NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 SLI Video Card Review

Take two GeForce GTX 780 video cards, enable SLI, add GeForce GTX TITAN SLI, and 3-way Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition CrossFire, sprinkle with a sampling of today's most demanding games, and add a dash of NV Surround and Eyefinity 3-display testing. We find out how tasty GeForce GTX 780 SLI is; the real world gaming results may surprise you.

Introduction

Today we are going to look at NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 SLI gameplay experience. We've previously evaluated the GeForce GTX 780 single-card at launch on May 23rd of this year. It is now time to take two of these video cards, enable SLI, and see what gaming in NV Surround at 5760x1200 is like.

The GeForce GTX 780 is a high-end enthusiast level gaming card. The GeForce GTX 780 MSRP's for $649, and currently, this is still the cheapest price you can buy these at. That means two GTX 780's for SLI will cost you the large sum of $1,300. The GeForce GTX 780 is based on GK110 Kepler architecture, which is the same as the fastest single-GPU video card out there for gaming, the GeForce GTX TITAN. GeForce GTX 780 is based on TITAN and is just one step down in performance, but several large steps down in price since TITAN retails for $999.

GeForce GTX 780 consists of 2,304 CUDA Cores versus TITAN's 2,688. GeForce GTX 780 has a Base Clock of 863MHz and a Boost Clock of 900MHz versus TITAN's Base Clock of 837MHz and Boost Clock of 876MHz. GeForce GTX 780 has 3GB of VRAM at 6GHz on a 384-bit memory bus versus TITAN which has 6GB of VRAM at 6GHz on the same memory bus. This makes for the GeForce GTX 780 to be a very fast video card.

Setup

We are going to evaluate two reference GeForce GTX 780 video cards in SLI today. For comparison, we have chosen two comparison setups specifically today based on price, to find out the true value that GTX 780 SLI holds.

On the NVIDIA front, we wanted to include GeForce GTX TITAN SLI into this evaluation for a specific reason. Two GTX TITANS will cost you $2,000, well apart from the $1,300 of GTX 780 SLI. However, in our GeForce GTX 780 launch review, we found that there wasn't a huge difference in performance between GTX 780 and GTX TITAN. Given that, and the large price difference, we wanted to see if the same extends for GTX 780 SLI vs GTX TITAN SLI. If GeForce GTX 780 SLI were to be only a small percentage of performance difference from GTX TITAN SLI, it would mean GTX 780 SLI might be an excellent value compared to the $700 more expensive GTX TITAN SLI. It will be interesting to see how close in performance these are.

On the AMD front it becomes a bit more complicated, yet interesting at the same time. There is the Radeon HD 7990 video card, which is a dual-GPU 7970 GHz Edition video card. However, the price range of this card is around GTX TITAN pricing. Two of these would be well over the price of GTX 780 SLI, and one isn't near enough close to the price.

Therefore we looked at AMD's fastest single-GPU video cards, the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition. What we found is that with the current pricing of around $400 per card right now, you can equip three Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition video cards in CrossFire for a total price of $1,200. This puts three Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition CrossFire video cards at only $100 less than GeForce GTX 780 SLI. This is the absolute closest pricing we can find between the two, and makes for an interesting evaluation.

So for our final comparison, we are going to use 3-way Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition CrossFire versus GeForce GTX 780 SLI (remember, only $100 apart in price), and GeForce GTX TITAN SLI. This will make a very interesting evaluation, and the closest comparisons we could find.

We also have a comparison page later on that shows a single GeForce GTX 780 versus GeForce GTX 780 SLI to look at scaling performance.

Article Image Article Image

Single GeForce GTX 780 configured in NV Surround at 5760x1200.

Article Image Article Image Article Image

GeForce GTX 780 SLI configured in NV Surround at 5760x1200.

Article Image Article Image Article Image

3-way Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition CrossFire configured in Eyefinity at 5760x1200.

Article Image Article Image

GeForce GTX TITAN SLI configured in NV Surround at 5760x1200.

Drivers and AMD Frame Pacing

Note that we are using the latest Beta drivers from each camp. That means we are using Catalyst 13.8 Beta from AMD. However, Frame Pacing is not yet supported in Eyefinity resolutions. Frame Pacing greatly helps CrossFire, but it is only currently supported up to 2560x1600 on a single-display. That is unfortunate for CrossFire, but there is nothing we can do about that until AMD releases Phase 2 of this driver with Eyefinity support. Right now our gameplay experience matches that of what everyone out there will currently get under Eyefinity.