NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 2GB Review
Fresh off their GTX 780 launch , NVIDIA is quickly following up with yet another graphics card: the GTX 770. This new GPU may not target the same ultra high end market as its larger, more power hungry sibling but its presence puts yet another card into direct competition against AMD’s HD 7970 GHz Edition.
While the GK110-based TITAN and GTX 780 were parachuted into performance segments where AMD just couldn’t compete, the GTX 770 has slightly more modest goals. It is meant as a direct replacement to the now-discontinued GTX 670 while offering GTX 570 and GTX 580 users a similarly priced upgrade path. However, there aren’t many things here we haven't seen before so GTX 670 / GTX 680 and HD 7970 / HD 7950 customers likely won’t find anything particularly enticing.
In many ways, the GTX 770 is nothing more than a rebranded and prettied up version of the GTX 680. Unlike the GTX 780, it uses a GK104 core which has the exact same 4 GPC, 8 SMX layout as NVIDIA’s former flagship so there won’t be additional performance derived through architectural changes.
This is an interesting choice but understandable since the higher end GK110 design couldn’t have been cut down any more without entering into the realm of diminishing returns. In addition, NVIDIA hasn’t been sitting idle for the last fourteen months and they’ve given the GTX 770 some features to distinguish it from the outgoing generation.
While the core’s specifications won’t come as any surprise for those who’ve memorized GK104’s layout, it does operate at higher frequencies that the GTX 680. In addition, NVIDIA has included GPU Boost 2.0, allowing the card to reach Boost clocks (and above) more consistently, thus potentially raising aggregate performance. This means voltage increases will be allowed with the GTX 770 but once again we will see some serious constraints put on them. It will also be available at launch in 2GB and 4GB configurations, potentially offering better performance at extreme resolution, texture and anti aliasing settings.
Other than GPU Boost and the addition of two memory configurations, there is one major area of differentiation: memory clocks. The GTX 770 is the first graphics card available with the new 7Gbps GDDR5 modules from Samsung and Hynix. This allows it to achieve notably higher aggregate bandwidth numbers, a factor that will surely make a difference in some memory-limited situations.
With higher clock speeds and faster memory, the GTX 770 naturally requires more power than a GTX 680 and it will likely produce more heat as well. However, an increase of nearly 40W TDP is a bit surprising. It could very well be that the 7Gbps GDDR5 uses high leakage modules in order to achieve its frequency advantage.
The real surprise of this release won’t be performance or specifications. Rather, the GTX 770’s $399 price will likely turn everyone’s head. Instead of towing the same line as they did in past launches, NVIDIA went against the grain in order to offer a card which is the undisputed leader in the price / performance race. It undercuts the GTX 680 and HD 7970 GHz Edition by a good $50 while potentially offering a better gameplay experience. With this in mind, expect the GTX 680 and GTX 670 to quickly drop in price in an effort to clear out remaining inventories. One also has to wonder what this will do to the lower market segments but we expect replacements for the GTX 660 series and GTX 650 in short order as well.
With a few minor improvements and substantially faster memory many will question whether the GTX 770 really deserves a new product designation. However, with a price of just $399 coupled with GTX 680-beating performance, no one will care what this card is called provided it can supply the gaming experience they expect.
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