Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 review

The top-end Kepler GPU is here for you, Mr Gamer

Nvidia GeForce GTX 680
Slower shaders, lower power, more speed? Really?

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Nvidia GeForce GTX 680

All this talk about the Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 Kepler architecture is all well and good, but how does it actually perform?

As we've said there are two quoted clockspeeds.

The Base clock is the lowest clock speed of your GPU and the Boost clock is the typical clockspeed you'll see most of the time.

Except it really isn't.

The vapour-chamber cooling on the GTX 680 is good enough to ensure that most of the time you'll see considerably higher clocks than the rather conservative 1,058MHz it claims on the box.

In general testing we saw our GTX 680 hitting around the 1,100MHz mark in most games.

That extra boost allows the Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 to mostly outperform the competing AMD Radeon HD 7970.

There are a couple of exceptions, the HD 7970 gains a couple of extra FPS in Metro, and in Crysis 2 it is slightly ahead at the top, 2560x1600 resolution, but loses out again at 1080P.

Nvidia claims the extra performance of its 6Gbps GDDR3 memory gives it enough bandwidth to compete with AMD, but we still have a little niggling worry about the 256-bit memory bus at these rarefied resolutions.

In Heaven 2.5 and Batman: Arkham City however you're looking at around a 10-15% improvement over the competing AMD card.

Things get even messier for AMD when you take a look at the synthetic tessellation benchmark, Tessmark; that has the GTX 680 around twice as fast at tessellated OpenGL geometry.

While Nvidia has resolutely stuck to its gaming guns with the GTX 680, refusing point-blank to discuss compute performance, the Kepler GPU is still very much capable of those GPGPU shenanigans.

Even using the non-tweaked version of MediaEspresso the 1080P encoding of a short piece of HD footage took just 13 seconds compared with 44 seconds on the HD 7970.