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NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760 Mainstream GPU Review
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Date: Jun 25, 2013
Section:Graphics/Sound
Author: Marco Chiappetta
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Introduction and Specifications

NVIDIA is launching yet another new member of the GeForce GTX 700 series today, the freshly minted GeForce GTX 760. Like the GeForce GTX 770 which arrived just a few weeks ago, the new GeForce GTX 760 is built around the company’s GK104 GPU—the very same chip used last year’s GeForce GTX 680 and a few other GTX 600 series cards. The GeForce GTX 760, however, targets a different market segment and is debuting at a much more palatable price point than its predecessors.

We’ve got a couple of GeForce GTX 760 cards on hand to show you here, a reference model that came straight from NVIDIA and a fully custom, factory overclocked version from EVGA, the GeForce GTX 760 Super Clocked with ACX cooling. Though, as you’ll see, while the two cards are physically very different, they perform within a few percentage points of one another. Let’s get acquainted with the reference card first and then we’ll move to EVGA’s custom offering and check out all of the performance data...


NVIDIA's Reference GeForce GTX 760

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760
Specifications & Features

Graphics Processing Clusters 3 or 4
Streaming Multiprocessors 6
CUDA Cores (single precision) 1152
CUDA Cores (double precision) --
Texture Units 96
ROP Units 32
Base Clock 980 MHz
Boost Clock 1033 MHz
Memory Clock (Data rate) 6008 MHz
L2 Cache Size 512 KB
Total Video Memory 2048MB GDDR5
Memory Interface 256-bit
Total Memory Bandwidth 192.26 GB/s
Texture Filtering Rate (Bilinear) 94.1 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 2 x 6-pin
Recommended Power Supply 500 Watts
Thermal Design Power (TDP) 170 Watts
Thermal Threshold 95°C
Currently Selling:  $249 at Amazon

If you’re a student of the GPU game, the GeForce GTX 760’s specifications are going to look like somewhat of a cross between the GeForce GTX 670 and 660 Ti, with some GeForce GTX 700 series features thrown into the mix. If you recall, the GeForce GTX 670 has four Graphics Processing Clusters, with seven SMXes, 1344 CUDA cores, 112 texture units, and 32 ROPs, with a 256-bit memory interface. The GTX 660, however, which is powered by GK106, has 3 GPCs, with 960 CUDA cores, 80 texture units, 24 ROPs, and a 192-bit memory interface. The GeForce GTX 760 has three of four GPCs, with six SMXes, 1152 CUDA cores, 96 texture units, and 32 ROPS, but retains the 256-bit memory interface.

In terms of its GPU and memory clock speeds, the GeForce GTX 760 is right in-line with the GeForce GTX 660. NVIDIA’s reference specification call for a 980MHz base GPU clock, with a 1033MHz Boost clock and 6008MHz (effective) memory. At those frequencies, the GTX 760’s texture fillrate is 78.4GT/s with peak memory bandwidth of 144.2GB/s. Unlike its 600-series predecessors though, the GeForce GTX 760 supports GPU Boost 2.0, so it should be able to maintain peak boost clocks longer.

Like its predecessors, however, the reference GeForce GTX 760 also has a short PCB design. NVIDIA moved the power delivery circuitry to the “west” end of the PCB and rotated the GPU to minimize necessary real-estate, which allowed them to shave a few inches off the reference board. Although cards are 9.5” long due to the cooler design, the actual PCB is less than 7” in length. Although, we should point out that some board partners have opted to use longer PCBs, as you’ll see on the next page.

The TDP of the GeForce GTX 760 is 170 watts, and a pair of 6-pin supplemental power feeds are necessary. Outputs on the GeForce GTX 760 consist of a pair of DVI ports, a mini-DP, and an HDMI output. The GeForce GTX 760 has 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.

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EVGA GeForce GTX 760 with ACX

The EVGA GeForce GTX 760 SuperClocked with ACX cooling’s main differentiators are its custom heatsink and fan assembly and longer PCB.

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, one that sits right atop the GPU and another just to the right, 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 received some special treatment. According to EVGA the fan blade design is more durable than 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 reducing weight and thickness, and it should be quieter and last longer too. With the GTX 760 and its GPU Boost 2.0 feature, however, the card may still 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 idle at lower temps and remain at max boost for longer periods, which should ultimately increase overall performance.

The EVGA GeForce GTX 760 SuperClocked with ACX cooling is a dual-slot card, but it is slightly thinner than the reference model. As the “SuperClocked” in the name suggests, this card is factory overclocked. Whereas reference GeForce GTX 760 cards sport 980MHz / 1033MHz GPU base and boost clocks, respectively, the EVGA GeForce GTX 760 SuperClocked with ACX cooling come in at 1072MHz (base) / 1137MHz (boost). All of the other specifications, including the 2GB of GDDR5 memory clocked at an effective 6008 MHz, 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 760 SC with ACX supports up to 3-Way SLI, and because the TDP of the card is only 170 watts, dual 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.

In typical EVGA fashion, plenty of goodies are bundled with the GeForce GTX 760 SC w/ ACX as well. Included with the card, we found a rather cool “Game of Pwns” poster, some large “Enthusiast Built” decals, various documentation, a driver / utility CD (which included EVGA excellent Precision X utility), and a few adapters—two dual-peripheral to 6-pin adapters and a VGA-to-DVI adapter. There were no games to speak off, but EVGA wasn’t exactly chintzy with the bundle either.

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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
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 new GeForce GTX 760 finished right about where you'd expect it to in the Heaven Benchmark. The 760 outran the GeForce GTX 660 Ti and Radeon HD 7950, but trailed the GeForce GTX 770. Thanks to its higher clocks, EVGA's offering came out ahead of the reference design by few percentage points.
 

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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.


Reference GeForce GTX 760 3DMark Fire Strike Run

3DMark Fire Strike tells a somewhat different story then Unigine Heaven. Both of the GeForce GTX 760 cards we tested outperformed the GeForce GTX 660 Ti and trailed the GeForce GTX 770, but in this benchmark the Radeon HD 7950 was a tad faster than the 760.

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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 performance trend in out Alien vs. Predator tests matches 3DMark Fire Strike on the previous page. The GeForce GTX 760 cards outpace the 660 Ti, but trail the GeForce GTX 770 and Radeon HD 7950 at both resolutions.





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Frame capture analysis of the single-GPU configurations doesn't reveal any major issues. The GeForce GTX 770 consistently delivered the fastest frames, followed by the 7950, GTX 760s, and then the Radeon HD 7870.


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The multi-GPU tests, however, show major frame pacing issues with the Radeon HD 7950 CrossFire configuration. So much so that you can't even see the GeForce plots. Regardless, the frametime percentiles tell the story. The SLI configurations offered the lowest frame times across the board.
 
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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.

There's lots to see in these Metro Last Light scores. In the single-GPU configurations, the GeForce GTX 760 cards perform right about on par with the Radeon HD 7950. In fact, at the lower resolution, the reference and EVGA GTX 760 cards sandwich the Radeon HD 7950. In the dual-GPU configurations, however, the SLI setups exhibited better scaling, and as such, they were able to overtake the Radeon HD 7950 CrossFire configuration.





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Save for a couple of spikes, there were no major frame pacing issues with the single-GPU configurations in Metro Last Light, as recorded with FCAT.




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There were no major frame pacing issues to report with the dual-GPU configurations in Metro Last Light either.
 
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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.

Save for the reference GeForce GTX 760 when tested at 1920x1200, the GTX 760 generally outperformed the Radeon HD 7950 in the BioShock Infinite benchmark. The same holds true for the dual-GPU setups.
 




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The Radeon HD 7870 exhibited some funky behavior at the very beginning of our Bioshock Infinite tests, but other than that there were no frame pacing issues to report with the single-GPU configurations.




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In the dual-GPU configurations though, the Radeon HD 7950 CrossFire setup exhibited some wild swings in frametime at both the beginning and end of the test.
 

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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.

In the single-GPU tests, the new GeForce GTX 760 cards performed on par with or somewhat better than the Radeon HD 7950 in the Sleeping Dogs benchmark. However, the Radeon HD 7950 CrossFire configuration exhibited superior performance scaling, and as such, it outran the GeForce GTX 760 SLI configuration here.



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Save for the couple of spikes at the end (which are actually a scene transition), there are no frame pacing issues to report with the single-GPU configuration in the Sleeping Dogs benchmark.


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In the dual-GPU tests, however, the Radeon HD 7950 CrossFire configuration once again exhibits significant issues with much larger frame time variations than the SLI configurations.

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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.

Hitman Absolution was a clear win for the Radeon HD 7950. In this game, the new GeForce GTX 760 cards outrun the 660 Ti and 7870, but Radeon HD 7950 hung with GeForce GTX 770.




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Though they obviously offered different levels of performance, all of the cards we tested consistently delivered frames to the screen in Hitman, according to FCAT.


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As we've seen almost everywhere else, the Radeon HD 7950 CrossFire setup exhibited major swings in frametime in the Hitman Absolution benchmark, and is far less consistent than the GeForce GTX SLI configurations when delivering frames to the screen.

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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 GeForce GTX 760 cards we tested outperformed the Radeon HD 7950 and GeForce GTX 660 Ti in our Crysis 3 tests. The GeForce GTX 760 SLI configuration also scaled well in this game and outran the Radeon HD 7950 CrossFire setup.




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There were no major frame pacing issues to report on our Crysis 3 tests with the single-GPU configurations either.



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As we've said time and again though, the dual-GPU Radeon HD 7950 CrossFire configuration is far more inconsistent when delivering frames to the screen than the SLI rigs.
 

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Overclocking the GeForce GTX 760

We also spent a little time overclocking the GeForce GTX 760 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 GeForce GTX 760

We did a few things when experimenting with overclocked speeds on the GTX 770. 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 115% and 94'C, respectively, and also increased the GPU and Memory clock offsets and ran a few tests. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, we didn't overclock both of the GeForce GTX 760 cards we had on hand, and focused solely on EVGA's SC w/ ACX model.

Overclocking The GeForce GTX 760
Tweakin' The GPU


Ultimately, we were able to take the EVGA GeForce GTX 760 SC w/ ACX cooling all the way up to a 1333MHz GPU clock with 1548MHz memory (6192MHz effective). Those are some major increases in frequency over the stock 1033MHz (GPU) and 6088MHz (memory) frequencies called for in NVIDIA's spec.

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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

The GeForce GTX 760's power consumption fell right in-line with expectations. All of the cards consumed similar power while idling at the Windows Desktop, but under load, the GeForce GTX 760's power consumption fell somewhere in between the GeForce GTX 660 Ti and Radeon HD 7950.

Temperatures and noise are non-issues with the GeForce GTX 760. Like other cards with GPU Boost 2.0, the GeForce GTX 760's GPU temperature will peak at whatever temperature is set in driver--in this case 80'C.  And though the card's fan does spin up under load, it never gets anywhere near what we'd consider noisy.  The EVGA GeForce GTX 760 SC w/ ACX cooling, however, clearly offered better cooling performance than NVIDIA's reference model, and it remained quiet throughout testing as well.
 

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Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: The new GeForce GTX 760 performed well throughout our entire battery of tests, especially considering its relatively mainstream price point. As its model number suggests, the GeForce GTX 760 offers better overall performance than the GeForce GTX 660 / 660 Ti it is supplanting in NVIDIA’s product stack, though it can’t keep pace with the more powerful GeForce GTX 770. Versus AMD’s current offerings, the GeForce GTX 760 clearly outperforms the Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition and it can easily hang with and occasionally outperform the Radeon HD 7950 Boost.


The GeForce GTX 760

According to NVIDIA, the GeForce GTX 760 will be the last update to their desktop graphics card line-up for a while. We suspect new products may hit for the holidays or in the CES 2014 time frame, but for now and through the fall, NVIDIA’s graphics card line-up looks like this:

The GeForce GTX 660 Ti will be going away in favor of the GTX 760, though the lower-end GeForce GTX 600 series cards will remain.

With an expected starting price point of $249, the GeForce GTX 760 targets the “sweet spot” of the PC graphics market and it does so quite well. At that price, the GeForce GTX 760 is more affordable than the GTX 660 Ti and the Radeon HD 7950, though AMD is offering some excellent games as part of their “Never Settle Reloaded” bundle that sweeten the deal. With that said, NVIDIA has still raised the bar in terms of performance per dollar, which is what we think most gamers consider when upgrading or purchasing a new graphics card. It doesn’t’ feature any whiz-bang new technology and leverages last year’s flagship GPU, but the GeForce GTX 760’s represents a good value for gamers looking for the best bang for their buck.

  • Good Performance
  • Cool and Quiet
  • Affordable
  • Last Year's GPU Tech
  • Only Slightly Faster than GTX 660 Ti



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