Price: $660, www.evga.com
As good as it gets this month, evga is unveiling its GeForce GTX 780 as well as an all-new GPU cooling design dubbed ACX, which it plans to stick on all its high-end GPUs for the foreseeable future. The cooler’s acronym stands for Active Cooling Extreme since it uses active cooling and it’s more extreme than getting a Red Bull enema.
Honestly, it’s high time EVGA came out with this, as it’s been using a slightly modified version of the Nvidia reference “blower” design for way too long, so t’ll now be able to compete with Asus’s DirectCU II, MSI’s Twin Frozr, and Giga-byte’s Windforce designs. EVGA says the new cooler offers a 40 percent increase in heatsink volume, which translates to 15 percent lower temps and totally silent operation. The biggest thing it’s promoting is that the fans use ball bearings instead of the sleeved variety, allowing for longer life and quieter operation. The new heat-sink covers the entire card—all 10.5 inches of it—so the VRMs and RAM are also covered by the cooling apparatus. EVGA offers six variants of this particular card, and this is its flagship air-cooled model, the SuperClocked ACX board.
Compared to the stock design, which has a Titan cooler by the way, this silver siren features a 104MHz overclock to the base clock, 118MHz overclock to the boost clock, and the aforementioned extreme cooler. It retains the stock card’s 3GB of memory and 6GHz memory clock. That huge-ass fancy cooler only adds $10 to the price of the stock card, which is surprising. Sure, we’re used to seeing aftermarket coolers go for $10 or $20 more over stock, but this cooler looks so premium we expected it to be more expensive, especially since the card is also overclocked. We should point out that the card’s hardware “bundle” is, well, crappy and small, but we are coming to terms with the state of video card bundles now—which is to say they’re all like this.
In testing, we saw the ACX-cooled GTX 780 run neck-and-neck with the more-expensive GTX Titan, effectively closing the gap between the two cards in a way that just isn’t possible on the GTX 780 reference board, at least not in our testing. This is the first card we’ve seen get this close to a Titan, and in the tests where it didn’t match it, the ACX card came within spitting distance, which is damned impressive. It was able to match the Titan in Heaven 4.0, Far Cry 3, Tomb Raider, and Battlefield 3.
More good news: We were able to overclock the ACX board a fair bit, using the superb EVGA PrecisionX software, eventually getting it up to 1,149MHz boost by nudging the power-target slider to 106 percent and tweaking the xGPU offset to +59MHz. Under full load, overclocked, the ACX cooler kept the card at a steady 75 C, which is about 10 C cooler than stock.
Let’s recap then: sexy good looks and blistering benchmarks, cool and quiet performance, overclockable, as fast as a Titan, the best overclocking software around, and only $10 more than a stock board. Sounds like what is basically a perfect video card to us.