Gigabyte GTX 770 WindForce 3X OC Review
The GTX 770 may be thins generation’s most popular graphics card. At $399 it slots perfectly into a price point which will appeal to anyone who doesn’t want to invest the $649 needed for entry into GTX 780 territory yet wants more performance than a GTX 760 can offer. More importantly, it acts as a perfect upgrade path for anyone still using a GTX 570 or GTX 580 by outperforming a GTX 680 when in stock form.
Gigbayte is seeking to capitalize on this burgeoning popularity by taking a road they’ve frequently travelled. By equipping a GTX 770 with their iconic WindForce 3X heatsink a custom PCB and higher clock speeds, they hope to redirect some attention towards the newly created offering. For anyone who has read our GTX 780 WindForce OC review, much of this will be déjà vu but there is one key difference: while the GTX 780 version tacked on a $30 premium to NVIDIA’s reference SRP, the GTX 770 WindForce OC doesn’t cost a penny more than a stock card. In a segment which is increasingly populated with gamers looking for great value, this could be a well-positioned broadside against the competition.
Like its predecessors Gigabyte’s GTX 770 strives to deliver higher clock speeds without increasing the reference version’s voltage envelope or power limit. Nonetheless, it hits some impressive frequencies right out of the box. Both Base and Boost speeds have received substantial upgrades but the most important metric here is the average core speed, which tops out at about 130MHz higher than a stock GTX 770.
The WindForce OC also remains at this higher speed unlike other cards which tend to fluctuate between their maximum Boost level and slightly reduced frequencies. This has been achieved through lower temperatures which allow the core to remain well under its 80°C threshold, meaning there’s more headroom for better performance. This won’t allow Gigabyte’s card to catch up with the faster GTX 780, but it should grant their GTX 770 to put some additional breathing room between itself and the HD 7970 GHz Edition
In what seems to be a standing agreement between NVIDIA’s board partners these days, memory speeds haven’t been touched. It’s not like the GK110 core would benefit all that much from a memory interface that surpasses the 7Gbps mark but it would still be nice to see some effort on their part.
Earlier we mentioned déjà vu and for anyone who has read our Gigabyte GTX 780 review, you’ll see many similarities between that card and their GTX 770. Once again the WindForce 3X heatsink is being used, extending the length to 11.5” and providing a high performance cooling platform upon which a stable graphics card can be built. With that being said, there isn’t anything terribly unique about this approach other than Gigabyte’s insistence on sticking with a dual slot height.
The WindForce X cooler is equipped with a trio of 80mm fans which, when used with Gigabyte’s so-called “triangle cool” heatsink, are able to disperse up to 450W. This is well in excess of what the GK110 core can produce so there’s plenty of overhead for overclocking, provided NVIDIA’s tight control over the voltage and power limit can be overcome. There’s also a secondary heatsink which covers the VRM modules and GDDR5 ICs.
Gigabyte has also equipped their card with a secondary aluminum stiffening bracket which runs the heatsink’s length. This ensures the card doesn’t bow due to the WindForce 3X’s weight or its mounting pressure.
Connection options once again follow the path laid out by NVIDIA’s reference design, though Gigabyte has decided to maintain commonality between this card and their similarly branded GTX 780 by using 6+8 pin power inputs. The backplate meanwhile consists of a simple dual DVI, HDMI and Displayport layout which grants multi monitor Surround capabilities.
On this particular card, Gigabyte has gone with a custom PCB which uses the same basic PWM layout as the reference card but includes slightly upgraded components. The actual difference between it and a standard iteration will likely never be tangible but it’s still nice to have peace of mind in your new purchase’s abilities.
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