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GeForce GTX 680 2 GB Review: Kepler Sends Tahiti On Vacation

Hardware Setup And Benchmarks

Test Hardware
ProcessorsIntel Core i7-3960X (Sandy Bridge-E) 3.3 GHz at 4.2 GHz (42 * 100 MHz), LGA 2011, 15 MB Shared L3, Hyper-Threading enabled, Power-savings enabled
MotherboardGigabyte X79-UD5 (LGA 2011) X79 Express Chipset, BIOS F9
MemoryG.Skill 16 GB (4 x 4 GB) DDR3-1600, F3-12800CL9Q2-32GBZL @ 9-9-9-24 and 1.5 V
Hard DriveIntel SSDSC2MH250A2 250 GB SATA 6Gb/s
GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 680 2 GB
AMD Radeon HD 7970 3 GB
AMD Radeon HD 7950 3 GB
AMD Radeon HD 6990 4 GB
Nvidia GeForce GTX 590 3 GB
Nvidia GeForce GTX 580 1.5 GB
Power SupplyCooler Master UCP-1000 W
System Software And Drivers
Operating SystemWindows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
DirectXDirectX 11
Graphics DriverNvidia GeForce Release 300.99 (For GTX 680)
Nvidia GeForce Release 296.10 (For GTX 580 and 590)
AMD Catalyst 12.2

Undoubtedly, a number of Tom’s Hardware regulars saw that some of my launch-day data was pulled from the CMS earlier in the week and quickly spread around the Web. Based on the data, many conclusions were prematurely drawn without the context of hardware setup, drivers, or lab time in front of all of these cards. Even another vendor got in on the action, wondering why the stolen Skyrim results with FXAA enabled were so much different from the Skyrim numbers with adaptive anti-aliasing from Don’s Radeon HD 7800-series story.

Understand that, for each of these reviews, we update our test bed to the latest BIOS, we download all of the latest Windows Updates, and we download the games themselves, along with their newest patches. Some variation is expected, and anything out of the ordinary is checked and checked again. In this case, because I looked at some of the feedback, I was able to go back, re-run tests, and have another lab validate the results—everything checks out.

Of course, if you’re truly interested in a discussion about graphics testing methodology, test settings, and analysis, I welcome constructive discourse.

Battlefield 3Ultra Quality Settings, No AA / 16x AF, 4x MSAA / 16x AF, v-sync off, 1680x1050 / 1920x1080 / 2560x1600, DirectX 11, Going Hunting, 90-second playback, Fraps
Crysis 2DirectX 9 / DirectX 11, Ultra System Spec, v-sync off, 1680x1050 / 1920x1080 / 2560x1600, No AA / No AF, Central Park, High-Resolution Textures: On
Metro 2033High Quality Settings, AAA / 4x AF, 4x MSAA / 16x AF, 1680x1050 / 1920x1080 / 2560x1600, Built-in Benchmark, Depth of Field filter Disabled, Steam version
DiRT 3Ultra High Settings, No AA / No AF, 8x AA / No AF, 1680x1050 / 1920x1080 / 2560x1600, Steam version, Built-In Benchmark Sequence, DX 11
The Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimHigh Quality (8x AA / 8x AF) / Ultra Quality (8x AA, 16x AF) Settings, FXAA enabled, vsync off, 1680x1050 / 1920x1080 / 2560x1600, 25-second playback, Fraps
3DMark 11Version 1.03, Extreme Preset
HAWX 2Highest Quality Settings, 8x AA, 1920x1200, Retail Version, Built-in Benchmark, Tessellation on/off
World of Warcraft: CataclysmUltra Quality Settings, No AA / 16x AF, 8x AA / 16x AF, From Crushblow to The Krazzworks, 1680x1050 / 1920x1080 / 2560x1600, Fraps, DirectX 11 Rendering, x64 Client
SiSoftware Sandra 2012Sandra Tech Support (Engineer) 2012.SP2, GP Processing and GP Bandwidth Modules
CyberLink MediaEspresso 6.5449 MB MPEG-2 1080i Video Sample to Apple iPad 2 Profile (1024x768)
LuxMark 2.064-bit Binary, Version 1.0, Classroom Scene
Chris Angelini
Chris Angelini is an Editor Emeritus at Tom's Hardware US. He edits hardware reviews and covers high-profile CPU and GPU launches.