Logo   Banner   TopRight
TopUnder
Transparent
EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC with ACX Cooling Review
Transparent
Date: Jul 19, 2013
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: Marco Chiappetta
Transparent
Introduction and Specifications

Coincident with the launch of NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 700 series of products, EVGA unveiled a new invention of its own: the ACX cooler. ACX is an acronym for "Active Cooling Extreme" and as the name suggests, it’s a cooling solution for high-end graphics cards. To date, we have looked at two ACX-equipped graphics cards, the EVGA GeForce GTX 780 SC ACX and GeForce GTX 760 SC ACX. We found both cards to be class-leading products and liked them very much. And so far, the EVGA GeForce GTX 780 SC ACX remains the fastest, single-GPU powered graphics card we have tested. It’s factory overclock allowed it to overtake a standard GeForce GTX Titan.

Today we’re going to take a look at yet another ACX-equipped graphics card, the EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC ACX. As you probably know by now, the GeForce GTX 770 falls in between the GTX 780 and GTX 760 in NVIDIA’s current product stack. It is a more refined update to last years’ GeForce GTX 680, but with a few new features added and somewhat higher performance. The EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC ACX takes the GTX 770 up another couple of notches thanks to its more powerful cooler and higher factory clocks. The card’s full specifications and accessory bundle are below and we’ve got a full performance profile on the pages ahead...


EVGA's Custom GTX 770 with ACX Cooling

EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC with ACX Cooling
Specifications & Features

Graphics Processing Clusters 4
Streaming Multiprocessors 8
CUDA Cores (single precision) 1536
CUDA Cores (double precision) --
Texture Units 128
ROP Units 32
Base Clock 1111 MHz
Boost Clock 1163 MHz
Memory Clock (Data rate) 7010 MHz
L2 Cache Size 512 KB
Total Video Memory 2048MB or 4096MB GDDR5
Memory Interface 256-bit
Total Memory Bandwidth 224.3 GB/s
Texture Filtering Rate (Bilinear) 142.2 GigaTexels/sec
Fabrication Process 28 nm
Transistor Count 3.54 Billion
Connectors

2 x Dual-Link DVI
1 x HDMI
1 x DisplayPort

Form Factor Dual Slot
Power Connectors 1 x 8-pin, 1 x 6-pin
Recommended Power Supply 600 Watts
Thermal Design Power (TDP) 230 Watts
Thermal Threshold 95°C
Currently Selling:  $419 at Amazon

We’ll dive in and take a close look at the EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC with ACX cooling in just a bit. But before we do, we want to show you some of the goodies EVGA bundles with the card.

  

Included with the EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC with ACX cooling, we found a rather cool “Game of Pwns” poster, some large “Enthusiast Built” decals, various documentation, a driver / utility CD, and a few adapters—a dual-6-pin to single 8-pin PCIe adapter, a dual-peripheral to 6-pin PCIe adapter, and a VGA-to-DVI adapter. Unfortunately, there were no games to speak off, but EVGA does include all of the essentials. And we should point out that the company gives away its excellent Precision X performance tuning tool for free.
 

Transparent
EVGA GeForce GTX 770 with ACX

The EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SuperClocked with ACX cooling’s main differentiator is its custom heatsink and fan assembly.


Click For An Enlarged View

The dual-fan Active Cooling Extreme, or ACX, cooler features a large heatsink array, with 40% additional fin volume over reference designs. If you look close, you’ll notice that there are actually two heatsinks underneath the shroud, one that sits right atop the GPU and another just to the side, and that the heatsinks are linked to the baseplate by multiple thick heatpipes. There is an additional heatplate mounted to the PCB as well, which adds strength and helps keep the PCB flat.

The fans used on the ACX cooler also got some special treatment. According to EVGA the fan blade design offers superior strength to standard fans and the dual-ball bearings offer increased longevity over more common sleeve bearings.

All told, EVGA claims the ACX cooler outperforms reference coolers, while also reducing weight and thickness, and it should be quieter and last longer too. With the GTX 770 and its GPU Boost 2.0 feature, however, the card will try to ramp up to whatever target temperature is specified in the driver, by dynamically boosting and adjusting the GPU frequency and voltage as necessary based on the workload. That means the ACX cooler may not necessarily always offer lower temperatures than a reference cooler, but it should allow the card to remain at max boost for longer periods, which should ultimately increase overall performance.

As for the card itself, we think it looks great. The EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SuperClocked with ACX cooling is a dual-slot card, but it is slightly thinner than reference models. As the “SuperClocked” in the name suggests, this card is factory overclocked as well. Whereas reference GeForce GTX 770 cards sport 1046MHz / 1085MHz GPU base and boost clocks, respectively, the EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SuperClocked with ACX cooling come in at 1111MHz (base) / 1163MHz (boost). All of the other specifications, including the 2GB of GDDR5 memory clocked at an effective 7010MHz, remain unchanged from the reference model.

As evidenced by the pair of SLI edge connectors at the top of the card, the EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC with ACX supports up to 3-Way SLI, and because the TDP of the card is “only” 230 watts, single 8-pin and 6-pin supplemental PCI Express power feeds are all that are required to power it.

Outputs consist of a pair of dual-link DVI outputs, a full-sized DisplayPort output, and an HDMI connector. The EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC with ACX has more than enough muscle to push multiple displays simultaneously, and as such, it supports NVIDIA's 3D Vision Surround technology, as well other proprietary NVIDA technologies like 3DVision, PhyX, and the like.
 

Transparent
Test System and Unigine Heaven v4.0

How We Configured Our Test Systems: We tested the graphics cards in this article on an Asus P9X79 Deluxe motherboard powered by a Core i7-3960X six-core processor and 16GB of G.SKILL DDR3-1866 RAM. The first thing we did when configuring the test system was enter the system UEFI and set all values to their "high performance" default settings and disable any integrated peripherals that wouldn't be put to use. The memory's X.M.P. profile was enabled to ensure better-than-stock performance and the hard drive was then formatted and Windows 7 Ultimate x64 was installed. When the installation was complete, we fully updated the OS and installed the latest DirectX redist along with all of the drivers, games, and benchmark tools necessary to complete our tests.

HotHardware's Test System
Intel Core i7 Powered

Hardware Used:
Intel Core i7-3960X
(3.3GHz, Six-Core)

Asus P9X79 Deluxe
(Intel X79 Express)

Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition
Radeon HD 7950 Boost x 2
GeForce GTX 760 x 2
EVGA GeForce GTX 760 SC w/ ACX
EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC w/ ACX
GeForce GTX 660 Ti
GeForce GTX 770 x 2

16GB GSKILL DDR3-1866
Western Digital Raptor 150GB
Integrated Audio
Integrated Network

Relevant Software:
Windows 7 Ultimate x64
DirectX April 2011 Redist
AMD Catalyst v13.6B2
NVIDIA GeForce Drivers v320.39

Benchmarks Used:

Unigine Heaven v4
3DMark "Fire Strike"
Bioshock Infinite
Hitman: Absolution
Alien vs. Predator
Metro Last Light
Sleeping Dogs
Crysis 3
FRAPS + FCAT

Unigine Heaven v4.0 Benchmark
Pseudo-DirectX 11 Gaming


Unigine Heaven v4.0

Unigine's Heaven Benchmark v4.0 is built around the Unigine game engine. Unigine is a cross-platform, real-time 3D engine, with support for DirectX 9, DirectX 10, DirectX 11 and OpenGL. The Heaven benchmark--when run in DX11 mode--also makes comprehensive use of tessellation technology and advanced SSAO (screen-space ambient occlusion). It also features volumetric cumulonimbus clouds generated by a physically accurate algorithm and a dynamic sky with light scattering.

The EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC with ACX cooling placed right about where you'd expect it to in the Unigine Heaven benchmark. The EVGA card's factory overclock gave it a clear edge over the reference GeForce GTX 770 (and over the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition too), but it couldn't quite catch the more powerful--and more expensive--GeForce GTX 780.
 

Transparent
3DMark Fire Strike Test

Futuremark 3DMark Fire Strike
Synthetic DirectX Gaming


Futuremark 3DMark Fire Strike

Fire Strike has two benchmark modes: Normal mode runs in 1920x1080, while Extreme mode targets 2560x1440. GPU target frame buffer utilization for normal mode is 1GB and the benchmark uses tessellation, ambient occlusion, volume illumination, and a medium-quality depth of field filter. The more taxing Extreme mode targets 1.5GB of frame buffer memory and increases detail levels across the board. Extreme mode is explicitly designed for CrossFire / SLI systems. GT 1 focuses on geometry and illumination, with over 100 shadow casting spot lights, 140 non-shadow casting point lights, and 3.9 million vertices calculated for tessellation per frame. And 80 million pixels are processed per frame. GT2 emphasizes particles and GPU simulations. Tessellation volume is reduced to 2.6 million vertices and the number of pixels processed per frame rises to 170 million.


EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC w/ ACX 3DMark Fire Strike Details

3DMark Fire Strike tells essentially the same story as the Unigine benchmark on the previous page. In these tests, the EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC with ACX cooling once again outruns the reference GeForce GTX 770 and Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition, but the GeForce GTX 780 remained well ahead.

Transparent
Alien vs. Predator Performance

Alien vs. Predator
DirectX 11 Gaming Performance


Alien vs. Predator

The Alien vs. Predator benchmark makes use of the advanced Tessellation, screen space ambient occlusion, and high-quality shadow features available with DirectX 11. In addition to enabling all of the aforementioned DirectX 11-related features offered by this benchmark, we also switched on 4X anti-aliasing along with 16X anisotropic filtering to more heavily tax the graphics cards being tested.

The Radeon HD 7970 GHz Editions' edge in memory bandwidth give it an advantage over the EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC w/ ACX in the AvP benchmark. One again though, the EVGA card's higher clocks allow it outperform the reference GeForce GTX 770.
 

Transparent
Metro Last Light Performance

Metro Last Light
DirecX11 Gaming Performance


Metro Last Light

Metro Last Light is your typical post-apocalyptic first person shooter game with a few rather unconventional twists. Unlike most FPS titles, there is no health meter to measure your level of ailment; rather, you’re left to deal with life, or lack thereof, more akin to the real world with blood spatter on your visor and your heart rate and respiration level as indicators. Metro Last Light boasts some of the best 3D visuals on the PC platform and includes a DX11 rendering mode that makes use of advanced depth of field effects and character model tessellation for increased realism. This title also supports NVIDIA PhysX technology for impressive in-game physics effects. We tested the game at resolutions of 1920x1200 and 2560x1600 with its in-game image quality options set to their High Quality mode, with DOF effects disabled.

Metro Last Light is sensitive to available memory bandwidth as well. And since the EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC w/ ACX's memory and GTX 770 reference card's memory are clocked similarly, they perform at identical levels in this game.
 

Transparent
Bioshock Infinite Performance

Bioshock Infinite
DirectX Gaming Performance


Bioshock Infinite

BioShock Infinite is clear game-of-the-year material. The floating city of Columbia is one of the most evocative, intense, and gorgeous environments we've ever seen in a PC game -- but how much you like it may depend on what sort of visual wizardry you prefer. BioShock Infinite is built on Unreal Engine 3, and while it pushes that framework's capabilities into the stratosphere, there's a clear difference between BioShock Infinite and, say, Crysis 3. BioShock Infinite emphasizes light, color and motion, and while the characters look more exaggerated and cartoon-like than some other games, they still look great. We tested the game at various resolutions with its DX11 code path with DOF effects enabled.

Once again, due to their similarly clocked memory, the EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC w/ ACX and reference GeForce GTX 770 perform at nearly identical levels in this game.
 
Transparent
Sleeping Dogs Performance

Sleeping Dogs
DX11 Gaming Performance


Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs is an open-world game in which you play the role of Wei Shen, an undercover cop trying to take down the Triads from the inside. In the game, you have to fight your way up in the organization and take part in various criminal activities without blowing your cover. We tested Sleeping Dogs at two resolutions, with all in-game graphical options set to their maximum values with FXAA enabled.

The combination of NVIDIA's latest drivers and the EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC w/ ACX's factory overclock allowed it to overtake the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition and nip at the GeForce GTX 780's heals in the Sleeping Dogs benchmark.
 

Transparent
Hitman: Absolution Performance

Hitman: Absolution
DirectX 11 Gaming Performance


Hitman: Absolution

Hitman: Absolution follows Agent 47, a cold-blooded assassin, who takes on his most dangerous contract to date. Betrayed by those he once trusted - and now hunted by the police - he suddenly finds himself at the center of a dark conspiracy and must embark on a personal journey through a corrupt and twisted world. We tested the game at multiple resolutions, with all in-game options set to their maximum values and global illumination and 4X anti-aliasing enabled.

The EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC w/ ACX performed about on par with or somewhat better than the Radeon HD 7950 Boost and a bit behind the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition in this game, depending on the resolution. The GeForce GTX 780, however, maintained its lead throughout.
 

Transparent
Crysis 3 Performance

Crysis 3
DirectX 11 Gaming Performance


Crysis 3

Crysis 3, which is powered by Crytek’s proprietary CryENGINE 3 technology, is the third installment in this popular franchise. Crysis 3 is the sequel to 2011’s Crysis 2 and follows Prophet as he returns to New York a few years after the events of Crysis 2. Like previous games in the franchise, Crysis 3 has impressive visuals that can tax even the most powerful PCs when cranked up to their maximum values. We tested this game at various resolutions with all in-game graphics options set to Very High, with 4X MSAA and 16X anisotropic filtering enabled and motion blur set to high.

The EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC w/ ACX finished near the top of the charts in our Crysis 3 tests. The card was clearly faster than its AMD-based competition and trailed only GeForce GTX 780.
 

Transparent
Overclocking the GeForce GTX 770

We also spent a little time overclocking the EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC w/ ACX to see what kind of additional frequency headroom it had left under its hood. For these tests, we used the latest edition of EVGA's Precision X GPU tweaking utility, which is designed to work with NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 700 series products.

Overclocking a Kepler-based GeForce GTX series graphics card requires a bit more tweaking then previous-gen products, due to all of the new options available and the complexities associated with GPU Boost 2.0. Sometimes, you’ll find that increasing a particular voltage or frequency may appear to function properly, when in fact performance decreases due to errors or throttling. You may also find that the actual GPU Boost clock may travel above or below the designated offset value when the power and/or temperature targets are also increased.


EVGA's Precision X Tweaking Utility Running On The EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC ACX

We did a few things when experimenting with overclocked speeds on the EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC w/ ACX. First we tried the most basic option available--we simply changed the temperature target from the default 80'C and increased it to 94'C to see what kind of impact it would have on performance. Then, to push things much further, we increased the power and temperature targets to 106% and 94'C, respectively, and also increased the GPU and Memory clock offsets and ran a few tests.

Overclocking The EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC w/ ACX
Tweakin' The GPU

Ultimately, we were able to take the EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC w/ ACX's GPU clock up to 1333MHz, from its default of 1163MHz, and boost its effective memory frequency up to 7204MHz, from 7010MHz stock.  At those clocks, the card exhibited better performance across the board; Alien vs. Predator and Hitman showed improvement of 4.3% and 8.5%, respectively.

Transparent
Power Consumption, Noise, Temps
Before bringing this article to a close, we'd like to cover a few final data points--namely, power consumption, temperatures, and noise. Throughout all of our benchmarking and testing, we monitored acoustics and tracked how much power our test system was consuming using a power meter. Our goal was to give you an idea of how much power each configuration used while idling and also while under a heavy workload. Please keep in mind that we were testing total system power consumption at the outlet here, not just the power being drawn by the graphics cards alone.

Total System Power Consumption
Tested at the Outlet

As you'd expect, considering the card has dual fans and is clocked higher than reference models, the EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC w/ ACX had somewhat higher power consumption than the reference GeForce GTX 770. But we're only talking a few watts here.

The EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC w/ ACX's temperatures, however, were clearly better than the reference card. In fact, the EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC w/ ACX never even approached its GPU Boost 2.0 temperature target under normal conditions.

We should also point out that the ACX cooler is very quiet. Even when running under load, over extended periods, the fans never spun up to a point we'd consider noisy. In fact, the card wasn't really audible over the CPU and PSU fans in our test system.
 

Transparent
Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: The EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC w/ ACX performed very well throughout our entire battery of tests. The card’s factory overclocked GPU gave in an edge in performance over the reference GeForce GTX 770, and more often than not the EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC w/ ACX pulled ahead of the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition as well. In terms of its power consumption, the EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC w/ ACX cooling used only slightly more power than the reference card (which is to be expected since it’s clocked higher and has twice as many fans). Noise was not an issue at all and the card proved to be a good overclocker too.


The EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC with ACX Cooling

What’s not to like about the EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC with ACX cooling? The card offers excellent performance, it has a high-performing custom cooler that also happens to be very quiet, the card’s overclockable, and we think it looks cool too. If we had to nitpick, the fact that the GeForce GTX 770 is built around last year’s GPU technology is a bit off-putting. And we’d also like to see more aggressive pricing on the card (it’s currently selling for $419) considering the similarly priced Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition has a larger frame buffer and comes with a bunch of games. All things considered though, we really dig the EVGA GeForce GTX 770 SC with ACX cooling. It does everything a high-end graphics card should do and it’s backed by one of the more enthusiast-friendly companies in the business. If you’re shopping for a graphics card in the $400 price range, do yourself a favor and check this one out.

 

  • Great Performance
  • Nice and Quiet
  • Overclockable
  • 3-Year Warranty
  • 2012's GPU Technology
  • Somewhat Pricey



Content Property of HotHardware.com