NVIDIA Kepler GPU GeForce GTX 680 Video Card Review

The silicon we have all been waiting for is here. NVIDIA is launching its next generation GeForce GTX 680 video card, poised with the new flagship GPU from NVIDIA. Can it compete with AMD's Radeon HD 7970? We were somewhat amazed at how this NVIDIA GPU does when it comes to gaming, pricing, efficiency, and features.


Battlefield 3

We are using the downloaded version of Battlefield 3 via Origin. This game supports two different antialiasing methods, traditional MSAA via the "Deferred AA" option and a shader based FXAA via the "Post AA" option. We evaluate the highest playable gameplay settings and take into account performance and image quality, striving for the best. In that regard, we will use whatever the appropriate AA setting, or combination of AA settings, are best for the video cards being used. Our testing procedure and evaluation of graphics features in BF3 are explained in our Battlefield 3 Gameplay Performance and IQ evaluation. We are using the latest patch for this game.

Highest Playable Settings - Single Display

Article Image

Article Image

(Click Graph for Larger Image)

Battlefield 3 can be a demanding game on graphics when especially running regular MSAA. The new GeForce GTX 680 was able to run BF3 at no less than 2560x1600 with both 2X AA and FXAA enabled for the best image quality. We also found that the AMD Radeon HD 7970 was playable with 2X MSAA and FXAA. The GeForce GTX 680 had slightly higher framerates, but both delivered a similar experience at 2560x1600.

The previous generation GeForce GTX 580 was only playable at 2560x1600 with FXAA; using MSAA with these other settings made the game totally unplayable. The GTX 680 improves upon the GTX 580 by allowing a higher AA setting at 2560x1600 along with higher performance. We also tried 1920x1200 and found the GTX 680 and Radeon HD 7970 capable of 4X MSAA plus FXAA, which is this game's highest control panel settings. Neither video card deviated in terms of gameplay experience, it was very close between the two at 2560x1600.

1920x1200 Apples-to-Apples Performance

The first setting we wanted to test at 1920x1200 was with just FXAA enabled, so performance should be expected to be high.

Article Image

The performance difference between the Radeon HD 7970 and GeForce GTX 680 widen once again at 1920x1200. The GeForce GTX 680 is almost 16% faster than the Radeon HD 7970 at 1920x1200 with FXAA.

Next we wanted to turn off FXAA and turn on traditional 4X MSAA at 1920x1200.

Article Image

Even with 4X MSAA enabled the GeForce GTX 680 is able to maintain a performance lead over the Radeon HD 7970.

We initially considered the possibility that the GTX 680 would choke in BF3 with 4X MSAA enabled at 1920x1200, given its lesser memory capacity and memory bandwidth. However, at 1920x1200 that just isn't a concern at all. It is able to outperform the Radeon HD 7970 which has a larger memory capacity and memory bandwidth.