Here we are again folks, towards or at the end of a ‘new’ card series from NVIDIA. This time around, we will be reviewing MSI’s N760 TF 2GD5/OC. Otherwise known as GTX 760. This card, according to NVIDIA, is supposed to be a GTX 660 Ti replacement, and compete with the HD 7950. What is weird is that I always thought the 670 competes with the HD 7950, but their marketing has it performing well against a HD 7950. We will see what magic MSI has done to their version of the card, and as always, see how it stands up performance wise.
Specifications and Features
As mentioned above, the GTX 760 is replacing the 660 Ti. The 770 replaced the 680, and the 780 is in a class of its own sitting a bit below the monster, Titan. We also know that the 770 had the same core as the 680 for all intents and purposes. So does this have the same thing too? Not quite. Though it is a GK104 (GK104-225 to be exact), it has less shaders (1152) but more ROPs (32) than the 660ti, and less shaders but the same ROPs as the 670. The reference core comes in with a clock speed of 980 MHz while MSI kicks it up a notch to 1020 MHz base (boosts to an actual value of 1149 MHz with boost 2.0). The memory bus remains 256 bit with the MSI offering coming in at the reference clock of 1502 MHz (6008 MHz DDR5).
Another item to mention is the TDP for this card drops to 170 W compared to the 230 W from the 770. I bet the Twin Frozr IV (TFIV) cooler does a good job here as well with about 60 W less heat to deal with…
Reference vs MSI Specifications:
|Specification||Reference GTX 760||MSI GTX 760|
|Graphics Processing Clusters||3 or 4||3|
|Base Clock||980 MHz||1020 MHz|
|Boost Clock||1033 MHz (actual)||1149 MHz (actual)|
|Memory Clock (Data Rate)||1502 MHz (6008 MHz DDR5)||1502 MHz (6008 MHz DDR5)|
|L2 Cache Size||512KB||512KB|
|Total Video Memory||2048 MB GDDR5||2048 MB GDDR5|
|Total Memory Bandwidth||192.26 GT/s||192.26 GT/s|
|Texture Filtering Rate (Bilinear)||94.1 GT/s||94.1 GT/s|
|Fabrication Process||28 nm||28 nm|
|Transistor Count||3.54 Billion||3.54 Billion|
|Connectors||2x DL DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort||2x DL DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort|
|Form Factor||Dual Slot||Dual Slot|
|Power Connectors||8-pin and 6-pin||8-pin and 6-pin|
|Recommended Power Supply||500 Watts||500 Watts|
|Thermal Design Power (TDP)||170 W||170 W|
|Thermal Threshold||95 °C||95 °C|
One last thing to note about the 7 series from NVIDIA is that this will be the last card that is coming out for quite a while from the green camp. Here is a slide from the Press Deck showing their complete lineup through fall of 2013. So hopefully we will see some new cards, from both camps, towards the end of this year. Right in time for Holiday season maybe?
One of the unique things MSI brings to you is the simple their very simple overclocking application, MSI Gaming App, which lets you quickly overclock, or underclock, with a touch of the button. The gaming mode was plenty stable in Battlefield 3 game play so we were good in that respect.
- Gaming Mode – -overclocks the GPU a bit and adjusts the fan speed
- Eco Mode – actually reduces core clocks and fan speed
- Default Mode – sets it back to factory settings.
Of course we can’t forget what keeps this thing cool is the Twin Frozr IV heatsink and fans. The TFIV comes with two fans, this time in the 100 mm PWM variety utilizing “Propeller Blade Technology” to get more air to and through the heatsink and down on the card. The heatsink itself users Superpipe Technology along with three other ‘mere mortal’ heatpipes attached to a Nickel-plated copper base that attaches to the GPU. We will take a look at how it did a bit later, of course.
Last up features wise is, MSI claims Military certifications regarding the caliber of its components. Military Class 4 is their name for it. I’ve expressed concern on the forums with some other military class claims for other vendors but couldn’t find any specific standards it adhered to. I bring that up as this is the first time I have seen specific standards listed, such as the MIL-STD-810G so that is a start. MSI selected several tests, such as High Temperature Test, Temperature Shock Test, Humidity Test, and Low Temperature Test to name a few. Making all this come together are the solid CAPs used (that most cards use now days anyway), a new Solid Ferrite Choke (SFC) supporting 30% more power, and a Hi-c CAP for better thermal stability. I still find these things a bit gimmicky personally, but at least MSI publishes a specific standard and tests within that standard so we can see what exactly was tested.
As far as performance goes, of course NVIDIA has completed their own in house testing across a line of several games and claims a victory over the venerable 7950 in these titles. Here is the slide from NVIDIA’s press deck…we do not really test most of these titles or their settings, but we will see with our testing suite if the song remains the same.
Photo Op – Meet the N760 TF 2GD5/OC
In checking out the retail packaging, we see that this video card is also part of MSI’s Gaming Series line. So we have the now familiar dragon sitting on a black background, the MSI name up in the top left, with the card type in the bottom right. This card is a factory-overclocked model so in the bottom left hand of the box you see the “OC” there. Flipping the box around we see the usual marketing suspects, the MSI Gaming App, Twin Frozr IV, the Military Class 4, as well as the Predator software (free FRAPS replacement).
Once you open up the box, you a greeted with another box that holds the accessory stack. Moving that out of the way, we finally get to see the card. It is sitting securely in form fitting foam to prevent any shipping damage.
Below are the included accessories, same as the 770 I believe, with a Quick User Guide, Driver disk, Molex to 6+2 pin PCIe adapter, DVI to VGA adapter, and finally, a 6 to 8 pin adapter. This should be enough to get you running on Day 1.
If it wasn’t for the black background, I bet you couldn’t tell this thing apart from the 770 I reviewed a bit ago could you? As you see this card with it being in the Gaming series sporting the TFIV cooler looks exactly the same. Large, quiet’ 100 mm fans take up most of the real estate on the front with the Gaming Series badge resting in the middle just below the red ‘racing stripe. Again, I like it. Though one thing I just thought of. Red may not please everyone, so why not include a couple stickers with different colors in them? Seems cheap enough to include and all… though the separation of their lineup is more or less defined by the color at this point. Still, a cheap value add in my opinion.
Anyway, on the back side of the card, after the brown PCB (meh!), you may next notice the large “Super-pipe” protruding out from the core and over the height of the PCB. We also see two SLI connectors as well for up to 3 way SLI action. About the only other thing worthy of mentioning is seeing the solder points for the 8 and 6 pin power connections.
We next look at the outputs on the card. One Display port, one HDMI port, and two DVI ports for connectivity. As far as power goes you can see the 6 pin and 8 pin requirement for the 170 W TDP card. One thing I forgot to mention on the 770 that still applies here is that the Super pipe and heatsink are close to the power connectors which makes it a bit difficult to remove them. Note that I do not have thick sausage fingers. A few more mm clearance would allow for more room to get those off. Not a big deal in the least, but worth mentioning.
For the next set of photos, I took off the heatsink from the card to show everyone what’s going on underneath. We see the super pipe and three others on this nickle plated copper heatsink. The fin setup isn’t too dense but does a good job as you will see below. Looking at the card without the VRM/Memory heatsink, we can see a 5+2 phase power delivery system, as well as the memory IC’s plainly visible against the brown PCB.
As far as that VRM/Memory heatsink it covers all the parts on that side of the board (but not the other). Contact with all the power bits and ram IC’s were solid all the way around.
Last up we see the GK104-225 core, and the Hynix H5GQ2H24AFR ROC DDR5 IC’s. They are rated at 1.5 V.
Performance and Overclocking
As we all know by now, Overclockers.com utilizes multiple resources to review their hardware. In order to ensure the results are the same no matter who reviews the item, we have a specific test system set up and methods/settings as follows:
- Intel i7 4770K @ 4 GHz, 1.1 V
- Biostar Z87X 3D
- Kingston Hyper X Predator 2 x 4 GB 2666 MHz CL11 @ 1866 MHz 9-9-9-24
- 60 GB OCZ Vertex 2 SSD
- Seasonic 1000 W PSU
- MSI N760 TF 2GD5/OC (stock 1020(1149)/1502 and Overclocked 1100(1228)/1707
- Windows 7 64 bit Operating System
- NVIDIA 320.39 drivers
Other cards used for comparison are as follows (links are to the reviews):
(Note the above cards were all re-run on the Haswell platform for this review)
- All Synthetic benchmarks were at their default settings
- Unigine Heaven (HWbot) was run with the “extreme” setting
- Alien vs. Predator – 1920×1080 with highest settings offered (4x AA, textures set to highest)
- Batman: Arkham City – 1920×1080, 8xMSAA, MVSS and HBAO, Tessellation HIGH, Detail Level: Extreme
- Battlefield 3 – 1920×1080 at Ultra settings (4xAA/HBAO by default)
- Dirt 3 - 1920×1080 with 8x MSAA and all settings enabled and at Ultra where possible
- Metro 2033 – 1920×1080, DX11, Very High, 4x MSAA/ 16x AF, PhysX OFF, DOF enabled, Scene: Frontline
- Civilization V – 1920×1080, 8x MSAA, Vysnc OFF, High Detail Strategic View: Enabled, Other Settings: High, using full render frames value ( / 60)
- More detail is in our article: Overclockers’ Updated Video Card Testing Procedure
Below you will see my obligatory GPUz screenshot. As you can see the specs here match up with the table in the beginning at 1020 Mhz core and showing 1085 on boost. What you can’t see from this picture is this card uses 1.2 V on load. With that It boosts to 1149 MHz consistently across all testing without any drops.
Overclocking Software – MSI Afterburner
I’m confident we all know about MSI Afterburner software to monitor and overclock your GPU. One thing you will notice here is that we do not have any voltage control, yet. This is with the Beta 10 as well and there still isn’t any voltage control for the 760. If you want to change voltage, it is a very meager increase of 12 mV. You can do this with EVGA Precision X if you are looking to push farther than the stock voltage allows.
The power limit goes up to 145% so there is plenty of headroom there, I just wish NVIDIA allowed more voltage to be pushed through it. As a side note, I don’t believe the retail versions will be shipping with 45% power limit. I hear it is 15%. As always, wishing for more!
First up in the benchmarks are going to be, as usual, 3DMark 03 and Vantage. Taking a look at 03 we see the MSI GTX 760 comes in at 100,137. Not too shabby but it is falling behind the other cards in the lineup. On that note, please understand this card was never meant to compete with the cards listed here. We are just giving you an idea of the performance around it with the cards we have that are tested on our new Haswell platform. Sadly, we do not have any cards closer to its level (a 660 that performs well below it though), like a 660 Ti which it replaces. So again, look at the scores on their own, as comparing things with cards that cost $50 to $150 more isn’t really a fair fight. But its what we have to compare to…
Moving on to Vantage, the 760 scores 31,863 points again just a bit behind the GTX 670, while overclocked they are neck and neck, along with the HD 7950.
Next up we get a little bit more modern here with 3DMark 11. In this benchmark, we see the MSI N760 TF 2GD5/OC scores 8,625 at stock then breaks 9.1K overclocked. A theme you will see previously and continuing below is this card overclocked is right about at GTX 670 and HD 7950 performance levels. Not bad at all considering the pricing on this card compared to the others really.
Moving on to Unigine Heaven (Hwbot), here it shows 1,788.8. Again, overclocking, its close to a GTX 670 and in this case beating a factory oveclocked HD 7950.
Last up is 3DMark (Firestrike). In Futuremark’s latest GPU benchmark, we see a score of 5,649 at stock speeds, and 6,104 while overclocked. Do I need to tell you how close it is to a GT670 and HD 7950 again? Didn’t think so!
Next up are the games! We start out with Aliens vs. Predator here with the MSI N760 TF 2GD5/OC managing 55.1 FPS while overclocked it breaks 61 FPS. Plenty playable with the settings cranked as we have them.
After a late arrival (too many activations had to get an email out to support), I finally have some Batman: AC results. At the stock settings, the card managed 82 FPS and 92 FPS while overclocked. Easily eating this game up at this resolution and our settings. The overclocked results put it right up there with the 7950.
So last in this graph is my favorite game, Battlefield 3. Here the MSI offering pulls down 76.1 FPS stock and 82.4 overclocked matching the GTX670/680 essentially. But ever since AMD had their performance drivers come out, they seem to do quite well in this game so it falls behind the HD 7950 by nearly 10FPS.
Next up for our games is Civilization V. Here the MSI card gets 82.2 FPS stock and 89.5 while overclocked. The stock clock beats the HD 7950 for the first time, and comes close to the HD 7970, so that is a nice showing there. That said it still falls behind the GTX670/680.
Moving along to Dirt 3, the MSI 760 manages 92.6 FPS at stock and 101.1 FPS overclocked.
Last up for the games is our resident GPU killer, Metro 2033. Here the MSI N760 TF 2GD5/OC manages 29.3 FPS stock and 32.3 overclocked. Barely playable for most. In this case, like with all the other cards, it seems like only dual GPU cards can get things ‘playable’.
Pushing the Limits
Here we get to really crank up the clocks all around. I managed to put the 4770K up to 4.9 GHz, and pushed the GPU clocks to 1293(actual boost) on the core and 1755 MHz (7020 MHz DDR5). I was not able to break the 1300 MHz mark even with the meager 12 mV voltage increase, but running 1293 MHz is still a very solid increase from the stock 1149 MHz boost clock. We do not have control over the memory voltage on this card so this was all stock voltage. There is likely a bit more memory speed left in the tank too. Pushing the CPU and the core/memory speeds up managed to bump the scores across the benchmarks I had a significant amount. Not to bad at all.
Cooling and Power Consumption
Checking out how cool and quiet the Twin Frozr IV runs we put it through our usual test of 3DMark 11 and Unigine Heaven Extreme (Hwbot). Below you will see MSI’s GTX 760 hit a maximum of a normalized 68 °C. We have seen lower temperatures out of cards before, but part of this is a function of how these 7 series cards work with their Adaptive Temperature Controller found in the 7 series. The goal there was to better balance fan speeds to minimize fluctuations which should make for a more quiet environment. The fan speed here only managed to get up to 40% to reach these temperatures and was essentially dead silent. I could not here the card over three 120 mm Yate Loon High speed fans at 1K RPM. Not bad at all. I would expect such a thing personally as this is the same cooler which kept the 770 cool which uses around 50 more watts than the 760. All in all another good performance from the Twin Frozr IV cooler.
As far as power consumption goes, we have of course moved to a new platform and with that comes some differences between testing platforms. So please do not compare these results with any done on our old testing suite. The test system/base settings are 4 GHz 4770K @ 1.1 V. Power saving settings (CIE/EIST/C-states) have been disabled.
That aside we see the highest reading I captured on the Kill-a-Watt was 266 W in 3DMark 11 and 256 W for Unigine Heaven. This was of course with running the overclocked settings. At stock speeds we saw 252 W and 243 W respectively.
Well, its time to wrap this party up. I have to admit that, after reading the NVIDIA press deck and then running the benchmarks I was a bit disappointed. NVIDIA seems to expect that this card will beat a HD 7950. As we can see from our results/benchmarks used, that isn’t true for the most part. On the flip side, this card was slated to replace the 660 ti, and though we do not have modern results from that card, I can assure you with it being so close to the GTX 670 performance wise, it should handily beat its replacement, which is a good thing.
That aside, MSI got their hands on the card and worked some of there special sauce with Military Class 4 components, the Twin Frozr IV cooler, the MSI Gaming App, and Predator to give even more value to the card. We have on our hands a quiet, and good performer @ 1920×1080/1200 in the mid-range arena. Exactly what NVIDIA was shooting (sans beating the 7950 in our testing). Everything we threw at it, except Metro 2033 as usual, it played games easily at our settings (mostly quite high or maxed out). So again, solid performance.
With pricing on the GTX 760 reference cards being at $249.99, I expect the MSI N760 2GD5/OC to come in a bit higher than that and it does, at a mere $259.99. So in the end we have a card that costs around about $40 less than the cheapest HD 7950 available on newegg and performs a bit slower in most titles we tested against, 11% average across all benchmarks and games to be precise. That puts the price to performance ratio on the side of the GTX 760 by a few percentage points. It costs 14% less to purchase this card versus the slightly better performing HD 7950.
Wrapping things up, MSI has brought to the table a card that looks good, performs well for its intended place in the mid-range market, and is seemingly priced right for that performance profile. Without further ado, this card is Overclockers.com Approved.
Joe Shields (Earthdog)