GeForce GTX 780 Ti Conclusion
IMPORTANT: Although the rating and final score mentioned in this conclusion are made to be as objective as possible, be advised that every author perceives these factors differently. While we each do our best to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered, there are often times unforeseen market conditions and manufacturer revisions that occur after publication which could render our rating obsolete. Please do not base any purchase solely on this conclusion, as it represents our rating specifically for the product tested which may differ from future versions. Benchmark Reviews begins our conclusion with a short summary for each of the areas that we rate.
My ratings begin with performance, where the $699 NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti is matched up against the competition’s $599 flagship: AMD Radeon R9 290X. There is a $100 price difference between these two products, but there’s more than money separating them. In DirectX 11 tests the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti outperformed the original GTX 780, while easily surpassing the AMD Radeon R9 290X in our benchmark FPS tests.
Synthetic benchmark tools offer an unbiased rating for graphics products, allowing video card manufacturers to display their performance without special game optimizations or driver influence. Futuremark’s 3DMark11 benchmark suite strained our high-end graphics cards with only mid-level settings displayed at 720p, which forced GTX 780 Ti to either pull ahead or trail behind R9 290X depending on the test. Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark tests used maximum settings that tend to crush most products, yet the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti trampled AMD’s Radeon R9 290X by more than 11 FPS at 1680×1050 and 9 FPS at 1920×1080.
In Aliens vs Predator, performance was competitive between the R9 290X and GTX 780, but GTX 780 Ti crushed them both with a 13 FPS lead. Ultra-demanding DX11 games such as Batman: Arkham City produced 125 FPS from the reference-clocked GeForce GTX 780 Ti, compared to 115 FPS for the Radeon R9 290X that failed to compete with 118 FPS produced by the original GTX 780. Battlefield 3 generated 108 FPS on the GTX 780 Ti with ultra quality settings, while the R9 290X trailed behind with 103.7 FPS. Lost Planet 2 played well on all graphics cards when set to high quality with 4x AA, but was a test anomaly that forced the Radeon R9 290X to trail 18 FPS behind GTX 780 Ti and also nearly 12 FPS behind GTX 780. Metro 2033 is another demanding game that requires tremendous graphics power to enjoy high quality visual settings, allowing the Radeon R9 290X to trail GTX 780 Ti at 1680×1050 before keeping pace at 1920×1080. The Frostbite 3 game engine in Battlefield 4 is very demanding, and forces the Radeon R9 290X to suffer a 13 FPS difference in favor of GeForce GTX 780 Ti at 1920×1080 and 9 FPS at 2560×1600.
Beyond the raw frame rate performance results, there’s a incredibly alarming difference between the architecture of these two products. On paper it might appear that both products feature similar power management technology, which limits clock speeds and the amount of boost overclock based on application needs and/or temperature. Typically you won’t see obvious differences between how this is accomplished on mainstream graphics cards, but at the top-end they become impossible to ignore. It’s true that NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 780 Ti is built in the image of GTX TITAN and GTX 780 combined, which is to say that the card operates within a certain power envelope to ensure TDP (and hence heat output) are kept under control of the card’s thermal management system. In the event fan power increases, whether automatically or forced manually, the blower motor is optimized for low noise output. The same cannot be said for AMD’s Radeon R9 290X, which sounds and feels like a blow-dryer set to high under moderate load. GTX 780 Ti might have a 10% performance lead, but it outperforms R9 290X by 100% when it comes to noise and heat levels.
Appearance is a much more subjective matter, especially since this particular rating doesn’t have any quantitative benchmark scores to fall back on. NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX series has traditionally used a recognizable design over the past two years, but beginning with GTX TITAN and seen again with GeForce GTX 780. Keeping with an ‘industrial’ look, GeForce GTX 780 Ti uses matte silver trim to help the series stand out. Because GeForce GTX 780 Ti operates so efficiently and allows nearly all of the heated air to exhaust outside of the computer case, the reference design does an excellent job cooling the GPU. While fashionably good looks might lead to more consumers, keep in mind that this product still outperforms all the competition while generating far less heat and producing very little noise.
Construction is the one area NVIDIA graphics cards continually shine, and thanks in part to extremely quiet operation paired with more efficient processor cores that consume less energy and emit less heat, it seems clear that GeForce GTX 780 Ti continues to carry on this tradition. Requiring an 8- and 6-pin PCI-E power connections reduce power supply requirements to 600W, which is practically mainstream for most enthusiast systems. Additionally, consumers have a top-end single-GPU solution capable of driving three monitors in 3D Vision Surround with the inclusion of two DL-DVI ports with supplementary HDMI and DisplayPort output.
As of launch day (07 November 2013), the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti video card is expected to sell with a starting price of $699.99 (Newegg | Amazon), which is only $50 more than the original GTX 780 debuted at. Please keep in mind that hardware manufacturers and retailers are constantly adjusting prices, so expect prices to change a few times between now and one month later. There’s still plenty of value delivered beyond frame rate performance, and the added NVIDIA Kepler features run off the charts. Only NVIDIA Kepler video cards can offer automated GPU Boost 2.0 technology, 3D Vision, Adaptive VSync, PhysX technology, FXAA, TXAA, ShadowPlay, and now G-SYNC.
In conclusion, GeForce GTX 780 Ti is the gamer’s version of GTX TITAN with a powerful lead ahead of Radeon R9 290X. Even if it were possible for the competition to overclock and reach similar frame rate performance, temperatures and noise would still heavily favor the GTX 780 Ti design. I was shocked at how loud AMD’s R9 290X would roar once it began to heat up midway through a benchmark test, creating a bit of sadness for gamers trying to play with open speakers instead of an insulated headset. There is a modest price difference between them, but quite frankly, the competition doesn’t belong in the same class. GeForce GTX 780 Ti delivers performance beyond expectations, offers a myriad of proprietary technologies that enhance the user experience, and challenges game developers to build even more realism into their titles.
+ Surpasses AMD Radeon R9 290X performance
+ Outstanding performance with DX11 video games
+ Supports NVIDIA GPU Boost 2.0, G-SYNC, ShadowPlay, TXAA, and 3D Vision
+ Triple-display and 3D Vision Surround support
+ Cooling fan operates at very quiet acoustic levels
+ Features DisplayPort connectivity for future monitor technology
+ Very low power consumption at idle and heat output under load
+ Upgradable into dual- and triple SLI card sets
- Very expensive enthusiast product!
Final Score: 9.0 out of 10.
Excellence Achievement: Benchmark Reviews Golden Tachometer Award.
COMMENT QUESTION: Which would you buy: GTX 780 Ti or Radeon R9 290X?