NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti Video Card Review

NVIDIA's fastest single-GPU video card is being launched today. With the full potential of the Kepler architecture and GK110 GPU fully unlocked, how will it perform compared to the new R9 290X with new drivers? Will the price versus performance make sense? Will it out perform a TITAN? We find out all this and more.

Introduction

The GPU industry has been busy these last two months. It's rare that we see such direct and fierce competition between AMD and NVIDIA on the GPU front. Competition, that in the end, only benefits us, the consumers. AMD started this fray by launching a fast video card at an attractive price point. The $549 AMD Radeon R9 290X has proven to deliver performance faster than the GeForce GTX 780, and rival the GeForce GTX TITAN, NVIDIA's fastest single-GPU video card (and most expensive), until now. What made the R9 290X succeed was the $549 price point, which obliterated the GTX 780 and GTX TITAN.

NVIDIA's answer to the Radeon R9 290X, and subsequently the R9 290, has been twofold. First, there were a few price drops that are important, and second is the video card being launched today.

First let's go over the price drops. GeForce GTX TITAN stays the same, $999. The GeForce GTX 780 is getting a price drop down to $499. The GeForce GTX 770 gets a price drop down to $329. We feel these price points much better represent where it should be with the current landscape, but still leaves the playing field a bit askew. Of note, the GTX 780 is now $50 less than the Radeon R9 290X. Though, in our testing, the R9 290X does perform faster than the GTX 780, so the price being higher is justified in that case.

GeForce GTX 780 Ti Pricing

The GeForce GTX 780 Ti being launched today is NVIDIA's fastest single-GPU video card, even faster than the TITAN. This video card is all about gaming performance, and NVIDIA maintains that the GTX 780 Ti is the "Gamer's GPU" while TITAN is still the ultimate card for those that need double precision compute support. GTX 780 Ti is single precision, built for gaming performance. Both can be run in many small form factor cases.

The GeForce GTX 780 Ti will have an MSRP of $699. This means that the GTX 780 Ti is $150 more expensive than the R9 290X, and $200 more expensive than the GTX 780. However, it is $300 less than the GTX TITAN. The positioning loosely puts the GTX 780 Ti where the original GTX 780 used to sit. Hopefully the performance is there to justify the price, we will see.

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GeForce GTX 780 Ti Specs

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The GeForce GTX 780 Ti is based on the GK110 GPU, but all grown up. This is the GK110 at its full potential with all 15 SMX units. We get to see what NVIDIA had planned with the Kepler architecture and full GK110 performance finally. The GPU consists of 7.1B transistors on the 28nm manufacturing process. For comparison, the R9 290X is 6.2B transistors. There are a total of 2,880 CUDA Cores enabled, which is 25% more than the GeForce GTX 780, and even more than the TITAN’s 2,688.

There is 7GHz GDDR5 memory modules in use on the 384-bit memory bus. This allows the card to have a memory bandwidth of 336GB/sec. This exceeds the AMD Radeon R9 290X GPU’s memory bandwidth of 320GB/sec. It is obvious NVIDIA wanted to get this card to exceed the memory bandwidth on R9 290X, since that is a major selling point of the R9 290 series GPU’s 512-bit memory bus. The GTX 780 Ti memory is run at 7GHz to net 336GB/sec, while the 320GB/sec on the R9 290X is achieved with 5GHz RAM.

There are 240 texture units and 48 ROPs in the GTX 780 Ti. For comparison, the R9 290X has 176 texture units, and 64 ROPs. These numbers translate into 176/GTs texture fillrate on the R9 290X and 210/GTs texture fillrate on the GTX 780 Ti. There is 64/GPs pixel fillrate on the R9 290X and 42/GPs pixel fillrate on the GTX 780 Ti. Interestingly, just to point out architectural differences, the L2 cache size on GTX 780 Ti is higher at 1.5MB, while it is 1MB on R9 290X.

The base clock will run at 875MHz with a boost clock of 928MHz. There will be 3GB of VRAM on board, with no 6GB or higher "stock" models discussed by NVIDIA at this time. The TDP of the GTX 780 Ti is 250W, using one 8-pin and one 6-pin PCIe power connector. There will be two dual-link DVI ports, one HDMI, and one DisplayPort.

NVIDIA once again playing the game bundle game, which has been dominated by AMD for some time now. NVIDIA is offering a game bundle from October 28th until December 31st for gamers who buy a GeForce GTX 780 Ti. You will receive free downloadable copies of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Batman: Arkham Origins, and Splinter Cell Blacklist with the purchase of most GTX 780 Ti cards.

New Power Balancing Feature

Evolving the way in which power is delivered to the video card, NVIDIA has uniquely developed technology to steer power more efficiently throughout the video card as a whole. This feature will hopefully allow overclocking to be pushed further than the previous GTX 780 and GTX TITAN video cards. This is a positive evolution of power delivery in video cards.

The final improvement that we’ve added to the GeForce GTX 780 Ti is a new power balancing feature that’s been made so enthusiasts can get the most out of their overclock. As you know, the GPU gets its power from three sources: the 6-pin and 8-pin power connectors, and the PCI Express interface. Under normal conditions, the power sent to the GPU is balanced across these three sources, but when a user overclocks their graphics card they can unbalance the power delivery and draw more power from one source than the others, potentially maxing it out. With this new feature we can steer power from one input to another, so if you max out one power source, you can draw more power from the others to make up the difference. When overclocking, users should be able to push the GeForce GTX 780 Ti even further than they have with prior GeForce GTX TITAN/GTX 780 GPUs thanks to this feature.


GeForce GTX 780 Ti Pictures

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The GeForce GTX 780 Ti measures 10.5 inches in length. This is exactly the same length as the GeForce GTX 780 and GeForce GTX TITAN and has "the same" cooling system. We have put "the same" in quotes there as some of the alloys used in the GTX TITAN cooling system have changed during its evolution. The Radeon R9 290X measures in at 11 inches in length. This can help in tight spaces or small form factor computers where space is everything. Maybe something for you to consider, maybe not. The GeForce GTX 780 Ti requires one 8-pin power connector and one 6-pin. There are two dual-link DVI ports, an HDMI port, and DisplayPort connection.