Nvidia GeForce GTX 770 review

Pros

  • Nifty Titan-style GPU cooler
  • Good performer for the money

Cons

  • But slightly more expensive than the 670

Recently, Nvidia announced a new high-end graphics card, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 780. While it's significantly faster than the old GTX 680, the 780 is also £200 odd more expensive. This left a sizeable gap in Nvidia's pricing between the GTX 670 at around the £300 mark, and the £550 GTX 780. Today, Nvidia is launching the card designed to fill that gap – the GeForce GTX 770. Like the GTX 780, the new GTX 770 improves on its predecessor, the GTX 670 – although in this case, the performance increase is more modest.

Unlike the GTX 780, the GTX 770 is also based on the GK104 GPU. Architecturally, it's identical to the GTX 680, with 1,536 cores, 128 texture mapping units (TMUs) and 32 raster operation units (ROPS). Its core clock is slightly higher than the GTX 680’s (1,046MHz versus 1,006MHz) with a boost clock of 1,085MHz as opposed to 1,058MHz.

The one significant difference is the memory speed – the GTX 680 offers 192GBps of RAM bandwidth, while the GTX 770 pushes that to 224GBps. Total GPU memory is the same as the GTX 670/GTX 680, at 2GB, though Nvidia expects partners to release 4GB versions in the near future.

Compared to the GTX 670, the GTX 770 is a modest upgrade. The older GTX 670 had 1,344 cores and ran at 915MHz base, 980MHz stock. That means the GTX 770 is clocked around 10 per cent higher than the GPU it replaces, and has 15 per cent more GPU cores. The GTX 770's price is the same as the GTX 670's was initially, pitched at the £330 mark, but street prices for the GTX 670 have fallen slightly since the card debuted; you can bag yourself a GTX 670 for around £300 now, as we already mentioned.

The GTX 770, like the GTX 780, keeps the nifty Titan-style GPU cooler. Power requirements have bumped up a notch – the GTX 680 is a dual-six pin solution, while the GTX 770 uses an 8+6 configuration. The new card's other features are essentially identical to the GTX 670's – like Nvidia's other high-end GPUs, the GTX 770 offers a pair of DVI ports, one HDMI port, and one DisplayPort.

Performance

The primary points of comparison for the GTX 770 are the GTX 670, which it replaces, the GTX 680 (which it's based on), and the AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition, AMD's own competitor in this space.

Our performance comparisons were carried out using an Intel 3770K Ivy Bridge CPU, 16GB of DDR3-1600 RAM, a 256GB OCZ Vector SSD, and a 27in Asus VG278HE monitor at 1,920 x 1,080 resolution. GTX 690 performance was simulated using a pair of GTX 680s in SLI – tests have demonstrated that the performance delta between the two configurations is essentially nil. All of our tests were run at 1,920 x 1,080 resolution with maximum details set. Multi-sampled antialiasing was activated when available and turned up to 8x if possible. In Metro Last Light, the game's "SSAA" (super-sampled antialiasing) box is checked, rather than a specific level of MSAA.

In Shogun 2, the GTX 770 was significantly faster than the GTX 670 to the tune of 50 frames per second (fps) against 40 fps. The GTX 770 edged out the GTX 680 by about 8 per cent (47 fps vs. 50 fps). That's enough to leave the AMD Radeon 7970 GHz Edition far behind, with its score of 38.5 fps. In Metro 2033, the tables were turned – there, the Radeon 7970 was the overall leader at 56 fps. The GTX 770's score of 33 fps was slightly faster than the GTX 680 and GTX 670, with their scores of 31 fps and 30 fps respectively.

In the newer Metro: Last Light, the Radeon 7970 GHz Edition ties the GTX 680 at about 31 fps. The GTX 770 was slightly faster at 33 fps, with the GTX 670 struggling along at 27 fps. None of these cards were fast enough to drive this detail level smoothly – turning off SSAA is practically compulsory for smooth frame rates.

In BioShock Infinite, all the cards turned in smoother results, with the GTX 670 at 65 fps, the GTX 680 at 70 fps, and the GTX 770 just edging past to 71 fps. The Radeon 7970 GHz Edition's 68 fps result put it midway between the GTX 670 and 680, but you'd never notice the difference in this title. Civilization V's Late Game View benchmark test was an easy proposition for all these cards. The GTX 670, 680, and 770 are all packed in around 90 fps, while the Radeon 7970 was slightly faster at 93 fps.

How this breaks down in terms of price depends on how you look at the situation. Compared to the GTX 680, the GTX 770 is a tiny bit faster – typically in the order of 1 to 3 per cent. That's not particularly surprising, given that the only difference between the two is that the GTX 770 has faster RAM – the GTX 680 simply wasn't hurting much in this regard. On the other hand, the official retail price of £329 puts the GTX 770 close to the cheaper GTX 680s already on the market. Assuming that manufacturers actually target that price point, the GTX 770 is a slightly better deal than the GTX 680 it replaces.

The GTX 770 is, on average, 12.7 per cent faster than the GTX 670 but it's also around 10 per cent more expensive. That's a relatively constant value as far as the price/performance ratio is concerned, but when combined with the GTX 780, it illustrates a trend: Nvidia is raising its average selling prices by tweaking GPU prices, clocks, and features. The Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan created a new £830 single GPU price point, the GTX 780 has hopped up to £550, and the new GTX 770 cards offer slightly higher performance than the old family at a slightly higher price.

As for AMD, the HD 7970 GHz Edition generally trades shots with the GTX 670, which puts it a bit behind the GTX 680/GTX 770 in this comparison. To date, AMD has fought back against this performance disadvantage with aggressive pricing and the Never Settle games bundle. At present, that's four free games with a Radeon 7970 – BioShock Infinite, Crysis 3, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, and Tomb Raider.

Verdict

If you upgraded to a GTX 670 last year, the GTX 770 isn't going to be enough of a jump to justify a new card. If, however, you're still back on a midrange GTX 500 card, the GTX 770 is worth consideration. It's slightly higher price point is justified by the increased performance.