Performance Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: As we already knew from our prior experience with NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 780 Ti, a fully unleashed GK110 GPU is incredibly potent. This roundup was about looking at some of the custom options out there, and of the three that decided to participate, Gigabyte's Windforce x3 GHz Edition offered the best performance, though it came at the expense of stability. Between EVGA's Dual Classified with ACX and MSI's Twin Frozr Gaming OC Edition, EVGA's card put up consistently higher numbers. There's more to these cards than raw numbers, however, so let's dive into a deeper analysis.
Starting with Gigabyte's card, we love the ambitious nature of the aggressive overclocks. It wasn't always stable, and had we purchased this card with the intent of keeping it, we might try our luck at exchanging it for the same model. If that didn't work, we could live with the occasional stability issues since they weren't frequent. We're not trying to apologize for Gigabyte here, nor are we defending the issues we ran into -- however, given how high this card is clocked, we're not totally surprised or miffed at the once-in-awhile-hiccup during stress testing. After all, it didn't happen frequently, just barely enough to warrant a mention. As for cooling and noise, we had to peek inside our testbed to make sure the cooler's fans were spinning because of how quiet it runs. We really like that about this card.
On the other end of the spectrum is MSI's card. While Gigabyte's offered the best performance, MSI is the least expensive of the bunch, and also the slowest to heat up. Unfortunately, it never really lived up to its full performance potential. Though we configured it to run in OC Mode with the same clockspeeds as EVGA's cards, it posted lower scores in almost every benchmark. In terms of real world performance, we're only talking a few frames per second here, and we could argue that it's worth it in exchange for the savings.
This brings us to EVGA, which we feel is the overall winner here. It didn't suffer any performance anomalies, the card runs quiet, and it comes with several amenities, such as a second BIOS to tinker with and EVGA's Step-Up program. The downside is cost. In order to benefit from what EVGA's card has to offer, you'll pay a higher price than either of the other two.
In short, all three cards have their strengths and weaknesses, and all of them benefit from a fast architecture. To recap in Cliff Notes fashion, MSI's Twin Frozr Gaming OC Edition runs cool and is the least expensive, but performs slightly slower than the other two; Gigabyte's Windforce 3X GHz Edition is almost always the fastest and incredibly quiet, but crashed to the desktop a few times during our stress tests; and EVGA's Dual Classified w/ ACX Cooler is the most consistent performer with a tinker-friendly dual-BIOS setup and nifty Step-Up program, but also the most expensive.
EVGA Dual Classified w/ ACX
| Gigabyte Windforce 3X GHz Edition
MSI Twin Frozr Gaming OC Edition