NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Review

Author: SKYMTL
Date: May 21, 2013
Product Name: GTX 780 3GB
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GeForce Experience’s ShadowPlay

When NVIDIA first announced GeForce Experience, many enthusiasts just shrugged and moved on with their gaming lives. However, this deceptively simple looking piece of software could very well revolutionize PC gaming, allowing for high fidelity image quality without the need to tweak countless in-game settings.

For regular PC gamers, finding just the right settings which optimize a given hardware configuration’s performance is part of the fun. Unfortunately for novices and casual gamers who are used to the “load and play” mentality of console and tablet games, the process of balancing framerates and image quality can prove to be a daunting one. With GeForce Experience, NVIDIA takes the guesswork out of the equation by linking their software with a cloud-based service which uses a broadly established database to automatically find the best possible in-game settings for your hardware. This could potentially open up PC gaming to a much larger market.

GeForce Experience’s goals are anything but modest and judging from a highly successful Beta phase (over 2.5 million people downloaded the application), NVIDIA will likely begin rolling out the final version in the next few months. The software's next evolutionary steps are being done in parallel with its ongoing development so new features are being added in preparation for launch. GFE will soon be used as the backbone for NVIDIA’s SHIELD handheld gaming device and a brand new addition aptly named ShadowPlay has entered the picture too.

With recoded and live gaming sessions becoming hugely popular on video streaming services, ShadowPlay aims to offer a way to seamlessly log your onscreen activities without the problems of current solutions. Applications like FRAPS which have long been used for in-game recording are inherently inefficient since they tend to require a huge amount of resources, bogging down performance during situations when you need it the most. In addition, their file formats aren’t all that space conscious with 1080P videos of over 10 minutes routinely eating up over a gigabyte of storage space.

By leveraging the compute capabilities of NVIDIA’s GeForce graphics cards, ShadowPlay can automatically buffer up to 20 minutes of previous in-game footage. In many ways it acts like a PVR by recording in the background using a minimum of resources, ensuring a gamer will never notice a significant performance hit when it is enabled. There is also a Manual function which can start and stop recording with the press of a hotkey. All videos are encoded in real time using H.264 / MPEG4 compression by some of the GPU’s compute modules, making for relatively compact files.

Since ShadowPlay’s recording and encoding is processed on the fly, it can be done asynchronously to the onscreen framerate so there won’t be any FRAPS-like situations where you’ll need to game at 30 or 60 FPS when recording.

NVIDIA Adds “Reasons” to Overclocking

After TITAN launched, NVIDIA spent a good amount of time talking to overclockers in order to get their feedback about GeForce Boost 2.0 and its impact upon clock speeds. From voltage to Power Limit to Temperature Limits, Boost imparts a large number of limiting factors onto core frequencies but enthusiasts had no way of knowing exactly which of these was limiting their overclocks. In order to give this much-needed information to us in a meaningful way, NVIDIA has implemented what they call “Reasons” into overclocking software. In layman’s terms, “Reasons” simply allows you to see what settings have to be modified in order to achieve higher overclocks and it does so in a brilliantly simple manner.

As we can see above, within the Monitoring tab of EVGA Precision there are now five new categories: Temp Limit, Power Limit, Voltage Limit, OV Max Limit and Utilization Limit. Each of these logs the information for a specific Boost modifier, all of which can artificially hold back clock speeds. The graphs are presented in such a way that a reading of “1” means that a limit is being reached while a “0” means there’s still some overhead. Just take note that getting a “1” in OV (over voltage) Max Limit is a serious red flag. It means the ASIC is overly stressed, possibly leading to core damage so either the voltage or clock speeds should be dialed back as soon as possible.

If the example above is used, our card is being held back by the Power Limit and Voltage Limit, so increasing both within Precision should theoretically lead to higher clock speeds. This is definitely helpful but with such stringent limitations being put on the Voltage and Power Limit modifications, one of these will always become the bottleneck regardless of how well a card is cooled.

According to NVIDIA, this feature will be available in EVGA’s Precision, ASUS’ GPU Tweak, MSI’s AfterBurner and most other vendor-specific overclocking software.

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