Gigabyte GTX 780 WindForce 3X OC Review
NVIDIA’s GTX 780 is by far the fastest single GPU card currently available but it does come with a high price. At $649 it may not be as costly as a GTX TITAN or GTX 690 and actually finding one is becoming increasingly difficult but the GTX 780 is nonetheless quite popular. In order to capitalize on this Board partners like Gigabyte are striving to add some more value to this equation by creating their own custom versions with better cooling, higher clock speeds and upgraded components. More importantly, with a slight frequency increase the GTX 780 has the capability to run head to head against the $999 TITAN.
Gigabyte’s entries into the GTX 780 market go down two separate paths. They have a reference version and the SKU we’ll be covering in this review: the GTX 780 WindForce 3X OC. As with many of Gigabyte’s “OC” edition cards, the core Base frequency has received a not so insignificant increase to 954MHz while the Boost clock will likely hit an average of 1006MHz representing a 12% increase over a base model GTX 780. This has been achieved without modifying the card’s voltage range so power consumption should be the same or less a reference design. Unfortunately, once again GDDR5 speeds remain at their default speeds but there should be some extra gas left in the tank if manual overclocking is your thing.
With higher clock speeds and an upgraded heatsink design, Gigabyte has tacked on a premium to this card of about $30. While this does tend to push the WindForce OC’s $679 cost closer to the TITAN, there’s more than enough improvements here to justify a mere 5% price increase.
There really isn’t much to distinguish Gigabyte’s new GTX 780 from its WindForce-branded GTX 680 predecessor. It still uses the same large, triple fan, dual slot heatsink design that’s been so successful in the past but this does add about an inch to the overall length. At 11.5” the GTX 780 WindForce OC won’t have any issues fitting into an ATX case but with the recent boom in the mATX and SFF markets, be sure to measure before taking the plunge.
The most important aspect of this card is actually its heatsink. The WindForce 3X design consists of three 80mm fans which have been angled with a slight incline to ensure airflow is directed downwards towards the fin array without any excess turbulence. Gigabyte has also equipped this cooler with six heatpipes: two 8mm and four 6mm making it capable of handling up to 450W of heat.
This heatsink’s importance goes beyond merely remaining quiet; its lower temperatures also lead to higher clock speeds courtesy of NVIDIA’s GPU Boost 2.0. As we explained in the original launch-day GTX 780 review, clock speeds were often limited by GPU Boost’s reaction to higher temperatures which the reference heatsink capped at 80°C. With lower temperatures comes an increased frequency range so while the reference card was able to hit a clock speed of 927MHz quite consistently, we found the GTX 780 WindForce OC remained at a very constant 1071MHZ. Naturally, voltage and power limit constraints still cap these clocks quite aggressively but at least Gigabyte’s card offers a more consistent performance envelope.
The connector layout on Gigbayte’s card is typical of the reference design with two DVIs, one HDMI and a single DisplayPort. Power connectors also follow standard lines with an 8-pin / 6-pin combo.
For our sample, Gigabyte used the reference PCB though in the coming month’s we’ll likely see a Super Overclock version which boasts a top-to-bottom custom design.
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