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

Author: Josh Walrath
Manufacturer: EVGA

Power, Temperature, and Overclocking

Power

For as large as the chip is, the GTX 780 does not pull a tremendous amount of power.  Part of that is simply due to the board having a max supplied wattage of 250W and another part is that the chip just is not clocked all that high.  NVIDIA typically has excellent idle power consumption due to aggressive downclocking of the GPU and power gating.

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As we see with these results, the GTX 780 has the second lowest power draw at idle.  Once we crank things up we see it have the highest draw of the single cards.  The AMD cards in CrossFire obviously pull a lot more power than a single GTX 780.  Still, for as energy efficient as NVIDIA claims for their parts, AMD essentially matches power and performance.

 

Temperature

The reference cooling on the GTX 780 is very good, but NVIDIA’s partners tend to do a little better when it comes to non-reference cooling.  EVGA has obviously spent some quality time with their ACX coolers.  In testing I rarely heard the fans spin up, and I can honestly say that I barely noticed any fan noise whatsoever in use.

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It must have been a cold day in my lab when I took these readings.  While I doubt it got down to 24C, it is certainly cooler running than the other cards used in this test.  Now onto the load test.

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EVGA’s ACX cooler does its job very, very well.  It isn’t much hotter than the Asus DCII GTX 770, and it is quite a few degrees cooler than the Asus DCII based R9 280X.  Looking back at my Asus DCII GTX 780 review from last summer, the EVGA card again runs significantly cooler than that particular implementation.

 

Overclocking

NVIDIA cards are sometimes a little strange with overclocking due to their use of boost modes.  While this particular card is clocked at a base clock of 863 MHz and a boost of 902 MHz, it consistently showed a clockspeed of 966 MHz under load.  This card is not labeled as being overclocked (FTW or SC in EVGA terms), but it certainly acted like one.  This is just an effect of the boost modes and thermal/power headroom that NVIDIA and their partners allow their cards.

I used EVGA’s overclocking software, Precision X, to push this card as much as possible.  I increased the power target as high as it would go and slightly increased voltage.  I then tested in small increments with a repeating benchmark and monitored clockspeeds.  Typically the boards would not hard lock unless they are clocked really high, instead the clockspeed would just settle into an area and rarely move up.

I was able to get the core to run at +110 MHz, giving a speed of around 1076 MHz.  This is a very nice jump up from the claimed stock speed.  Performance scales nicely with core clock and we see gains in the 10% to 14% range, depending on the title.  The memory did not overclock very well in this instance.  I was able to get an extra 55 MHz out of this board, which translates in overall clockspeed of around 6223 MHz effective.  Users gain a little bit of performance from this overclock, but not a whole lot.

March 7, 2014 | 10:20 AM - 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 | 10:33 AM - 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 | 07:36 AM - Posted by Josh Walrath

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

March 7, 2014 | 10:40 AM - 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 | 10:41 AM - Posted by Josh Walrath

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

March 7, 2014 | 10:46 AM - 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 | 10:50 AM - 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 | 02:50 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 | 02:53 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 | 07:22 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 | 01:41 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 | 12:25 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 | 01:53 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 | 11:16 AM - 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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