Gigabyte GTX 780 WindForce OC 3 GB Review 43

Gigabyte GTX 780 WindForce OC 3 GB Review

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The past five years of GPU product launches have shown that fourteen months can be a pretty long time to hold on to a product stack. After an unexpected launch of its 'wildcard' this February, the GeForce GTX Titan, NVIDIA turned its attention to its new-generation GeForce GTX 700 series piloted by the GeForce GTX 780 we have with us today. NVIDIA's choice of naming for the GTX Titan puts it in neither the GTX 600 series nor the GTX 700. It's just three months old, is holding on to a single-GPU performance lead unassailable by AMD, and has a $1000 price-tag. Its introduction didn't affect prices of the GeForce GTX 680, or anything below it, so NVIDIA clearly gunned for the premium. People bought into it, and owners we spoke to are extremely happy with it. We wonder how today's launch will affect them.

The GeForce GTX 780 has a lot in common with the GTX Titan. In the reference-design trim, the two cards are virtually indistinguishable unless you notice the lack of memory chips on the backside of the GTX 780. The two cards are based on the same 28 nm GK110 silicon, almost the same PCB, and most certainly the same space-age cooling solution that helped people draw their heavy wallets out for a $1000 invoice.

Unlike the GeForce GTX Titan and GTX 690, which aren't available in non-reference design trims by NVIDIA partners (with the exception of cards with factory-fitted water blocks), the GeForce GTX 780 will be sold with custom-designed air coolers and custom PCB designs further down the road. The GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 780 WindForce OC features a spanking new cooling solution designed in-house by GIGABYTE. It features an aluminum fin heatsink that's ventilated by a trio of fans. An advantage of such solutions is that the fans don't need to spin at high speeds to push a lot of air. The cooler features a well-chiseled cooler shroud design, which just might clinch the deal for GIGABYTE over NVIDIA's reference design cooler. The card is factory-overclocked and offers out-of-the-box GPU clock speeds of 954 MHz core and 1006 MHz GPU Boost against the 863 MHz core and 900 MHz GPU Boost of NVIDIA's reference board. While exact pricing is yet unknown, Gigabyte expects no premium for their GTX 780 WindForce OC.

GTX 780 Market Segment Analysis
GTX 670
HD 7970
HD 7970
GHz Ed.
GTX 680
GTX 780
GTX 780 OC
GTX 590
GTX Titan
GTX 690
HD 7990
Shader Units1344204820481536230423042x 51226882x 15362x 2048
ROPs3232323248482x 48482x 322x 32
Graphics ProcessorGK104TahitiTahitiGK104GK110GK1102x GF110 GK1102x GK1042x Tahiti
Transistors3500M4310M4310M3500M7100M7100M2x 3000M7100M2x 3500M2x 4310M
Memory Size2048 MB3072 MB3072 MB2048 MB3072 MB3072 MB2x 1536 MB6144 MB2x 2048 MB2x 3072 MB
Memory Bus Width256 bit384 bit384 bit256 bit384 bit384 bit2x 384 bit384 bit2x 256 bit2x 384 bit
Core Clock915 MHz+925 MHz1050 MHz1006 MHz+863 MHz+954 MHz+607 MHz837 MHz+915 MHz+1000 MHz
Memory Clock1502 MHz1375 MHz1500 MHz1502 MHz1502 MHz1502 MHz855 MHz1502 MHz1502 MHz1500 MHz


Package Front

We received our card in a black GIGABYTE package that acts as placeholder for the final packaging design. Gigabyte decided to send their card as quickly as possible, even without the final packaging design, so we could have our review up as quickly as possible.

The final retail package will include the usual goodies, like power cables, DVI adapter,and game coupons.

The Card

Graphics Card Front
Graphics Card Back

Gigabyte has engineered a completely new cooling solution for their GTX 780. While it certainly looks nice, I find it lacks in appearance when compared to the reference design cooler, but every board partner will have a hard time competing with that. The biggest change is certainly Gigabyte's use of three fans compared to the NVIDIA reference cooler's use of one. The card is 28 cm long and 13 cm high. The metal tab with WindForce writing extending a bit beyond the edge of the card without any clear function could make installing the card difficult in smaller cases.

Graphics Card Height

Installing the card requires two slots in your system.

Monitor Outputs, Display Connectors

Display connectivity options include two DVI ports, one HDMI port, and one DisplayPort. You may use all outputs at the same time, so triple-monitor surround gaming is possible with one card.

The GPU also includes an HDMI sound device. It is HDMI 1.4a compatible, which includes HD audio and Blu-ray 3D movies support.

Two SLI connectors are available, which would allow you to combine up to four GTX 780 cards in a Triple-SLI, multi-GPU configuration. NVIDIA limited the GTX 780 to Triple-SLI only, while Quad SLI is supported by the GTX Titan.

Graphics Card Teardown PCB Front
Graphics Card Teardown PCB Back

Pictured above are the front and back, showing the disassembled board. High-res versions are also available (front, back). If you choose to use these images for voltmods, etc., please include a link back to this site, or let us post your article.

A Closer Look

Graphics Card Cooler Front
Graphics Card Cooler Back

Gigabyte's cooler design is intricate. It uses six heatipes to transport heat away from the copper baseplate quickly. You can also see additional thermal pads that keep memory chips and voltage regulation circuitry cool. They could maybe use a bit less thermal paste next time.

Graphics Card Power Plugs

The card requires one 6-pin and one 8-pin PCI-Express power cable for operation. This power configuration is good for up to 300 W of power draw.

I noticed that it's difficult to install the power plugs and much more difficult to remove them, which is only possible with lots of force, more than most users would be comfortable applying. The reason is that the heatsink fins don't leave enough space for the little latching tab on the power plug. ASUS flipped their power connectors for exactly that reason on some designs. After reporting to Gigabyte, they confirmed the issue and also clarified that it is fixed and will not appear on retail boards.

NVIDIA uses the same OnSemi NCP4206 voltage controller on the GTX 780 than on the Titan. It is a cost-effective solution that does not provide any I2C, so advanced monitoring is not possible. Please note how it sits on its own PCB, so we could see different voltage controllers in the future. The GTX 680 uses a similar approach, but the variety of voltage controllers was relatively low.

Graphics Card Memory Chips

The GDDR5 memory chips are made by Samsung and carry the model number K4G20325FD-FC03. They are specified to run at 1500 MHz (6000 MHz GDDR5 effective).

Graphics Chip GPU

NVIDIA's GK110 graphics processor was first introduced as a Tesla-only product for powering demanding GPU compute applications. NVIDIA has now also released it as a GeForce GPU. It uses 7.1 billion transistors on a die size that we measured to be 561 mm². The GPU is produced on a 28 nanometer process at TSMC, Taiwan.
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