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Gigabyte GTX 670 WindForce OC Review

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
NVIDIA’s GTX 670 and GTX 680 were launched within a few weeks of one another and both have proven to be hugely popular. So much so, that trying to find either card at many retailers quickly devolves into a frustrating situation, particularly when it comes to non-reference versions. Regardless of this slightly odd situation, the show must go on and we’re forging ahead with yet another GTX 670 review.

Today’s candidate is the Gigabyte GTX 670 2GB WindForce OC which just happens to be one of the most popular GTX 670 cards on the market. The reasons behind this trend are multi faceted but likely stem from the fact that it doesn’t cost a dime more than a reference version’s $399 but incorporates several unique elements that really allow it to stand apart. While Gigabyte may not have the highly regarded customer service of EVGA or the localized RMA facilities of MSI, they’re betting an aggressive price will draw people in.


Considering its “OC” designation, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that Gigabyte’s only GTX 670 uses higher clock speeds. The Base and Boost clocks of this card aren’t anything spectacular and the memory hasn’t been touched but that really shocked us was the maximum clocks the WindForce OC reached without overclocking or additional tuning. 1210MHz is far above what past GTX 670s have hit and actually one-ups our reference GTX 680’s maximum observed speed.

Remember, the Boost Clock designates the average speed at which the card will run during a typical 3D load but if the ASIC determines there is TDP overhead, it will clock even higher. We’re guessing Gigabyte has a custom BIOS installed which throws the typical reference Power Offset out the window, allowing the WindForce’s core to take advantage of the additional cooling offered by its extensive heatsink. Throughout testing, we noticed this card was more willing to stay near this “top” speed than any card before it, including the GTX 680. This could result in performance that puts it near flagship card status. Now, there may be some sample to sample variance, but we’ve seen plenty of end users hitting around these same clock speeds.


Unlike some of NVIDIA’s other board partners, Gigabyte has completely avoided the stunted reference design and went full monty on their GTX 670 card. It is topped by the large WindForce 3X heatsink and measures about 10 ¾” long. You’ll likely recognize this design since it happens to be the same one used on their GTX 680 as well.

Before we go on, it is important to reiterate that this is Gigabyte’s sole GTX 670 for the time being so you won’t see any other cards from them for the time being. A Superclock version is surely on its way but don’t expect to see that quite yet.


The WindForce 3X heatsink is comprised of three large 75mm fans that blow down onto an extensive aluminum fin array. In order to optimize the thermal mass of this cooler, Gigabyte has spread its cooling surface over the card’s entire length, ensuring heat is evenly distributed. Due to its weight, the WindForce 3X also uses extra cooling areas for the memory modules and long stiffening brackets to avoid PCB flex.

Gigabyte’s heatsink design has been reused several times, routinely garnering our praise and we don’t expect anything less than near-perfection this time around. Remember, the GTX 670 features a cool-running core so using this massive cooler is almost overkill. But we like overkill.


One of the more interesting aspects of the WindForce 3X OC is its use of a reference GTX 680 PCB (albeit in Gigabyte blue) rather than the scaled down unit used on most other GTX 670 cards. This means it uses an advanced 5+2 phase power distribution network with Gigabyte opting to install an additional GPU power phase for a bit more stability at high clock speeds.


Other than the additional PWM stage being installed, there really isn’t much difference between this card and a reference GTX 680's component layout. The WindForce 3X heatsink does however protrude past the PCB, which adds to the overall length and makes this card about 11" long.


While the GTX 680 and GTX 670 both use dual 6-pin layouts, Gigabyte has plotted a different course. Instead of the stacked layout used on the reference GTX 680, the power connectors are placed in a side by side configuration to ensure the heatsink didn’t need modification. A single 8-pin has also taken the place of one of the 6-pin connectors to provide additional power to the GPU core.

The outputs on the WindForce OC remain true to most other GTX 670 cards: one DisplayPort, one HDMI and two DVI connectors.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Test System & Setup / Benchmark Sequences

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: ASUS P8Z68-V PRO Gen3
Cooling: Thermalright TRUE Passive
SSD: Corsair Performance Pro 256GB
Power Supply: Seasonic X-Series Gold 800W


Drivers:
NVIDIA 301.34 Beta (GTX 670, GTX 680 & GTX 690)
AMD 12.4 WHQL + CAP 12.3
NVIDIA 295.73 WHQL (GTX 580)

Application Benchmark Information:
Note: In all instances, in-game sequences were used. The videos of the benchmark sequences have been uploaded below.


Battlefield 3

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Crysis 2

<object width="560" height="315"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/Bc7_IAKmAsQ?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/Bc7_IAKmAsQ?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>​


Deus Ex Human Revolution

<object width="560" height="315"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/GixMX3nK9l8?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/GixMX3nK9l8?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>​


Dirt 3

<object width="560" height="315"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/g5FaVwmLzUw?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/g5FaVwmLzUw?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>​


Metro 2033

<object width="480" height="360"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/8aZA5f8l-9E?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/8aZA5f8l-9E?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="480" height="360" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>​


Shogun 2: Total War

<object width="560" height="315"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/oDp29bJPCBQ?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/oDp29bJPCBQ?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>​


Witcher 2 v2.0

<object width="560" height="315"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/tyCIuFtlSJU?version=3&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/tyCIuFtlSJU?version=3&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="560" height="315" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true"></embed></object>​


*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
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
3DMark 11 (DX11)

3DMark 11 (DX11)


3DMark 11 is the latest in a long line of synthetic benchmarking programs from the Futuremark Corporation. This is their first foray into the DX11 rendering field and the result is a program that incorporates all of the latest techniques into a stunning display of imagery. Tessellation, depth of field, HDR, OpenCL physics and many others are on display here. In the benchmarks below we have included the results (at default settings) for both the Performance and Extreme presets.


Performance Preset



Extreme Preset

 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Batman: Arkham City

Batman: Arkham City


Batman: Arkham City is a great looking game when all of its detail levels are maxed out but it also takes a fearsome toll on your system. In this benchmark we use a simple walkthrough that displays several in game elements. The built-in benchmark was avoided like the plague simply because the results it generates do not accurately reflect in-game performance.

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2560 x 1600



 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Battlefield 3 (DX11)

Battlefield 3 (DX11)


For this benchmark, we used a sequence from the Rock and Hard Place mission. The results may seem lower than normal and this is due to the fact that after playing through the game multiple times, this one are was found to be the most demanding on the GPU. As with all of the tests, we try to find a worst case scenario in order to ensure a given card can properly play through the whole game instead of just a “typical” section.

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2560 x 1600



 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Crysis 2 (DX11)

Crysis 2 (DX11)


Crysis 2 with the DX11 and Texture Package installed not only looks great but it is a strain on any GPU. For this benchmark, we used a classic runthrough which includes far views, explosions, combat and close-in knifing; basically every hallmark of gameplay.

1920 x 1200



2560 x 1600

 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Deus Ex: Human Revolution (DX11)

Deus Ex: Human Revolution (DX11)


Deus Ex: Human Revolution may not be the hardest game for today’s high end gaming rigs to render. While the game mostly takes place indoors, it is the few outdoor areas that put additional strain on graphics cards. So for this test, we use one of the more involved outdoor sections: the Sharif Manufacturing Loading Docks.

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2560 x 1600



 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Dirt 3 (DX11)

Dirt 3 (DX11)


Dirt 3 isn’t all that much different from its predecessor but the developers have added a few more visual touches but boost image quality. In this case, we used the Michigan Rally track since it features some of the hardest to render features of the game: expansive vistas, water, dirt effects, trees and many other items.

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Metro 2033 (DX11)

Metro 2033 (DX11)


For this test we use a walkthrough and combat scene from The Bridge level which starts at the beginning of the level and lasts for about 3 minutes of walking, running and combat. Famerates are measured with FRAPS and Advanced PhysX is turned off.

1920 x 1200



2560 x 1600

 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Shogun 2: Total War (DX11)

Shogun 2: Total War (DX11)


Due to its very nature, Shogun 2 is a tough game to benchmark since the in-game tool doesn’t accurately convey an in-game experience. So we took a pre-recorded battle which pits three large armies against one another and includes camera zooms, fog, gun smoke and other items. Using a pre-recorded sequence also effectively removes the CPU from the equation since it doesn’t have to process AI.

1920 x 1200





2560 x 1600



 
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