The Nvidia GTX 680, is currently the most powerful single GPU retail card for sale. Using a 28 nm manufacturing process, Nvidia has got some huge stock GPU and RAM speeds out of the card, so it will be interesting to see the performance for ourselves. We’ve heard good things about this card, so let’s check it out.
- Interface: PCI Express 3.0* x16 (Compatible with 1.1)
- GPU: GeForce® GTX 680
- Core clock: 1006 MHz (base) – 1058 MHz (boost)
- Stream Processors: 1536
- Memory Clock: 6008 MHz
- Memory Size: 2GB
- Memory Interface: 256-bit
- Memory Type: DDR5
- DirectX: DirectX® 11
- DVI X 2 (DVI-I and DVI-D)
- HDMI-Ports X 1
- DisplayPort-Ports X 1
- VGA (With included DVI-to-VGA adapter)
- Max Resolution: 2560 x 1600
- SLI Supported: Yes (3-way)
Box and Bundle
The Zotac GeForce GTX680 comes in an excellent Matt Black box with Glossy writing.
Similar to the front, the back also shows many of the features of the card.
The bundle includes:
- CD driver
- Installation guide
- DVI to VGA adaptor
- Two Molex to 6 pin adaptors
It’s quite a small package; I’ve certainly seen more feature packed bundles anyway. You also get codes for Assassin’s Creed 1, 2 and Revelations. A nice bundle of titles that still look very pretty despite being a few years old.
Nvidia has fitted this card out with a great looking reference cooler assembly and with the Zotac sticker on top, it looks great.
Taking a look around to the back of the card we can see the exhaust holes and the display connectors.
Along the side we see a nice GeForce GTX logo and some more exhaust holes near the rear of the card. You can also see the two SLi fingers which support upto 3 way SLi.
The rear of the card doesn’t have a back plate which is unfortunate as it would have been nice to see on this high end card, also only four screws on the rear of the card can be undone, all the others have a non-standard head.
Opening the screws around the side of the cooler allows for the Plastic shroud to be removed.
Here’s the blower style fan. It’s very sturdy, with the coaxial design making it unlikely any of the blades would snap for any reason.
The two six pin power connectors for the card have a strange layout, and can make installing power cables kind of difficult. On the upside we haven’t seen a high end Nvidia card not use a six+2 eight pin connector for a couple of generations so this is a nice surprise.
Here’s the GK104 GPU.
This is the bottom of the heatsink, showing that unlike the two previous generations of high end card it uses a very simple design. A chunk of Copper soldered to some aluminium fins, instead of the Vapour chamber on the GTX 580 and the massive in-your-face heatpipe assembly on the GTX 480.
CPU: Phenom II 1090T @4.2GHz
Motherboard: Gigabyte 990FXA-UD7
RAM: G Skill Ripjaw 1600 7-7-7-24 4gb
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500GB
PSU: Coolermaster Silent Pro 850W
CASE: Corsair 700D
The driver used for testing was CCC 11.10.
For graphics card testing, here at XSReviews our aim is to provide a set of clean, reliable benchmarks. For each test, the test was repeated three times and then an average taken or where results were inconsistent, tests were continued until two concordant results were reached.
The benchmarks consist of a mixture of games and synthetic benchmarks; game testing is carried out through a specifically designed benchmark suite for that particular title or by using a time demo and the utility FRAPS to record the frame rates. The following software was used in the testing of the graphics cards:
- 3Dmark 11
- 3Dmark Vantage
- 3Dmark 06
- Furmark – for temperature testing
- Unique Heaven
- DIRT 3
- Crysis Warhead
3Dmark11 is the latest benchmark released from industry standard firm Futuremark. It is being touted as the de-facto way to test DirectX 11 enabled graphics cards and their capabilities of processing the latest 3D features found in modern games.
Futuremark describes the 3Dmark score as “an overall measure of your system’s 3D gaming capabilities, based on comprehensive real-time 3D graphics and processor tests. By comparing your score with those submitted by millions of other gamers you can see how your gaming rig performs, making it easier to choose the most effective upgrades or finding other ways to optimize your system.”
The GTX680 sees a huge score here, showing off the massive DX11 and Tessellation performance.
3DMark Vantage is the industry standard performance benchmark for DirectX 10 gaming PCs. It includes two graphics tests, two CPU tests and six feature tests. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark Vantage is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 10 under game-like loads.
PhysX was turned off for this test and we see the card hit an overall 26126 which is a awesome score although I think we’re seeing some bottle-necking here from the CPU, even while overclocked to 4.3GHz.
3DMark06 is a PC benchmark suite designed to test the DirectX9 performance of your graphics card.
A 3DMark score is an overall measure of your system’s 3D gaming capabilities, based on comprehensive real-time 3D graphics and processor tests. By comparing your score with those submitted by millions of other gamers you can see how your gaming rig performs, making it easier to choose the most effective upgrades or finding other ways to optimize your system.
For some reason or another the card doesn’t score well in 3D Mark 06, whether it’s the CPU holding it back on not I’m not sure.
“Heaven Benchmark is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on advanced Unigine™ engine from Unigine Corp. It reveals the enchanting magica of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. Interactive mode provides emerging experience of exploring the intricate world of steampunk.”
The settings used are: Shaders – High, Tessellation – Normal, AA – Off, Anistropy – 4, 1280 X 1024 Full screen.
No bottlenecks in Heaven 3! The GPU was at 99% the entire time. We see big scores here.
Dirt 3 (stylised DiRT 3) is a rallying video game and the third in the Dirt series of the Colin McRae Rally series, developed and published by Codemasters. Featuring DX11, it’s a great test for the latest graphics cards.
Looks a lot like we’re seeing bottlenecks here too, although mostly at lower settings.
Crysis Warhead is a science fiction first-person shooter computer game developed by the studio Crytek Budapest, Hungary, and published by Electronic Arts. Featuring the renowned CryEngine 2, Crysis Warhead has some of the best graphics ever seen in a game.
Crysis Warhead sees great performance throughout the range of settings.
Overclocking and Thermals
At stock settings the card idles at 33C and after Furmark ran for 20 minutes with extreme mode enabled, we reached 82C. At idle the card was almost silent, atleast inaudible to my ears, under load the fan did begin to speed up but was still quiet fairly quiet. In actual game play you find yourself very rarely hearing anything from the card.
I installed MSI AfterBurner and set the power target to 132%. With Heaven bench running the card set itself to 1097MHz. Turning up the GPU Offset to 116 MHz gave me 1200MHz on the GPU and the RAM was easily set to +150MHz. After pushing for more the dynamic overclocking didn’t seem to want to let me push the card above 1215MHz so that’s where I stayed. Voltage was upped to 1.175.
Stability was tested with Furmark.
The GTX 680 has shown itself to be an awesome performer and a great overclocker too, once you understand the dynamic overclocking.
The card ripped through every game test and did excellent in the benchmarks too. It does start to make some noise when running tests made to work your card to the max but in gaming you’ll likely rarely hear the card unless you’re really into quiet computing. The supplied bundle was small but what was included was good. It’s nice to see games being included.
This Zotac card sells for around £380 which is a lot of money but that’s what you pay for owning the most powerful single GPU retail cad in the world.
- Great performance
- Flashy looks
- Very Quiet
- Runs cool
- Dynamic overclocking keeps clocks high
- Dynamic overclocking can be annoying if you’re trying to manual overclock
- High price