Nvidia reclaims performance crown with GeForce GTX 680

By on March 22, 2012, 8:00 AM

After months of rumors, Nvidia has finally unleashed its next-gen 28nm graphics tech, codenamed "Kepler." As usual, the series kicks off with a flagship single-GPU, the GeForce GTX 680, which is said to be the company's fastest and most power efficient offering to date, courtesy of the new GK104 graphics processor. On top of the raw speed and power improvements, Nvidia says Kepler cards introduce new tech to provide consistently smooth frame rates in games -- something we look forward to testing when we get a review sample.

The GK104 contains four GPCs with a total of eight SMXs, 1536 CUDA cores, eight geometry units, four raster units, 128 texture units, and 32 ROP units. The base clock is 1006MHz, but it can dynamically boost to 1058MHz and beyond for more performance (about 5% supposedly). The card also carries 2GB of GDDR5 VRAM running at 6008MHz with a 256-bit interface providing 6.0Gb/s of throughput. Dual six-pin power connectors feed the card's TDP of 195W -- notably lower than the GTX 580 (244W) and Radeon HD 7970 (250W).

Although Kepler is built on the foundation laid by Fermi, Nvidia had different developmental goals for each architecture. Fermi improved DirectX 11 geometry, tessellation and compute performance, while merely "managing" power consumption in the process. Kepler sort of reverses those priorities: it also strives to boost performance (and succeeds based on Nvidia's slides), but does so while emphasizing power efficiency. Nvidia's press kit includes a slide that demonstrates the generational performance per watt improvement:

We'll have to confirm all this for ourselves when we get our hands on a card, but the company also provided some reference performance comparisons between the Radeon HD 7970 when running various games at 2560x1600 and max quality settings. With those parameters, the GTX 680 outpaces the HD 7970 by an average of about 15%. It shows a dramatic lead in some titles, such as 36% in Skyrim (to be expected with Nvidia's driver optimizations), while the card slips behind its rival by 1% in Sid Meier's Civilization V.


Click for full size

As noted, Kepler comes with some new gamer-oriented feature called Adaptive VSync that should help stabilize frame rates. As you're likely aware, Vertical Sync is a game setting that displays new frames synchronously with your display's refresh rate (generally 60Hz -- or 60fps) to prevent artifacts such as screen tearing. The problem is, if your graphics card can't keep up at that pace and slips below the 60fps mark -- even just a little bit Nvidia says -- you're likely to experience stuttering as your card drops down to 30fps or worse.

Adaptive VSync solves the issue by dynamically enabling and disabling VSync as dictated by your frame rate. The feature will be available in Nvidia's R300 driver family and it won't be specifically limited to the GTX 680 or other GTX 600 series cards for that matter. The GTX 680 includes other enhancements such as a new display engine for multi-monitor setups, NVENC (a hardware-based H.264 video encoder), as well as FXAA and TXAA. We'll go over everything in more detail in our review (again, we're still waiting on a sample).




User Comments: 43

Got something to say? Post a comment
lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

No physical specs? How long is it? Or what about the price? Granted, I could just Google all of thar, but it would be quite helpful if you guys could include that in the article.

MilwaukeeMike said:

anandtech has a complete review, Lawfer.

MrTomTom said:

Around 500? in France according to http://www.ldlc.com/n1750/

A bit confusing tho. It might be the individual price for 5 cards group purchase.

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

No! Out of stock at Newegg already!!!!! I was ready to buy two of them today!

Wagan8r Wagan8r said:

The thing that slightly irks me is that this really isn't a flagship card. It's a higher mid-range card that just happens to beat out AMD's flagship card. The real flagship is GK110 or GK112, but since GK104 kicks the HD 7970's butt, they call it a GTX 680, and slap a high-end pricetag on it. I was hoping for something around the $300 range. I guess I'll have to keep on waiting...

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

That card sounds sweet! Low power, slightly shorter at 10" vs. 11" for the typical card. Adaptive VSync sounds cool.

Looks like Nvidia invested some quality time in the finer details.

I'm still on a 22" monitor at home, so the higher resolution's aren't that challenging for the card I have now (580). Maybe a power supply, 680, and a monitor are in my future? Come on NewEgg, get some in stock will ya?!

Arris Arris said:

Better, but think I'll still cling onto my 2 x 5850 setup for a while yet.

indiangamer said:

now thats a card to upgrade my hd 5870 since i was not able to upgrade my card due to restriction of having only 2 6 pin power connector so it costs less, runs cooler, quieter, faster. and is more powerfriendly. Now being a AMD fanboy i am going for nvidia. and its a big think

can anyone tell me if a 500 watt psu is good for this card or not as anandtech load power consuption is only 362 watts and my pc only have phenom 2 x6 (AMD fanboy) at default clocks?????

MilwaukeeMike said:

LNCPapa said:

No! Out of stock at Newegg already!!!!! I was ready to buy two of them today!

Wow... that was fast. a few hours ago only the EVGA model was sold out. Now they all are.

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

Yeah - I'm in tears. I already told the wife last night that I was going to make this purchase today or tomorrow... whenever it actually comes out. I was hoping to get the eVGA model but I guess I'm late to the game. Hope the prices don't start climbing because of this.

amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

I play at 2560 X 1600 but don't want a dual card setup, and don't want to cheap out by going with AMD's inferior software/drivers.

Do I finally have a reason to upgrade from my 570? I hope so

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I'm contemplating a 5760x1080 setup and at that resolution the 7970 and 680 are pretty much equal as the lack of memory bandwith on the 680 starts to show.

Just hoping AMD lower their prices

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

For what it's worth - I kept refreshing the newegg page for 680s and I guess people were just holding them in their carts - once a couple were removed NE marked them as back in stock and I was able to pick up a pair. Unfortunately I couldn't get eVGA cards, but I got a couple of ASUS 680s. The eVGA would only come up with 1 available and the same with the Zotac. As soon as you change the number to 2 cards it would take it back out of your basket due to insufficient stock.

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

Goodbye unlocked 6950 2GB, Hello GTX 680!

Chazz said:

I think this will be my new GPU.

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

indiangamer said:

now thats a card to upgrade my hd 5870 since i was not able to upgrade my card due to restriction of having only 2 6 pin power connector so it costs less, runs cooler, quieter, faster. and is more powerfriendly. Now being a AMD fanboy i am going for nvidia. and its a big think

can anyone tell me if a 500 watt psu is good for this card or not as anandtech load power consuption is only 362 watts and my pc only have phenom 2 x6 (AMD fanboy) at default clocks?????

If you're CPU is not overclocked you'll be fine. I'm sure Anand used an overclocked i7. The only thing holding you back, is your CPU i'm afraid. Phenom II's are not the best gaming CPU's to be matched with high end graphics to get the most out of your hardware. An upgrade to an FX or Core i5 or i7, would give you the best performance... and maybe a jump to a 600w so you have that headroom in case you overclock in the future.

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

lawfer said:

No physical specs? How long is it? Or what about the price? Granted, I could just Google all of thar, but it would be quite helpful if you guys could include that in the article.

Overall the card measures 10" long with no overhang from the shroud, making it 0.5" shorter than the GTX 580.

Guest said:

Give us links to where you get the info. Cite sources.

Guest said:

I noticed someone on eBay that bought 10 of the eVGA model on Newegg and is selling them each for $799.99

At the local computer store nearby, I could get the same model for $499.99

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

but I got a couple of ASUS 680s.

Good score. Buying direct from EVGA seems to have netted people better luck than Newegg.

New WHQL driver for the GTX 680 ( Forceware 301.10) released earlier today.

Seems the early disappointment of the card only being able to hit ~1300MHz core might be a little premature. Like Tahiti, the GK104 seems to have some horsepower in reserve. I'm guessing the missing power phase on the reference GTX 680 board might reappear for vendor designs. It would seem a natural counter for AMD's likely 1GHz+ refresh of the 7970, which I have no doubt is coming.

Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

Give us links to where you get the info. Cite sources.

I mentioned this in the post, but it was written off Nvidia's press kit (on a passworded FTP).

jaydicee said:

and now I'm just patiently waiting for the geforce 500 series prices to go down so that I can get myself 2 560ti's :-)

hack0152 said:

I just picked up an EVGA 680 card from TigerDirect.com and didn't have to pay state taxes... Only paid $7.56 for shipping...

System configuration:

OS/Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit

EVGA 1366 mobo

Intel 980 Extrem 6 core processor 3.33GHz

OZC Blade Series 2000 MHz

OZC Vertex3 MI SATA SSD 240GB

VeocilRaptor 600 GB

2 tera bite drives

EVGA 590 video Card

2 LG burners

Pioneer Blue Ray burner

BigFoot 2100 network card

Creative Extrem Gamer sound card

HAF 932 case

2 28 HANNS.G displays

Guest said:

Why is it that with every new GPU nomenclature there are no real advances in FPS in gameplay for the more demanding games? For the money of the high-end cards and all the increases in transistor count you would think we would see some larger advances year over year! End the slow march to progress and the milking of the dollars from folks who want to see real advances in technology!

Guest said:

More RAM plz!

Then I'll purchase.

indiangamer said:

hahahanoobs said:

indiangamer said:

now thats a card to upgrade my hd 5870 since i was not able to upgrade my card due to restriction of having only 2 6 pin power connector so it costs less, runs cooler, quieter, faster. and is more powerfriendly. Now being a AMD fanboy i am going for nvidia. and its a big think

can anyone tell me if a 500 watt psu is good for this card or not as anandtech load power consuption is only 362 watts and my pc only have phenom 2 x6 (AMD fanboy) at default clocks?????

If you're CPU is not overclocked you'll be fine. I'm sure Anand used an overclocked i7. The only thing holding you back, is your CPU i'm afraid. Phenom II's are not the best gaming CPU's to be matched with high end graphics to get the most out of your hardware. An upgrade to an FX or Core i5 or i7, would give you the best performance... and maybe a jump to a 600w so you have that headroom in case you overclock in the future.

i run my 5870 overclocked which consume same power as 680 so i think i will be fine with a 680 with my 500 watt psu. and phenom 2 x6 performs alomst same as FX in games but i7 will give a big performance boost but i will wait for ivy bridge and now i will use 680 with my current PC

EXCellR8 EXCellR8, The Conservative, said:

Managed to get my order in on an EVGA... was lucky though I'd say under an hour later they were all gone. Time to put it up against my HD7970. The victor of the battle I will keep, the other will be sold off. WAR!!!

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

More RAM plz!

Then I'll purchase.

It's coming. Vendors have to at least sell some reference boards before the factory specials take off ( EVGA GTX 680FTW 4GB....8+6 phase power...tasty)

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

Read this [link] and the following pages and see if you still need more RAM before you make a choice.

fpsgamerJR62 said:

This card would complement a Core i7 3930K nicely plus the shorter length and lower TDP makes it attractive in SLI configurations. If only the price drops a little bit.

amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

I love it when people post thier builds in the comment section thinking their impressing others.

Come to overclock.net and see some real builds.

indiangamer said:

where is techspot 680 review

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

where is techspot 680 review

Review boards might be in short supply. Seems NL.Hardware has cornered the market...

Associated GTX 680 Quad-SLI video on YouTube >>here<<

Guest said:

You have a 7970 and you just orderd a GTX 680. I just got to ask WTF! and WHY?

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

Perhaps a second machine?

indiangamer said:

dividebyzero said:

where is techspot 680 review

Review boards might be in short supply. Seems NL.Hardware has cornered the market...

Associated GTX 680 Quad-SLI video on YouTube >>here<<

i will not like play in such a wire mesh lol

Guest said:

Nvidia must be laughing all the way to bank,this card was meant to be a GTX 660/70,so i hope AMD have something up their sleeve.

Ultraman1966 said:

The price must come down, especially as few people can afford +400 quid on just a graphics card. However, it might follow suit like the 580 which commanded 350 quid up till last month... craziness!

captainawesome captainawesome said:

TS, how far is your review? I have read the Anandtech reviews but I prefer yours

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

My 680s have been about 1 hour away from me (driving) for the last 5 hours... so since it's UPS I think I may have them tomorrow

Guess what I just got in!!!!!

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

Okay - just got my setup done (seems my MSI Afterburner in my startup was causing repeated Red Screens of Death) so here are some of my benches. I've included my old Quadfire 5970 benches in for reference. I'll continue adding to this post so you can see the difference.

The new 3.0 version of the Heaven Benchmark.

[link]

[link]

Farcry 2 benchmark:

[link]

[link]

Very similar results here

Metro 2033 benchmark:

[link]

[link]

All I can say is WOW... the difference is huge

AvP benchmark:

[link]

[link]

Slightly slower results

I'll re-run some of my other benches when I get time and compare previous results.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Everything at stock (CPU and cards) ?

Thanks for the benches, much appreciated.

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

Yes - everything is at stock except my CPU. The 5970 numbers had stock GPU timings as well. I also changed the link to the 5970 benches of Heaven since I accidentally linked a differently configured run. They should be similar settings now if you refresh.

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