Team Green’s latest attempt at graphics card domination has landed… this time in the form of a GTX 780 Ti. EVGA has long been the number one seller of NVIDIA based products; and with all the enthusiast-level hardware they offer, it’s easy to see why. Today, we’ll be looking at yet another such enthusiast-level offering from EVGA – The GTX 780 Ti Classified. When EVGA slaps the “Classified” name on one of their GPUs, it usually means we get a graphics card loaded with features that performs great. Let’s get going and see if this holds true this time around as well!
Specifications and Features
Here are the specifications attached to the GTX 780 Ti Classified as provided by the EVGA website.
|EVGA GTX 780 Ti Classified Specifications|
So, what’s changed from the GTX 780 you might ask? First, the CUDA cores have been increased from 2304 to 2880, which is actually even higher than the GTX Titan’s 2688. Texture units also see an increase from the GTX 780’s 192 up to 240, which again is also more than the GTX Titan’s 224. The ROPs remain unchanged at 48. The GTX 780 Ti Classified has a built-in factory overclock of 1020 MHz base and 1085 MHz boost, but we all know the actual boost will be higher than that. During my testing, I recorded the actual boost clock at 1162 MHz when the card was under load. When compared to the reference design clock speed of 876 MHz base/928 MHz boost, you can see that’s quite an overclock. While the GTX 780 Ti Classified can’t match the GTX Titan’s 6 GB of memory, it does outdo it in raw MHz. The 3 GB of onboard memory is set at 1750 MHz (7000 MHz quad pumped), which is 250 MHz faster than the GTX 780 offers. A quick glance at GPU-Z confirms the above specifications.
The EVGA GTX 780 Ti Classified certainly appears to have the beast-like features and specifications we’re accustomed to seeing on a Classified labeled video card, so let’s get this thing on a bench and have a look around!
Packaging and First Look
EVGA is not one of those companies that goes overboard with marketing on their boxes. On the front, you get the basics as to what’s inside, along with a couple high-level features printed across the top. On the back, you’ll find the key features just as we have them listed above. They also include a picture of the display outputs and a multilingual list of the key features. The box sides are home to additional branding, a few of EVGA’s product accomplishments, and another multilingual list of several specifications.
Opening the box reveals a white cardboard insert that’s used to hold the accessories, and below that is a stout foam container to house the card itself. There is a lot of documentation included in the accessories, along with two 8-pin PCI-E power adapters, a DVI to VGA adapter, driver and software disc, stickers, and a case badge.
Before we get to dissecting the GTX 780 Ti Classified, here are a few glamour shots for you to peruse through. I really like the clean lines and absence of gaudy “bling” effects found on so many of today’s GPUs… less is more in this case.
The EVGA GTX 780 Ti Classified – Up Close
To remove the ACX cooler, there are four spring loaded screws to remove on the back of the card. Once the ACX cooler is separated from the PCB, we can see the nickel plated copper block making good contact with the GPU. The aluminum support plate was removed by relieving an additional 15 screws at the back of the card. The support plate also doubles as a heatsink for the MOSFETs and memory ICs. All the thermal pads attached to the aluminum plate were found to be making excellent contact with their contact points.
The ACX cooler uses a six heatpipe design that passes through an aluminum fin stack. Past experience with the ACX cooler has always resulted in excellent air cooling, and I expect that won’t change this time around either. EVGA claims a 40% increase in heatsink volume, which they say correlates to 15% better cooling of the GPU and memory. The dual ball bearing fans are said to offer a 4X longer lifespan than competitors’ sleeved bearing fans. EVGA also touts the fans as being easy on the ears and providing 15% quieter operation. The fan blades themselves are specially designed to be 700% stronger and 15% lighter weight, and as such, require less power to operate. We’ll assume EVGA is using the reference card as their comparison basis for all of these claims.
With the card stripped down to the bare PCB, we can get a good look at the massive power delivery the GTX 780 Ti Classified offers. There are 14 power phases dedicated to the GPU and 3 more dedicated to the memory. That’s a pretty darn impressive power delivery scheme by anyone’s standards.
Having a look at the display output area, we see there are two DVI (DVI-I & DVI-D), one HDMI, and one DisplayPort 1.2 connectors. You can hook a total of four concurrent displays to the card. Along the top edge of the card, we see it requires dual 8-pin power cables to operate. Next to the 8-pin power connectors, we find the connection blocks for the EVBot and Probe-It. Also located here is the dual BIOS switch, which when thrown over to the secondary BIOS will give you a slightly higher power target limit of 115%.
That massive power delivery section we showed you earlier is controlled by the CHiL CHL8318 VRM, which is a popular choice among enthusiasts and overclockers. I know many of you are interested in the memory ICs this card uses, and I’m pleased to see that Hynix was chosen. In this case, the H5GQ2H24AFR-R2C GDDR5 ICs are used, which carry a speed rating of 7000 MHz (quad pumped) at 1.6 V. EVGA took full advantage of the memory’s speed capabilities and set it to its maximum rated speed right out of the box. We’ll see if we can push it beyond that later in the review. And finally, the last image below is a close-up shot of the Kepler GK110 GPU core.
EVGA’s PrecisionX software has evolved into quite a robust overclocking tool over the past couple of years. Its user-friendly interface and integration with RivaTuner statistic server give you total control over the video card. From overclocking to monitoring and fan control, everything you need is there. Also available is EVGA’s OC Scanner utility, which can be used for overclock stability testing. Once installed, OC Scanner can be launched right from the PrecisionX interface by simply clicking the “test” button.
- GPU and Memory Frequency/Clock Offset
- Power Target Control (GeForce GTX TITAN / 700 / 600)
- Temperature Target Control (GeForce GTX TITAN / 700)
- Pixel Clock Overclocking – OC your refresh rate!
- Frame Rate Target Control
- GPU Voltage Adjustment + Overvoltage (GeForce GTX TITAN / 700)
- Custom Fan Control/Fan Curve
- Profiling system allowing up to 10 profiles with hotkey
- Robust monitoring allowing ingame, system tray and/or Logitech LCD monitoring
- In game screenshot hotkey, supports BMP, PNG and JPG formats
- Custom skins including ones created by the EVGA community!
- Support for wireless Bluetooth overclocking via custom Android app
- Multi-language support: English, Dutch, French, Traditional Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese
Performance and Overclocking
|Motherboard||ASUS Maximus VI Formula|
|CPU||Intel i7 4770K Haswell|
|Memory||G.SKill TridentX DD3-2666 MHz 2x4GB|
|SSD||Samsung EVO 500 GB SSD|
|Power Supply||Corsair HX1050 Professional Series|
|Video Card||EVGA GTX 780 Ti Classified w/ACX Cooler|
|Cooling||Swiftech Apogee HD CPU Water Block – 360 mm Radiator – MCP35X Pump|
Overclocking for Stability
The EVGA GTX 780 Ti offers the Double BIOS feature like several other of their higher-end video cards. The BIOS switch can be left in the normal position or moved over to the LN2 position for a slightly higher power target limit of 115%. That’s not much of an increase, so I would recommend just throwing the switch to LN2 mode from the start. One of the great things about buying into one of EVGA’s high-end graphics cards is the enthusiast community built around them. When I reviewed the GTX 780 Classified a few months ago, I found a voltage control utility and several 3rd party BIOS files to try out. Things are looking good for the GTX 780 Ti Classified in this regard too, and there are already a few 3rd party BIOS files and a new voltage adjustment tool available. The new tool allows the GPU voltage to be pumped as high as 1.5 V, but we won’t be using a voltage that high when using air cooling.
As far as any meaningful overclocking goes, you’ll need to jump right in and use the Classified Voltage Tool and a 3rd party modified BIOS. EVGA applied a hefty overclock at the factory on this card (just short of 150 MHz), so there is little to no room left without applying more voltage than PrecisionX allows. That’s certainly not EVGA’s fault… we all know NVIDIA has put the clamps down where additional voltage is concerned. On the plus side of all this, EVGA provides a stout overclock right out of the box without you having to do anything. The down side is that the overclockers among us will have to take the steps outlined above to get the most from this card. But, hey… that’s what living on the technology edge is all about, right? So, armed with our voltage tool and a modified BIOS, let’s see what we can do.
After spending several hours with the modified BIOS and voltage tool, a couple of items became crystal clear. While the ACX cooler does a fine job, temperatures are going to get in your way pretty quickly once you start adding voltage in the 1.35 V range. The other thing I noticed is that this card doesn’t seem to respond to well to voltage settings over 1.35 V… at least on air cooling anyway. By respond, I mean adding voltage past 1.35 V didn’t allow me to take the GPU speed any further, even though the temperature threshold was not breached. I even took the system into a much cooler environment to ensure the temperatures stayed under the throttling point. So, after all the testing I performed, I managed to get the GPU raised an additional 140 MHz using the voltage tool set to 1.35 V. This resulted in an actual boost clock of 1293 MHz. The memory topped out at 2000 MHz (8000 MHz Quad Pumped) using 1.7 V, which is a pretty stout 250 MHz increase. As I stated before though, you have to keep in mind the high factory overclock this card comes with. With EVGA’s factory overclock, plus the additional overclock I added… we are pushing almost 300 MHz over reference speeds. That’s actually pretty impressive when you stop to think about it.
I pretty much got everything I could from this card in its out-of-box form, so consider the results below your “Pushing the Limits” numbers too. I’m sure the card can be pushed quite a bit further under water, or if taken cold (LN2). Speaking of water cooling, EVGA tells us water blocks that fit the GTX 780 Classified will transfer right over and work on this card too.
We’ve had a recent change in the benchmarks we use for games, but our synthetic tests have pretty much remained the same. Below is the down and dirty explanation of what we do, but please visit our GPU Testing Procedure page for a detailed rundown of the process.
Minimum System Requirements
- i7 4770K @ 4 GHz
- Dual Channel DDR3-1866 9-9-9-24
- GPU @ stock and overclocked
- Monitor capable of 1920×1080
- 3DMark Vantage – DirectX 10 benchmark running at 1280X1024 – Performance preset.
- 3DMark 11 – DirectX 11 benchmark running at 1280X720 – Performance preset.
- 3DMark Fire Strike – DirectX 11 benchmark running 1920X1080 – Standard test (not extreme).
- Unigine Heaven (HWBot version) – DX11 Benchmark – Extreme setting.
- Batman: Arkham Origins – 1920X1080, 8x MSAA, PhysX off, V-Sync off, The rest set to on or DX11 enhanced.
- Battlefield 4 – 1920X1080, Ultra Preset, V-Sync off.
- Bioshock Infinite – 1920X1080, Ultra DX11 preset, DOF on.
- Crysis 3 – 1920X1080, Very high settings, 16x AF, 8x MSAA, V-Sync off.
- Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn – 1920X1080, Maximum preset.
- Grid 2 – 1920X1080, 8x MSAA, Intel specific options off, Everything else set to highest available option.
- Metro Last Light – 1920X1080, DX11 preset, SSAA on, Tessellation very high, PhysX off.
Beginning with the synthetic benchmarks, you’ll see the EVGA GTX 780 Ti pretty much wipes the floor with everything else in the comparison graphs. This card really pumped out some great numbers here. The only competitor that came even remotely close was the ASUS MARS 760, which is a dual GPU card running in SLI mode.
Moving over to our game benchmarks, we see a similar pattern to above hold true here as well. This card scaled extremely well when overclocked and threw out some jaw dropping numbers in some of these games. Here again, only the ASUS MARS 760 with its dual GPUs was close at all. My apologies for the missing data in the Grid 2 results, we’re still working on getting everything tested with our new suite of games.
I think you’ll agree the EVGA GTX 780 Ti Classified has no problem playing today’s modern game titles at their maximum settings. Even the most demanding games in our suite (think Metro LL and Crysis 3) were no match for the power of this card… it easily flew right through them all.
NVIDIA Surround Testing
We didn’t have NVIDIA Surround results for the EVGA GTX 780 Classified, but we do for the ASUS GTX 780 DirectCU II. So, we’ll swap the two for comparison in the graphs below. Just as expected, the GTX 780 Ti Classified swept the field in our NVIDIA surround testing. Three of the games we tested showed very playable frame rates, while Crysis 3 and Metro: Last Light were below the 30 FPS threshold we call playable. Those two games will have to have a few settings reduced to reach that 30 FPS mark.
Power Consumption and Temperatures
Our temperature testing procedure requires running HWBot Heaven at both stock and overclocked settings. The results are normalized to 25 °C ambient. I ran tests with the fan control set to auto and again with the fan speed set to 100%
The ACX cooler did an admirable job of keeping the card cool, but you’ll need to ramp the fan speed all the way up when you start pouring the voltage to it. With the fan left on auto control, it does just fine under stock conditions. Auto fan control won’t cope with the 1.35 V I used for our overclock, so you’ll have to ramp it up to 100% to keep it from crashing. No big surprise there though… that’s a lot of voltage for any air cooler to handle. The ACX gets a little noisy when ramped up to full speed, but not what I would call annoyingly so. However, up to around 50% speed, it’s very quiet. The N/A in the graph below simply means the test was not able to complete before the card overheated and crashed.
Our power consumption testing is done with a Kill-a-Watt with the wattage usage recorded at idle and load. We run both HWBot Heaven and 3DMark 11 (Combined Physics Test) to hopefully get the maximum power draw the video card can produce. I tend to take this testing one step further and also provide results while the video card is overclocked. Keep in mind, the results are total system draw and not just the video card.
EVGA recommends a power supply with a minimum of 600 watts; but as you can see below, that might be a little tight once you start overclocking. If you plan on using this card at stock, a quality 600 watt power supply would probably be fine. But, who buys a card like this to run it at stock? I would venture to say the answer to that question is… wait for it… nobody!
With the release of the GTX 780 Ti series, NVIDIA currently has the fastest GPU offering there is. From what I’ve seen, this also includes AMD’s R9 290X when both cards are compared in their reference design configuration. In fact, EVGA claims the GTX 780 Ti Classified is the best gaming graphics card on the planet. Unfortunately, owning what could very well be the fastest GPU available comes with a premium price too. When the EVGA store has the cards in stock, they are $50 less than Newegg’s $799.99 price. It’s all a matter of supply and demand, and people stand in line to buy EVGA’s top-end Classified video cards. I’ve seen these cards come available at the EVGA store a couple of times, and they usually sell out within hours. It wouldn’t surprise me if Newegg raises the price when they know the EVGA store is out of stock… supply and demand. NVIDIA always attaches a premium price to a card that is the fastest available at the time of release… always have and probably always will. As soon as AMD comes out with something faster, the price will undoubtedly drop. We bore witness to this a few months ago when the release of AMD’s R9/R7 cards forced NVIDIA to reduce prices on competing models. The other thing NVIDIA and EVGA are taking advantage of is the scarce availability of non-reference R9 290X cards on the market. Given the reference design R9 290X price of around $629, you can probably expect partner cards with factory overclocks and proprietary coolers to hit the market at roughly $650. That certainly narrows the price gap, and EVGA and NVIDIA are banking on customer loyalty and those that simply must have the best there is to drive sales. So, in the end, you can’t really knock the price if it’s the fastest GPU available and people are willing to pay the premium, which by all accounts they are… supply and demand.
On the performance side, the GTX 780 Ti Classified certainly delivers an impressive level of performance. EVGA did a great job with the applied factory overclock and took the card right near its limit, while still adhering to NVIDIAs voltage constraints. Once you get past those NVIDIA constraints with a modified BIOS and the voltage tool, you still have a fair amount of additional overclocking headroom to work with. With the dual BIOS switch, you’re free to experiment with 3rd party firmware and still have the security of always having a working BIOS should things go wrong.
The ACX cooler does a great job keeping the card cooled down, especially when you ramp it up to deal with added voltage. Depending on the environment you have the card installed in, it should be able to handle up to 1.3 V for almost everyone and perhaps even more. Aesthetically speaking, the ACX Cooler tops off the card with a clean and sleek look that the vast majority of people will appreciate. The black with shiny silver accents is neutral enough to easily integrate into just about any system’s color scheme.
In the end, we have a powerhouse of a video card in the EVGA GTX 780 Ti Classified. The card simply plowed through every benchmark we threw at it and did so with impressive results. Sure, it might be a little on the spendy side, but you know what they say… if you want the best, you have to pay to play.