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 nor the GTX 700 series. 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 GeForce GTX 680 cards, 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. 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.
There are two ways you can look at the GeForce GTX 780 on paper. Next to its rightful predecessor, the GeForce GTX 680, it offers 50 percent more CUDA cores, 50 percent more memory and memory bandwidth; but next to the GeForce GTX TITAN, it offers fewer cores and half the memory amount. Since the GTX 680 and GTX 780 are based on the same "Kepler" micro-architecture, making an apples-to-apples comparison of their specifications possible, the GeForce GTX 780 is a much better equipped successor than the GeForce GTX 580 was to the GeForce GTX 480 (both of which were based on the "Fermi" micro-architecture).
NVIDIA carved the GeForce GTX 780 out of the GK110 by enabling 12 out of 15 streaming multi-processors on die, which works out to 2,304 CUDA cores. This sets the texture memory unit count to 192, a 50 percent increase over its predecessor's 128. The memory bus is left untouched at 384-bit width, the GPU still packs five graphics processing clusters, and 48 ROPs (yet another 50 percent increase). The reference design card we're putting under the knife in this review features 3 GB of GDDR5 memory. 6 GB non-reference designs by NVIDIA's partners are possible in the future. The GeForce GTX 780 features GPU Boost 2.0, a dynamic overclocking technology that was introduced by the GTX Titan. The technology increases GPU clock speeds, and the voltages required to support them, while factoring in temperatures.
The most interesting part of the GeForce GTX 780 is its positioning in the product stack. It is priced at $649.99, which is much higher than the $499.99 the GeForce GTX 680 asked for when it went on to dethrone the $549.99 Radeon HD 7970 but significantly less than the $999.99 the GTX Titan commands. A card that looks virtually indistinguishable to the GTX Titan when installed is now being offered at two-thirds its price.
| HD 7970|
|Shader Units||1344||2048||2048||1536||2304||2x 512||2688||2x 1536||2x 2048|
|ROPs||32||32||32||32||48||2x 48||48||2x 32||2x 32|
|Graphics Processor||GK104||Tahiti||Tahiti||GK104||GK110||2x GF110||GK110||2x GK104||2x Tahiti|
|Transistors||3500M||4310M||4310M||3500M||7100M||2x 3000M||7100M||2x 3500M||2x 4310M|
|Memory Size||2048 MB||3072 MB||3072 MB||2048 MB||3072 MB||2x 1536 MB||6144 MB||2x 2048 MB||2x 3072 MB|
|Memory Bus Width||256 bit||384 bit||384 bit||256 bit||384 bit||2x 384 bit||384 bit||2x 256 bit||2x 384 bit|
|Core Clock||915 MHz+||925 MHz||1050 MHz||1006 MHz+||863 MHz+||607 MHz||837 MHz+||915 MHz+||1000 MHz|
|Memory Clock||1502 MHz||1375 MHz||1500 MHz||1502 MHz||1502 MHz||855 MHz||1502 MHz||1502 MHz||1500 MHz|