Meet the world’s new fastest graphics card
AMD’s Radeon R9 290X may not have decisively snatched Nvidia’s performance trophy, but it shook Nvidia into dropping its prices and introducing a new high-end product – the GTX 780 Ti.
When the GTX Titan launched, it wowed gamers with the power of the GK110 GPU. This 7.1 billion transistor processor featured five graphics processing clusters subdivided into three streaming multiprocessors (SMXs) for a total of 15, but with the GTX Titan, one SMX is disabled, leaving it with 14. This is no longer the case with the GTX 780 Ti, as its GPU ships with all the parts fully enabled.
As a result, the stream processor and texture unit counts have increased to 2,880 and 240 respectively – 7 per cent more than the GTX Titan.
This is complemented by 48 ROPs (16 fewer than the R9 290-series cards) and a 384-bit memory interface, thanks to the six memory controllers. As with the GTX 780, this is connected to 3GB of GDDR5 memory; both the GTX Titan and R9 290X
The card’s 876MHz base clock (boost clock 928MHz) is higher than other GK110 parts too, and the memory speed has also
been bumped up to a mighty 7GHz (effective), for a total memory bandwidth of 336GB/sec, the highest of any card currently available.
With the same beautiful aluminium cooler as the GTX 780 and GTX Titan, there’s no denying that it looks and feels like a premium product, and the silver fan cap and green backlit logo are fine touches.
The fan cools the internal vapour chamber, which draws heat directly away from the GPU, and indirectly from the memory chips and power circuitry via a metal contact plate.
The PCB is also unchanged and, as such, the card features the same SLI connectors, power inputs and display outputs as the GeForce GTX 780 and Titan.
Despite the GTX 780 Ti’s increased power, the GTX Titan’s full-speed double precision units and 6GB of memory mean that Nvidia is continuing to position it as the card of choice for researchers and ‘prosumers’ for whom compute performance is a priority. As such, the Titan won’t be seeing a price drop in the wake of this launch.
Our Battlefield 4 benchmark gives the GTX 780 Ti a healthy lead over the GTX Titan, but the R9 290X has better minimum frame rates, particularly at 4K and triple-monitor resolutions, where only the 290X achieves playable frame rates.
In BioShock Infinite, however, the GTX 780 Ti has a strong lead over the R9 290X of at least 10 per cent. This advantage improves at higher resolutions, and the GTX 780 Ti is much smoother than the 290X at 4K.
The GTX 780 Ti doesn’t exert its dominance quite so clearly in Crysis 3, however, as the GTX Titan manages to match or better its minimum frame rates at every resolution, perhaps due to its larger frame buffer. The GTX 780 Ti and R9 290X are neck and neck across three screens, and at 4K in this test, but the lower resolutions allow Nvidia’s card to win.
Our tests also show the GTX 780 Ti consuming up to 50W more than the Titan, which isn’t surprising given the higher stream processor count and increased clock speeds. That said, it draws less power from the wall than the AMD R9 290X, despite nearly always outperforming it, and is quieter and cooler.
Amazingly, the GTX 780 Ti proved to be a phenomenal overclocker too, remaining stable with a base clock of 1,100MHz – a 224MHz increase, or 26 per cent. We also hit a memory speed of 7.8GHz (effective) – an 11 per cent gain. At these speeds, the
card’s frame rates rival and even trump those of dual- GPU cards such as the GTX 690 and HD 7990. Better yet, temperatures barely increased, and although the fan became noisier, it was still tolerable and quieter than the R9 290X.
The GTX 780 Ti is the new fastest gaming GPU, and the card is an excellent overclocker, while also being quieter, cooler and less power-hungry than its immediate competition. However, it still offers poor value for money. The GTX 780 and R9 290X cost almost a third of the price but perform closely to (and even sometimes better than) the GTX 780 Ti. However, value is of little concern to this card’s target audience, and the figures alone can justify a purchase as the fastest gaming GPU available – we certainly would if we could.