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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 2GB Review

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
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Messages
12,840
Location
Montreal
Temperatures & Acoustics / Power Consumptions

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.


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Unfortunately, this test doesn't really reflect reality since NVIDIA's GTX 770 will be primarily a custom-designed card from board partners. These results meanwhile were achieved using the so-called "stock" heatsink which won't be making it onto most final retail units.

With that being said, actual temperatures achieve should be even better than these which bodes well for Boost clocks.


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.

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As with the temperature results, we expect to see an improvement in acoustical performance in retail cards. Nonetheless, the GTX 770 is the quietest card in these charts, even without a custom heatsink powering it along.


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.

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Power Consumption on enthusiast graphics cards is a heavily debated point, with many gamers casting a blind eye to it in favor of the best possible performance. With Kepler, NVIDIA has managed to bring efficiency up to a point where they can offer the best of both worlds without sacrificing in either area.

The GTX 770 does post some impressive numbers here, easily besting the HD 7970 GHz Edition. However, the addition of faster core speeds and ultra high performance 7Gbps GDDR5 seems to have added a bit to its power needs. This shouldn't be a concern though.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,840
Location
Montreal
Overclocking Results

Overclocking Results


After Kepler was released, many complained that NVIDIA and their board partners were artificially limiting overclocking since voltage modifications were severely curtailed if not taken off the table completely. With GK110 and TITAN, overvoltage was once again allowed, but in limited amounts. The GTX 780 continued this with its own array of voltage options and the GTX 770 carries the same abilities….though not to the same extent at all.

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Be it for ASIC safety or other reasons, NVIDIA has only allowed 12mV of extra voltage which won’t accomplish anything when it comes to further increasing clock speeds. This is unfortunately since it would have been interesting to see what the GK104 core could accomplish with a bit more juice.

While the “overvoltage” options are limited in the extreme, the GTX 770’s core actually hit some fairly impressive clock speeds without any special modifications. We increased the Power Limit to +106% and eventually settled on an average Boost clock of 1253MHz with peaks in some games running as high as 1306MHz.

The memory on the other hand proved to be a bit tougher to crack. It seems like the 7Gbps modules are already near their maximum limits, having been pushed well past the frequencies of previous designs. Our sample hit a plateau of 7468MHz, above which the GDDR5’s error correction kicked in and capped performance.

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,840
Location
Montreal
Conclusion

Conclusion


Surprises are hard to come by in this industry. Performance and pricing of upcoming graphics cards can typically be guessed with great accuracy months ahead of time but the GTX 770 has upended this time honored tradition. While the slightly upgraded GK104’s specifications made its position within our charts a foregone conclusion, NVIDIA’s announced $399 price was a something of a shocker.

Prior to the GTX 770, NVIDIA had been content to parachute the GTX TITAN and GTX 780 into relatively safe segments where there wasn’t any competition. Indeed, there probably wouldn’t have been many vocal complaints had this new card hit the $449 mark, effectively setting it up against the HD 7970 GHz Edition. Instead, NVIDIA nestled it into a more reasonable price point, neatly staying ahead of any cuts AMD may perform on their top-end product. It is a brilliant move and one that will end up making the enthusiast-grade GPU segment infinitely more accessible to gamers.

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The GTX 770’s performance isn’t ground breaking in any way but the subtle addition of GPU Boost 2.0 and the implementation of 7Gbps GDDR5 do make a difference. GK104 was already near its limits within the GTX 680 so there wasn’t much room to expand but these two additions have resulted in a ~7% onscreen framerate improvement. More importantly, the GTX 770’s performance has been slightly augmented in bandwidth-limited situations where its predecessor tended to lag behind but the actual visible difference between the two cards is slim to none.

The good amount of overclocking headroom allows for even better performance, narrowing the substantial gap between it and the GTX 780. However, this is tempered by a laughable voltage increase limit which does nothing to help clock speeds along.

Despite the ridiculously fast memory speeds, the GK104 architecture still becomes a slight hindrance when placed directly alongside the AMD's HD 7970 GHz Edition. This causes the GTX 770 to fall ever so slightly behind the Radeon competitor from an average framerate perspective and in some cases it trails by a significant amount.

Even though frame delivery has dramatically improved for the GHz Edition, it does fall behind in Far Cry 3, allowing GeForce cards to deliver a more fluid overall gaming experience. Along with the current $50 price difference, the ability to maintain fluid framerates throughout every game gives the GTX 770 an advantage over a HD 7970 GHz Edition. On the other hand, AMD's enticing game bundle will put them ahead in many people's eyes and with good reason. Even though most gamers likely own several of the included titles, being able to play the latest games on your new purchase without having to fork over more money is certainly advantageous.

Like the GTX 780 before it, NVIDIA's GTX 770 isn’t meant as an upgrade for GTX 670 users, though it does provide 18% higher framerates and a distinct bandwidth advantage. Rather, anyone who is currently using a GTX 580 or GTX 570 and can’t justify the stratospheric $649 cost of a GTX 780 will find a perfect companion here.

Kepler is an inherently efficient architecture and the GTX 770 has a noteworthy performance per watt advantage over the AMD competition. In our tests it did consume a good 30W more than a GTX 680 but that is still 40W less than a GTX 580, while being substantially quieter than any previous reference card. This provides yet more reasons for Fermi users to upgrade.

Before we wrap up here, there's another aspect of this review some may miss: there won't be a "reference" GTX 770. According to board partners, we will likely see many of their overclocked and custom cooled GTX 770s come in at NVIDIA's "reference" price of $399 but performance will likely be slightly higher. This bodes well for value-conscious buyers.

The reign of AMD’s HD 7970 GHz Edition as this generation’s price / performance leader has finally come to an end, albeit by a narrow margin. Now that NVIDIA has thrown down the gauntlet, it’s up to AMD to respond or risk having their entire lineup marginalized by what will soon be a full court GTX 700-series offensive. Until that happens, from performance to power consumption to acoustics and a wide-ranging feature set, the $399 GTX 770 will continue to be the best value available in the enthusiast graphics card market.


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