Gigabyte GTX 670 WindForce OC Review
NVIDIA’s GTX 670 and GTX 680 were launched within a few weeks of one another and both have proven to be hugely popular. So much so, that trying to find either card at many retailers quickly devolves into a frustrating situation, particularly when it comes to non-reference versions. Regardless of this slightly odd situation, the show must go on and we’re forging ahead with yet another GTX 670 review.
Today’s candidate is the Gigabyte GTX 670 2GB WindForce OC which just happens to be one of the most popular GTX 670 cards on the market. The reasons behind this trend are multi faceted but likely stem from the fact that it doesn’t cost a dime more than a reference version’s $399 but incorporates several unique elements that really allow it to stand apart. While Gigabyte may not have the highly regarded customer service of EVGA or the localized RMA facilities of MSI, they’re betting an aggressive price will draw people in.
Considering its “OC” designation, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that Gigabyte’s only GTX 670 uses higher clock speeds. The Base and Boost clocks of this card aren’t anything spectacular and the memory hasn’t been touched but that really shocked us was the maximum clocks the WindForce OC reached without overclocking or additional tuning. 1210MHz is far above what past GTX 670s have hit and actually one-ups our reference GTX 680’s maximum observed speed.
Remember, the Boost Clock designates the average speed at which the card will run during a typical 3D load but if the ASIC determines there is TDP overhead, it will clock even higher. We’re guessing Gigabyte has a custom BIOS installed which throws the typical reference Power Offset out the window, allowing the WindForce’s core to take advantage of the additional cooling offered by its extensive heatsink. Throughout testing, we noticed this card was more willing to stay near this “top” speed than any card before it, including the GTX 680. This could result in performance that puts it near flagship card status. Now, there may be some sample to sample variance, but we’ve seen plenty of end users hitting around these same clock speeds.
Unlike some of NVIDIA’s other board partners, Gigabyte has completely avoided the stunted reference design and went full monty on their GTX 670 card. It is topped by the large WindForce 3X heatsink and measures about 10 ¾” long. You’ll likely recognize this design since it happens to be the same one used on their GTX 680 as well.
Before we go on, it is important to reiterate that this is Gigabyte’s sole GTX 670 for the time being so you won’t see any other cards from them for the time being. A Superclock version is surely on its way but don’t expect to see that quite yet.
The WindForce 3X heatsink is comprised of three large 75mm fans that blow down onto an extensive aluminum fin array. In order to optimize the thermal mass of this cooler, Gigabyte has spread its cooling surface over the card’s entire length, ensuring heat is evenly distributed. Due to its weight, the WindForce 3X also uses extra cooling areas for the memory modules and long stiffening brackets to avoid PCB flex.
Gigabyte’s heatsink design has been reused several times, routinely garnering our praise and we don’t expect anything less than near-perfection this time around. Remember, the GTX 670 features a cool-running core so using this massive cooler is almost overkill. But we like overkill.
One of the more interesting aspects of the WindForce 3X OC is its use of a reference GTX 680 PCB (albeit in Gigabyte blue) rather than the scaled down unit used on most other GTX 670 cards. This means it uses an advanced 5+2 phase power distribution network with Gigabyte opting to install an additional GPU power phase for a bit more stability at high clock speeds.
Other than the additional PWM stage being installed, there really isn’t much difference between this card and a reference GTX 680's component layout. The WindForce 3X heatsink does however protrude past the PCB, which adds to the overall length and makes this card about 11" long.
While the GTX 680 and GTX 670 both use dual 6-pin layouts, Gigabyte has plotted a different course. Instead of the stacked layout used on the reference GTX 680, the power connectors are placed in a side by side configuration to ensure the heatsink didn’t need modification. A single 8-pin has also taken the place of one of the 6-pin connectors to provide additional power to the GPU core.
The outputs on the WindForce OC remain true to most other GTX 670 cards: one DisplayPort, one HDMI and two DVI connectors.
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