NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 Review: Kepler Debuts

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680

On the surface, the new GeForce GTX 680, looks much like it’s brethren in the GeForce GTX 400 and 500 series, but there are many changes introduced at the board level as well. The GeForce GTX 680’s cooler sports a number of new features too.

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 Graphic Card - Front and Back

Let’s get the specifications covered first. Reference GeForce GTX 680 cards will have a base GPU clock speed of 1006MHz, with a Boost clock of 1058MHz. If you’re asking yourself what a “Boost clock” is, don’t fret, we’ll cover that on the next page—for now, just think of it as Turbo Boost for GPUs. GeForce GTX 680 cards will have 2GB of GDDR5 memory, linked to the GPU over a 256-bit interface, with an impressive 6008MHz effective data rate. The result is a peak of 192.26GB/s of memory bandwidth. And the GeForce GTX 680’s peak texture fillrate is 128.8GT/s.

Based on NVIDIA’s track record the last few years, you may think that a card that’s seemingly as powerful as the GeForce GTX 680 requires a ton of power, but that’s not the case. Reference GeForce GTX 680s have a TDP of “only” 195 watts and require a pair of 6-pin PCI Express power connectors. For reference, the GeForce GTX 580 has a TDP of 244 watts.

The GeForce GTX 680's Cooler and GPU Exposed

Despite having lower power requirements, NVIDIA still put significant resources into keeping the GeForce GTX 680 cool and quiet. The fan on the GeForce GTX 680’s cooler reportedly features acoustic dampening material which lowers its pitch and minimizes whine. The heatsink itself features a densely packed array of aluminum fins with a high-efficiency embedded heatpipe and heavy copper base to more efficiently wick heat from the GPU. And the heatsink is cut at an angle and pushed back from the case bracket to allow air to more easily pass through the heatsink and escape through the vents in the bracket. The end result is a card that’s quieter than the GeForce GTX 580, which we found to run relatively cool as well.

The GeForce GTX 680's Case Bracket and Outputs

In terms of its output configuration, the GeForce GTX 680 has two DL-DVI outputs, a single HDMI 1.4a output (with 4K monitor support), and a single DisplayPort 1.2 output. But more importantly, the cards support up for four active displays—previous GeForces could only run two displays simultaneous. Being able to power four displays means the GeForce GTX 680 can power multi-monitor 3D Vision Surround setups from a single card.

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