EVGA GeForce GTX 780 ACX SC Review
The GTX 780 ACX SC represents something off of EVGA’s typical path. Until now, they’ve been mostly content to stick with the reference heatsink or a close approximation thereof for many of their high end cards. From the Superclocked to the Classified, there hasn’t been all that much of a departure from the norm but with the 700-series, they’ve decided to compete with the Gigabytes, Zotacs and MSIs of this world. How? By introducing a completely custom designed heatsink.
As long as there have been axial and exhaust-style heatsinks, a debate has raged about which is better for cooling performance. While the blower-type setup guarantees hot air is exhausted outside of the GPU’s immediate vicinity, attaining ultra low temperatures is difficult. On the other hand, axial “downdraft” coolers are highly efficient at cooling off a hot-running GPU core, they dump that heat back into the case, potentially playing havoc with the temperature of other components.
NVIDIA has typically chosen to use blower designs but EVGA realized their customers deserve a choice. So, the ACX may represent a slight shift but by no means will it lead to a complete elimination of the so-called reference cooler from their lineup. Basically, EVGA will be offering the GTX 780 ACX alongside the standard design, thus ensuring everyone gets what they want.
Much like the Gigabyte GTX 780 WindForce OC we reviewed earlier, the addition of a custom heatsink has allowed EVGA to push their default Base and Boost clocks quite far. The ACX edition’s Base frequency of 967MHz and Boost of 1020MHz even outpaces the “standard” GTX 780 SC by significant amounts. More importantly, the lower temperatures achieved by the custom heatsink give some extra clock speed headroom with our sample hitting an Observed Boost Clock of 1123MHz on a regular basis without additional voltage. This should put EVGA’s $660 card in direct competition with the GTX TITAN, though memory speeds remain at 6008MHz.
Speaking of price, EVGA has attained a consistent $660 level between the GTX 780 Superclocked and this GTX 780 ACX SC. This allows gamers to choose either without worrying about paying a premium. However, against Gigabyte’s lower clocked yet equally impressive WindForce OC, the ACX looks particularly good with a price that’s $20 lower or a mere $10 more than a reference GTX 780.
This card represents EVGA’s first major foray into the world of custom designed heatsinks but other than that obvious change, there aren’t really any visual differences between the ACX SC and a reference card. It is still 10 ˝” long –an important feature for anyone space constrained since Gigabyte’s WindForce OC is an inch longer- and makes use of a reference PCB.
One of the main distinguishing factors between the ACX and its immediate competition is slightly more intrinsic in nature. While their lifetime warranty is now a thing of the past, EVGA is still known for their excellent customer support which puts them ahead of their competitors.
Naturally, the star of this particular show is the ACX (or Active Cooling Xtreme) which is EVGA’s first in-house cooler design. It utilizes a large dual chambered heatsink layout with five chrome-plated copper heatpipes and a secondary reinforcement baseplate which is supposed to increase rigidity while also lowering memory and VRM temperatures.
The two 80mm fans also boast some impressive specifications. They are engineered to be extremely light, thus decreasing their acoustical signature and ensuring less power is needed for their operation. They are equipped with double ball bearings which grant a 12 year lifespan, a significant improvement over competing solutions according to EVGA.
As with all of the GTX 780 cards we are likely to see this year, EVGA has retained NVIDIA’s standard connector and power input layouts. There is a pair of DVI outputs alongside HDMI and DisplayPort connectors while the card is fed via a 6+8 pin combination.
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