Gigabyte GTX 780 Ti GHz Edition Review

Author: SKYMTL
Date: December 5, 2013
Product Name: GTX 780 Ti GHz Edition
Part Number: GV-N78TGHZ-3GD
Warranty: 3 Years
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Nearly a month after its much-publicized launch, the GTX 780 Ti may selling quite well but custom designed cards from NVIDIA’s board partners are hard to come by. Things are about to change as the likes of Gigabyte, ASUS, MSI and others follow in the footsteps of EVGA’s ACX Superclocked by introducing their own personalized solutions in mid-December. Among what promises to be a deluge of great cards Gigabyte will be front and center with the aptly named GTX 780 Ti GHz Edition.

In direct contradiction to some of their competitors’ upcoming cards which take a slightly more pedestrian approach, Gigabyte is going for the highest possible clock speeds this time around. How high? We’re talking about a Base Clock of 1085MHz and an average Boost frequency of 1150MHz. To give you some idea of where this stands, EVGA’s Superclocked is rated at 1006 / 1072 and the reference card boasts a paltry 875 / 928 ratio. To say Gigabyte is pushing things is an understatement of epic proportions considering the slower Superclocked was nearly able to compete against a GTX 690.

Boost and Base clocks are really only a small fraction of the story when it comes to NVIDIA’s latest creations. As we have seen time and again, when equipped with advanced coolers Kepler-based cores like the GK110 used in the GTX 780Ti can take advantage of the additional thermal headroom and enhance clock speeds even further. This is why we had such high expectations for the GTX 780 Ti GHz Edition; it comes equipped with Gigabyte’s WindForce 3X heatsink which promises to handle a thermal load of some 450W without batting an eyelash.

True to form, the low temperatures afforded by the WindForce paid dividends throughout our testing by pushing engine frequencies to some impressive levels. Even when under heavy load, the card didn’t deviate much from the 1203MHz mark, pushing it above EVGA’s aforementioned ACX SC and thoroughly trouncing the reference card. Memory frequencies did remain at their default values but with a massive 336GB/s of memory bandwidth on tap, it’s not like the GTX 780 Ti is starved for memory access.

One important thing to remember is that Gigabyte isn’t marketing their GTX 780 Ti GHz Edition as a particularly overclocker-friendly card since it’s already operating near NVIDIA’s predetermined maximum voltage and power limits. However, with lower temperatures working to increase the TDP overhead perceived by the Boost algorithms, there may very well be the potential to further push this card before voltage limits rain on the party. We’ll explore this more in the overclocking section.

With all of this interesting window dressing going on, pricing will sometimes be ignored but Gigabyte is actually focusing on limiting the premium they charge for custom cards like the GHz Edition. This has led to a target price of $729 or just $30 more than a reference design and perfectly aligned with EVGA’s GTX 780 Ti ACX Superclocked. Sure, it’s not inexpensive by any stretch of the imagination but for a 4% premium you get a custom heatsink and, as the benchmarks will show, some rather impressive performance benefits as well. Is that enough to entice gamers over from the EVGA camp? Gigabyte is certainly hoping so.

Now before we go on, there may be some confusion about Gigabyte’s lineup come mid-December due to the multiple, yet similar-looking SKUs they will have. Starting off at the bottom is their reference GTX 780 Ti which uses a standard exhaust-style heatsink and goes for $699. Above this but still listed at $699 is the GTX 780 Ti OC which has a WindForce 3X heatsink and Base / Boost frequencies of 1020MHz and 1085MHz respectively so it could technically be called a “GHz Edition”. The honest-to-goodness GHz Edition is the card we’re reviewing here today and it makes use of a secondary backplate heatsink alongside the WindForce 3X cooler, has a higher price of $729 and includes significantly higher clock speeds than either of its siblings. Make sure to take these things into account before hitting that “Add to Cart” button.

Upon first glance the GTX 780 Ti GHz Edition looks like nearly every single custom Gigabyte card from the past year or so. Naturally the triple fan WindForce 3X heatsink sits front and center, dominating the landscape and pushing the card’s overall length to 11.5”. That may prove to be a bit too much for some older ATX enclosures but any case bought within the last three years should have no trouble swallowing it.

An interesting addition of the GHz Edition is an anodized aluminum backplate, a feature we haven’t seen on a Gigabyte card since their last Super Overclock edition. This one sports the GHz Edition logo and is supposed to further reduce PCB temperatures in an effort to maximize the amount of achievable Boost frequencies.

While the backplate connectors get the reference treatment with a pair of DVI outputs alongside the usual HDMI and DisplayPort. Where things take a change is on the power connector front where Gigabyte has elected to go with two 8-pin inputs which should be better able to cope with the GHz Edition’s increased current demands.

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