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EVGA GTX 780 ACX Double BIOS Review: A Big Step Away from Reference

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Manufacturer: EVGA

Its been a while...

EVGA has been around for quite some time now.  They have turned into NVIDIA’s closest North American partner after the collapse of the original VisionTek.  At nearly every trade show or gaming event, EVGA is closely associated with whatever NVIDIA presence is there.  In the past EVGA focused primarily on using NVIDIA reference designs for PCB and cooling, and would branch out now and then with custom or semi-custom watercooling solutions.

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A very svelte and minimalist design for the shroud.  I like it.

The last time I actually reviewed an EVGA products was way back in May of 2006.  I took a look at the 7600 GS product, which was a passively cooled card.  Oddly enough, that card is sitting right in front of me as I write this.  Unfortunately, that particular card has a set of blown caps on it and no longer works.  Considering that the card has been in constant use since 2006, I would say that it held up very well for those eight years!

EVGA has been expanding their product lineup to be able to handle the highs and lows of the PC market.  They have started manufacturing motherboards, cases, and power supplies to help differentiate their product lineup and hopefully broaden their product portfolio.  We know from past experiences that companies that rely on one type of product from a single manufacturer (GPUs in this particular case) can experience some real issues if demand drops dramatically due to competitive disadvantages.  EVGA also has taken a much more aggressive approach to differentiating their products while keeping them within a certain budget.

The latest generation of GTX 700 based cards have seen the introduction of the EVGA ACX cooling solutions.  These dual fan coolers are a big step up from the reference design and puts EVGA on par with competitive products from Asus and MSI.  EVGA does make some tradeoffs as compared, but these are fairly minimal when considering the entire package.

Click here to read the entire review!

The Card

EVGA was kind enough to ship me the GTX 780 Dual w/ACX.  This particular card is an interesting mix of reference design and unique features.  Typically EVGA relies upon the reference PCB design when it comes to power phases and routing, but they do some interesting tweaks here and there.

The board is based on the NVIDIA GTX 780 which features 2304 CUDA Cores running at a base clock of 863 MHz with a boost clock of 902 MHz.  The board has 3 GB of memory on a 384 bit bus running at 6008 MHz effective, giving around 288.38 GB/sec of bandwidth.  The chip encompasses 48 ROPS and 192 texture units to boot.  This is still a large and very powerful chip, even though the general purpose performance has been nerfed as compared to the GTX Titan which shares the same GK110 GPU.

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Dual link DVI outputs are standard, and the rest of the ports are well represented.  The GTX 700 series can support 3+1 surround.

This card is not overclocked out of the box.  The pack-ins for this card are actually a step above the offerings of most other manufacturers.  It features a single DVI to VGA adapter, two dual-4 pin molex power to 6 pin PCI-E plugs, some case stickers, installation CD, manuals, and a rather interesting poster.  The packaging itself is the usual EVGA design.  The plastic clamshell protects the card very well while providing a lot of support for the external box.  A lot of force would be needed to harm the card inside of this particular arrangement.  The transparent plastic also allows EVGA to place a small window in the back of the box to allow users to see the product tag and serial number, so they know exactly what they are getting.

The “Dual” in the name refers to the dual bios support.  There are two dip switches on the back of the card which control which BIOS is booted when the card is powered up.  The primary BIOS is the stock unit, but the secondary is built for more aggressive overclocking.  This means increased fan speeds and a higher power target.  This likely will not push it as far as other, more focused options (like the MSI Lightning series with LN2 BIOS support), but it will give some extra headroom.

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The top of the card hints at the many aluminum fins that comprises the heatsink in the ACX cooler.

The dual BIOS might be a giveaway that this is not based on a fully reference PCB design.  After comparing boards with a reference GTX 780, the EVGA product does differ significantly.  I do not know if they have added extra power phases to either the GPU or memory, but the design looks to be unique to EVGA.  This is often done for either performance or cost reasons, but from what I am seeing it looks like it leans more towards the performance side.

March 7, 2014 | 01:20 PM - Posted by SKLDRBLDS (not verified)

You state power limit increases for bios #2.
But what are they?
But don't state in your overclocking page which you used.

While I presume you are using #2 bios, you said the power target is different, could you tell me the actual power target limits?

More curious than anything..

March 7, 2014 | 01:33 PM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Getting exact numbers for you on power target.  Can tell you that fan speed for normal is 30% to 85%, but with the 2nd BIOS the range is increased from 20% to 100%.

March 8, 2014 | 10:36 AM - Posted by Josh Walrath

The  power target goes up to 302W (up from 295W).

March 7, 2014 | 01:40 PM - Posted by TinkerToyTech

But the most important question is: Does this have the Double Floats wanted by the Miners? Will this card's price be shot through the roof for no particular reason?

March 7, 2014 | 01:41 PM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Nope, you need a Titan to get those kinds of numbers.

March 7, 2014 | 01:46 PM - Posted by TinkerToyTech

oh, and Josh, Ryan, you'll need to know that I found out about this article from your (Josh) twitter mention of it.

March 7, 2014 | 01:50 PM - Posted by robert3892

Remember everyone that this is a review of the EVGA GTX 780 and not the EVGA GTX 780ti so the price is lower than that of the EVGA GTX 780ti.

The EVGA website price for the EVGA GTX 780GTX with ACX is 499 US dollars.

The EVGA website price for the EVGA GTX 780GTXti with ACX is 709 US dollars.

I don't foresee the price of this model being reviewed increasing anytime soon unless EVGA decides to do so.

The dual BIOs allows you to overclock one BIOs and if something bad happens you can switch to the 2nd BIOs.

(a.k.a rjohnson11, EVGA volunteer forum moderator)

March 7, 2014 | 05:50 PM - Posted by tom rogers (not verified)

I have just installed this card, and the part about running faster than the stock speeds is true for mine as well. It runs consistently at 993mhz, which just happens to be the 780SC stock speed, so I'm pretty happy with the results. Like a small upgrade for free.

The fact that I've had two 680ftw cards that ended up being duds, running hotter every week until they blew up, I'm surprised I bought yet another EVGA product, but the author is right; no one else coddles the purchaser like EVGA. No questions asked, and in fact, they saw what I'd done by looking at my comments/actions via the Forum, and didn't have me dance through hoops for an RMA. I also like their upgraded RMA system, where you just get a number and give them your CC# to hold, and they send you a new card that day. Once you get the new card, you just put the old one in the package, tape it with the RMA sticker, and you're gaming in a couple days instead of weeks.

March 9, 2014 | 05:53 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

This is reference PCB design just has bios switch and does not offer any addition extra power phases

There is no difference between this and standard 780 other than having 2 BIOS out of the box 2nd BIOS offers no advantages over the other.

The 2nd bios so in case you have issues you have another bios to fall back on

March 10, 2014 | 10:22 AM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Direct from EVGA... 2nd BIOS offers increased fan speed control and a 8 watt increase in power.  Compare pics of the back of the card from original GTX 780 reference design.  Some significant differences there.

March 10, 2014 | 04:41 PM - Posted by Chris.A (not verified)

He/She is correct it uses the same reference PCB it just has added bios switch.

The FTW and Classfied use non reference PCB

March 11, 2014 | 03:25 PM - Posted by Josh Walrath

Direct from EVGA, this would not be considered a reference design. *shrug* take it as you will.

March 10, 2014 | 04:53 PM - Posted by Chris.A (not verified)

also 2nd BIOS didn't do much at all to help OC

I end up flashing custom BIOS that disabled speedboost and higher power target and unlocked voltage to 1.212

March 12, 2014 | 02:16 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

EVGA is the BEST COMPANY IN THE BUSINESS. PERIOD. Kingpins team in also the best in the business which is no coincidence.

EVGA FTW or GTFO.

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