3D Mark FireStrike
FireStrike is currently the most taxing benchmark available, fully stressing out the GPU to its limits. It’s available to run in two flavors, ‘regular’ FireStrike and FireStrike extreme. Firstly in regular FireStrike EVGA’s GTX 780 Ti SuperClocked manages 10354 total, a nice advantage of the 9900 of the standard GTX 780 Ti. The GTX 680 manages 6210, while the R9 290X manages 9812. Switching to FireStrike Extreme and we see a dip to 5036 using GTX 780 Ti.
Is The GTX 780 Ti’s 3GB Enough RAM?
The main weakness of the 780 Ti is thought to be video memory, and when you consider that the Titan (and Titan Black edition) both feature 6GB of GDDR5 Memory, and the R9 290 and 290X feature 4GB, it’s easy to come to the conclusion Nvidia should have added more. For single card performance, the lower amount of VRAM likely makes less difference, as you’ll likely not have the pixel pushing power to deal with the insane resolutions (such as 4K gaming) anyway. For owners of 1440P displays, the 3GB of GDDR5 memory seems enough – for now at least.
The above image is captured using the infamous “Welcome to the Jungle” level of Crysis 3, on Windows 8, which of course already loads a few hundred MB of data into the GPU before you load up any games. Crysis 3 running at the highest graphics settings, using FXAA and 1440P hits a max of 2.1GB of memory, leaving 900MB spare. If you’re using MSAAx4 then expect to add another 300+ MB to both the average and the max, obviously depending on the part of the level. Unsurprisingly, during tests MSAAx8 hit the max of 3GB.
During SLI operations, you’d certainly have the performance to run Crysis 3 at 1440P with MSAAx4, and you’d just about have the memory spare. I don’t think there’s a problem with 3GB of RAM now, especially if you’re gaming in 1440P or below. But for those thinking of playing the latest games at super high resolutions (say 4K) with high levels of anti-aliasing, you might encounter RAM problems and be ‘better off’ going with the R9 290X or the new Titan Black Edition. But, once again you’ll be required to go SLI, as a single of any of these cards won’t have the power to push the combo of AA and resolutions need to run into RAM limits.
Overclocking the EVGA GTX 780 SuperClocked ACX
As we’ve already discussed, EVGA’s card already comes overclocked out of the box, sporting a 130 MHZ advantage to the reference design (base clock). That doesn’t mean that’s all that’s left in the tank though. Using EVGA’s own overclocking tool and we’re able to pushing the performance of the card quite a bit higher, The cards conservative power limit of only 106 percent does somewhat limit your max overclock. You can of course increase the voltages, but the increase is fairly minor at only 37mv. But every little helps. Those who’re wishing to push the core higher will need to remove the power limit and go for higher voltages, and to do this you’ll need to go and modify the cards BIOS and overclocking utilities which is out of the scope of this particular review, but we’ll cover soon.
For those wishing to play it safer and stick with just the regular ‘stock’ BIOS overclocking, you’ll have more limited overclocking, but at least with my test card, still get good results. The boost clock of the GPU managed to be pushed to 1232MHZ, and the RAM managed to add an extra 450MHZ. I found with the core clocked at only 1232MHZ though, memory bandwidth wasn’t really an issue, and so found that for the sake of a longer lasting card and less power draw, you’re better off to stick with a more conservative memory overclock, say 400MHZ.
If we overclock this high, FireStrike Extreme ran at over 5.8k points, and regular FireStrike 11.7k.
AMD Vs Nvidia Technology
If you’ve been paying attention to the GPU market within the past 12 months, you’ll know that Nvidia and AMD are both pushing new technologies. Nvidia have G-Sync and of course hardware Physx. AMD meanwhile are trying to push their Mantle API and True Audio technology. It’s very difficult to ‘buy’ for the future, and despite Mantle being very promising from early performance numbers with Battlefield 4, it’s still a work in progress. We do know however that several games developers have jumped on board, and there’ll be a dozen + games which’ll use Mantle by the end of the year. TrueAudio’s future is somewhat less known. The upcoming Thief is confirmed to use it, but one or two titles isn’t enough to sway a decision over a graphics card.
Meanwhile Nvidia’s G-Sync has been released and does a great job of both eliminating screen tearing and reducing latency which is associated with V-Sync enabled. Those who have used the technology are reluctant to go back to their old screens, but currently the selection of screens its available for is limited. In addition to this, it adds to the price of a new monitor. If you’re in the market for a new 27″ screen, then perhaps EVGA’s GTX 780 Ti is the perfect excuse to go for a G-Sync enabled screen, For others who’re already happy with their current screens, it’s a bit more of a difficult sell.
I actually really do like Nvidia’s hardware Physx technology, in certain games it adds a lot to the atmosphere, such as the wisps of smoke in Assassin’s Creed 4 Black Flag. There are other effects in Metro Last Light, such as debris and dust, and so on. It’s a nice extra, and for someone like myself who regularly makes graphics comparisons it’s a nice extra. For most gamer’s though they’re willing to do without it.
Meanwhile AMD’s TressFX technology (at least currently) works on Nvidia’s cards along with AMD’s own. Unfortunately TressFX hasn’t been widely adopted yet, likely because it’s so GPU intensive. Even TressFX 2 takes a huge toll on the consoles with Tomb Raider Definitive Edition.
I’d not buy a graphics card based on the technologies available but rather the performance in the games that you’re looking to play.
GTX 780 EVGA SuperClocked ACX Conclusions and Verdict
The GTX 780 Ti is a fantastic card, that’s already at a fairly high price premium. In the UK even a ‘cheaper’ model is currently at 500 pounds. The EVGA SuperClocked ACX adds an additional 50 pounds to that. For many, the R9 290X is a very tempting alternative, but with its higher price point right now (due to shortages of components) you might find the price difference between it and the 780 Ti’s very little. The EVGA GTX 780 Ti is a very good performer, and difficult to find fault with, aside from possibly that it’s lacking a little in the RAM department.
From testing, right now 3GB is more than sufficient with 1440P and high levels of Anti-Aliasing, but whether that could be said for the future is unknown. But then it’s hard to buy a card for say 12 months in advance, as by then we’ll have the new Maxwell architecture being released for the higher end, likely by the end of this year.
For those who’re wanting to buy a new card here and now, EVGA’s GTX 780 Ti is a very tempting option. For those who’re looking to buy the best gaming card for the here and now, and have the money to do it, then you’d be hard pressed to do better. For those who’re looking for a cheaper option, Nvidia’s GTX 780 non-Ti is certainly a tempting proposition, as is AMD’s R9 290.
For those who want the best performance, lower operating temps or concerned about noise then the EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Ti SuperClocked ACX is certainly a fantastic option.