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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 2GB Graphics Card Review - Kepler in Motion

Author: Ryan Shrout
Subject:
Manufacturer: NVIDIA
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Power Consumption, Temperatures and Noise

With all the power efficiency improvement talk that NVIDIA has been pushing on us since learning about the new Kepler GPU, we were eager to see how the actual power consumption actually turned out.

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It hasn't been often...or ever...that we have really said this: NVIDIA has the best performing and most power efficient GPU for the high end gamer.  The GTX 680 is able to outperform the HD 7970 in most of our gaming titles while using less power - 29 watts less to be exact.  And even more interesting this power consumption "peak" should be about the same on every game you play, if the GPU Boost technology is working like it supposed to.

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In terms of temperature the Radeon cards still take the lead here but keep in mind that the GeForce GTX 680 is always balancing the performance, power and fan speeds in near real-time so the 81-83C level is likely the highest you'll see.

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The good news keeps coming for NVIDIA as we see the GTX 680 is actually running quieter than the Radeon HD 7970 while running more efficiently.  The new GeForce card is just a great overall product!

March 24, 2012 | 02:37 PM - Posted by Steven (not verified)

Here's a review of overclocked cards. GTX 680 comes out top.

http://www.overclockersclub.com/reviews/nvidia_gtx680/

March 23, 2012 | 07:50 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

1. That's good to know, but we aren't testing overclocked cards. We are testing reference cards in this review. We do review OC model cards (like the XFX model 7970 we tested) and will have a test of the Lightning next week. I think your estimate of 25% better improvement is an overestimate.

2. That's crap. Metro 2033 was an "NVIDIA game" and Dirt 3 was an "AMD game" yet those titles don't show any bias. Both vendors can write driver fixes to ANY game.

3. Fair enough - but we can only test based on the real user experience that you get when you install the cards and play the games. Saying that the HD 7970 is underclocked to me simply means that AMD didn't have the balls to release a card at the CORRECT speed then.

4. I think you misunderstand the feature then - I think it is really a compelling addition to get users the full capability of their GPU regardless of the game/application being played. When our video interview with Tom Petersen is online, you should take a listen?

5. I was able to hit a 150 MHz offset on the GTX 680 which is basically a 15% overclock.

6. Pricing is THE MAJOR factor other than performance. Yes, it is always changing, but to pretend it isn't a crucial factor is simply insane.

Thanks for you comments man, I love to hear what others are thinking, even if we disagree! :D

March 23, 2012 | 07:18 PM - Posted by nabokovfan87

1. It was just one of those things that glared out to me, and the 25% is probably 20% based on the HardOCP review, but that is a bunch more then 2%, which would make things extremely close in the end.

2. I don't know if AMD helped with metro, or if all amd cards run better on it, but the point is, Nvidia clearly had helped with physx and some filtering stuff in bf and others, it would be a good idea to add some variety to the benches, I would add R.U.S.E. and WoP for sure (they are different types of games then the ones you have listed, and as I said, they have some very nice high end dx10/11 features).

3. I completely agree, but it would have been nice as a reader to see some "by the way" type text.

4. I didn't say there wasn't a point to it, but I just don't get it, or better put, agree with it. Why with 1500+ cores you would want to OC them on the fly? I would want to be able to test things and make them stable. I see benchmarks vastly varying with games, it could be related to this "feature". Maybe heat of the case/card forces some bad benches for some sites and better scores for others? IDK, just something to look into. I know for power specifically people have "proof" of shenanigans, especially with 3dmark, so who really knows, but I know there is more then meets the eye with this.

5. But the performance was only 2% better, not much higher, The high binned 7970's go to 1250-1300+ which is around (35-40%, even at 1150 it is 25%)

6. It has more to do with the fact that we already know that amd is going to reduce their pricing, and it is going to be within a week more then likely. If they don't the review stands, but if they do, then it really comes off as overly harsh for no reason in the long run. Let me put it this way, have you ever gone back and revised this, for the people who look at your review AFTER the prices drop? Nope, because it ALWAYS happens and it always has to do with either a competitor releasing something, or a new card being out. In my opinion, it always seems like after a week the pricing on reviews is completely off.

Like I said, I didn't want to come off as a jerk or w/e, but it was stuff I wanted you to discuss or look into. The point with the OC stuff was to bring it up before you do SLI/OC testing, and I know Josh is writing the lightning review, but it would be a good idea to toss those numbers in the mix and get an idea of which one, OC'd or at it's best let's say, actually performs the best. It seems very straightforward to me that the 7970 OCs a lot better.

March 22, 2012 | 08:45 PM - Posted by Michael (not verified)

Looks like we have that annoying "coil whine" here. Ryan, did you experience any in this review? Peeps may want to watch this video review at LinusTechTips here @ 7:31:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaPYEOUH7LE

Note: Video also includes a cool cat

March 23, 2012 | 07:51 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Haha.

Actually, I know of this phenomenon but I didn't experience with the GTX 680. I have with some HD 7000 cards though. In my opinion this is some kind of odd mix of PSU/GPU that causes it. I have never been able to pinpoint one architecture of PSU as the culprit.

March 23, 2012 | 06:05 AM - Posted by Dave (not verified)

Ryan, can you put that fancy SPL meter on this beast and provide some noise measurements?

I run a Define R3 chassis and use "reference" blower-style fans on my GPUs in order to keep the noise/heat down during idle periods and provide more effective heat dissipation under load without adding more than the 2 fans I currently have. It's loud under load, but I can deal with that since I game with a headset.

Would be interesting to see how this compares to, say, my current 570 blower. Especially considering every new card release comes along with a marketing line regarding lower heat and noise.

March 23, 2012 | 07:57 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Sorry, we had these numbers the whole time but I forgot to post them!

http://www.pcper.com/reviews/Graphics-Cards/NVIDIA-GeForce-GTX-680-2GB-G...

Again, the GTX 680 impressed us.

March 23, 2012 | 07:50 PM - Posted by Hacksaw777 (not verified)

Wow just got the gtx680 installed and all I can say is Wow!!!!. I have bought many of top of the line video card over the years, and this is the first time I have ever been completely satisfied with one. This one is amazing. So powerful, quiet and only running 65c under load in Nvidia cooler master stacker case. Battlefield 3 run so smooth even running on 32inch 1080p ultra with vsync enabled never drops below 60 fps. Crysis 2 smooth as butter on extreme hi res textures. Now I think its time to look into getting into surround setup. if I could only get some good 27inch with small bezels for a good price.

March 31, 2012 | 04:12 AM - Posted by cyow

All I can say it WOW Sweat I Want one so sad it out of my price rang at this time.

Great Review many thnaks Ryan

April 2, 2012 | 04:05 AM - Posted by jewie27 (not verified)

The reason for frame rate capping is to lower the temps of the card. Which also reduces the fanspeed automatically and consuming less power overall.

It works, I tried it in Battlefield 3 with my two GTX 580's in SLI. Normally I get about 100 FPS on Ultra, gpu's at 82C max. With a FPS cap of 80 FPS, I drop temps down to 70's. 10 degree savings and quieter operation.

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