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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
The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim (DX9)

The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim (DX9)


Being one of the most popular and best looking RPG games released in the last few years, Skyrim needed to be included in our reviews, regardless of the fact that it uses an older DX9 rendering engine. For our test sequence we used a typical runthrough interspersed with some combat. A modded .ini file along with the official high resolution texture pack was used in order to ensure image quality was up to expectations.

1920 x 1200





2560 x 1600



 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Wargame: European Escalation (DX11)

Wargame: European Escalation (DX11)


This may not be the most popular game on the market but through its DX11 rendering path it can display some amazing visuals. For our benchmark we used a combination of wide angle zooming, close quarters combat and camera pans in order to simulate as many in-game scenarios as possible.


1920 x 1200





2560 x 1600



 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
The Witcher 2 (DX9)

The Witcher 2 (DX9)


The Witcher 2 may be a DX9 based game but its graphics quality is beyond reproach. In this benchmark we take an area out of The Kayran mission and include one of the toughest effects the graphics engine has in store for the GPU: rain. Throughout this sequence, rain plays a large part but explosions, combat and even some sun shafts are included as well.

1920 x 1200





2560 x 1600



 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Taking Image Quality to the Next Level

Taking Image Quality to the Next Level


In this section we take a number of games we have tested previously in this review and bring things to the next level by pushing the in-game settings to the highest possible level. All other methodologies remain the same.


Batman: Arkham City



Crysis 2



Dirt 3



Metro 2033

 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Taking Image Quality to the Next Level (pg.2)

Taking Image Quality to the Next Level (pg.2)


In this section we take a number of games we have tested previously in this review and bring things to the next level by pushing the in-game settings to the highest possible level. All other methodologies remain the same.

Shogun 2: Total War



The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim



Wargame: European Escalation



The Witcher 2

 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Surround / Eyefinity Multi Monitor Performance

Surround / Eyefinity Multi Monitor Performance


Both NVIDIA and AMD now have single GPU multi monitor output options for some truly immersive gaming. However, spanning a game across three or more monitors demands a serious amount of resources which makes this a perfect test for ultra high-end solutions.

While all solutions have the ability to implement bezel correction, we leave this feature disabled in order to ensure compatibility. The benchmarks run remain the same as in normal testing scenarios.



Batman: Arkham City



Battlefield 3



Crysis 2



Dirt 3

 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Surround / Eyefinity Multi Monitor Performance (pg.2)

Surround / Eyefinity Multi Monitor Performance (pg.2)


Both NVIDIA and AMD now have single GPU multi monitor output options for some truly immersive gaming. However, spanning a game across three or more monitors demands a serious amount of resources which makes this a perfect test for ultra high-end solutions.

While all solutions have the ability to implement bezel correction, we leave this feature disabled in order to ensure compatibility. The benchmarks run remain the same as in normal testing scenarios.



Metro 2033



Shogun 2: Total War



The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim



Wargame: European Escalation



The Witcher 2

 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
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 this test we use the 3DMark Batch Size test at its highest triangle count with 4xAA and 16xAF enabled and looped it for one hour to determine the peak load temperature as measured by GPU-Z.

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



Gigabyte’s WindForce heatsinks have impressed us ever since their introduction last year and the one gracing their GTX 670 is no exception. Its three fans and large cooling area result in a 17 degree temperature reduction over the reference solution. Not only does this allow for higher overclocks (as we will see on the next page) but as mentioned in the introduction, this card’s Boost Clocks reach sky high speeds for bleeding edge performance.


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 Heave 2.5 is used in order to generate a constant load on the GPU(s) over the course of 20 minutes.


“Whisper quiet” is the only way to describe the WindForce 3X’s acoustical profile. This is actually quite an achievement since getting low temperatures is easy but doing so while improving upon the reference version’s noise output requires some careful engineering.


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 once again use the Batch Render test in 3DMark06 and let it run for 30 minutes to determine the peak power consumption while letting the card sit at a stable Windows desktop for 30 minutes to determine the peak idle power consumption. We have also included several other tests as well.

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.


Higher clock speeds and lower temperatures mean a slight increase over the reference version’s power consumption but it is still a far cry away from the levels achieved by some lower performing AMD cards.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Overclocking Results

Overclocking Results


With its standard Boost Clock easily surpassing the 1200MHz mark, we had high hopes for Gigabyte’s GTX 670 in our overclocking section and it certainly didn’t disappoint. We kept the voltage and fan speed at their reference values in order to ensure long term stability and an acceptable acoustical footprint.

Even with most of the core functionality of this card working at it’s out of box specification, we achieved a Boost Clock of 1356MHz, outstripping the EVGA card we reviewed a few weeks ago. The memory didn’t quite live up to our past feats but it wasn’t a slouch either, pulling in a respectable 6488MHz. As you might expect, the results achieved with these clock speeds were something to behold and easily bested a GTX 680.


 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,861
Location
Montreal
Conclusion

Conclusion


In the grand scheme of all things graphics card related, Gigabyte’s WindForce OC is something of a freak. Typically, overclocked, custom cooled GPUs come with one of two things: a high cost and leading edge clock speeds or a lower price and somewhat meaningless performance increases. Yet this one doesn’t offer either of those scenarios, which makes it one of the best GTX 670s currently on the market.

Instead of coming to market with yet another entry level reference-based product, Gigabyte’s sole effort (for the time being at least) is the WindForce OC featured in today’s article. Normally, that would be cause for concern since a highly custom card usually demands a premium. But not this time. Instead, you get class leading performance, a cooling solution that’s more fitting of a GTX 680 rather than its smaller brother and a board design that one ups nearly everything else currently available. And it doesn’t cost a penny more than NVIDIA’s $399 MSRP. Now that’s what we call a value added proposition.

Focusing in on the WindForce 3X heatsink, we really can’t find and glaring faults with its design. Its layout may lead to slightly higher in-case temperatures but due to its excellent cooling performance, the core is kept safely away from its TDP limits, allowing the card’s Boost Clock to hit some impressive levels. Acoustics are kept to whisper quiet levels as well.

On paper, the WindForce OC doesn’t have very impressive overclocks and the memory frequencies haven’t been touched. Nonetheless, the higher Boost Clock it was able to achieve led directly to performance that flirted with that of a GTX 680. The amount of overclocking headroom was also the best among the three GTX 670s we have now tested, but once again, that may be due to sample variance rather than anything else.

The WindForce 3X may not boast a lifetime warranty, nor does Gigabyte offer any type of customer support advantage over their competition but from every other standpoint, this is the GTX 670 to have. For $399, you get performance that nearly equals a GTX 680, dead quiet acoustics and low temperatures. It may not be all that readily available but if you can find the GTX 670 WindForce 3X, you certainly won’t be disappointed.

 
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