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PNY GTX 780 Ti XLR8 OC Single & SLI

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Though they are normally associated with being one of the few board partners entrusted with NVIDIA’s Quadro lineup, PNY also has a relatively large and expanding stable of GeForce products as well. The GTX 780 Ti XLR8 OC is their flagship single GPU card and while it doesn’t have a well-marketed name like Classified, Matrix, Lightning or Super Overclock but unlike those indirect competitors, its price is quite a bit lower. PNY intends the XLR8 OC series to compete against the likes of ASUS’ DirectCU II OC, Gigabyte’s Windforce OC and MSI’s Gaming-branded cards. In the face of such entrenched competition, the GTX 780 Ti XLR8 OC will need to emphasize its relative value.

One of the major contributors to PNY’s value-added equation is their inclusion of a lifetime warranty with all of their cards which is backed up by North America-based tech support. With EVGA quietly dropping out of the lifetime warranty game, PNY is the only company around which backs their cards for a term longer than three years. Granted, a few board partners allow you to purchase extended warranties but this one is offered for free and if our experience is any indication, their customer support is top notch as well.

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The PNY GTX 780 Ti XLR8 OC isn’t trying to hit any out-of-box frequency records but it does provide a more than adequate bump in clock speeds. It runs at almost the same speeds as EVGA’s GTX 780 Ti Superclock but lower than ASUS’ Matrix and Gigabyte’s very impressive GHz Edition. As usual, memory speeds have been kept to their reference settings. To confuse matters a bit more PNY also has an “Enthusiast Edition” of this card with a –GEPB product code which features better performance and a binned core along with an upcoming Customized Series which we will be reviewing in the near future.

Other than its impressive warranty, one of the main selling points of this card is its price. At $650 ($800 here in Canada) the XLR8 OC is currently one of the least expensive custom designed, overclocked GTX 780 Ti’s on the market. With that knowledge, we decided to test it in both single and SLI configurations against some of the fastest alternatives available. Granted, two of these cards will put you back $1300 but that’s less than half the price of a $3000 TITAN Z. It should be interesting to see how they stack up –especially at 4K- considering the vastly different memory allotments.

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The PNY GTX 780 Ti XLR8 OC is a sleek looking card with its all-black heatsink shroud but that may not necessarily appeal to all gamers. Some folks are always looking for a bit of color to add some interest to their rigs so the XLR8’s distinct lack of any highlights may not be appealing, though to us having a blank slate to work with is quite welcome.

In terms of overall length, PNY has kept their card to roughly reference specifications (they actually use a reference PCB with upgraded components), though there is a slight overhand which extends it to 11”. Of particular interest to anyone who wants to use the XLR8 in a smaller chassis is its width; due to the slightly larger center-mounted fan, it will require an extra 5/8” of case width.

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PNY’s GPU heatsinks don’t receive anywhere near the attention granted to the likes of ASUS’ DirectCu or MSI’s Twin Frozr but that doesn’t mean they aren’t well equipped. There’s simply a lack of marketing dollars needed to highlight their features. In this case the XLR8 has been equipped with a direct-contact copper base plate alongside five large copper heatpipes while its fin array has been designed to create minimal airflow restrictions. It uses a pair of 70mm fans alongside a single 80mm fan directly on top of the core which is supposed to enhance cooling performance in this key area. We’ve already seen one of PNY’s designs in action and it was extremely impressive.

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As is usually the case with these cards, PNY has included voltage read points even though most enthusiasts ignore them. What is different here is the inclusion of a dedicated OCP Unlock circuit which can be jumped via a solder point to remove NVIDIA’s current limitations.

However, one area where PNY is lacking is within the software field; currently, they don’t have a branded overclocking program. While this isn’t a detrimental loss, using a competitor’s solution to overclock a PNY card leads to a loss of brand recognition above all else.

PNY has also built in some additional capacitance behind the GPU via a quartet of solid capacitors. These are supposed to allow for more cleaner power delivery at higher input voltages.

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According to rumors there was originally a 6GB version of this card being developed which housed its additional memory on the PCB’s back. However, that project never went beyond the drawing board so the GTX 780 Ti XLR8 OC goes without a secondary heatsink in this area.

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With a pair of DVI connectors and outputs for HDMI and DisplayPort, PNY has retained the reference backplate layout, though the power inputs have been upgraded to an 8+8 layout for some additional headroom.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Main Test System & Setup

Main Test System

Processor: Intel i7 4930K @ 4.7GHz
Memory: G.Skill Trident 16GB @ 2133MHz 10-10-12-29-1T
Motherboard: ASUS P9X79-E WS
Cooling: NH-U14S
SSD: 2x Kingston HyperX 3K 480GB
Power Supply: Corsair AX1200
Monitor: Dell 2412M (1440P) / ASUS PQ321Q (4K)
OS: Windows 8.1 Professional


Drivers:
AMD 14.6 Beta
NVIDIA 337.88 WHQL


*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 2 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, other than 4K.


Frame Time Testing & FCAT

To put a meaningful spin on frame times, we can equate them directly to framerates. A constant 60 frames across a single second would lead to an individual frame time of 1/60th of a second or about 17 milliseconds, 33ms equals 30 FPS, 50ms is about 20FPS and so on. Contrary to framerate evaluation results, in this case higher frame times are actually worse since they would represent a longer interim “waiting” period between each frame.

With the milliseconds to frames per second conversion in mind, the “magical” maximum number we’re looking for is 28ms or about 35FPS. If too much time spent above that point, performance suffers and the in game experience will begin to degrade.

Consistency is a major factor here as well. Too much variation in adjacent frames could induce stutter or slowdowns. For example, spiking up and down from 13ms (75 FPS) to 28ms (35 FPS) several times over the course of a second would lead to an experience which is anything but fluid. However, even though deviations between slightly lower frame times (say 10ms and 25ms) wouldn’t be as noticeable, some sensitive individuals may still pick up a slight amount of stuttering. As such, the less variation the better the experience.

In order to determine accurate onscreen frame times, a decision has been made to move away from FRAPS and instead implement real-time frame capture into our testing. This involves the use of a secondary system with a capture card and an ultra-fast storage subsystem (in our case five SanDisk Extreme 240GB drives hooked up to an internal PCI-E RAID card) hooked up to our primary test rig via a DVI splitter. Essentially, the capture card records a high bitrate video of whatever is displayed from the primary system’s graphics card, allowing us to get a real-time snapshot of what would normally be sent directly to the monitor. By using NVIDIA’s Frame Capture Analysis Tool (FCAT), each and every frame is dissected and then processed in an effort to accurately determine latencies, frame rates and other aspects.

We've also now transitioned all testing to FCAT which means standard frame rates are also being logged and charted through the tool. This means all of our frame rate (FPS) charts use onscreen data rather than the software-centric data from FRAPS, ensuring dropped frames are taken into account in our global equation.
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
Clock Speed Stability & Thermal Imaging

Clock Speed Stability & Thermal Imaging


While NVIDIA cards don’t typically have any problems maintaining their advertised clock speeds, it’s conceivable that if a heatsink allows temperature to get too high throttling may occur. PNY doesn’t necessarily market their heatsink as being vastly superior to those offered by the competition so it should be interesting to see how theirs stacks up as temperatures increase.

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The temperatures achieved by PNY’s no-named heatsink are simply amazing. Not once throughout testing did it break through the 62°C mark, making it one of the best performing cards in this area we’ve seen to date. Naturally, some of this comes from the fact that it isn’t overclocked to sky high levels but even knowing this, we’d hazard to guess there’s still plenty of thermal overhead in case you want to push things even further.

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1097MHz may not be a fast as most of the competition but the GTX 780 Ti XLR8 OC boasts completely constant frequencies across the board. There even a hint of throttling which should be obvious considering the core’s low temperature.

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Ok, so this is pretty much a foregone conclusion. Other than some upwards / downwards movements that are typical of all NVIDIA cards in this game, PNY’s XLR8 doesn’t feature any negative framerate pull.

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The actual thermal results are nothing short of incredible, even after more than an hour of constant load. The hottest visible area never got above 72°C which goes to show that PNY has been able to achieve excellent airflow over the entire card.
 
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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
1440P: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag / Battlefield 4

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag


<iframe width="640" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/YFgGnFoRAXU?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>​

The fourth 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 Havana area which features plenty of NPCs, distant views and high levels of detail.


2560 x 1440

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Battlefield 4


<iframe width="640" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/y9nwvLwltqk?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>​

Amidst its teething problems since its release, BF4 has been a bone of contention among gamers. In this sequence, we use the Singapore level which combines three of the game’s major elements: a decayed urban environment, a water-inundated city and finally a forested area. We chose not to include multiplayer results simply due to their randomness injecting results that make apples to apples comparisons impossible.

2560 x 1440

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
1440P: Call of Duty: Ghosts / Far Cry 3

Call of Duty: Ghosts


<iframe width="640" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/gzIdSAktyf4?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>​

The latest Call of Duty game may have been ridiculed for its lackluster gameplay but it remains one of the best-looking games out there. Unfortunately due to mid-level loads, getting a “clean” runthrough without random slowdowns is nearly impossible, even with a dual SSD system like ours. Hence why you should ignore any massive framerate dips as they are anomalies of poor loading optimizations. For this benchmark we used the first sequence of the 5th Chapter entitled Homecoming as every event is scripted so runthroughs will be nearly identical.

2560 x 1440

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Far Cry 3


<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.



2560 x 1440

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
1440P: Hitman Absolution / Metro: Last Light

Hitman Absolution


<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.


2560 x 1440

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Metro: Last Light


<iframe width="640" height="360" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/40Rip9szroU" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>​

The latest iteration of the Metro franchise once again sets high water marks for graphics fidelity and making use of advanced DX11 features. In this benchmark, we use the Torchling level which represents a scene you’ll be intimately familiar with after playing this game: a murky sewer underground.


2560 x 1440

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
1440P: Thief / Tomb Raider

Thief


<iframe width="640" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/p-a-8mr00rY?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>​

When it was released, Thief was arguably one of the most anticipated games around. From a graphics standpoint, it is something of a tour de force. Not only does it look great but the engine combines several advanced lighting and shading techniques that are among the best we’ve seen. One of the most demanding sections is actually within the first level where you must scale rooftops amidst a thunder storm. The rain and lightning flashes add to the graphics load, though the lightning flashes occur randomly so you will likely see interspersed dips in the charts below due to this.


2560 x 1440

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Tomb Raider


<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.


2560 x 1440

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
4K: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag / Battlefield 4

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag


3840 x 2160

GTX-780-TI-PNY-58.jpg

GTX-780-TI-PNY-39.jpg


Battlefield 4


3840 x 2160

GTX-780-TI-PNY-60.jpg

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SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
4K: Call of Duty: Ghosts / Far Cry 3

Call of Duty: Ghosts


3840 x 2160

GTX-780-TI-PNY-62.jpg

GTX-780-TI-PNY-41.jpg



Far Cry 3


3840 x 2160

GTX-780-TI-PNY-59.jpg

GTX-780-TI-PNY-43.jpg
 

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
12,841
Location
Montreal
4K: Hitman Absolution / Metro: Last Light

Hitman Absolution


3840 x 2160

GTX-780-TI-PNY-61.jpg

GTX-780-TI-PNY-44.jpg


Metro: Last Light


3840 x 2160

GTX-780-TI-PNY-63.jpg

GTX-780-TI-PNY-45.jpg
 

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