NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 Launch Preview

Company: nVIDIA
Author: James Prior
Editor: Sean Ridgeley
Date: May 30th, 2013

A new coat of paint

NVIDIA's GeForce 700 series launch continues with the aggressively priced GeForce GTX 770, an enthusiast class high performance graphics card based on the Kepler architecture. The heart of this card is the GK104 chip on the same skeleton as the GeForce GTX 680, which was replaced last week by the GeForce GTX 780.

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The full specifications of the GeForce GTX 780 are as follows:

  • GK104 Kepler architecture
  • 28nm TSMC process / 7.1Bn transistors
  • 1536 CUDA cores / 8 SMX
  • 32 ROPS
  • 128 Texture/Memory Units
  • 1046MHz engine clock (1085MHz GPU Boost 2.0)
  • 2GB / 4GB GDDR5 Memory
  • 1750Mhz memory speed / 7Gbps QDR
  • 256-bit memory bus / 224GB/s bandwidth
  • 230W Maximum Board TDP
  • Dual DL-DVI + HDMI 1.4 & DisplayPort 1.2 outputs
  • NVIDIA 3DVision 2
  • NVIDIA Surround
  • Quad Display capable
  • SLI & Tri-SLI Compatible
  • 8pin + 6-pin PCI-Express Power Input
  • PCI-Express 3.0
  • DirectX 11.0 / OpenGL 4.3 / OpenCL 1.2
  • 3/2TFLOP Single Precision
  • $399MSRP USD

NVIDIA are positioning the GTX 770 as an upgrade from a first or second generation DX11 card, namely the GeForce GTX 570. NVIDIA claim an increase of up to 65% over the 2011 card, and a bump of around 20% over the 2012 GeForce GTX 670. Looking at NVIDIA's historical pattern for updates to their product line up shows how this mildly warmed over GTX 680 became the GTX 770.

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NVIDIA habitually release a new architecture one year and then refine it the next, unlocking more cores or ramping up clock speeds. The GeForce GTX 680 chip is a fully enabled GK104, leaving only one way to get more performance out of GK104: turning up the dials to eleven. NVIDIA did this by raising the TDP of the card from 195W to a 230W maximum, giving them more clock rate headroom.

Like the GeForce GTX 680, the GTX 770 features a base clock speed and a boost clock speed for the 1536 CUDA cores. Base clock of the GTX 770 is raised to close to the boosted speed of the 680, set at 1046MHz. Boost speed is 1085MHz, a 42MHz increase -- down from the 52MHz bump the GTX 680 featured, but still higher than the GTX 680's boost.

Along with the GTX 770's higher core clock rate, the speed of memory is increased. Where the GeForce GTX 680 featured a blistering 1500MHz / 6Gbps QDR memory speed, NVIDIA have cranked the dial hard and now specify 1750MHz / 7Gbps QDR memory for the GTX 770. The heat sink and fan is upgraded to the cooler, quieter magnesium alloy version seen on GTX Titan and 780.

The GeForce GTX 770 will be available equipped in both 2GB and 4GB GDDR5 editions, and 2GB will hit the retail channel first. To accommodate the increased TDP, the card now requires an 8-pin and a 6-pin PCI-E power input, up from the dual 6-pin needed by the GTX 680.

If you're a GTX 680 owner, there is no compelling reason to consider the GTX 770; instead look for a deal on a second GTX 680 as they go end of life (EOL). And sespite sharing a chip, NVIDIA don't offer the same level of multi-GPU compatibility that AMD does. With both reference and add-in board (AIB) partner customized cards available today, resale prices of the GTX 680 are sure to soften -- along with the prices of the Radeon HD 7900 series. AMD made no comment on any future plans for price adjustments for the Radeon HD 7900 series.

GTX 680 owners looking for an upgrade have four options: the GTX 780, GTX Titan, GTX 690, or the world's fastest graphics card, the AMD Radeon HD 7990.

Competitive Performance
GTX 570 to 770

With the launch of the GeForce GTX 770, NVIDIA can claim to have three single GPU products that outperform the AMD flagship single-GPU Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition. While AMD talked about starting an AMD vs. NVIDIA war, NVIDIA actually did it by taking their mid-sized GPU into the heart of AMD enthusiast performance territory and stealing picnic baskets.

Gamers undoubtably get a lot of value in the AMD's massive Never Settle bundle, but NVIDIA offer premium features like GeForce Experience, quieter operation, lower power, and hardware frame rate smoothing. We don't have hardware on hand to pitch the GTX 770 against a Radeon HD 7970 GE to validate the stated claims, but given the performance of the GeForce GTX 680, we think it's going to be a close run. Ultimately, it's a battle for third place behind the GTX Titan and GTX 780 in the single GPU performance crown wars.