NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 Review: Kepler Debuts

Our Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: NVIDIA made summarizing the GeForce GTX 680’s performance nice and easy. To put it simply, the GeForce GTX 680 is the fastest single-GPU based graphics card we have tested to date. Generally speaking, the GeForce GTX 680 was between approximately 5% and 25% faster than AMD’s Radeon HD 7970, depending on the application. Although, the Radeon HD 7970 was able to pull ahead in a couple of spots, like Alien vs. Predator. In comparison to NVIDIA’s previous single-GPU flagship, the GeForce GTX 580, the new GTX 680 is between 15% and 50% faster. Versus ultra high-end, dual-GPU powered cards like the Radeon HD 6990 and GeForce GTX 590, the GeForce GTX 680’s performance still looks good, as it was able to outrun those dual-GPU powerhouses on a few occasions.

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 Reference Card

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 is full of all kinds on win. Despite using fewer transistors, having a smaller die, and consuming less power, the GeForce GTX 680 is faster than the AMD Radeon HD 7970 overall. The GK104 GPU is simply more efficient than AMD’s Tahiti in terms performance per watt and performance per transistor. The design decision NVIDIA made with the Kepler architecture have clearly paid off.

The GeForce GTX 680 also offers some cool new features. GPU Boost allows the card to take advantage of performance that would have been left untapped with previous-gen architectures, Adaptive VSync smooths out the stuttering sometimes associated with standard VSync, and TXAA should increase image quality without incurring massive performance hit. The output capabilities of the GeForce GTX 680 also make it possible to run a 3D Vision Surround configuration from a single card. In terms of new features, NVIDIA has also done an excellent job in our opinion.

Now for what some of you will likely consider the best news of all. NVIDIA has set the MSRP of the GeForce GTX 680 at $499. We dinged AMD for not pushing the price vs. performance envelope much with the Radeon HD 7000 series, so it’s only fair that we give NVIDIA props for doing it with the GeForce GTX 680. While $499 isn’t cheap, it’s much more palatable than the $549+ of the Radeon HD 7970. In addition to shifting the price performance curve in consumers’ favor, the GeForce GTX 680 should also force AMD to cut the prices of their Radeon HD 7800 and 7900 series cards, another win for consumer.

In the end, we can’t help but like the GeForce GTX 680. The card has virtually everything an enthusiast could ask for at this time. It’s faster, cooler, and quieter than the competition and it offers some cool new features. When NVIDIA briefed us on Kepler and the GeForce GTX 680, they said their goals with this new architecture were to produce a product that was faster, smoother, and richer than the previous generation. We think they pulled it off.


  • Great Performance
  • Relatively Cool and Quiet
  • GPU Boost
  • Adaptive VSync
  • TXAA
  • 3D Surround From a Single Card

  • Expensive (Although Priced aggresively)
  • Additional Considerations for Overclockers

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