Introduction and Specifications
A little over three months has passed since NVIDIA unleashed its first Kepler-based GPU on PC gamers, known as the GeForce GTX 680. At the time of its arrival, the GeForce GTX 680 was the clear leader in high-end graphics cards. The card offered better overall performance than AMD’s competing Radeon HD 7970 and the GeForce GTX 680 was cooler, quieter, it consumed less power and was cheaper too. Although availability has been tight, in terms of technology, Kepler and the GeForce GTX 680 was Hot Hardware.
NVIDIA soon followed up with the more affordable GeForce GTX 670, which like its older brother, is a great performer. The GTX 670 has one of its SMX units disabled, which results in fewer active CUDA cores and texture units, but in practice the card offered similar, albeit somewhat lower performance than the higher-end GeForce GTX 680. The GTX 670 was still plenty fast though and had no trouble keeping pace with more expensive, competing hardware.
Now that Kepler has had a few months to marinate, however, NVIDIA’s board partners are ready with newer, custom GeForce GTX 680 and GTX 670 cards that push things a bit further than the initial batch of products based on NVIDIA’s reference design. As such, we thought it would be a great time to round-up some of the hottest offerings to see how they compare to each other and to AMD’s latest, the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition, which hit the scene recently.
In comparison to the reference GeForce GTX 680 and GTX 670 cards, all of the custom offerings we’ll be featuring here have GPUs that are clocked significantly higher, which should result in better overall performance. We won’t know until we fire up the cards and get to testing though, so let’s quit all this chatter and get down to business.