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Power Consumption

The GeForce GTX 770 Review: Calling In A Hit On Radeon HD 7970?
By , Igor Wallossek

All measurements were taken directly at the card, since measuring system performance is not exact enough. After all, different graphics loads affect processor utilization differently, causing system power to fluctuate.

The direct comparison between the GeForce GTX 770 and 680 is especially interesting, since the newer card offers higher gaming performance thanks to its increased clock rates. Is this performance delta also reflected in power consumption? At least when they're idle, both boards draw roughly the same amount of power.

Higher performance isn't free, and we get a first glimpse of that in our gaming workload, where the GeForce GTX 770 slots in between the 680 and 780 once more. That’s pretty much in line with its performance. Still, the GeForce GTX 680 is more efficient overall. We can also infer that the 770 is operating beyond the GK104 GPU’s sweet spot, since gaming performance falls closer to that of the GTX 680.

The GeForce GTX 770 proves much more power-hungry than the 680 in pure compute applications. Interestingly, the older card seems to be running into its hard-wired power target. On the other hand, the 770 only sustains its higher performance level until it hits its own respective thermal target.

As long as the cards don’t exceed their predefined thermal or power limits, they can hit power peaks beyond what their nominal TDP would allow. In practice, you only see those situations rarely, and very briefly at that. Still, don’t forget to take them into account and pick your power supply accordingly.

Effects of the Thermal Limit

Now let’s see what happens when these cards run into their thermal ceilings after crunching away under load for a while. Like the GK110-based GeForces, the 770 has to throttle back its frequency, noticeably impacting power consumption and gaming performance. We can take this as another indication of how well GPU Boost 2.0 exploits more of a GPU's headroom until that thermal threshold is reached, provided the chip is cooled adequately.

And therein lies the rub. Because Nvidia obviously aimed to keep its reference card as quiet as possible, opting for a very conservative fan speed curve, the 770 almost always reaches its thermal limit during longer gaming sessions. Conversely, if Nvidia were to modify the reference design’s fan curve, allowing the card to remain cool enough to prevent throttling, it would have ended up with a much louder product.

A look at any online store is enough to know that add-in board partners are moving beyond the reference design with this launch. On the next page, we will compare the reference card to three partner boards with third-party coolers to see how they fare when it comes to boost speeds. After all, this is the one factor that will determine a card’s performance under a real-world load.

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Top Comments
  • 22 Hide
    EzioAs , May 30, 2013 6:32 AM
    Thanks for the article.

    Kind of an expected performance increase. Seeing overclocked GTX 680 review was conclusive enough unless you've never seen one. Never expected this card to be getting the Smart Buy award though to be completely honest.

    Hey, how about another title for the review?
    - GTX 680 Gets a New Cooler, BIOS Update and Price Drop! -

    No? I'll think of a better one...
  • 19 Hide
    jbc029 , May 30, 2013 7:13 AM
    So nvidia has delivered a 680 at near max overclock out of the box and called it a 770? Guess I shouldn't be surprised. How many names did the 8800gt live under? The *entirety* of the performance bump is due to the out-of-the-box overclock.

    So they've released their "GE edition" 680 after getting smashed by the 7970 over the last six months, and thrown in a price drop. They needed it, because the neither the 670 nor 680 were worth it after AMD got their drivers sorted out, unless you were using SLI.
  • 14 Hide
    tlg , May 30, 2013 7:02 AM
    Well in the UK the GTX770 is still more expensive than the HD7970.
Other Comments
  • 1 Hide
    jessterman21 , May 30, 2013 6:09 AM
    Amazing - this oughtta shake up the market!
  • 22 Hide
    EzioAs , May 30, 2013 6:32 AM
    Thanks for the article.

    Kind of an expected performance increase. Seeing overclocked GTX 680 review was conclusive enough unless you've never seen one. Never expected this card to be getting the Smart Buy award though to be completely honest.

    Hey, how about another title for the review?
    - GTX 680 Gets a New Cooler, BIOS Update and Price Drop! -

    No? I'll think of a better one...
  • 3 Hide
    iknowhowtofixit , May 30, 2013 6:48 AM
    When you factor in the 4 games that come with the HD7970 GHz Edition, it is still cheaper than the GTX 770. I find it odd that nVidia had over a year to come up with something to beat AMD in single GPU performance at this price point but failed to deliver.

    Yes, there is a bit of power savings. Yes, multi-GPU performance is better. But, that is nothing new. I also wouldn't expect future drivers to deliver much in the way of performance improvements since this card is essentially a GTX 680 v2.

    Ultimately, I expected more from nVidia. Yes, this is a polished card out of the gate. But I'm not sure the release of this card will affect AMDs bottom line as things currently stand, performance wise.
  • -3 Hide
    Memnarchon , May 30, 2013 6:49 AM
    EzioAsNever expected this card to be getting the Smart Buy award though to be completely honest.

    Better power consumption than 7970GE.
    Less noise than 7970GE.
    Runs cooler than 7970GE.
    Same FPS as 7970GE.
    $50 less cost.

    Yeah indeed, why to get the Smart Buy award I wonder...
  • 12 Hide
    Novuake , May 30, 2013 6:53 AM
    That is some aggressive pricing right there! LOL
  • 9 Hide
    rmpumper , May 30, 2013 6:56 AM
    Finally, a card that will drop the prices of hd7000 and gtx600 GPUs.
  • 14 Hide
    tlg , May 30, 2013 7:02 AM
    Well in the UK the GTX770 is still more expensive than the HD7970.
  • -4 Hide
    GMPoisoN , May 30, 2013 7:05 AM
    Quote:
    When you factor in the 4 games that come with the HD7970 GHz Edition, it is still cheaper than the GTX 770. I find it odd that nVidia had over a year to come up with something to beat AMD in single GPU performance at this price point but failed to deliver.

    Yes, there is a bit of power savings. Yes, multi-GPU performance is better. But, that is nothing new. I also wouldn't expect future drivers to deliver much in the way of performance improvements since this card is essentially a GTX 680 v2.

    Ultimately, I expected more from nVidia. Yes, this is a polished card out of the gate. But I'm not sure the release of this card will affect AMDs bottom line as things currently stand, performance wise.


    Agreed. Sapphire 7970 Ghz ftw <3
  • 8 Hide
    CaptainTom , May 30, 2013 7:10 AM
    Some people think this is meh, some think it is great, but the answer is really in-between.

    -This should force the 7970's down a little.
    -This should have been about 10% stronger with its crazy high clocks.

    Bottom line: AMD really won't care much because of their bundles. Look at the 7850 prices. They really haven't budged more than $10, and they are still selling like hotcakes!
  • 19 Hide
    jbc029 , May 30, 2013 7:13 AM
    So nvidia has delivered a 680 at near max overclock out of the box and called it a 770? Guess I shouldn't be surprised. How many names did the 8800gt live under? The *entirety* of the performance bump is due to the out-of-the-box overclock.

    So they've released their "GE edition" 680 after getting smashed by the 7970 over the last six months, and thrown in a price drop. They needed it, because the neither the 670 nor 680 were worth it after AMD got their drivers sorted out, unless you were using SLI.
  • 0 Hide
    DjEaZy , May 30, 2013 7:22 AM
    ... so... nVidia haz it's cards on the table... now... i wait thill AMD shows the HD8000 series of...
  • 11 Hide
    ohyouknow , May 30, 2013 7:22 AM
    pretty package 680.

    For those looking to jump into the GPU market, it can be a solid buy. But GHZ editions from Gigabyte, Sapphire, XFX can also be found at the same $400 price range with aftermarket coolers as well. Includes gaming bundle for those who want those games. No $50 advantage.

    4gb 770 card would be the same cost as a high-end GHZ edition. Sapphire Vapor-X so on and so forth.
  • -6 Hide
    RazberyBandit , May 30, 2013 7:23 AM
    Whatever happened to multi-resolution tests? Most people don't own a 30" 1440P monitor...
  • -6 Hide
    Rafeed Iqbal , May 30, 2013 7:26 AM
    so this is basically a gtx 680, which was basically a overpriced gtx 670, which (IMO) is beaten by a 7970. Interesting.
  • 0 Hide
    de5_Roy , May 30, 2013 7:30 AM
    liked the review, didn't like the card. imo this is the card that should have been gtx 670, with $450 price tag instead of the 670 with cut-down gk104. :( 
  • 8 Hide
    ubercake , May 30, 2013 7:31 AM
    $400 is a great deal for the performance.

    Plus you know you can add a second card without having to deal with the microstutter the competition presents.

    Because I always run with two cards, AMD isn't even under my consideration. If AMD gets their multi-card issues with microstutter straightened out, I'll be looking at what they have to offer again.
  • 2 Hide
    EzioAs , May 30, 2013 7:46 AM
    Quote:
    EzioAsNever expected this card to be getting the Smart Buy award though to be completely honest.

    Better power consumption than 7970GE.
    Less noise than 7970GE.
    Runs cooler than 7970GE.
    Same FPS as 7970GE.
    $50 less cost.

    Yeah indeed, why to get the Smart Buy award I wonder...


    I'll give you the reasons why I don't think the Smart Buy was necessary.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814125413
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150586
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127732

    All of the above cards are running at 1000MHz on the core which makes them somewhat a GHz edition card, yet they still cost $400. They all have custom design cooler which is generally better than pretty much any reference cooler, even the new Nvidia reference cooler. Heck, even this review proves that http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-770-gk104-review,3519-26.html. The cooler use on this review are not 100% similar to the ones on the HD 7970 cards links above but it applies. That disproves your heat and noise performance points.

    For power consumption, during Bitmining and under maximum load, yes, the GTX 770 is marginally lower, but under typical gaming load, it's close enough that it doesn't matter much. Anandtech also shows quite similar results. Performance is quite similar indeed, but there's also the extra VRAM and game bundles that comes with HD7970 which doesn't show any sign of slowing down just yet.

    To end, I don't think any awards was necessary. In my opinion, THG should probably reserve any recommendations for the monthly buyers guide. Not that I don't like the GTX 770, but prices do change and for new cards especially, those with non-reference design coolers will cost significantly more which probably is the results of manufacturers trying to rip-off uninformed and always-assume-new-is-better buyers.
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