AMD and Nvidia have had their horns locked in an eternal battle for dominance. Both companies are good; however a couple of features set them apart miles’ distance. Last time when AMD geniuses delivered the R9 290X series GPU, it blew the competition out of the water for several reasons:
- AMD introduced a new GPU architecture to beat Nvidia’s Kepler technology going on in Titan and GTX 780. The former two Kepler variations were considered the best, until AMD unleashed its “Mantle/ Mantel” architecture.
- AMD surpassed Nvidia’s expectations and its products’ performance without increasing the price premium that much.
Is 2 Way GTX 780 Ti as good as 2 Way GTX 770 SLI combo?
The R9 290X and the plain 290 GPUs are still expensive, but not as much as what the GTX 780 Ti edition is available for. The latter product is superior; a testament to the fact that Nvidia took the challenge seriously and wanted to undermine R9 290X technology. The question is, whether the newly released GTX 780 Ti capable of delivering value for a high end price range?
I have heard theories from different schools of thoughts concerning the 780 Ti performance. I am talking in the context of 2 way and 3 way SLI combinations for this card. One school of thought says that when you combine the GTX 780 Ti in 2 way SLI setup, you get the best and exceptional level results ever.
The other school of thought says, and I do believe that they say it because of the price factor, that when you combine two GTX 770 Units in an SLI combination, their performance is as good as the 780 Tis. The problem is that each and every person has his own scale to assess these results. While it is true that GTX 770 cards are very powerful when installed in SLI mode, the lack of a universal benchmarking and testing formula is not defined yet.
People use different benchmarks to determine their GPU power. For instance I used MSI After Burner / Burn demo, which was quite heavy. The results for my GTX 760 2 Way SLI were not very impressive. Now I know that side factors, such as processor and RAM count too, therefore I cannot blame the poor GPUs alone. Not everyone knows these facts and they really don’t bother to take such factors into account.
- Technically, the GTX 780 Ti is much better than its counterparts. Here’s why:
You can go to any website to compare three main GPUs: the R9 290X, GTX 780 ti and the GTX 780, or the 770 for that matter. The last GPU is not within the same league, but you can still compare the clock speed and some other things, i.e. if you don’t have enough money to buy expensive cards.
Normally, most of the websites have a tabular representation of GPU feature. It is good, but it does not help those people who have joined the gaming scene recently. Now a quick glance at the GTX 780 and the Titan’s features reveal that these two beasts had the GK110 chipset. Despite of the same chip, the two cards were not identically pared; they had unique circuitry and mechanism to deliver outstanding graphics performance.
Later on when AMD showcased the R9 290X, Nvidia considered releasing the 780 Ti. Needless to say that under the right cooling kits, temperature settings and proper chassis airflow system, the card can max out 928MHz clock speed at 2880 stream processors; all running simultaneously, hence capable of delivering real time graphics.
In addition to the high clock speed, and as compared to the R9 290X, the GTX 780 Ti houses an unprecedented 336Gb/s bandwidth. The 290X is slightly behind in this aspect because of 320 GB/s. Normally this much difference in bandwidth does not count and only adds up to a few frames. But when you are playing the same games at max resolution and on a 44 Inch Sony Bravia TV, the native resolution is converted to 1920 X 1080P format; this is where the cards’ bandwidth really makes the difference.
From a general point of view, the 780 Ti specs can be summed up as, but not limited to, the following:
- Core Engine Speed: 876 Mhz
- Memory Clock Speed: 7GHz (1 Ghz more than the Vanilla 780) and can be maxed out at 1750 Mhz.
- Memory Bus Speed: 384 Bit
- Card’s Memory Bandwidth: 336 GB/s
- Computation Power (in terms of TFLOPS): 5.36
- Compute Units: 240
The interesting thing is that the 780 Ti maintains the same body style as 780. The card has brushed magnesium and aluminum finishing. It is cold to touch at room temperature – and I suppose that this feeling will remain likewise during summer season. Therefore you can now get the idea that not only the card’s heatsink and fan reduce the temperature, but since the body is also made of lightweight and low temperature metals, it all adds up to superior cooling factor.
MSI R9 290X and GTX 780 Ti captured in this beautiful shot
On the top side of the card, there are your usual power pin connection ports. I’d say that you need more than a 750 Watt power supply, since this sick puppy comes with high power requirements; I’d about 250 – 300 Watts per card. Therefore if you are considering 2 way SLI, the card will take roughly 500 W to 550W, while the rest of the power needs to be distributed among other system components.
As soon as the cooling system goes into effect, you can barely hear the card’s whirring sound. I know when I tried the R9 290X AMD cards, their cooling mechanism was audible. I don’t mind the whirring sound, but seriously when you have been gaming for several years, this whirring sound becomes irritating. It is as if you are sitting in the middle of a power house.
Obviously, whether you are using the AMD R9 290X or the GTX 780 ti, the length of both cards needs to be taken into account. A small chassis, such as the CM Scout will not be enough to install the card. Especially if you want to go for 2 way SLI, the lower quadrant of your Chassis will already be occupied, mostly, by the PSU.
It is going to be one of those “oh snap” moments for you when you will realize that you need to spend more money on a bigger chassis. I know so because I had to replace my old CM Scout chassis with a new HAF 932 series.
GTX 780 Rig and Test Results:
Let’s move up the ladder a little bit. My test bed at the moment is:
- Asus Maximus V Formula mobo
- Corsair Vengeance 16 Gb Rams (8 X 2 Modules @ 16,00 MHz each)
- Intel i5 3570K processor
- Cooler Master 1000 Watt PSU
- Windows 7 OS
The impressions concerning the R9 290X and the GTX 780 Ti were kind of a doozy because there were some benchmark tests where AMD performed better.
Crysis 3 Benchmarks | Anand Tech takes a look at an entire line of Nvidia and AMD latest cards
For the record, most of the games and latest software favored the 780 Ti because of the “minor” difference. The bottom line is that this new Nvidia invention seriously downgrades AMD’s 290X performance because of newer architecture and cool features. By the way, I installed the latest Nvidia drivers and tried Battlefield 4, Elder Scrolls with K ENB Skyrim mods (my personal favorite and super duper resource hungry), Metro LL, Batman Arkham Origins and Crysis 3.
Also, the aforementioned titles were tested on an SLI Rig to get the most out of my 1920 X 1080p Sony TV. With a 44 inch screen size, these dimensions can really put the GPU limits to test. On top of it when you are running top of the line benchmarking software, such as 3D Mark series or MSI’s, your results will vary a lot.
However, on the same note, I’d say that these performance drops were expected. When I tested the games on my 19 Inch HP LED, the frame rate was maxed out at 60 Fps. In fact, the Haven Benchmark and the Valley Benchmark which comes with the EVGA GPU setup disk, they were all averaging at 150+ FPS.
Closer look at Metro, BioShock, Crysis 3 and Battlefield 4:
Even when you are using a single R9 290X / 780 Ti GTX card, you will get exceptional quality results at higher settings. For Crysis 3, I bumped the resolution to 2560 X 1440 and 1920 X 1080, which makes it viewing categories set to 1440p and 1080p. the 4X MSAA was enabled as default setting on not only Crysis 3, but also Battlefield 4.
GTX 780 Ti’s Metro Last Light benchmark results against various other Nvidia Cards
The interesting thing is that on dual SLI, the 780 ti showed slight horizontal tearing at 1920 X 1080p resolution. I was running the game on my Sony Bravia, so I figured that probably this game is not SLI compatible at such high resolution. The cards’ bandwidth was also being consumed a lot more than Crysis 3. Later on, I switched over to another display device and realized that my game version needed an update.
That being said, both titles were churning out an average of 50 – 55 Fps. On the other hand, the AMD R9 290X averaged at 45 Fps, hence giving the GTX 780 Ti head start. You already know that some games come with their own benchmark. The camera is set to free view and there are a couple of scenes with intense lightning and max effects to put maximum stress on the GPUs performance levels.
I tried Metro LL later on, and the results were satisfactory. The Tunnel scene and the one where in game characters were locked in a battle against rebel forces fared well at 1080p. on the contrary, when Crysis 3’s ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ scene was tested at 1080p against the R9 290X, the GTX 780 Ti took the lead by 2 Fps. Again, I tried these tests at 2 way Cross Fire and 2 Way SLI to conclude the GPU results.
I didn’t bother playing Hitman Absolution, not because the game wasn’t impressive or anything. The fact that I personally find Absolution a little lighter for GPUs (just my own theory) is exactly why I don’t use it as benchmark. By the way, the initial opening scene when Number 47 is standing behind an Ice cream van and there’s a static puddle of water on the ground, it really pisses me off. The water looks attractive, but when I step on it, it is just static; no ripples, no nothing…
To really push the GPUs to their max levels, I had to try professional benchmark software. I’m talking about 4K benchmarks; the GTX 780 Ti still remained ahead of R9 290X by 10 to 11 Fps difference. Even for extreme level gamers, these numbers don’t matter much as long as the games are stutter free. After all, this is what you really want; a lag free and uninterrupted gaming experience at maximum display settings. Therefore, whether you are considering R9 290X in 2 way Crossfire, or the GTX 780 Ti in 2 way SLI, numbers don’t matter a lot.
However for professionals, the status quo will always be restored to either one of the two GPUs. I have to admit that Nvidia’s GTX 780 Ti beat the R9 290X fair and square. The overwhelming majority of games; their benchmarking software, and the ones that come from professional developers, they all favored Nvidia’s latest invention.
On the other hand, when I look at the future of graphics and gaming, there is a lot of stuff to consider. First off, the next gen gaming consoles are here; they will never be able to beat PC because both the Xbox One and PS4 are restricted in their respective fields. The PC market is always being upgraded with new hardware – therefore you get the whole idea here, don’t you?
As for the rivalry between Nvidia and AMD, I cannot say which company will prevail over other because they have not released anything other than the R9 290X and the GTX 780 Ti. While it is true that Nvidia is about to showcase its 800 series GPUs, we cannot overlook AMDs WIP products. For now, I am willing to pay my hard earned money for the 780 Ti.