For the purposes of this article, in addition to a couple of reference boards, we got our hands on couple of retail-ready, factory overclocked GeForce GTX 770 cards as well. The products you see pictured below are the MSI GeForce GTX 770 Lightning and the Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 with Windforce 3X “Triangle Cool” cooling.
First up, we present to you the MSI GeForce GTX 770 Lightning Edition with “Unlocked Digital Power”. Although factory overclocked and fully custom, the oversized Twin Frozr cooler is the obvious star of the show here. The dual-slot Twin Frozr cooler sports high-density heatsinks, with dual cooling fans, and thick copper heatpipes that run from the cooler’s base up through the heatsink fins. We should also point out that the cooler’s base is made of pure copper and the entire assembly is nickel-plated. The Twin Frozr cooler has also been outfitted with custom “propeller blade” fans that reportedly push 20% more air than previous designs. In a move unique to MSI (at least as far as we have seen), the cooler features dust removal technology as well. The GeForce GTX 770 Lightning Edition’s fans will actually spin in the opposite direction (pulling air through up the heatsinks) for a few seconds upon boot to expel any dust that may have built up within the heatsink assembly. When the time is up, the fans will then spin in their normal direction, blowing air down onto the heatsinks.
The customizations on the MSI GeForce GTX 770 Power Edition don’t stop at the cooler. MSI has also overclocked the card, with 1150 MHz (base) and 1202 MHz (boost) clocks for the GPU. The memory runs at the same speed as reference models, however, at 1752 MHz (7010 MHz effective). The MSI GeForce GTX 770 Lightning also has a custom, all digital 12-phase PWM that can handle mode current than reference designs and it’s outfitted with MSI’s “Military Class” components, which is to say it has solid caps and super ferrite chokes installed. The “Unlocked” reference on the cards box refers to an on-board switch that removes all power protection from the BIOS to facilitate extreme overclocking. And we should also mention that the MSI GeForce GTX 770 Lightning includes voltage check points and MSI’s GPU Reactor accessory on the back of the card, which is essentially an additional array of filters to further smooth power delivery to the GPU. Supplemental power is handled by dual 8-pin PCIe connectors and the outputs on the card consist of a pair of DVI outputs and single DP and HDMI outputs.
Bundled with the GeForce GTX 770 Lightning are a quick installation guide and user’s manual, dual 6-pin to 8-pin power adapters, a DVI to VGA adapter, an SLI bridge, leads for the card’s voltage check points and of course a driver / utility disc. Also available for the card is a copy of MSI’s Afterburner performance tuning and monitoring tool, which is available for download right from MSI’s website and allows for over-voltage adjustments and easy overclocking.
This card’s GPU is overclocked, but the real attraction with Gigabyte’s GeForce GTX 770 (model GV-N770OC-2GD) in our opinion is the card’s Windforce 3X “Triangle-Cool” cooler with 450W cooling capacity. Underneath a trio of oversized fans sits an array of aluminum heatsink fins, linked to a copper baseplate via multiple copper heat-pipes. The cooler’s triple fans blows air directly onto the heatsinks, where some is diverted into the case and some exhausted outside through the vents in the case bracket. The base of the cooler has a triangular shape that reportedly helps minimize turbulence and better direct the airflow over the various parts of the card. As you’ll see a little later, the Windforce cooler does an excellent job of keeping temperatures in check, and we found it to be nice and quiet too.
The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 with Windforce 3X cooler ships with its 2GB of memory clocked at the same 7010MHz (effective data rate) of reference cards, but with a base GPU clock of 1137 MHz and a Boost clock of 1189 MHz. Outputs on the card are the same as the reference version as well (dual DVIs, 1 x HDMI, 1 x DP), and Gigabyte’s offering requires the same 8-pin and 6-pin supplemental power connectors of stock GTX 770 cards. The underlying power array on Gigabyte’s card, however, using an 8-Phase design—reference cards have 5-phases.
We’re told Gigabyte’s GeForce GTX 770 with Windforce 3X cooling will include all of the typical goodness Gigabyte is known for, as well as a copy of OC Guru II with support for GPU Boost 2.0, but unfortunately our card did not include the full retail bundle.