PNY GeForce GTX 780 OC 3GB Review
When PNY approached me to review their GTX 780 a few weeks ago, I had the same thought many of you likely had: what’s so special about a year-old GPU that has since been surpassed by the GTX 780 Ti? The answer to that is pretty straightforward. While the GTX 780 may not be grabbing any headlines these days, it resides in a pricing segment right between NVIDIA’s flagship parts and the slightly more affordable GTX 770. This means from a price / performance standpoint, particularly against AMD’s current crop of GPUs, it is still a big deal and represents a solid investment.
PNY is very much hell-bent on relaunching their GeForce lineup after a brief hiatus and that means aggressive positioning in two key areas: warranty coverage and cost. With a price of just $510, their GTX 780 OC has one of the lowest costs of any custom-built GTX 780 currently available and it’s backed up by a lifetime warranty that none of the competition comes close to matching. At first glance this combination may not be enough to convince gamers to ignore the offerings from the likes of ASUS, EVGA and other industry big-wigs but the PNY OC brings a whole lot more to the table than just affordability and backend support.
The GTX 780 OC lies within PNY’s long-running XLR8 lineup which means it receives an out-of-box overclock. What I wasn’t expecting was how far they were able to push this card considering its price. On paper at least, it is the fastest GTX 780 we’ve tested to date, even outstripping the specifications for MSI’s GTX 780 Lightning and EVGA’s GTX 780 Classified. While the Lightning has been officially EOL’d, the Classified is still available but carries a $50 premium over PNY’s offering.
Much of the GTX 780 OC XLR8’s capabilities come from careful binning of parts by PNY. Both the memory modules and cores are put through a stringent classification process with only the best making it onto the OC SKU while the rest are cascaded downwards to reference-based cards. This means PNY’s offering is one of the only GTX 780’s on the market to offer pre-overclocked GDDR5, in this case hitting the 6.2Gbps mark.
With a trio of dust-proof fans and a relatively sleek black and yellow shroud, the GTX 780 OC looks a lot like the GTX 770 OC2 4GB reviewed last week but using an expanded heatsink design. You may notice that PNY has uses a pair of 75mm fans as well as a single 80mm unit. Basically, the two outside-positioned fans have a higher static pressure envelope to push though the dense fin arrays while the center one focuses its airflow towards PWM components and over the exposed heatpipes.
That layout is the main contributor to this card’s somewhat extreme length of 11 7/8”, which won’t have problems fitting in most modern ATX cases but some mATX setups may have issues accepting it.
There’s a perfectly good reason behind PNY’s sizing madness: every available inch of that 12” is taken up by a massive heatsink. It uses a quartet of 6mm heatpipes and a low-slung fin array which uses horizontal space for heat dissipation rather than the vertical affair on a card like PowerColor’s excellent R9 290X PCS+. This design does exhaust a ton of hot air into an enclosure’s confines so I’d recommend upgrading your case’s cooling to avoid boosting the temperatures of adjacent components.
PNY has also added a full-coverage heatspreader which covers some of the VRM components and all of the memory modules. This wraps around onto the card’s side to minimize PCB bowing.
On a connectivity front, there’s really not much different going on here with a 6+8 pin power input layout and the usual rear panel connectors which are natively compatible with 4K displays and NVIDIA’s Surround.
The GTX 780 OC uses a custom PCB from PNY but its components haven’t been drastically upgraded. There is a 6+2 phase PWM which is an improvement over NVIDIA’s reference design and enhanced capacity directly behind the core but otherwise, there aren’t any fancy marketing points to go over here. Maybe that’s a good thing since it points towards a focus on substance over meaningless technical terms.
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