Nvidia’s response to AMD’s recent advances is quite a success. Based on the GK104 processor with the new Kepler architecture, the GeForce GTX 680 graphics card has proved to be somewhat faster than the AMD Radeon HD 7970 across all the tests. It is also considerably quieter, more energy-efficient, smaller and lighter. The GeForce GTX 680 supports new and efficient antialiasing methods, FXAA and TXAA, which are going to be discussed in our upcoming reviews, and Adaptive V-Sync for smoother gaming. Finishing all this off is the availability of all popular video interfaces and support for multi-monitor configurations.
Most importantly, the recommended price of the new card is set at $499, which is $50 cheaper than the recommended price of the AMD Radeon HD 7970. Things are not as hopeless for AMD as they seem, though. The AMD Radeon HD 7970 has been around for three months, so it is already available in lots of custom versions with original cooling systems and pre-overclocked frequencies. Nvidia-based solutions of this kind have not yet even been announced.
So, the only thing we are certain of is that the GeForce GTX 680 is going to increase competition in the top-end market sector and is likely to cause a reduction in prices. It means we, end-users, are on the winning side regardless of who's on top in the GPU makers' race.
- Nvidia’s GeForce 300.99 driver doesn’t look stable as yet. We could observe image tearing in Metro 2033, occasional image defects in Crysis 2 and Battlefield 3, and long test loading times in 3DMark Vantage. Hopefully, driver updates will solve these and other bugs and will also push the graphics card's performance even higher up.
- When we replaced the default GPU thermal interface with Arctic MX-4, we saw the GPU temperature drop by 4°C at peak load. The top speed of the fan decreased by 120 RPM in the automatic regulation mode at that.
- Our testbed with GeForce GTX 680 would occasionally not start up at all, emitting two long beeps. This must be some partial incompatibility with the Intel Siler DX79SI mainboard or a defect of our sample of the GeForce GTX 680 card.
- When checking out the overclocking potential of the card, we found a strong correlation between its stability and cooling. For example, if the GPU temperature was not higher than 70°C (at 85% fan speed), the card's GPU could be overclocked by 15-20 MHz more.