What's new
  • Please do not post any links until you have 3 posts as they will automatically be rejected to prevent SPAM. Many words are also blocked due to being used in SPAM Messages. Thanks!

Galaxy GTX 770 GC 4GB Review

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
With the GTX 770’s launch, NVIDIA’s board partners saw an opportunity to create a wide number of variations since a reference design never officially created per se. Instead, the market has turned into something resembling the Wild West, with everyone clambering for a piece of the pie. The main reason for this is simple: the GTX 770 resides in a “sweet spot” and perfectly combines raw power and efficiency without costing a fortune. This benefits you and me since it has bred competition on a number of fronts and has brought highly appealing, overclocked solutions to within spitting distance of the GTX 770’s $399 price point.

So here we are covering yet another custom GTX 770, this time the Galaxy GTX 770 GC, which is particularly unique due to its 4GB of GDDR5 memory. Naturally, this comes tied to the hip with higher clock speeds, upgraded components and a high end cooling solution but that’s par for the course these days.


Galaxy’s GTX 770 GC 4GB does have higher-than-reference base and Boost speeds but, from our perspective they won’t amount to a noticeable performance difference. Nearly every other pre-overclocked GTX 770 makes use of higher speeds, particularly when it comes to sustained Boost clocks where the GC trails behind the WindForce OC and Lightning. With that being said, this card’s selling point is its 4GB of memory and an ability to excel in frame buffer limited situations rather than blazing fast core frequencies.

At $459.99 this is by far the most expensive GTX 770 we’ve reviewed to date. Well, that extra 2GB of high-clocked GDDR5 does cost a pretty penny so this budget-demolishing price shouldn’t come as a surprise.

So, for those who keep thinking that GPU processing capabilities of non-flagship cards won’t somehow limit the benefits offered by an obscene amount of memory, this card may be for you. Just remember: increasing the memory footprint doesn’t do a thing to bandwidth specifications so despite its 4GB of GDDR5, the GTX 770 GC 4GB retains the NVIDIA’s default 224.3GB/s of theoretical throughput.


The Galaxy GTX 770 GC 4GB is one sexy looking card. Its combination of an anodized black fan shroud, black decals and a few touches of blue is nothing short of stunning. One of the most important aspects of this design is its size. At just 10.5” it is compact and will fit into most cases without a problem.


The GC 4GB’s heatsink isn’t as extensive as other competing solutions like the Twin Frozr, WindForce and DirectCU’s of this world but then again, it isn’t meant to drastically lower temperatures. Rather, Galaxy wanted it to feature ultra low acoustics above all else which is accomplished with a pair of large 80mm fans that have slight striations to decrease cavitations.

As you might expect, all of the other highlights of high end heatsinks are present: large nickel-plated heatpipes, a copper contact plate and a high density fin array round out the cooling features. Galaxy also claims their shroud design helps direct airflow and hot exhaust air toward the card’s I/O plate instead of into the chassis but we didn’t see any evidence of this.


Since the extra 2GB of GDDR5 memory does consume a significant amount of power, Galaxy thought it prudent to include a 6+8 pin power connector layout. However, the backplate’s dual DVI, DisplayPort and HDMI layout has remained the same as on other cards, ensuring the GTX 770 GC 4GB retains its compatibility with NVIDIA’s Surround multi monitor feature.

Galaxy has added an EVGA-esque high airflow area to this bracket with larger than usual openings which is supposed to promote optimal exhaust performance.


The PCB has received some extensive modifications with the most evident being the additional eight 256MB Hynix SK-series GDDR5 memory modules. Galaxy has also added additional capacitors below the GPU’s core to deliver cleaner, more constant power. The black color scheme has been carried over here, giving the whole card a rather sinister look.


Moving a bit further down the custom PCB we come to six unique venting slots which are placed next to the card’s primary MOSFETS to help speed up their cooling. The GC 4GB’s PWM has been expanded to a 5+2 layout which consists of IR DirectFET MOSFETS that reduce EMI and supposedly run cooler, thus significantly enhancing their lifespans.

While the GC series may not be geared directly towards extreme overclockers, Galaxy has added PLL, memory and core voltage read points in case software solutions aren’t accurate enough for you.
 
Last edited:

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Test System & Setup

Main Test System

Processor: Intel i7 3930K @ 4.5GHz
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 32GB @ 1866MHz
Motherboard: ASUS P9X79 WS
Cooling: Corsair H80
SSD: 2x Corsair Performance Pro 256GB
Power Supply: Corsair AX1200
Monitor: Samsung 305T / 3x Acer 235Hz
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate N x64 SP1


Acoustical Test System

Processor: Intel 2600K @ stock
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws 8GB 1600MHz
Motherboard: Gigabyte Z68X-UD3H-B3
Cooling: Thermalright TRUE Passive
SSD: Corsair Performance Pro 256GB
Power Supply: Seasonic X-Series Gold 800W


Drivers:
NVIDIA 320.18 Beta
NVIDIA 320.14 Beta
AMD 13.5 Beta 2

*Notes:

- All games tested have been patched to their latest version

- The OS has had all the latest hotfixes and updates installed

- All scores you see are the averages after 3 benchmark runs

All IQ settings were adjusted in-game and all GPU control panels were set to use application settings


The Methodology of Frame Testing, Distilled


How do you benchmark an onscreen experience? That question has plagued graphics card evaluations for years. While framerates give an accurate measurement of raw performance , there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes which a basic frames per second measurement by FRAPS or a similar application just can’t show. A good example of this is how “stuttering” can occur but may not be picked up by typical min/max/average benchmarking.

Before we go on, a basic explanation of FRAPS’ frames per second benchmarking method is important. FRAPS determines FPS rates by simply logging and averaging out how many frames are rendered within a single second. The average framerate measurement is taken by dividing the total number of rendered frames by the length of the benchmark being run. For example, if a 60 second sequence is used and the GPU renders 4,000 frames over the course of that time, the average result will be 66.67FPS. The minimum and maximum values meanwhile are simply two data points representing single second intervals which took the longest and shortest amount of time to render. Combining these values together gives an accurate, albeit very narrow snapshot of graphics subsystem performance and it isn’t quite representative of what you’ll actually see on the screen.

FCAT on the other hand has the capability to log onscreen average framerates for each second of a benchmark sequence, resulting in the “FPS over time” graphs. It does this by simply logging the reported framerate result once per second. However, in real world applications, a single second is actually a long period of time, meaning the human eye can pick up on onscreen deviations much quicker than this method can actually report them. So what can actually happens within each second of time? A whole lot since each second of gameplay time can consist of dozens or even hundreds (if your graphics card is fast enough) of frames. This brings us to frame time testing and where the Frame Time Analysis Tool gets factored into this equation.

Frame times simply represent the length of time (in milliseconds) it takes the graphics card to render and display each individual frame. Measuring the interval between frames allows for a detailed millisecond by millisecond evaluation of frame times rather than averaging things out over a full second. The larger the amount of time, the longer each frame takes to render. This detailed reporting just isn’t possible with standard benchmark methods.

We are now using FCAT for ALL benchmark results.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Assassin’s Creed III / Crysis 3

Assassin’s Creed III (DX11)


<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/RvFXKwDCpBI?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>​

The third iteration of the Assassin’s Creed franchise is the first to make extensive use of DX11 graphics technology. In this benchmark sequence, we proceed through a run-through of the Boston area which features plenty of NPCs, distant views and high levels of detail.


2560x1440




Crysis 3 (DX11)


<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/zENXVbmroNo?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>​

Simply put, Crysis 3 is one of the best looking PC games of all time and it demands a heavy system investment before even trying to enable higher detail settings. Our benchmark sequence for this one replicates a typical gameplay condition within the New York dome and consists of a run-through interspersed with a few explosions for good measure Due to the hefty system resource needs of this game, post-process FXAA was used in the place of MSAA.


2560x1440


 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Dirt: Showdown / Far Cry 3

Dirt: Showdown (DX11)


<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/IFeuOhk14h0?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>​

Among racing games, Dirt: Showdown is somewhat unique since it deals with demolition-derby type racing where the player is actually rewarded for wrecking other cars. It is also one of the many titles which falls under the Gaming Evolved umbrella so the development team has worked hard with AMD to implement DX11 features. In this case, we set up a custom 1-lap circuit using the in-game benchmark tool within the Nevada level.


2560x1440





Far Cry 3 (DX11)


<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/mGvwWHzn6qY?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>​

One of the best looking games in recent memory, Far Cry 3 has the capability to bring even the fastest systems to their knees. Its use of nearly the entire repertoire of DX11’s tricks may come at a high cost but with the proper GPU, the visuals will be absolutely stunning.

To benchmark Far Cry 3, we used a typical run-through which includes several in-game environments such as a jungle, in-vehicle and in-town areas.



2560x1440


 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Hitman Absolution / Max Payne 3

Hitman Absolution (DX11)


<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/8UXx0gbkUl0?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>​

Hitman is arguably one of the most popular FPS (first person “sneaking”) franchises around and this time around Agent 47 goes rogue so mayhem soon follows. Our benchmark sequence is taken from the beginning of the Terminus level which is one of the most graphically-intensive areas of the entire game. It features an environment virtually bathed in rain and puddles making for numerous reflections and complicated lighting effects.


2560x1440




Max Payne 3 (DX11)


<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/ZdiYTGHhG-k?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>​

When Rockstar released Max Payne 3, it quickly became known as a resource hog and that isn’t surprising considering its top-shelf graphics quality. This benchmark sequence is taken from Chapter 2, Scene 14 and includes a run-through of a rooftop level featuring expansive views. Due to its random nature, combat is kept to a minimum so as to not overly impact the final result.


2560x1440


 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider (DX11)


<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/okFRgtsbPWE" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>​

Tomb Raider is one of the most iconic brands in PC gaming and this iteration brings Lara Croft back in DX11 glory. This happens to not only be one of the most popular games around but it is also one of the best looking by using the entire bag of DX11 tricks to properly deliver an atmospheric gaming experience.

In this run-through we use a section of the Shanty Town level. While it may not represent the caves, tunnels and tombs of many other levels, it is one of the most demanding sequences in Tomb Raider.


2560x1440


 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Temperatures & Acoustics / Power Consumption

Temperature Analysis


For all temperature testing, the cards were placed on an open test bench with a single 120mm 1200RPM fan placed ~8” away from the heatsink. The ambient temperature was kept at a constant 22°C (+/- 0.5°C). If the ambient temperatures rose above 23°C at any time throughout the test, all benchmarking was stopped..

For Idle tests, we let the system idle at the Windows 7 desktop for 15 minutes and recorded the peak temperature.



The first non-performance test provides some mixed results and helps explain why the GC 4GB doesn’t hit the same Boost clocks or framerates as its competitors. While the GC does have an extensive custom heatsink, temperatures are allowed to peak at 81C before NVIDIA’s GPU Boost 2.0 steps in, lowers voltages and cuts back clock speeds. As a result, instead of hitting its max Boost clock and staying there like the Lightning or WindForce OC, Galaxy’s GTX 770 fluctuates between 1203MHz and 1163MHz quite a bit. It typically settles on the latter speed.


Acoustical Testing


What you see below are the baseline idle dB(A) results attained for a relatively quiet open-case system (specs are in the Methodology section) sans GPU along with the attained results for each individual card in idle and load scenarios. The meter we use has been calibrated and is placed at seated ear-level exactly 12” away from the GPU’s fan. For the load scenarios, a loop of Unigine Valley is used in order to generate a constant load on the GPU(s) over the course of 15 minutes.


Here we can see why Galaxy decided to let temperatures slide a bit: the GC’s acoustical results are nothing short of spectacular. Truth be told, we’d rather the card sacrificed a few decibels to achieve higher clock speeds without intervening with a software override but at least this aspect can be controlled.


System Power Consumption


For this test we hooked up our power supply to a UPM power meter that will log the power consumption of the whole system twice every second. In order to stress the GPU as much as possible we used 15 minutes of Unigine Valley running on a loop while letting the card sit at a stable Windows desktop for 15 minutes to determine the peak idle power consumption.

Please note that after extensive testing, we have found that simply plugging in a power meter to a wall outlet or UPS will NOT give you accurate power consumption numbers due to slight changes in the input voltage. Thus we use a Tripp-Lite 1800W line conditioner between the 120V outlet and the power meter.


While the GTX 770 is a relatively efficient card, Galaxy’s addition of 2GB more GDDR5 memory pushes this card’s power consumption above that of a reference GTX 780. As a result, its performance per watt ratio suffers a significant blow.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Overclocking Results

Overclocking Results


As with all other GTX 770 cards, overclocking Galaxy’s GC 4GB is a straightforward but limited experience since its voltage limit is encountered all too soon and there’s only an additional 12mV of overhead.

Unfortunately, Galaxy doesn’t seem to offer their own home-grown overclocking software anymore so MSI’s AfterBurner was used for these tests. With it, we were able to hit a constant Boost clock of 1313MHz which is within spitting distance of the results achieved with samples from MSI and Gigabyte. Memory speeds weren’t quite as flexible with frequencies topping out at 7404MHz before error correction kicked in.



 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,264
Location
Montreal
Conclusion

Conclusion


In such a competitive market, Galaxy’s GTX 770 GC 4GB represents a somewhat unique approach with its larger memory allotment. It also performs quite well and overclocks decently but will that cause gamers to accept a significantly higher price point? That’s debatable.

If I can veer a bit off course for a moment, the realities of today’s games and tomorrow’s applications need to be discussed before going too far into the GC 4GB’s successes and failures. With the optimizations in DX11, even the most demanding games are requiring less frame buffer capacity than ever. Next generation DX11.1 equipped console development will bring the focus towards a further streamlining of game engines, so highly detailed environments won’t require memory hogging, inefficient high resolution texture maps. As many game developers have already stated on and off the record, this will lead to an increase in the amount of raw processing power required to render a scene and a significant drop in the local memory requirements. What does a situation like this mean to cards like the GC 4GB? Now and in the future, its core processing performance will likely become a bottleneck long before more than 2GB of 7Gbps memory is required to provide a smooth gaming experience.

Naturally, the GC’s primary selling point is that 4GB of GDDR5 which panders to an odd theory some have that more memory is always better. The additional allotment may arguably be beneficial to framerates at even higher multi monitor and 4K resolutions but we’d beg to differ. As we’ve seen again and again, increased memory size will hardly ever allow a card to return completely playable framerates where the reference version could not. The reason for this is simple: the architecture itself becomes a bottleneck long before framebuffer limitations are reached.

In the grand scheme of things, at ultra high single monitor resolutions, the 4GB of memory really doesn’t make all that much of a difference in average framerates. However, in some rare instances like Crysis 3, it prevents framerates from plunging down into unplayable territory every now and then and that makes a huge difference in perceptual onscreen performance. That’s actually quite important since a sense of fluidity can be maintained without resorting to higher clock speeds.

Speaking of frequencies, Galaxy has taken an interesting approach by slightly overclocking their card but allowing temperatures to each reference levels despite the custom heatsink. As a result clock speeds are continually dragged down by GPU Boost’s temperature limit. Performance doesn’t suffer to a great extent but this means the GC 4GB’s average framerates play second fiddle to cards that are also overclocked but less expensive. However, this does allow it to attain an incredibly low acoustical profile.

The Galaxy GTX 770 GC 4GB is an interesting card that succeeds on a number of levels but some will find its significant cost premium a bit hard to stomach for the minimal benefits it grants over the likes of Gigabyte’s WindForce OC and MSI’s Lightning. There’s certainly a market for these 4GB GTX 770 cards but their true benefits will only be realized in very specific games that are either poorly optimized or have been modified to require an obscene about of memory.
 
Last edited:

Latest posts

Twitter

Top