I am getting the new GTX 680 card but while I was searching I found multiple variants, including 2 which caught my eye. Hydro copper and regular. First off, what is hydro copper? Second, should I get it or the regular or some variant I haven't listed that you could tell me about (I want to play BF3 on ultra +60 fps).
Third, I heard about these sellers like evga, gigabyte, msi... Question is, which one is the best?
Best answer selected by me gets a cookie.
1. Reference Designs - This is what ya see int he 1st days / weeks after release..... basically all the same, standard reference designs with nVidia standard PCB, VRM, cooler and clocks.
2. Reference Design w/ Slight OC - Here the manufacturer puts a slight OC on a reference design and depends on the built in safety factor to allow it to handle the OC betting that they won't have a warranty issue with this small OC but they can charge a few bucks extra for it. EVGA is big in this category
3. Reference Design w/ Larger Cooler - Well truth be told it's no longer a true "reference design" once the card is modified in any way. But adding a larger cooler may give you a bit of a boost but the cooler cools the GPU not the VRM. The early GTX 570's were well known for this problem ..... the GPU handles the OC at a decent temp but after the smoke cleared, users found they had burnt out their VRM on the PCB. So while ya can get higher OC's with these cards, you won't get what ya can outta the ones on next category.
4. Reference Design w/ Larger Cooler and Beefed up VRM - Vendors solved the 570 OC problem by offering 8 phase and 10 phase VRM designs as compared to the reference 6 phase design. The 560 has a 4 phase reference design and vendors made this card the biggest seller outta last generation cards by making a card that you could OC the begeezes outta. EVGA pretty much stayed with the reference 4 phase deisgn except for the Classified series. MSI offered a 6 phase design on the Twin Frozr, whereas Asus and Gigabyte among others offered a 7 phase design in their 900Mhz cards. These buggers easily past 1000 Mhz mark and even 1070 (30+% over reference) was demonstrated here:
MSI even offered the 560 Ti in and 8 and 10 phase design with the Hawk and Lightning series.
In short, when ya read a forum post that spending extra money on a factory OC'd card is a "complete waste of money" and that ya can do the same thing w/ Afterburner, take that advice with a pound of salt. While it's certainly true with category 1 and 2 above, that advice simply is "not applicable" to categories 3 and 4 above. No way in hell you can take a reference design to the same OC w/ Afterburner that you can take a card with beefed up PCB's, bigger VRM's and larger, more efficient coolers using the same OC tool..... the 1070 Mhz result linked above is a solid testament to that fact.
If it's me, I'm only buying from category 4, but a little research is involved before ya can figure out what card falls in which category. In short forget about brand name favorites and published warrantees that vendor doesn't actually honor. Dig a bit deeper for the details on the design and see what the real engineering differences are before deciding.
I would also look at warranty when choosing. I like xfx and msi simply because the warranty is transferable and based on a date code in the serial number if you don't happen to have the receipt. EVGA only covers the original purchaser and is not transferable so this may affect the resale in two years when you decide to upgrade again.