ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB Review - Exclusive

Today we review the brand new ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC Edition 6GB DirectCU II video card. ASUS has taken an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 GPU and wrapped it in a complete custom "silent" cooling solution and doubled the stock VRAM creating a unique package. We will look at performance and compare it to GTX 780 and R9 290X.

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Performance Summary

Today we have evaluated the new ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB video card. ASUS has taken the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 GPU and wrapped a silent running intelligent cooling technology around it and doubled the VRAM at 6GB on this custom PCB. This video card has proven that in all of our gaming evaluation that it exceeds the performance of a standard GeForce GTX 780 in all regards. It even equals, and sometimes even bested, an AMD Radeon R9 290X which is surprising, and exciting. The R9 290X is AMD's fastest GPU, and the GTX 780 is certainly not NVIDIA's fastest GPU, that would be the GTX 780 Ti.

In comparison to GTX 780

Let's go back and re-visit how the ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB compared to a stock-clocked GeForce GTX 780 3GB. In Watch Dogs the new ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB offered a better gameplay experience at 1600p and 1080p. Thanks to the added memory we were able to run at "Ultra" textures all the way up to 1600p without issue. This made the game run smoother indoors and especially outdoors as you drive through the city with fast loading of textures. With the standard GTX 780 we had to use the lower setting of "High" textures which were noticeably inferior.

In addition to "Ultra" textures, thanks to the factory overclock, we could run at "Ultra" in-game settings on the ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB video card. This was in contrast to the standard GeForce GTX 780 running at "High" settings. Trying to run at 8X MSAA at 1080p also proved the benefits of the ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB video card over the GeForce GTX 780. Simply put, ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB will give you a better experience in Watch Dogs compared to a standard GeForce GTX 780 even at a resolution like 1080p when you use MSAA.

We also experienced a performance improvement in BF4 thanks to the factory overclock. We were able to have SSAO turned on. Now, it did not make a difference when it came to the AA setting. However, when we ran apples-to-apples testing it did show us that at 4X MSAA the ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB video card was a lot faster than the GeForce GTX 780. If you lowered some in-game setting, you could get a playable 4X MSAA experience at 1600p out of the ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB video card.

In Crysis 3 we did not receive an advantage because SMAA 4X was the best way to go, and that's a shader based AA option. If you chose to run in MSAA we did find that the ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB was faster. We found a good experience out of the video card at 1080p with a high level of MSAA, or 1600p with SMAA.

In the other games we experienced the ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB video card also performing faster than the standard GeForce GTX 780. Across the board there is no question that the ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB is superior in performance and gameplay experience compared to a standard GeForce GTX 780 3GB video card.

In comparison to R9 290X

On paper the NV GTX 780 GPU is performance comparable to the AMD R9 290 (non-X) in terms of standard GPUs, with no special enhancements. The ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB video card however has an MSRP of $579.99. This price puts the video card in the realm of the higher-end AMD Radeon R9 290X GPU, which is AMD's fastest GPU. However, the GTX 780 is not NVIDIA's fastest GPU, that would be the GTX 780 Ti.

In our reviews the GTX 780 Ti would be compared to R9 290X, but we have to consider the price of the video card in this situation. Those looking to buy the ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB video card at this price would also consider an AMD Radeon R9 290X 4GB video card since these are in the same price range, so we had no choice but to compare in this way.

We were actually quite shocked how the results turned out. We thought the ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB would get blown away by the XFX Radeon R9 290X Double Dissipation video card we were using, which ensures a 1GHz clock speed in all games. We were wrong.

If you look at the standard GeForce GTX 780 it indeed is getting blown away by the Radeon R9 290X GPU based video card, as excepted. But what wasn't expected is that the ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB video card is keeping pace with the XFX Radeon R9 290X DD video card, and in some cases even exceeding it in performance!

In Watch Dogs we were able to play with "Ultra" textures on both video cards. We were also able to play at the exact same settings. Looking at performance the ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB and XFX R9 290X DD were dead-even on performance! It was amazing because both were definitely better than the standard GeForce GTX 780.

In Crysis 3 the ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB video card was actually slightly faster than the XFX R9 290X DD! In Far Cry 3 the video cards were dead-even again. The only two games where the AMD R9 290X GPU based video card overshined the ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB video card was Tomb Raider and BF4 which was running in Mantle.

Overall, the ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB video card can keep up with an AMD R9 290X GPU.


6GB vs. 4GB vs. 3GB VRAM

It looks like we have just seen the beginning of the VRAM war in games starting with Watch Dogs in 2014. This is the first game to dictate to us that having more VRAM is positive for the gameplay experience at 1600p and 1080p. We found that 3GB of VRAM really isn't enough to enjoy "Ultra" textures. The 4GB of VRAM on the Radeon R9 290X is much better at these resolutions. However, we worry that 4GB may itself be limiting when we try to run this game at "Ultra" textures at 4K resolutions or Eyefinity. That is where the even greater 6GB of VRAM on the ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC could really shine. When we evaluate SLI we will look at this very closely.

In other places when we cranked up the AA setting to 8X MSAA, even at 1080p, the ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB proved to be smoother and better compared to the standard GeForce GTX 780. AMD made a good decision in the AMD Radeon 7000 series of last generation to put 3GB on its high-end video cards, which was more than the competition. It was also smart to put 4GB of VRAM on the AMD Radeon R9 290 and R9 290X, again more than the competition's 3GB on the GTX 780 and 780 Ti. It is being proven now that more VRAM was forward thinking, and so for 2014 and 2015 more VRAM looks again to be important for games on the horizon.

STRIX Fan Technology

ASUS has developed an entire new line of video cards with intelligent fan control and 0dB sound operation. We think the new STRIX video card line is a success. The fans worked as advertised. When the video card was idle, or at low-load the fans stayed completely off.

When we went into hardcore gaming, about 30 seconds into the game the fans spun slowly up as needed. We did not notice any fan noise at all, even during long sessions of gaming. The fans never went above 50% of the maximum rotation speed, keeping these quiet. When we exited games the fans turned completely off again. ASUS engineers have done a excellent job with the fan controller and the fan design on this STRIX video card.

We also watched some videos full-screen on YouTube and the fans stayed completely off. This means movie watching on your PC can be a silent affair with no noise from the video card.

Sound pollution has been a hot topic lately with the introduction of AMD's Radeon R9 290X video card. The reference video card was quite loud, and people quickly became emotional about the loudness of the video card. This is ASUS' attempt at addressing those concerned about noise with their video cards, and it is a success. We would love to see this technology on AMD Radeon R9 290. Also, imagine R9 290 and 290X with 8GB of VRAM, wow. No idea if that will happen, but we want it.


The Bottom Line

Some of you reading this evaluation may gawk at ASUS asking a $100 premium for this video card over standard GeForce GTX 780. At $579 it places this video card in an entirely different category with the competition. Well, we think that since the ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB video card can keep pace with the AMD Radeon R9 290X that the price is then justified that it compares to. You get a silent video card, with extreme hardware enhancements and 6GB of VRAM. The price makes sense now that we've looked at performance, and this is just single-card performance, we haven't even touched SLI yet at 4K and NV Surround.

ASUS has given gamers another unique and customized solution for gaming. The ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB video card gives you quiet cooling, silent operation, customized hardware, long lasting components, robust parts, and 6GB of VRAM for no compromises when it comes to resolution and AA. These video cards are built with running multiple cards in mind with SLI. We will be testing two of these cards in SLI at 4K and NV Surround in the future, so stay tuned for that. We will also be bringing you overclocking ability and performance as well in a separate review.

We've learned today that ASUS isn't sitting idle with today's GPUs. While we are all waiting for the next generation of NVIDIA and AMD GPUs, ASUS is reminding us that more can be done with what we have now in exciting ways.

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(ASUS STRIX GTX 780 OC 6GB)

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