NVIDIA Has introduced its new high-end consumer graphics card, and it’s a monster. In fact, the new GeForce GTX 780 is very close to the company’s “professional” top of the line GeForce Titan, a Monolithic single-GPU card that contains 2688 stream processors that work on pixels in parallel. The GTX 780 has a slightly more modest count of 2304 such processors, but if you compare that to the previous GTX 680 (1536 processors) and GTX 580 (512 processors) we are talking about a big leap in raw horsepower.
The second critical point is the 384-bit memory bus. Since graphics use so much elements that are external to the chip (textures, render-target buffers etc…) it often happens that performance is limited by the amount of information that can transit in-between components. A larger memory bus (384 vs 256 bits) ensures that data doesn’t get clogged as rapidly. The reference design for the GTX 780 comes with 3GB of GDDR5 RAM.
Designed for gaming, not scientific computations
The biggest difference with the GeForce Titan however, is that the GTX 780 has not been designed for scientific computations, so the performance in high-precision calculations (FP64) can be twice as fast on the Titan, which also have 6GB of memory. For gamers, it’s not really an issue since games don’t typically use FP64, but this is an important difference to know about, especially to understand why the Titan is rather unique in its market.
GTX 780 takes the lead in gaming performance
In terms of gaming performance, the GTX 780 has no difficulty blowing past its GTX 680 predecessor and on average, the general consensus is that it performs comfortably better than AMD’s 7970/GE line of products (not in all games, so do some research if you want to know performance for a specific title). In terms of absolute performance, gamers can always opt for a dual-GPU configuration etc, but I personally tend to prefer single-GPU configuration since it’s simple and convenient. That’s your call, really.
Performance should always relate to pricing. While AMD has a very fast GPU with the Radeon HD 7990, it’s fair to say that the $1000 price range puts it way above the means of most gamers. In the meantime, the GTX 780 holds a performance advantage over the Radeon 7970 and 7970GE ($450) which is still fighting with the GTX 680 ($450) at this point.
The GeForce GTX 780 does not really displace the $450 NVIDIA products. Instead, it introduces a new segment in which gamers (who can afford it) have access to much higher performance, but without getting into the extremely high $1000 price range. By doing this, NVIDIA can basically get bragging rights for top performance, while improving its business margins at the same time. The company now effectively covers all price segments and performance options, except in the sub-$300 market, maybe.
$650 is no small amount of money, so it’s really up to you to decide if you want to spend that much to get a performance boost today. To be fair, the GeForce GTX 780 design brings more than performance, it’s power management, build quality and noise levels have also been improved considerably – it’s just better in nearly every single way. Still, there are two other options to consider: the first is to opt for a lower priced GTX 680 and the second is to keep the money for an eventual GeForce 800-series later this year. What will you do?