NVIDIA GTX 780 Review: GK110 on a Diet
GTX 780 Design
The GTX 780 uses a GK110, just like the GTX Titan, but it also takes other cues from its older brother as well. The cooler design on the GTX 780 is very similar to what you’ll find on the Titan: A copper vapor chamber and aluminum heatsink, coupled with a blower-style fan. The copper chamber seems to be the new addition here, as the aluminum heatsink and the centrifugal-style blower fan have appeared in previous Nvidia cards.
The GTX 780 looks like the Titan, too, with the exposed aluminum on the top, the etched “GTX 780″ near the bracket, and the light-up GeForce GTX logo on the side. If all Nvidia reference boards look like this going forward, I’d love it. The exposed metal is considerably more attractive than the usual plastic you find on such a board. That said, whatever model you might buy down the road will likely be equipped with an aftermarket cooler design, effectively neutralizing this new style.
The 780 covers outputs as well as anyone could want, unless you really want six DisplayPort outputs on one card. Two dual-link DVI outputs, one full-size DisplayPort, and one full-size HDMI port should cover whatever display(s) you’re running.
And, per usual, the GTX 780 grabs power via one 6-pin and one 8-pin PCI Express power connector — same as the GTX 680 and GTX 580.
What else is Nvidia launching?
Before we get to the numbers, let’s talk about the software that’s launching with the GTX 780.
GPU Boost 2.0: There’s a new version of GPU Boost shipping with the GTX 780. Where the original GPU Boost uses power to dictate clock boosts, version 2.0 focuses on temperature. Out of the box, the GTX 780 is set to hit 80 degrees Celsius, and no higher. Through GPU Boost 2.0, however, you can set the temperature ceiling to 85 degrees, or lower it to, say, 60 degrees. The card will then push itself to a maximum frequency without the chip exceeded the set ceiling.
GeForce Experience: Is coming out of open beta. Version 1.5 will be the first version without the beta tag, but the game is the same. Set your game settings as you normally would, then use GeForce Experience to see if Nvidia’s software can make any tweaking suggestions.
ShadowPlay: This new software is aimed directly at the FRAPs and YouTube crowd. ShadowPlay is Nvidia’s new game footage capture software, allowing users to record up to 20 minutes of gameplay. Since each Kepler-equipped Nvidia card has a built-in H.264 encoder, the card handles all the work, using minimal CPU power in the process. The footage output is 1080p at 30fps — this won’t be changeable at launch (no slick 24p, I’m afraid). Being baked into every Kepler card has its advantages, but ShadowPlay does lack the features found in the paid version of FRAPS.
Adaptive Temperature Control: Nvidia says its software tweaks to the fan controller result in a more steady fan speed. This new adaptive control keeps fan speed fluctuations to a minimum, which should make for an overall quieter experience. While I’m not doing any scientific noise tests on the GTX 780, noise in the test room sits at 42-45 dB when the card is running benchmarks and 38-40 when the card is idle.