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We set all cards to employ a 1059 MHz GPU clock (which the reference board handles at a load temp under 80°C) and a 1527 MHz memory frequency. All of the boards ran at that combination of clock rates without crashing throughout testing.
A look at the thermal and sound level measurements at this clock rate make it clear that our critiques on Zotac's card were premature. All of the other cards have to work hard in this environment, while the AMP! Edition board gets to relax a bit.
To our surprise, Nvidia's reference card can keep up with the pack. It even pulls in front of two three-slot competitors. The high bar of 78°C is no cause for concern; this is an intentional stress test.
Our next comparison involves measuring acoustics when we dial in a fan speed able to hold each card at 70°C, a temperature chosen for its long-term attractiveness in heavy workloads like Bitcoin mining. We're using each card at its factory clock rate because overclocked reference cards simply cannot hold 70°C.
Zotac's AMP! Edition board shines here. It can even spin slower to maintain 70°C at this lower clock rate. But the real winners are Asus and Gigabyte. Meanwhile, our Galaxy/KFA² board again annoys us with its high-frequency chirping.