EVGA GEFORCE GTX 780 SC Graphics Card Review
Within reason there’s probably no reason to delve too deeply into NVIDIA’s latest and most powerful GPU to date (Titan excluded) as there’s already plenty of information out on the World Wide Web. But what we have here is not a basic GTX 780, but the EVGA GEFORCE GTX 780 SC, the important part being the SC part of it. The SC stands for Super Clocked meaning that this card sports a factory based overclock, meaning that this sucker is faster out of the box than the reference NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 780.
This EVGA Super Clocked GTX 780 SC has a Base Clock of 941MHz and a Boost Clock of 993MHz, as opposed to the 863MHz & 902MHz of the NVIDIA reference design. The speed of the memory is the same as the reference design at 6008MHz (effective). This EVGA SC version also uses the standard NVIDIA reference design cooler.
The front of the box doesn’t give too much away but you can clearly see that the card has 3GB of GDDR5 memory, can support up to 4-way SLI and sports NVIDIA’s new GPU Boost 2.0 technology. The bottom left corner of the box has a small round circle stating that EVGA is ‘#1 Seller in US of NVIDIA based products’.
The back of the box lists the key features of the card and also the contents of the box. There’s also an image of the card and its associated outputs (DVI-D (Digital Only), DVI-I, HDMI & DisplayPort). There’s also a window in the back allowing you to see the back of the card within and its associated part number (03G-P4-2783-KR). The bottom left corner also indicates that the box contains a free edition of EVGA Precision (EVGA’s overclocking tool).
On the side of the box (not shown), the card’s requirements are listed:
- 600 watt or greater power supply with a minimum of 42 amps on the +12 volt rail*
- PCI Express, PCI Express 2.0, PCI-Express 3.0 compliant motherboard with one graphics slot
- One 8-pin PCI Express power connector or two available 6-pin PCI Express power connectors and one 6-pin PCI Express power connector or two available hard disk power connectors.
- Microsoft Windows 8 / 7 / Vista / XP
* Minimum system power requirement based on a PC configured with an Intel Core i7 3.2GHz processor.
- #1 Seller in U.S. of NVIDIA Based Products
- #1 Excellence Awards 2012 for Graphics Cards
- #1 Excellence Awards 2012 for Motherboards
- #1 Performance Leader in 3DMark
On opening the box we can see the plastic tray within; more important though is the information panel on the open flap. Here we find EVGA’s 3 Year warranty information. That’s right 3 years and they want you to contact them, if anything is wrong. Sounds promising…
The EVGA GEFORCE GTX 780 SC came well packaged, although the plastic tray that the card was in looked a little cheap, but served its job well enough.
In addition to the card itself the box also contains a Use Guide, Quick Start Guide, x2 Notices, a Display Driver Installation Disc, a DVI to VGA Adapter, 8-pin power adapter, 6-pin power adapter and a sticker sheet.
At the time of this review the EVGA GEFORCE GTX 780 SC is retailing for approximately £620 and comes with a 3 year warranty.
courtesy of EVGA
First Impressions are good and also that it looks identical to an NVIDIA GTX Titan! That’s because it uses exactly the same cooler as the Titan. It’s quite a beastly affair with the card weighing in at a hefty 940 grams, but the cooler design does look cool (sorry!). The good news is that the card’s not too long (certainly shorter than other cards we have seen) at 267mm. The aluminium style shroud and the single intake gives the card a simple yet purposeful look, elegant in fact. With the addition of the GEFORCE GTX lettering on the side it’s undeniably a good looking card that should fit well with most rig builds.
The front of the card has a see through window where you can see the heat-sink within (yes that’s right those heat-sink fins you can see are actually covered by a plastic window). There’s a simple embossed GTX 780 logo at the front of the card and the back of the card is dominated by the intake fan.
The back of the card is relatively featureless apart from a sticker showing the part number etc.
Looking at the left side of the card we see that lovely GEFORCE GTX logo and yes it does light up (I’ll let you guess the colour!). At the far end we find the GTX 780’s x2 power connectors, x1 6-pin and x1 8-pin (I so wish we could just settle on 8-pins!).
Looking at the other side reveals very little, but does indicate how well the heat-sink etc is sealed within the shroud.
Looking at the outputs from the card we can see that the EVGA GEFORCE GTX 780 SC has x4 ouputs (DVI-D, DVI-I, HDMI & DisplayPort). In addition to this we can see the exhaust vents, as the cooler is designed to suck cool air from inside the case and blow out the back.
Looking at the far end of the card we see the heat-sink within, this time though it’s not covered allowing some of the heat to escape.
Installation into our Intel Test Rig was simple enough, made a little simpler by the card’s relatively short length at 267mm. Cabling was easy with just x1 8-pin and x1 6-pin power connections needed.
Our Intel Test Rig was treated to a fresh install of Windows 7 Home Premium 64Bit (Service Pack 1) with all associated drivers also installed. Version 320.18 of NVIDIA’s GEFORCE R320 GAME READY DRIVER was installed and used throughout testing.
For testing purposes we used EVGA’s Precision overclocking tool, this is basically the same as MSI’s Afterburner. Version 4.2.0 of Precision was downloaded and installed (get it here).
First a quick word about NVIDIA’s GPU Boost 2.0 as it works slightly differently to other Boosts that we have seen in the past. The main goal of GPU Boost 2.0 here is to keep the card within its TDP of 250W and keep the card at less than 80 degrees Celsius. What this means is that if the card begins to draw more than 250W or if the card tries to exceed 80 degrees then the card will begin to throttle itself (wind the core clock speed down!).
In the case of the EVGA GEFORCE GTX 780 SC the card will always run at a minimum (apart from thermal overload!) of 941MHz (that’s a 9% increase over stock) and Boost to 993MHz. But in practice while the TDP is low, you’ll see the card boosting at up to around 1045MHz, maybe more. But as the card heats up and gets to 80 degrees the Core Clock will slowly but surely drop back too 993MHz/941MHz.
Overclocking the EVGA GEFORCE GTX 780 SC Graphics Card’s via EVGA’s Precision software is a relatively simple affair.
POWER TARGET/TEMP TARGET – Increasing these values to their maximum 106% and 94 degrees Celsius allows the card to effectively Boost a little more. While set at these values, the EVGA GEFORCE GTX 780 SC did indeed boost higher with a constant Core speed of 1032MHz at around 83 degrees, although the card did seem to throttle back again at 80 degrees. This is a little at odds with the settings, as I wouldn’t expect the card to throttle back until around 94 degrees (although that does seem a little high!). But the best way to overclock the card is really to take full manual control anyway…
GPU CLOCK OFFSET (with manual fan control) – Messing with this allows you to effectively increase the Core Clock’s Boost, but if you don’t take control of the fan, then the card will just hit 80 degrees and begin throttling. After much messing I ended up with a GPU CLOCK OFFSET of 55MHz with a manual fan setting of 75%. This allowed the EVGA GEFORCE GTX 780 SC to run CONSTANTLY at 1097MHz, never exceed 80 degrees and remain stable.
MEM CLOCK OFFSET (with manual fan control) – Adjusting the memory was rather amusing/suprising as the card just seemed to take more and more, in the end I settled for a massive 1GHz (effective) overclock via a 500MHz setting, this saw the card’s memory running at an incredible 7GHz, STABLE!
Now although it’s possible to increase the Core voltage, I found this to have very little effect, so in the end it was left alone.
FINAL OVERCLOCK SETTINGS: Core 941MHz : Boost 1097MHZ : MEM 7GHz
|3DMark (Fire Strike 1.0)||UNiGiNE Heaven 4.0||UNiGiNE Valley 1.0||Tomb Raider (1.00.722.3)||Metro Last Light|
- Blacklight Retribution
- Metro Last Light
- Ghost Recon Online
- Battlefield 3
|Benchmark||Ambient Temperature||Max GPU Temp||Delta Temp||Result|
|3DMark (Fire Strike)||23.00||80.00 (due to GPU Boost 2.0)||57.00||8713|
|UNiGiNE Heaven||23.00||80.00 (due to GPU Boost 2.0)||57.00||FPS 52.9 Score 1333|
|UNiGiNE Valley||23.50||80.00 (due to GPU Boost 2.0)||56.50||FPS 62.0 Score 2594|
|Tomb Raider||24.00||80.00 (due to GPU Boost 2.0)||56.00||76.5 FPS (average)|
|Metro Last Light||23.00||80.00 (due to GPU Boost 2.0)||57.00||66.33 (average)|
|Benchmark||Ambient Temperature||Max GPU Temp||Delta Temp||Result|
|3DMark (Fire Strike)||26.50||74.00||47.50||9300|
|UNiGiNE Heaven||26.00||75.00||49.00||FPS 58.1 Score 1463|
|UNiGiNE Valley||26.00||76.00||50.00||FPS 68.7 Score 2872|
|Tomb Raider||26.50||71.00||44.50||83.6 FPS (average)|
|Metro Last Light||26.00||71.00||45.00||72.00 (average)|
OK, there’s no doubt about it the EVGA GEFORCE GTX 780 SC is the fastest card yet tested here at pcGameware, but to be fair at around £600 I’d bloody hope so! Overclock the card even further and you can get an additional performance boost of around 10%, with the GPU Core now Boosting at 21% more than a stock GEFORCE GTX 780, nice! Of course this level of performance comes at a price (another type of price), noise; the volume of the fan at 75% is bearable, but you wouldn’t want it much louder, fine if you’re Gaming with a headset. Of course this can be controlled by EVGA’s Precision software, allowing you to select your own acceptable noise level. If you want silence (well close to) then just leave the card at the stock settings, where you’re unlikely to ever hear much from it…
The next fastest card tested here at pcGameware is the Gigabyte 7970 GHZ Edition, which is around about 20% (average) slower and costs around £400. If you do some basic maths this suggest that the NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 780 is worth around £500 at best, but of course performance always commands a premium. And a comparison wouldn’t be complete without mentioning an NVIDIA TITAN; a card costing around £800 that’s in fact no faster than this EVGA GEFORCE GTX 780 SC. Does that make the EVGA GEFORCE GTX 780 SC a bargain, or was the price of the TITAN just silly to start with, I’m thinking the latter myself…
|Benchmark||Ambient Temperature||Max GPU Temp||Delta Temp||Result|
|3DMark (Fire Strike)||26.00||73.00||47.00||14707|
|3DMark (Fire Strike – EXTREME)||26.50||74.00||47.50||8043|
|UNiGiNE Heaven||26.50||74.00||47.50||FPS 111.0 Score 2795|
|UNiGiNE Valley||26.50||74.00||47.50||FPS 118.3 Score 4950|
|Tomb Raider||26.00||74.00||48.00||158.2 FPS (average)|
|Metro Last Light||26.00||70.00||45.00||100.67 (average)|
Above you can see the results of having x2 EVGA GEFORCE GTX 780 SC’s running at overclocked settings, I’ll let the results speak for themselves. But be warned with two cards in SLI in our Intel Test Rig the 80 degree thermal limit was easily breached, meaning that the cards are throttling soon after the Game starts! Of course this can be counteracted by taking control of those fans, but then there’s the associated increase in noise…
There’s no doubt that the EVGA GEFORCE GTX 780 SC is a great card with the factory overclock of around 10% being the cherry on the cake. The card came well packaged, although the plastic packing did seem a little cheap, even if it protected the card relatively well. In the box we find some decent accessories too including a DVI-VGA adapter and both a 6-pin and 8-pin power adapters.
The card’s design (that’s NVIDIA’s design!) is simple yet elegant, it’s a design that seems to be born out of purpose. I like the fact that the card exhausts its air out the back, this is especially useful for SLI setups as it stops the first card sucking up the heat from the second. The illuminated (green of course) GEFORCE GTX logo on the side is also very smart and looks good to boot.
Of course this card is all about performance and with its factory overclock it’s easily the fastest card we have tested, it’s even faster than an NVIDIA TITAN in most tests. The card performs around 20% faster than the next nearest rival that we have tested (AMD RADEON HD 7970 GHz Edition), meaning that there’s no doubt about the card’s performance credentials. NVIDIA’s GPU Boost 2.0 allows good control over the card too, allowing you to effectively set your volume levels and therefore the Boost Clock, by way of the fan speed.
The GEFORCE GTX 780 SC overclocked rather well too, allowing me to raise the Boost up to 1097MHz and the memory to a massive 7GHz! These settings gave the card an additional 10% performance boost, something not to be sniffed at as the card is already factory overclocked out of the box. The down side may be the noise as the card begins to throttle back as its thermal limit is reached, this is especially true at its default configuration, meaning more fan speed is needed.
The big hurdle here is the price; others seem to be under the opinion that as it’s as fast as a GTX TITAN, that makes it a bargain, but I like to look at it another way. It’s around 20% faster than a AMD RADEON HD 7970 GHz Edition yet cost 50% more! But as we know performance costs, only you can decide whether it’s worth it…
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