GeForce GTX 780: The Card
I continue to be impressed by Nvidia’s industrial design. Sexy isn’t a word I typically ascribe to a piece of PC hardware, but it’s hard not to admire the GeForce GTX 690, Titan, and now the 780. Aesthetically, GeForce GTX 780 is almost identical to Titan, aside from the GTX 780 etched in the front of the card’s shroud. Consequently, everything I said about Titan in my February launch coverage applies here, too.
We’re looking at another 10.5”-long board, which, again, is half of an inch shorter than AMD’s Radeon HD 7970. And whereas the Tahiti-powered competition employs a cheaper-feeling plastic cover, GTX 780 sports a familiar aluminum shell surrounding a polycarbonate window that peers into the card’s heat sink. Unfortunately, the magnesium alloy fan housing we were treated to on GeForce GTX 690 is gone, just as it was with Titan.
Similar also is the centrifugal fan that effectively exhausts heated air from the 780’s rear I/O panel. This is a particularly big deal in multi-card configurations, since you don’t want waste heat getting recirculated back into your case, sabotaging your CPU overclock.
One thing Nvidia says it does improve on GeForce GTX 780 compared to Titan, however, is fan control. The company boasts that it developed a controller with an adaptive temperature filter and a thermally-targeted software algorithm that more intelligently maintains consistent fan speeds. On paper, the change is quite small—100-RPM fluctuations are tightened up to a roughly 20-RPM range. But that’s enough, purportedly, to bring noise down a few decibels compared to the GeForce GTX 680.
Oddly, no acoustic comparisons are drawn to Titan, which we assume means that noise is comparable between the two cards. This makes sense, given similar GPUs and industrial designs. Moreover, the GeForce GTX 780 and Titan share a 250 W TDP. So it’s hardly a surprise that they both have eight- and six-pin auxiliary power connectors, too.
Display connectivity also gets replicated from the GeForce GTX Titan to the 780. Two dual-link DVI outputs, HDMI, and DisplayPort enable as many as four simultaneous screens. You can use three in Surround and a fourth as a Windows desktop screen, just sort of hanging out. By far, triple-screen arrays are the most attractive with a card like this, though.
Nvidia says that the GeForce GTX 780 will completely replace the GeForce GTX 680 in its line-up and sell for $650. That’s an almost $200 premium for 780’s additional performance in games and a bit of acoustic dampening. Meanwhile, Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition cards are selling for $450 and significantly outpacing the old GK104-based 680. Without a solution back down in the GeForce GTX 680’s price range, AMD is going to eat that space up (particularly with non-GHz Edition cards going for $400). It’s a pretty poorly-kept secret that more GeForce GTX 700-series cards are on their way, and those should help. The question for today is: does GeForce GTX 780’s speed warrant that greater-than 40% increase in price?