

In addition to great performance, the ACX cooler is also quite a bit quieter than the reference cooler when the card is pushed to its limits. For example it is just as quiet as the reference cooler at reference clocks even with a 130MHz GPU overclock. Furthermore the ACX cooler keeps the GPU somewhat cooler than the reference design. The GPU temperature does not exceed 74 degrees Celsius, while the reference card usually hits 83 degrees Celsius.

It is clear that AMD forced Nvidia to launch the GTX 780 Ti and slash pricing across the board. The 780 Ti is now available for €590, although the Superclocked ACX costs about €60 more. It is still relatively pricey compared to the R9 290X which has a disappointing reference cooler – but custom R290X cards are finally starting to appear.

The GTX 780 Ti SC ACX has 3GB of GDDR5, while the Titan ships with 6GB. Unless you have some very specific requirements, 3GB should be more than enough for comfortable gaming. The Titan is not faster in 2560x1600 tests than the GTX 780 Ti SC ACX. The Titan was basically a prestige compute card and it was overpriced when it launched. For gamers it no longer makes any sense and we suspect its days are numbered.

To conclude, EVGA has done an outstanding job. The new ACX cooler impressed us both in terms of performance and low noise, the overall performance of the GTX 780 Ti SC ACX is exceptional and the card should be able to handle new games for at least a couple of years.

Let’s also note that all EVGA Geforce GTX 780 Ti cards come with Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Batman: Arkham Origins, and Splinter Cell Blacklist. EVGA also exclusively bundles in for FREE the following games: Deadfall Adventures, Painkiller Hell and Damnation, and Rise of the Triad.

fudz recommended ny

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Last modified on Thursday, 03 April 2014 08:15
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