When Titan first launched, many of my enthusiasts colleagues spent the day reading reviews and wiping the drool off their keyboards. The gamers saw the Titan as perhaps a card to end all cards, or at least an upgrade to last for years. The Folding and Photoshop crew understood that Titan had the Shaders and cores to process some serious work loads. However, one big obstacle stood between them and their dream card: The price. While Titan remains the current single GPU desktop flagship at $1K USD, neither affordable nor a true gamer's card. Naturally, a new alternative high performance "sports-card" is here with a lower price tag.
Continued refinements to the Kepler GPU has spawned the GTX 780 which fills a convenient yet somewhat unique need as the new flag ship gaming GPU. Its the latest Kepler powered video card designed for maximum frame rates, multi-monitor support, 3D gaming, and a GEFORCE Experience using sampling and details settings that would otherwise choke out most of the previous generation. Let's see how the NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 780 stacks up against the higher end cards we have in the lab and determine if it's worth the quasi-premium cost.
In a nutshell, the GTX 780 is replacing the GTX 680 which was the current king of the gamer cards. The GTX 680 offers 1536 CUDA cores versus the GTX 780 at 2,304. That alone reveals that the GTX 780 is a stronger GPU on paper. Here's the quick list so you can see the basic spec for spec differences between the two.
With increased CUDA core processing performance comes increased power requirements for the GTX 780. Proud owners should have a recommended 600 watt capable power supply. The card will consume about 235 watts rendering a fully capable video game (engine). Naturally, something like Starcraft 2 won't require so much from high end video cards and of course, if your appetite is for more than one of these cards in a system, then you will need to upgrade your power supply requirements appropriately.
Most of the integrated features are similar to the GTX 680. But they are also updated. Let's blast through those so you know what to expect.
Features - GEFORCE Experience
GEFORCE Experience...it's not just a pretty metaphor. It's a revised NVIDIA developed program that will optimize supported video game settings so you get the most out of your gaming experience. Of course, you'll need a supported NVIDIA GPU to reap the benefits. Currently, there are about 80 supported video games. I've tried it on GTX 580, GTX 660 Ti, GTX 680, and now GTX 780. If I missed maximizing any setting, the program automatically aligns the settings with the capabilities of the GPU. If you find the settings undesirable, simply "revert" to the settings you chose originally. Easy as that.
3D Performance - Approved Games for Best Results
Last year, I took 3D Vision 2 for a spin. Even as a sceptic, I found myself appreciating many of my favorite games all over again because it adds something new to the experience. Spending $250 or so on a 3D compatible monitor and 3D Vision 2 glasses are all that's needed to see a new side of your favourite games. What is apparent this time around is that while the GTX 660-680 offer a much smoother 3D experience, the GTX 780 continues the trend, but without a severe drop in performance. More on that in testing.
3D performance can bounce all over the place as game engines and drivers are updated. Drivers play a significant role and can either improve or neglect aging games, or unofficially supported games like Assassin's Creed III. The frame rates would drop as low as 25 FPS in the larger more active areas of the game where there was a lot of content rendered in 3D. Otherwise, frame rates are easily 60 or so. Supported games like Battlefield 3 have less of an issue losing about 15 frames to the 3D feature. So keep that in mind if you plan to get your 3D experience on.
Next Generation Gaming Engine Support
The GTX 780 has all the power needed to run video games, or demos, built with the Unreal Engine 3 and 4 graphics engines. If you've seen the UR4 Elemental demo or the new Infiltrator demo that debuted at GDC 2013, then you know it takes a high end GPU to create the magic. Unfortunately, there aren't any released video games like the demos to really show off the GTX 780's real world capabilities. It's kind of like having a 0-60 3.5 second sports car and only city streets to drive it. It's great for showing off, but you won't get to use the horsepower.
Now let's get to testing all this horsepower!