Last week we saw the release of NVIDIA’s latest graphics range – namely the 700 series and its top model, the GTX 780. In many respects the GTX 780 brings a whole new level of performance to a greater audience and as I showed, there is only a small difference between the 780 and Titan on a single screen.
Working through the new 700 series line-up, NVIDIA are now lifting the lid on their next card, the GTX 770. Like the GTX 780, the GTX 770 has had many rumours surrounding its release and like the 780, these are all related to specifications, performance and most of all the GK104 core and a GTX 680. Like the GTX 780 I first of all want to put one of these rumours to rest and state the reason why. The one that I am referring to is the speculation that GTX680 owners would be able to turn their card into a GTX 770 through a BIOS update. Simply put this CANNOT be done. Whilst both cards share the same GK104 GPU core, there are a number of factors that lead to this impossibility. Like the 780 to Titan comparison, the GTX 770 has a slightly different revision of the GK104 core with varying number s of CUDA cores and texture units, however the most significant factor for the inability to ‘convert’ the GTX680 lies with the on-board memory.
One of NVIDIA’s major shouting points with the GTX770 is the inclusion of memory that runs at a whopping 7Gbps at stock, these are no overclocked ICs either, they are entirely new, so unless you have the ability to unsolder and resolder the ICs on to a GTX 680 as well as change the PCB layout slightly, there is no possibility of changing your card from one to the other.
Not wanting to repeat what I’ve already said from the review of the GTX 780, the GTX 770 uses the exact same cooler ID as Titan, the only visual difference being the GTX 770 branding along the end of the cooler. In all other areas the cooler is identical to those seen on Titan and the 780.
Like the 780, the 770 has the updated fan controller which reduces fan speed fluctuations, in turn giving a more consistent acoustic output from the cooler.
Delving down into the core of the card, like the GTX 680, the 770 uses the GK 104 Kepler core, however as I’ve mentioned in the introduction, the GTX 680 cannot be flashed or modified in any way shape or form to turn it into a GTX 770. This is because the GK104 core we see here is a modified revision with more CUDA cores, texture units and the power system on the board is also different.
The memory on the GTX 770 is one of the biggest specifications that NVIDIA have to shout about, with a new series of ICs, the GTX 770 now comes as standard with a 7Gbps – 256-bit memory interface, a whole 1Gbps more than the 680. The 770 will also come in 2Gb and 4Gb versions and on the back of the PCB we can see where the additional GDDR5 ICs would be mounted.
Over the GTX 780, the GTX 770 has a slightly lower TDP of 230w, meaning that we find an 8 + 6 pin power connector layout on the end of the board.
SLI is a crucial highlight when it comes to boosting the performance of a single card, with up to 70% scaling to be seen within most gaming applications when set-up in a two -way configuration. For those wanting more, the GTX 770 will also support three and four way configurations.
The display outputs are also another specification that remains unchanged, with single and dual-link DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort 1.2.
The GK104 based card comes with a core clock speed of 1046MHz, boosting to 1085MHz through Turbo Boost 2.0 technology, a memory speed of 1753MHz (7Gbps effective), 1536 CUDA cores and a transistor count of 3.5b within the 28nm package.
The test the performance of this card, we use the latest drivers direct from the manufacturer and run each test three times to obtain a fair average set of results.
- Asus Rampage IV Extreme
- Intel Core i7 3960X
- 16GB Corsair Vengeance 1866MHz
- Corsair H100i
- Corsair HX1050W
- Kingston HyperX 240GB SSD
- Lian Li T60
- Dell U3011
- Aliens Vs Predator
- Dirt Showdown
- Hitman: Absolution
- Metro 2033
- Sleeping Dogs
- Plug-in electricity usage monitor
- Sound level meter
- 3DMark 11
- 3DMark 2013
- Unigine Heaven Benchmark 3.0
- Unigine Heaven Benchmark 4.0
- Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
3DMark 11 from Futuremark, takes full advantage of DirectX 11 by utilising tessellation features and volumetric lighting. It takes your graphics and CPU hardware to the edge to simulate the most extreme conditions whilst working as a stand point to compare results with other users online.
Straight line performance from the reference GTX 770 within 3DMark11 shows a good improvement over the GTX 680, even pushing past Gigabyte’s SOC.
“The new 3DMark includes everything you need to benchmark your hardware. With three all new tests you can bench everything from smartphones and tablets, to notebooks and home PCs, to the latest high-end, multi-GPU gaming desktops. And it’s not just for Windows. With 3DMark you can compare your scores with Android and iOS devices too. It’s the most powerful and flexible 3DMark we’ve ever created.
Fire Strike is our new showcase DirectX 11 benchmark designed for high-performance gaming PCs. It is our most ambitious and technical benchmark ever, featuring real-time graphics rendered with detail and complexity far beyond what is found in other benchmarks and games today.”
Like 3DMark11, 3Dmark 2013 shows a good improvement in straight line performance with around 18% less performance than a GTX 780.
Heaven is regarded to be one of the most intensive Benchmarking utilities about at the moment along with the likes of 3DMark. It makes use of highly comprehensive tessellation technology, advanced SSAO (screen-space ambient occlusion) and a highly defined light algorithm to produce ever changing light conditions amongst other items.
Moving over to Heaven 3.0, the GTX 770 sees a good gain in performance over the GTX 680 SOC, however at 1680×1050 there is a slight loss of performance. What has to be taken onto account however is that the SOC is an overclocked card so reference performance from the GTX 680 will be much lower.
Heaven Benchmark with its current version 4.0 is a GPU-intensive benchmark that hammers graphics cards to the limits. This powerful tool can be effectively used to determine the stability of a GPU under extremely stressful conditions, as well as check the cooling system’s potential under maximum heat output. It provides completely unbiased results and generates true in-game rendering workloads across all platforms, such as Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.
Heaven 4.0 gives a set of frame rates that looks much better in comparison to Heaven 3.0. Here we see the GTX 770 push past the 6990 with 5fps more at 1920×1080 and s single frame more at 2560×1600.
Aliens Vs Predator is a science fiction first-person shooter computer game that relies on DirectX 11 and high amounts of Tessellation in conjunction to give enhanced shadows and fantastic textures to the surrounds and characters within the game.
Within AvP, the slightly larger frame buffers from some of the AMD based cards help to push out higher frame rates, but over a reference 7970, there is a marked gain in performance to be seen across the board.
Dirt Showdown is a video game from Codemasters and is part of the Colin McRae Rally games revolving around a tour of events to compete in allowing you to win money and prizes to spend on new cars and upgrades as well as unlocking new events and races. The game uses high resolution textures and AA settings to simulate dust particles, terrain and damage to the vehicles.
As I’ve mentioned many times, NVIDIA cards are always going to be slightly less favoured in this benchmark due to optimisation, however the 770 is not too far behind the 7970 dropping only a handful of frames behind at each resolution.
Hitman: Absolution is an action-adventure stealth game developed by IO Interactive and published by Square Enix and is the fifth entry in the Hitman game series. The game runs on the Glacier 2 game engine and includes high levels of anti-aliasing, DirectX 11 technology, lighting effects and depth of field technology.
Hitman Absolution is another game that can really throw the results about and in this case, the card appears to be worse of when marked against some 600 series products. Like when the 780 was tested, the benchmark was run over and over to ensure the results were consistent.
Metro 2033 is a first-person shooter game based in the Russian metro system. Metro 2033 is very similar to the much loved game STALKER as it is developed by the same programmers. The game utilises DirectX 11 and relies heavily on tessellation features and is considered to be one of the most graphics-intense games on the market.
Being an NVIDIA optimised game, Metro 2003 will favour the 770 more over AMDs offerings with frame rates that just nudge in front of the 7970.
Sleeping Dogs is a 2012 open world action-adventure game based around Wei Shen; a Chinese-American police officer going undercover. The game utilises DirectX 11 features as well as high quality intensive reflections and high-resolutions textures.
Whilst on the higher resolutions the 770 outperforms a GTX 670, at 1680×1050 we find that the card is on par with Asus’ 670 Mini with 84fps.
Noise is generally the bain of most consumers lives and in the hope of finding the quietest operation, we feel it’s necessary to show you the audio level of components. We use the same components throughout this test and use a sound level meter to record the audio level of the system with a passive graphics card installed. Once we have the level recorded with the passive card, we continue to change the graphics card for the one that we are testing. Due to us having the audio level recorded before installation, it gives us a guide to work with and shows that anything over our initial level is an audio gain.
Whilst the GTX 770 uses the exact same cooler as the 780 and Titan, the slightly lower operating temperatures in turn mean the fan doesn’t need to run at as higher duty cycle, thus reducing the acoustics a little.
To test power consumption, we monitor the overall power of the system through a plug-in electricity usage monitor at an idle and load state. This allows us to show the fluctuation between how much power draw the graphics card takes at idle and at load. By monitoring the overall usage of the whole system, it gives an easy comparison if you wish to do the same yourself as opposed to buying very expensive individual testing equipment.
The reduced TDP of the 770 from the 780 is more notable when looking at the full system power draw at load, with just under 20W less draw.
Measuring temperatures is all about being consistent therefore we keep a steady eye on monitoring the ambient room temperature to make sure that it stays the same. While this is constantly being monitored, we measure the idle temperature of the card using HWMonitor over a 15 minute period. Once this has been recorded, we set FurMark into motion for 15 minutes and record the results again.
As mentioned in the acoustic chart, the GK104 has a lower thermal output than the GK110 core, with a difference of 5c at full load, which in turn can lead to higher boost clocks through GPU Boost 2.0
As I mentioned with the GTX 780, NVIDIA’s reference cards have a tendency to give some impressive overclocks and its known the the GK104 can clock pretty well as well.
Working on the GPU core to start, the power target is raised as far as it will go by 20% extra, and working in 20MHx increments, the core clock soon passes the 1200MHz mark, eventually topping out at a massive 1225MHz – giving an overclock of 179MHz and a boost speed of 1264MHz.
The new memory does leave me in a position of not knowing where it will en up so diving in to the unknown, working the clock up by 40MHz at a time, the 2000MHz soon came and to my surprise, the GTX 770 handled this with ease and continued to rise up to a final speed of 2028MHz where the display driver then started to crash – resulting in an overclock of 275MHz and a new effective speed of a whopping 8.12Gbps.
Following the impressive overclock, especially on the memory front, the straight line performance within 3DMark 11 also saw a good rise, with just under 15% gain had from a gain of ~17% on the core and 15% on the memory. This leaves good prospects for partner overclocked models hitting the market with a boost in stock performance.
Following the release of the GTX 780 last week, the GTX 770 gives another high performance option to the 700 series range, but crucially the price point is more end user friendly in comparison to the £500 price tag that hangs over the GTX 780. Coming in at a more reasonable price of £329, the 770 offers a better level of bang-for-buck and with the prospect of around 70% performance gain through GPU scaling in a two way SLI configuration, there is certainly a got to see and play with.
I’m not going to talk too much about the cooler as you may imagine as it is exactly the same as seen on the GTX 780 and Titan and offers up all the same pros as the 780 cooler. Like the GTX 780, we have to remember that the partners will be able to change the cooler and put their twist on the reference PCB designs as well as give the GK104 an overclock to boost its performance even more.
Users in the position up upgrade may be torn between the GTX 770 and GTX 780 and when it comes to deciding which to get, my suggestion would be to mainly put your choice down to how much you can afford. Certainly it has to be said that the GTX 780 offers up a shed load more performance, but at nearly £200 less, the difference between the two cards clearly sings in favour of the GTX 770 in my opinion.
Highlighting another point I made at the start of the review, I want to make it clear again that the rumours surrounding the possibility of flashing a GTX 680 in to a 770 are all false and anyone that believes the screen shots that are floating about, should take in to account that any card can be made to look like something else purely through the tital that is placed in the .INF profiling file for the card. On a more technical note, unless you have the facilities to unsolder and resolder the GDDR5 on the board with that faster IC’s and also adjust the power region of the PCB then there is no change of turning one into the other.
With the imminent arrival of Haswell as mentioned before, now is the ripe opportunity to upgrade and give your system a whole new lease of life. With the top cards in the 700 series in the market (with plenty of stock available on launch), the remainder of the 700 series stack will soon appear with Ti models for example appearing later in the year.
eTeknix Says: On a price for performance aspect, the GTX 770 has a whole heap to give and if this is not enough, stick two in SLI and unleash the power of GPU scaling.