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Unquestionably The Fastest Single-GPU Graphics Card

Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 Ti Review: GK110, Fully Unlocked
By , Igor Wallossek

Hot on the heels of AMD's Radeon R9 290X receiving acclaim for a fair price and high performance, Nvidia is launching its fastest single-GPU gaming card ever: GeForce GTX 780 Ti. It's quicker than 290X, but also more expensive. Is the premium worthwhile?

I’ve been spending so much time trying to figure out why my Radeon R9 290X cards perform differently that I almost didn’t get this story written. The investigation continues, and includes absolute fan speeds that correspond to dissimilar PWM control, along with sensitivities to ambient conditions. Regardless of why you might see two Hawaii-based boards delivering frame rates separated by double-digit percentages, the real point is that this behavior is designed into the Radeon R9 290X. AMD’s card is meant to range from 727 to 1000 MHz, depending on the environment. Given the reference cooler, specifically, and the Quiet firmware setting, which together can't quite keep up with Hawaii, you have to expect variance. It takes cranking up the fan speed or installing a third-party cooler to prevent severe performance pull-backs.

Nvidia seems happy capitalizing on this confusing state of affairs, and is positioning GeForce GTX 780 Ti as the fastest single-GPU board out there…consistently. The degree to which it wins depends on how AMD’s flagship is used. Sometimes the 780 Ti takes a single-digit-percent win; other times it’s 30%+ faster. Whether Nvidia’s advantage is worthwhile depends on what you’d see from your R9 290X.

Beyond its performance, GeForce GTX 780 Ti is more efficient than Titan thanks to tightly-binned GK110B GPUs that come fully-enabled, operate at higher frequencies, and yet are rated for the same 250 W TDP. As a result, this is a quiet card. It elegantly blows waste heat out of its I/O bracket. And the board looks good. We know that thermal solution isn’t cheap, but it’s the reason Nvidia keeps gathering praise for its design, while everyone looks forward to third-party board vendors replacing AMD’s reference effort.

GeForce GTX 780 Ti isn’t perfect. Priced at $700, it’s a bargain compared to Titan. But it’s not a bargain given the competition (after all, we already know what it takes to make R9 290X and 290 run faster). Nvidia does handicap the card’s FP64 performance for purposes of segmentation. However, AMD’s doing that now as well with its Hawaii-based boards. Perhaps the biggest issue enthusiasts will find with 780 Ti is memory capacity. Titan ships with 6 GB of GDDR5, while AMD includes 4 GB on its $550 Radeon R9 290X and $400 290. In today’s games, and at resolutions as high as 3840x2160, 780 Ti’s 3 GB should be sufficient. However, it’s already possible to punch above that in Battlefield 4 using three 2560x1440 monitors. When you’re sinking serious coin on ultra-high-end hardware, future-proofing is an important consideration.

When the dust settles, though, GeForce GTX 780 Ti does emerge as the fastest single-GPU graphics card you can buy for common enthusiast-class resolutions. It houses an incredibly complex processor and does a superb job keeping the chip cool, quietly. Living in Bakersfield, where it gets into the 100-degree range during summer, I particularly appreciate 780 Ti’s consistent performance. Though I’m not necessarily a fan of Nvidia’s price point, something tells me that the folks who are truly interested in buying a GeForce GTX 780 Ti know why they want it, and are more than happy to scrape $300 off of Titan for a better-performing gaming product.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to figure out how to get GeForce GTX 780 Ti into my mini-ITX Tiki. The card may be a little rich for my budget, but the fact that it’ll fit—physically and electrically—is nothing short of amazing.

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Top Comments
  • 37 Hide
    expl0itfinder , November 7, 2013 6:18 AM
    Keep up the competition. Performance per dollar is the name of the game, and the consumers are thriving in it right now.
  • 27 Hide
    bjaminnyc , November 7, 2013 6:56 AM
    Excluding the possibility of bias, it's important to note the various performance results from one site to another. Tom's has the 780Ti winning the majority of benches while others have the 290x on top for the same applications. I believe this is representative of real world end user scenarios. Individual cards and total system variances IMO will result in the 780ti and 290x performing pretty much on par at higher resolutions. Therefore it really comes down to prices or preference but I don't know too many smart people who choose to waste $s ever even 1%'s. Win for AMD.
  • 22 Hide
    Lord_Kitty , November 7, 2013 6:15 AM
    Can't wait for fanboy wars! Its going to be fun to watch.
Other Comments
  • 22 Hide
    Lord_Kitty , November 7, 2013 6:15 AM
    Can't wait for fanboy wars! Its going to be fun to watch.
  • 17 Hide
    tomc100 , November 7, 2013 6:16 AM
    At $700, AMD has nothing to worry about other than the minority of enthusiast who are willing to pay $200 more for the absolute fastest. Also, when games like Battlefield 4 uses mantle the performance gains will be eroded or wiped out.
  • 37 Hide
    expl0itfinder , November 7, 2013 6:18 AM
    Keep up the competition. Performance per dollar is the name of the game, and the consumers are thriving in it right now.
  • 14 Hide
    alterecho , November 7, 2013 6:20 AM
    I want to see cooler as efficient as the 780 ti, on the 290X, and the benchmarks be run again. Something tells me 290X will perform similar or greater than 780ti, in that situation.
  • 6 Hide
    ohim , November 7, 2013 6:21 AM
    Price vs way too few more fps than the rival will say a lot no matter who gets the crown, but can`t wonder to imagine the look on the face of the guys who got Titans for only few months of "fps supremacy" at insane price tags :) 
  • 9 Hide
    bjaminnyc , November 7, 2013 6:22 AM
    2x R9 290's for $100 more will destroy the 780Ti. I don't really see where this logically fits in a competitively priced environment. Nice card, silly price point.
  • -3 Hide
    Innocent_Bystander , November 7, 2013 6:28 AM
    "Hawaii-based boards delivering frame rates separated by double-digit percentages, the real point is that this behavior is designed into the Radeon R9 290X. "

    It could also come down to production variance between the chips. Seen in before in manufacturing and it's not pretty. Sounds like we're starting to hit the ceiling with these GPUs... Makes me wonder what architectural magic they'll come up with next.

    IB
  • -1 Hide
    bjaminnyc , November 7, 2013 6:30 AM
    2x R9 290's for $100 more will destroy the 780Ti. I don't really see where this logically fits in a competitively priced environment. Nice card, silly price point.
  • -3 Hide
    Deus Gladiorum , November 7, 2013 6:35 AM
    I'm going to build a rig for a friend and was planning on getting him the R9 290, but after the R9 290 review I'm quite hesitant. How can we know how the retail version of that card performs? Any chance you guys could pick one up and test it out? Furthermore, how can we know Nvidia isn't pulling the same trick: i.e. giving a press card that performs way above the retail version?
  • 10 Hide
    americanbrian , November 7, 2013 6:37 AM
    Hoping to get a response this time. I am wondering if AA has any place in the ultraHD gaming world. I suspect that it gets cranked to 16x on ultra settings and I wonder if this actually is discernable witht he pixel density being so high. It is not like many people can spot a jagged edged curve when the "jag" is microns big.

    If it has a negligible impact on what it looks like I am wondering how performance is with single cards on ultraHD screens WITHOUT ANTI-ALIASING. Please could you investigate? or point me to somewhere that has. Cheers all!
  • 1 Hide
    catswold , November 7, 2013 6:39 AM
    EVGA already has the "SC" rated cards both with the default cooler and their ACX cooler.

    Apples to apples it looks like the 780 ti will remain faster than the 290x even after we begin to see custom cooling AMD cards . . . but at a high premium.
  • 3 Hide
    rolli59 , November 7, 2013 6:40 AM
    Good buy compared to Titan but not the $500cards is what I read out of this.Good performance but questionable value.
  • 4 Hide
    eklipz330 , November 7, 2013 6:40 AM
    what i can't understand is how people can manage to stay loyal to the green team especially when they've been using monopolistic tendencies when it comes to pricing their cards... seriously, dropping a cards price point at the snap of a finger by hundreds of dollars, and they're still profiting like monsters i bet.

    and yet, people will continue to eat up their products like mindless sheep. guess a lot of people have disposable income.
  • 15 Hide
    aizatvader , November 7, 2013 6:44 AM
    sigh....it's too expensive compared to the 290x and the 290 for the performance.Slap a waterblock on the 290x and this card and overclock both of them to the limit and we will se which one is better.Still,i'm not gonna pay an extra $300 for this card over the 290x
  • 3 Hide
    aizatvader , November 7, 2013 6:46 AM
    sorry.i mean the r9 290
  • -3 Hide
    rmpumper , November 7, 2013 6:50 AM
    One thing is certain - 290X is completely irrelevant. Either get a lot cheaper 290 with the same performance or expensive 780Ti with better performance.
  • 8 Hide
    Anomandaris , November 7, 2013 6:55 AM
    This seems to be the bottom line... get the 780ti if you absolutely want the best and have money to burn (or wait a bit to see if they will indeed release the higher memory ones) and 290 for money vs performance.
  • 27 Hide
    bjaminnyc , November 7, 2013 6:56 AM
    Excluding the possibility of bias, it's important to note the various performance results from one site to another. Tom's has the 780Ti winning the majority of benches while others have the 290x on top for the same applications. I believe this is representative of real world end user scenarios. Individual cards and total system variances IMO will result in the 780ti and 290x performing pretty much on par at higher resolutions. Therefore it really comes down to prices or preference but I don't know too many smart people who choose to waste $s ever even 1%'s. Win for AMD.
  • 0 Hide
    ojas , November 7, 2013 6:59 AM
    Quote:
    I'm going to build a rig for a friend and was planning on getting him the R9 290, but after the R9 290 review I'm quite hesitant. How can we know how the retail version of that card performs? Any chance you guys could pick one up and test it out? Furthermore, how can we know Nvidia isn't pulling the same trick: i.e. giving a press card that performs way above the retail version?

    Well, it is possible, but highly unlikely, given that Nvidia has a hard defined minimum clock rate, and a much narrower range...plus this is a reference board, it's fully possible that a retail card with a custom cooler will perform much higher (like the Gigabyte 780 in this article).

    And, it's not an issue with the Titan or the 780, which are both based on GK110...which has been out for months, and has stable drivers.

    Quote:
    what i can't understand is how people can manage to stay loyal to the green team especially when they've been using monopolistic tendencies when it comes to pricing their cards... seriously, dropping a cards price point at the snap of a finger by hundreds of dollars, and they're still profiting like monsters i bet.

    and yet, people will continue to eat up their products like mindless sheep. guess a lot of people have disposable income.

    What i can't understand is why this has to be a ****ing war.

    When they had no competition, they charged a lot of money for their top end cards. No one was forced to buy these overpriced cards. If no one bought them, they'd drop prices. When AMD released solid competition, they dropped prices.

    That's how the market works. If you think AMD wouldn't do the same, well, what can i say..

    AMD haven't been in a position to do that for a long time on either the GPU or CPU front, which is why they haven't.

    When they tried to release an $800 FX CPU (this is without a monopoly or lead in the market, btw), no one bought it, and AMD had to drop prices by more than half.
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