titleIt almost feels like we have been seeing the 600 series of cards from Nvidia for a few years now. At a year and two months we are a little past due to see a new generation of cards and today we can finally take the wraps off of NVidia’s latest card, the GTX 780. Rumors have been going around for a while on this launch so let’s just jump right into it and see what it’s all about and then how it performs. One thing is for sure, this will be the start of a lot of exciting cards, and 2013 is going to be a good year!

Product Name: Nvidia GTX 780

Review Sample Provided by: Nvidia

Written by: Wes

Pictures by: Wes

GTX 680 to GTX 780

With the Titan recently being introduced, I’m sure you are all very interested to see what is inside of the GTX 780. I have put together a specification comparison of the GTX 580, GTX 680, GTX 780, and the Titan to be able to compare all of the changes. I included the GTX 580 in there because there will be a lot of people who are sporting GTX 580’s that will soon be considering upgrades, two-three years seems to be the sweet spot for a lot of enthusiast for their upgrades, this can be seen in the Steam Hardware Survey for example, the top two Nvidia cards being used currently are the 560 Ti and the 550 Ti, it wasn’t long ago that those were actually 400 series cards.

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The most noticeable jumps can be seen in CUDA cores, the GTX 780 comes in surprisingly close to the Titan there and the GTX 780 pulls well ahead of the GTX 680’s 1536 CUDA cores not to mention the GTX 580’s 512. Nvidia went with 12 SMX units to hit the 2304 CUDA cores. That goes along with the Single Precision numbers: going from around 2.5 Teraflops in the GTX 680 to the GTX 780’s 4 Teraflops is very impressive. In a lot of the specifications it’s clear that Nvidia is focusing more on making the GTX 780 a powerhouse rather a relatively power friendly card like the GTX 680. We are back up to the 250W TDP’s, dropped the 6+6 power plug configuration, and most importantly we are back to a 384 bit memory configuration. To go with the increased memory bandwidth and to work well with the controller we now have 3 GB’s of frame buffer, multiple monitor gamers will especially be happy with that. The last thing to take a look at is the clock speeds across all of the cards. The GTX 780 is back to using lower clock speeds when compared to the GTX 680, hopefully this will translate to more overclocking ability.


GTX 580

GTX 680

GTX 780


CUDA Cores





Base Clock


1006 MHz

863 MHz

837 MHz

Boost Clock


1058 HHz

900 MHz

876 MHz

Single Precision

1.5 Teraflops

2.5 Teraflops

4.0 Teraflops

4.5 Teraflops

Memory Config

2GB/384-bit GDDR5

2GB/256-bit GDDR5

3GB/384-bit GDDR5

6GB/384-bit GDDR5

Power Connectors

6-pin + 8-pin

6-pin + 6-pin

6-pin + 8-pin

6-pin + 8-pin








Two Dual Link DVI



Displayport 1.2



DisplayPort 1.2



DisplayPort 1.2

Bus Interface

PCI Express 2.0

PCI Express 3.0

PCI Express 3.0

PCI Express 3.0

For those who haven’t figured it out yet, the GTX 780 does feature the GK110 GPU that everyone was speculating about last year and that was in the Titan as well. It also supports the second generation of GPU Boost called Boost 2.0. This now supports overvoltaging and enables higher clock speeds when overclocking. The most noticeable thing to me with Boost 2.0 is now the overclocks will be using temperature based overclocks more where before it was mostly focused on TDP. This means there is now a slider that lets you set your temperature target and it will overclock as much as possible while keeping within your temperature range. We will see how that changes things when we get into our overclocking section.

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The last change is also mostly software based but equally important. The GTX 780 uses the same cooler that the Titan used. The cooler consists of a copper vapor chamber, dual slot aluminum heatsink, and a blower style fan. To keep the noise level low they have focused a little on how people perceive noise. For example, if your fan was running at 50% all of the time you would hear it but it wouldn’t be loud but if it ran at 20% all the time and spiked up to 50% out of nowhere you would perceive it to be louder than if you heard 50% all of the time. The GTX 780’s new adaptive temperature controller tries to minimize speed variation as much as possible while keeping the card cool as well.

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For those SLI fans out there, I have this picture of three GTX 780’s in SLI. Nvidia also mentioned that they are hoping to find a way to get these SLI bridges out for everyone to buy because of the feedback they have gotten from them, I know I want one, and two more GTX 780’s to go with it please!

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Graphics Processing Clusters

4 or 5

Streaming Multiprocessors


CUDA Cores


Texture Units


ROP Units


Base Clock

863 MHz

Boost Clock

900 MHz

Memory Clock (Data rate)

6008 MHz

L2 Cache Size


Total Video Memory

3072MB GDDR5

Memory Interface


Total Memory Bandwidth

288.4 GB/s

Texture Filtering Rate (Bilinear)


Fabrication Process

28 nm

Transistor Count

7.1 Billion


2 x Dual-Link DVI


1 x DisplayPort

Form Factor

Dual Slot

Power Connectors

One 8-pin and one 6-pin

Recommended Power Supply

600 Watts

Thermal Design Power (TDP)

250 Watts

Thermal Threshold2

95° C

The GeForce Experience

Along with introducing the GTX 780, Nvidia is also introducing the official release of their GeForce Experience software. We saw it in Beta before but now they feel that it is fine-tuned enough to push it out to everyone. So what is the GeForce Experience all about? Its actually a very interesting piece of software. Its first task is to make sure you keep your Nvidia drivers up to date, something that can be very important if you play a lot of new games or if you just want to get the best performance in the game you have. It’s amazing the performance improvements that driver updates can give you. While retesting the HD 7970 and the GTX 680 for this article I saw amazing jumps in performance over the past year that could almost as much as the jump from generation to generation of cards. The GeForce Experience does this behind the scenes without bugging you and you even have an option to select beta drivers if you are looking for the cutting edge.

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An even bigger role the GeForce Experience software plays is the optimization of all of your games. I know some of you are thinking that most games will suggest settings but let me be the first to tell  you that those settings are extremely vague at best. As someone with four GPU’s in their PC I still get most games suggesting mid-range settings. Nvidia goes through each game to find the best playable settings and then tests them back on all of their cards, making adjustments for each card to get the best experience. In a lot of cases this includes making sure they turn on or tune Nvidia only features like PhysX and TSXX.

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As long as you have played the game, it will show you your current settings next to what they recommend. Then all you have to do is click optimize and it will change your in game settings for you. This is great for people who just want to game and aren’t interested in figuring out what the best settings might be. Some people might turn everything all the way up and actually not have the power to push everything. Because of that this is a perfect way for people to get the best possible experience in every game.

If you poke around its obvious that Nvidia is planning a lot more for the GeForce Experience. For example over on the My Rig tab you can find a Game Streaming option that is specific to your Nvidia Shield. On our call Nvidia talked about a new feature specifically that is coming this summer called Shadowplay. This is a feature that I can only describe as game changing. Shadowplay will utilize the H.264 video encoder built into every Kepler GPU and can record the last 20 minutes of your gameplay much like a DVR. That means if something amazing happens that your friends won’t believe you can go back and actually have a copy of that without having to worry about recording everything you do and sorting through all of the videos that would create. They plan on letting you adjust the amount of time back it is recording and there will be other options that will let you record full matches if you would like as well. This is both interesting because we will finally have a recording function that doesn’t slow down your gameplay like FRAPS as well as the DVR like recording. All the more reason to look forward to this summer!

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For those are wondering, Geforce Experience is going to replace Nvidia update starting with the R320 GTX 780 launch driver update. This means everyone will get to experience the experience unless they opt out when installing.


Card Layout and Photos

Before we dive into the card itself, we might as well show everyone the packaging that the card came in. Packaging for a reference card can be sort of hit and miss. A lot of times we just get a box with the card wrapped in bubble wrap inside but every once in a while Nvidia will box everything up. The box just has the Geforce GTX branding on it leaving it open for AIC’s to drop their brand on it and get it ready to go to the store if needed, of course with the back being blank this is obviously not any sort of retail packaging. Inside we did get a small metal case badge as well that is very sharp, there is a note warning to not put the metal case badge on anything in your pc as well as your hair or your pets, this is all great advice!

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With the GTX 780 out we were greeted with what I can only describe as a looker. Nvidia went with the same theme that was used on the GTX 690 and basically the same design as the Titan. Pictures really don’t do this justice. This is a design that really makes you feel like you are getting your money’s worth with the GTX 780. To top it all off, I am a sucker for video cards that show off what you have on the top edge seeing that this is the only area of the card most people see once it’s installed. Just like the on the GTX 690 and the Titan the GTX 780 has the Geforce GTX logo up top and it lights up when powered on. I would love to see the lighting have different color options available, but boy does it look good in Nvidia green!

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The GTX 780’s fan is set in the typical position and centered, much like the GTX 580, the GTX 680 was slightly off center. Here you have a better look at the full metal fan shroud as well as the metal cap on the end of the fan as well that goes perfectly with the fan shroud. The contrast in black and silver around the fan look great as well and really catches your attention.

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What has to be the best and most unique part of the design is the large window that lets you see all of the heatsink inside the of the card. This also has a nice useable function later in life as well. I have had a few cards that have gotten dusty. After blowing them out with a little air I felt they were all cleaned up but found out later that there was dust clogging up the heatsink fins inside, this way you will be able to see if there is a problem as well. But if it is anything like a case with a window, because you can see it you will be more likely to keep the card cleaner anyhow.

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Just like with the Titan and GTX 690, Nvidia has included the GTX 780 branding right in the metal on this card. I love that they don’t try to use the same fan shroud on multiple cards without changing it up slightly.

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Although the rest of the card is completely sealed up and perfect for making sure all hot air is being ventilated out the back of the case, there is a small heatsink on the end of the card that is open to blow air into the case. This is for the power circuitry that is out past the fan on the PCB, basically it was unavoidable. It actually looks great on the card as well, giving another peak at what’s going on inside.  

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For the back panel connections we have two DVI ports, one HDMI port, and one full sized DisplayPort. Both of the DVI ports are dual link but if you look closely you can see that only one is going to support analog signals so if you still use multiple VGA adapters you are going to be hurting. This isn’t anything different than what we have been seeing for a long time though. As for cooling, there is the larger vented area as well as a small vented spot between the bottom DVI port and the HDMI connection.

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The GTX 780 has its black PCB design and interestingly enough there isn’t a need for a full backplate or a small GPU backplate support. I would suspect that is related to the full metal fan shroud design that I loved so much.

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As expected we have two SLI bridge connections on the GTX 780 meaning it has full support for up to Tri SLI (not quad).

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For power connections we have gone back to the 8 pin + 6 pin design that we saw on the GTX 580. The GTX 680 had a unique dual 6 pin design that took up less space but was a little harder to work with. This design should give more than enough power while being easy to work with as well, assuming you have an 8 pin power cable on your power supply of course.

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The styling of the GTX 780 is impressive on its own but when we have a chance to sit it next to the flagship cards that came before it is even more impressive. There really isn’t any comparison, the GTX 680 and GTX 580 reference cards are both covered completely in a black plastic. Length wise the GTX 780 is on par with the GTX 580 and the GTX 680 is slightly shorter. Even beyond the materials used there is just a nice styling that is both enough to stand out and also classic looking, similar to the way the TX 580 looks with its clean look.

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Our Test Rig

Intel i7-3960X

Asus Rampage IV X79 Motherboard 

Seagate Constellation 2tb Hard drive 

Noctua NH-D14 SE2011

Cooler Master Gold Series 1200 Watt PSU

https://www.highspeedpc.com/ Test Bench

Corsair 1600Mhz DDR3 Quad Channel Ram

Kingston Hyper X 120 SSD


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Our Testing Procedures

Bioshock Infinite Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool we run Bioshock Infinite on the “Xtreme” quality setting. This has a resolution of 1920x1080, FXAA turned on, Ultra Texture detail, 16x Aniso Texture Filtering, Ultra Dynamic Shadows, Normal Postprocessing, Light Shafts on, Ambient Occlusion set to ultra, and the Level of Detail set to Ultra as well.

Tomb Raider Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool we run Tomb Raider on the “Xtreme” quality setting. This has a resolution of 1920x1080, Exclusive Fullscreen turned on, Anti-Aliasing set to 2xSSAA, Texture Quality set to Ultra, Texture Aniso set to 16x Aniso, Hair Quality set to TressFX, Shadow set to Normal, Shadow Resolution on High, Ultra SSAO, Ultra Depth of Field, High Reflection quality, Ultra LOD scale, Post Processing On, High Precision RT turned on, and Tessellation is also turned on. 

Hitman: Absolution Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool we run Hitman: Absolution on the “Xtreme” quality setting other than the MSAA setting is turned down from 8x to 2x. That setting puts the resolution at 1920x1080, MSAA is set to 2x, Texture Quality is set to High, Texture Aniso is set to 16x, Shadows are on Ultra, SSA is set to high, Global Illumination is turned on, Reflections are set to High, FXAA is on, Level of Detail is set to Ultra, Depth of Field is high, Tessellation is turned on, and Bloom is set to normal.

Sleeping Dogs Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool we run Sleeping Dogs on the “Xtreme” quality setting. That means our resolution is set to 1920x1080, Anti-Aliasing is set to Extreme, Texture Quality is set to High-Res, Shadow Quality is High, Shadow Filter is set to high, SSAO is set to High, Motion Blur Level is set to High, and World Density is set to Extreme.

F1 2012 We use the built in benchmark for F1 2012. We set our resolution to 1920x1080 and then use the “Ultra” setting.

Batman Arkham Asylum We used the built-in benchmark set to 1920 x 1080, Multi Sample AA 16XQ, Detail Level, Very High, Bloom: Yes, Dynamic Shadows: Yes, Motion Blur: Yes, Distortion: Yes, Fog Volumes: Yes, Spherical Harmonic Lighting: Yes, Ambient Occlusion: Yes, PhysX: Off

Total War: Shogun 2 Direct X11 Benchmark High setting

Crysis 2 Using Adrenaline Crysis 2 benchmark.  1080p, 4x Anti-Aliasing, DX11, Laplace Edge Detection Edge AA, on the Times Square map, with hi res textures turned on.

Battlefield 3 Using Fraps with the game set to Ultra settings with 4x MSAA Antialiasing Deferred, 16X Anisotropic Filter, at 1920x1080.

Sniper V2 Elite 1920 x 1080 resolution, graphics detail set to ultra

Dirt Showdown 1920 x 1080 resolution, 4x MSAA multisampling, Vsync off, Shadows: ultra; Post Process: High; Night Lighting: High; Vehicle Reflections: Ultra; Ambient Occlusion: Ultra; Water: high; Objects: Ultra; Trees: Ultra; Crowd: Ultra; Ground Cover: High.

Metro Last Light Using the included benchmark tool. The settings are set to 1920x1080, DirectX 11, quality is set to very high, Texture filtering is untouched at 4x, and motion blue is set to normal. SSAA is unselected, PhysX is unselected, Tessellation is off. We run through scene D6 three times to get an average score.

Synthetic Benchmarks For video cards our synthetic benchmarks are limited to 3DMark Vantage 2011, and 3DMark 2013 (AKA 3DMark). In 3DMark Vantage 2011 we run both performance and extreme benchmarks. The same goes for the most current version of 3DMark, we run through Fire Strike on standard and extreme settings.

Unreal Heaven Benchmark 4.0 Using the “Extreme” preset

Unreal Heaven Benchmark 4.0 heat testing We run through Unreal Heaven at 1080p for 30 minutes to test in game heat performance and noise output of the card while under load.

Power Usage Using Unreal Heaven Benchmark 4.0, we get our “load” power usage number from the peak power usage during our test. We get our numbers from a Kill-A-Watt connected to the test benches power cord.

Noise Testing Our Noise testing is done using a decibel meter 3 inches away from the video card on the bottom/fan side of the card. We test an idle noise level and then to get an idea of how loud the card will get if it warms all the way up we also turn the fan speed up to 100% and test again. The 100% test isn’t a representation of typical in game noise levels, but it will show you how loud a card can be if you run it at its highest setting or if it gets very hot.


Cooling, Noise, and Power

With all of the talk about the GTX 780, I couldn’t wait to get it on our test bench and see what it could do. First I updated our GTX 680 and HD 7970 test results with these tests, we didn’t do these specific benchmarks at their launches. Then I jumped into temperature, Noise, and power testing the GTX 780 first before I got too distracted with gaming. The unique cooler design for the GTX 780 looks amazing how well did it perform?  Well when running through Heaven Benchmark 4.0 for a half hour our temperatures peaked out at 79 degrees and leveled off, this is obviously what Nvidia has set the card to stick to while in game. The noise levels during this test were impressive; I could hardly tell the card was on.


With the fan turned up to 100% we saw 76.2 on our db meter, this is a nice improvement over both the HD 7970 and the GTX 680 that we tested. The same can be said for idle speeds against the HD 7970 while the GTX 680 was a little lower, but not enough to make a big deal.



Having introduced our power testing only recently, I was really excited to retest the R7970 and the GTX 680 as well as the new GTX 780. As you can see, the results are about what we expected when you consider the GTX 780’s new higher TDP. It did still pull less than the XFX R7970 even though it has the same TDP though. Idle speeds are even more impressive with the GTX 780 pulling ahead of the others, the only cards that are pulling less at idle are the HD 7790’s and the GTX 650 Ti, not bad for a flagship card I would say. It’s nice to see that power usage is still under control and frankly you could run a GTX 780 on a moderate power supply. These tests are done with water cooling, a hard drive and SSD, and a 3860X six core CPU. A lower TDP CPU would pull even less power.



Synthetic Benchmarks

To make sure everything was completely fair and to fill in blanks on a few of our newer benchmarks we retested the GTX 680 and the XFX R7970 and frankly we were impressed by the improvements on tests that we had previously done at their launches. The driver improvements actually helped pull the HD 7970 ahead of the GTX 680 even. Let’s see how the GTX 780 does with its launch drivers compared to those two cards as well as other combinations that we have tested in the past.

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Using the latest 3DMark benchmark we cans see that the GTX 780 is pulling a 22% increase over the R7970 and 29.5% over the GTX 680. The numbers are impressive and make me very curious what we will see later as the drivers improve even more and in SLI.



The difference between the GTX 680/HD7970 and the GTX 780 is impressive but what is even more impressive is the GTX 780 pulling a considerable lead ahead of the GTX 580 SLI in both performance and extreme tests. In fact the only situations that pulled ahead were two, three, and four card combinations.



The GTX 780 absolutely dominated our Unreal Heaven Benchmark 4.0 results with a whopping 61.4 FPS, well over the 46.5 and 42.8 that we saw from the GTX 680 and HD 7970. Even the GTX 650 Ti Boost’s in SLI didn’t pull ahead or even come close.



In Game Benchmarks

In our in game benchmarks, not only did we retest the GTX 680 and R7970 to fill in the results with our largely new benchmarks and replace out dated results in older benchmarks but we also added a new benchmark to the mix as well. We rounded our benchmarks off with the newly introduced Metro Last Light; I hope you all find a few games that you enjoy in our test suite.

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Out of the twelve games that we tested the GTX 780 on, eight of them were the highest results we have ever seen. Most of the rest of the games the GTX 780 only lost to triple and quad crossfire configurations of the HD 7970, sounds like a good problem to have right? There was one exception to it all with Hitman: Absolution, it is actually CPU limited with high end GPU configurations like the GTX 780 at the settings that we run it at.

In most cases we saw major jumps in performance over last years GTX 680. Take Bioshock Infinite for example, we saw a 27.5% increase in performance going to the GTX 780 and an even more impressive 39.5% when coming from the R7970. The difference between the GTX 780 and the R7970 in Metro Last Light was even greater at 41%. In Batman Arkham Asylum we saw an FPS of 392, which is just mind blowing and 43% faster than the R7970. As a whole, the GTX 780 is a monster that gobbles up every game we throw at it, even at their highest settings. You are going to have to go with a higher resolution or triple monitors to really push its limits, even on most of the latest games.















To put our Nvidia GTX 780 to the test I used a beta version of EVGA precision that supports the new card. To test my overclock I used test number 2 on 3DMark 11 set to performance settings. I started by doing what most would do when overclocking. I cranked the fan up and pushed out power target and new temp target options all the way over. From there I started at 100 MHz then 200 MHz GPU Clock offsets and both passed my test. Next I went to 300MHz and my test failed right away. After rebooting everything I knew our best clock speed was somewhere in between 200-300MHz offset so I slowly turned down the clock until I was able to get it to pass. The end result was a GPU Clock Offset of +220 MHz and a GPU clock speed of 1215MHz total.

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Once I figured out our max overclock without touching the overclock I tried to play with the voltage but it actually lowered my max overclock. This told me that my overclock was most likely limited by power or temperature limitations; I would need those limitations in the software to go higher. It’s nice to know that the GTX 780 has lots of room for overclocking though.

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Overall and Final Verdict

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This time around Nvidia made the first move against AMD and I can see why. The GTX 780 is an amazing card both in performance as well as every other metric we can put together. Let’s be honest, this has to be one of the best looking video cards we have ever seen and it’s a reference card! Nvidia has created a styling starting with the GTX 690 then on to the Titan that we also see in the GTX 780. I’m excited to see what the rest of the 700 series cards end up looking like. Performance is always important but a lot of enthusiasts would be lying if they said that the way a video card looks didn’t have some effect on their buying decision. On that alone people are going to love the GTX 780, but it’s no slouch when it comes to performance as well. In fact in a lot of cases we saw improvements of up to 43% in game compared to the R7970 that we tested as well as last year’s GTX 680. GTX 580 and older owners will start feeling the pressure to upgrade with the GTX 780 out as well as it does really push the limits. With 2304 CUDA cores we will most likely see the GTX 780 being used a lot for people who are just looking for compute performance as well.

Along with the card, Nvidia has been hard at work on their software improvements. On the card itself they improved noise performance by rethinking how fan controllers should adjust fan speed. Even more impressive is what they are working on with their drivers. As of today Nvidia drivers will now include the GeForce Experience with their drivers to help everyone keep their drivers up to date without disruption as well as the ability to help you tune the settings on all of your games to perfectly match your setup. All of that was shadowed slightly by the upcoming shadowplay feature though that will allow you to record your gaming without slowdowns and keep a DVR like buffer of video in case something really impressive happens while you are gaming.

So what does it all cost you? Well the GTX 680 launched at an extremely low $499.99 and is priced at around $430 at its lowest right now. The HD 7970 launched at $549.99 and is at $449 right now. The GTX 780 comes in at $649. It’s not cheap without a doubt, but what I took into account is the performance increases over the GTX 680 and HD 7970 and their current prices. With those in mind it’s priced about right, especially considering the amazing styling and heavy duty construction. It will be out of price range of a lot of people, but this is about where top end video cards were sitting before the economy dropped, I am curious to see how well the new price will go over.



Author Bio
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: https://lanoc.org
You might call him obsessed or just a hardcore geek. Wes's obsession with gaming hardware and gadgets isn't anything new, he could be found taking things apart even as a child. When not poking around in PC's he can be found playing League of Legends, Awesomenauts, or Civilization 5 or watching a wide variety of TV shows and Movies. A car guy at heart, the same things that draw him into tweaking cars apply when building good looking fast computers. If you are interested in writing for Wes here at LanOC you can reach out to him directly using our contact form.

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garfi3ld's Avatar
garfi3ld replied the topic: #31027 23 May 2013 17:22
Todays the big launch day for the GTX 780
thePoison.'s Avatar
thePoison. replied the topic: #31029 23 May 2013 18:46
and a huge hit on my wallet, excellent review Wes, very informational and the small section of the overclocking was impressive. Pretty stoked for the cards.
Deb0's Avatar
Deb0 replied the topic: #31030 23 May 2013 18:47
garfi3ld's Avatar
garfi3ld replied the topic: #31031 23 May 2013 18:59
even those of you who aren't looking for a new card should read the "geforce experience" section

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