As sure as day follows night, tick follows tock and more people follow Bieber on Twitter than live in Canada, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 770 follows the GTX 780 . And given the pricey nature of the GTX 780, and the Titanesque surrounds of this new card, that would probably lead you to believe it's yet another hugely expensive toy.
Well at £330/$399 it is still expensive, but that doesn't preclude it from also being really rather good value.
Essentially what we've got here is a second-tier graphics card that is at once quicker and cheaper than either of the top-end single-GPU cards of the last generation from Nvidia and AMD. That's all you can ask of a new generation of graphics card and the GTX 770 delivers with aplomb.
Nvidia have opted to keep with the supercar looks they've been running with since the launch of the GTX 690, and so the GTX 770 is treated to the same lustrous chassis as both the GTX Titan and the GTX 780. Under that matte-finished hood is pretty much the same engine that was powering the GTX 680 of the last generation. But Nvidia have been keen to point out that, despite using the same GPU architecture, the GTX 700 series isn't going to simply be an exercise in re-branding old cards.
“We have learnt from bad examples in the past,” Nvidia said earlier this month. “So the obvious one is the 9800GTX+ to GTS 250 – none of these [700 series cards] are direct re-brands of what's come before. We've gone to the pains of making sure we've got better clocks, better design as a whole, better cooling and GPU Boost 2.0.”
So yes, it's still running the same GK104 GPU as the GTX 680, but the clocks have been pushed a touch higher - 1,046MHz now plays 1,006MHz - and the changes brought about by GPU Boost 2.0 gives it a fair performance lead over the elder statesman of the last generation. In general terms we're talking around 10% higher average frame rates and higher minimum frame rates too.
That's partly down to the fact the GTX 770 is also using the quickest graphics memory in the business - a headline-grabbing 7,010MHz running down the same 256-bit memory bus as the old GTX 680.
As well as this 2GB version Nvidia have also announced they're going to be releasing a 4GB version. Though I would expect those cards are also going to accompany the overclocked SKUs of the GTX 770 that are sure to arrive around launch too.
So, the GTX 770 looks great, has excellent performance and still costs less than its competition. What's more, it overclocks pretty nicely too. I was able to get a steady, stable 1,280MHz out of the GK104 sitting at the heart of the GTX 770 and that performance puts it comfortably ahead of the GTX 680 and, more importantly for Nvidia, ahead of the AMD Radeon HD 7970GHz Edition . Even when the GTX 770 is running at that top overclock it's still drawing around 50 Watts less juice than the top AMD single-GPU card.
AMD has recently taken a bit of a kicking at the top-end of the graphics card market. As much as they want to talk about the fastest graphics card, many PC gamers remain unconvinced about multi-GPU reliability and would rather stick with a slightly slower GTX Titan than a fast, but flaky AMD Radeon HD 7990 .
The GTX 780 felt like a marker in the sand, teasing AMD to pull out some premium silicon to compete. The GTX 770 then is the final nail in AMD's current high-end coffin, putting the HD 7970 GHz edition gently, but insistently, to sleep. I t's got to bode well for the surely incoming GeForce GTX 760, too.
GPU - Nvidia GK104
CUDA cores - 1,536
Base clock - 1,046MHz
Memory capacity - 2,048MB
Memory clock - 7,010MHz
Memory bus - 256-bit
ROPs - 32
The GTX 770 is consistently ahead of both the GTX 680 it's ostensibly replacing and the HD 7970 GHz edition it is competing with. Only the global illumination feature in the DiRT Showdown engine gives the Nvidia architecture serious problems, and that's the only place where AMD's cards get any joy.
Elsewhere the stock-clocked GTX 770 is ahead or on par with the top AMD single-GPU card. There is one other anomaly though and that's in the Bioshock Infinite tests where the Nvidia cards consistently post lower minimum frame rates than the AMD card. That's the only other place where the extra 1GB GDDR5 memory gives the HD 7970 GHz ed an edge over the quicker memory of the GTX 770.
Because of the high-end nature of the GTX 770 I'm once again testing at my peak resolution of 2560x1600 with 4x MSAA and the top graphics settings available. The initial number in each of the graphics benchmarks is the average frame rate and the number in parenthesis is the minimum frame rate.
The test rig is an Asus Sabertooth Z77 with a stock-clocked Intel i7-3770K and 16GB DDR3 RAM running at 1,600MHz.
DirectX 11 tessellation performance
Heaven 4.0 – FPS: higher is better
Nvidia GeForce GTX 770 – 24.9 (14.1)
Nvidia GeForce GTX 770 OC – 26.2 (14.5)
AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Ed – 23.6 (12.7)
Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 – 22.9 (13.3)
DirectX 11 gaming performance
Batman: Arkham City - FPS:higher is better
Nvidia GeForce GTX 770 - 75 (42)
Nvidia GeForce GTX 770 OC - 77 (43)
AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Ed - 69 (27)
Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 - 67 (38)
Bioshock Infinite – FPS
Nvidia GeForce GTX 770 – 48 (13)
Nvidia GeForce GTX 770 OC – 53 (13)
AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Ed – 41 (18)
Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 – 45 (13)
Crysis 3 – FPS
Nvidia GeForce GTX 770 – 29 (20)
Nvidia GeForce GTX 770 OC – 31 (24)
AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Ed – 28 (20)
Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 – 25 (20)
DiRT Showdown – FPS
Nvidia GeForce GTX 770 – 51 (39)
Nvidia GeForce GTX 770 OC – 57 (45)
AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Ed – 65 (50)
Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 – 45 (35)
Max Payne – FPS
Nvidia GeForce GTX 770 – 32 (21)
Nvidia GeForce GTX 770 OC – 35 (23)
AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Ed – 28 (19)
Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 – 30 (19)
Peak platform power
100% GPU load – Watts: lower is better
Nvidia GeForce GTX 770 – 285
Nvidia GeForce GTX 770 OC – 302
AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Ed – 350
Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 – 277