NVIDIA Kepler GeForce GTX 680 Overclocking Review

We evaluate overclocking performance of the new NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 video card. Can we can squeeze any more performance out of the 680 that GPU Boost isn't already doing on its own. We compare to a standard GeForce GTX 680 and Radeon HD 7970. We also compare both video cards at the highest overclocks head-to-head.

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Maximum Overclocks Compared

Since we are overclocking the GeForce GTX 680 to its highest possible limits, we thought it'd be interesting to also overclock a Radeon HD 7970 and compare performance. We are using a reference Radeon HD 7970 video card for this overclock, which results in a fairly high overclock for a Radeon HD 7970. In our testing of Radeon HD 7970 video cards we have found extremely varied results in terms of the highest stable overclock. We've had overclocks as bad as 1125MHz all the way to 1305MHz.

For this comparison we wanted to go with a rather high overclock, just to see if the HD 7970 could push beyond the GTX 680. We settled for an overclock of 1260MHz clock speed and 6.9GHz memory speed. In order to achieve this, the video card was overvolted to 1.3v. Now, this is at the high-end of overclocking on the Radeon HD 7970, but we have achieved even higher clocks with lower voltages on certain video cards. We wanted to use this high frequency on an HD 7970 as a best case scenario overclocking result with a 7970. It is a frequency enthusiasts are able to get close to in the real-world with custom video cards right now.

So in the results below, keep in mind the Radeon HD 7970 is overclocked from 925MHz to 1260MHz, an overclock of 335MHz. The GeForce GTX 680 is overclocked to 1228MHz, from the base clock of 1006MHz, for an overclock of only 222MHz from stock (not taking into account GPU Boost at stock settings.) That's a big difference in overclocking potential.


Battlefield 3

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Overclocking the Radeon HD 7970 has brought performance above a stock GeForce GTX 680 in this game. The overclocked Radeon HD 7970 is 7% faster than the GTX 680 at default. However, when overclocked to its maximum the GTX 680 is 7% faster than the overclocked HD 7970. What you really notice with percentages like this is how close the video cards perform. Overclocking the Radeon HD 7970 has brought it above a stock GTX 680, but just under an overclocked GTX 680.

Batman Arkham City

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Shockingly, the tables turn in Batman. The high overclock on the Radeon HD 7970 has brought its performance just over that of the overclocked GTX 680. Certainly, the overclocked Radeon HD 7970 is now 15% faster than a stock GTX 680. However, overclocking the GTX 680 brings its performance right back up there to match the HD 7970 in this game, these are neck and neck.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

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Deus Ex tells us a completely different story. In this game the overclocked Radeon HD 7970 is able to outperform the overclocked GTX 680 by 17%! This is the first, and only time, the HD 7970 has been faster than a GTX 680 by that much.

Skyrim

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Overclocking the HD 7970 has helped Skyrim performance by a great deal. The Radeon HD 7970 is now much closer to GTX 680 performance. However, the stock and overclocked GTX 680 are still able to edge out performance in this game still.