The 2GB Question & The Test

Before diving into our test results, I wanted to spend a moment mulling over NVIDIA’s choice for the default memory configuration on GTX 770. Due to the use of a 256bit bus on GK104, NVIDIA limits their practical memory choices to either 2GB of RAM or 4GB. A year ago this was fine even if it wasn’t as large as AMD’s 3GB memory pool, but that was after all a year ago.

Not unlike where we are with 1GB/2GB on mainstream ($150+) cards, we’re at a similar precipice with these enthusiast class cards. Having 2GB of RAM doesn’t impose any real problems today, but I’m left to wonder for how much longer that’s going to be true. The wildcard in all of this will be the next-generation consoles, each of which packs 8GB of RAM, which is quite a lot of RAM for video operations even after everything else is accounted for. With most PC games being ports of console games, there’s a decent risk of 2GB cards being undersized when used with high resolutions and the highest quality art assets. The worst case scenario is only that these highest quality assets may not be usable at playable performance, but considering the high performance of every other aspect of GTX 770 that would be a distinct and unfortunate bottleneck.

The solution for better or worse is doubling the GTX 770 to 4GB. GTX 770 is capable of housing 4GB, and NVIDIA’s partners will be selling 4GB cards in the near future, so 4GB cards will at least be an option. The price premium for 4GB of RAM looks to be around $20-$30, and I expect that will come down some as 4Gb chips start to replace 2Gb chips. 4GB would certainly make the GTX 770 future-proof in that respect, and I suspect it’s a good idea for anyone on a long upgrade cycle, but as always this is a bit of a gamble.

Though I can’t help but feel NVIDIA could have simply sidestepped the whole issue by making 4GB the default, rather than an optional upgrade. As it stands 2GB feels shortsighted, and for a $400 card, a bit small. Given the low cost of additional RAM, a 4GB baseline likely would have been bearable.

The Test

For today’s launch article we’re using NVIDIA’s 320.18 drivers for the GTX 780 and GTX 770, , and AMD’s Catalyst 13.5b2 drivers for all AMD cards.

CPU: Intel Core i7-3960X @ 4.3GHz
Motherboard: EVGA X79 SLI
Power Supply: Antec True Power Quattro 1200
Hard Disk: Samsung 470 (256GB)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws DDR3-1867 4 x 4GB (8-10-9-26)
Case: Thermaltake Spedo Advance
Monitor: Samsung 305T
Video Cards: AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition
AMD Radeon HD 7990
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780
NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan
Video Drivers: NVIDIA ForceWare 320.14
NVIDIA ForceWare 320.18
AMD Catalyst 13.5 Beta 2
OS: Windows 8 Pro
Meet The GeForce GTX 770 DiRT: Showdown


View All Comments

  • pandemonium - Friday, May 31, 2013 - link

    Wait, you want to compare FPS/dollar and then turn around and say you choose which one has PhysX? Well, the marketing team certainly succeeded with you, lol.

    Apparently you don't know that PhysX is a software code path that is supported and available regardless of what hardware you run. There isn't an abundant pile of evidence, through benchmarking or otherwise, that having a Nvidia card while running a PhysX supported engine will yield superior results compared to a similarly priced AMD card. Example? Take Metro 2033; probably the more demanding DX11, PhysX supported engine games available:
  • inighthawki - Saturday, June 1, 2013 - link

    PhysX is CUDA accelerated with an nvidia card present, and thus will have hardware accelerated physics (of course at the cost of some GPU processing that could otherwise be spent on rendering). There is a tradeoff. Personally I would prefer to just run it in software. When you buy something like a GTX 770 or 780, the GPU is typically the FPS bottleneck in your games :) Reply
  • SirGCal - Monday, June 10, 2013 - link

    I really could care less about PhysX... And 60fps caps also give me migraines... I specifically build machines with 120fps+ caps... My current rig has a 144Hz cap. So smooth... Sure many people can't tell the different. Good for them. I get migraine headaches at 60 FPS with digital content. Including crappy movies which are even worse (~25 frames...). I have a very sensitive visual function of my body/mind. Actually a LOT of people do. That's why 3D movies really don't take off so well. Something like one in 10 can not actually see stereoscopic vision at all and only like one in three really enjoy our fake 3D effects... Something like that.

    But the extreme cases like myself, not only do I not enjoy it, but it causes actual physical pain. I buy the best to get 144fps, smooth as glass, all the time. And even doing so, I've never ever spent $4k on my gaming rig... heck, never spent more then $2k. So you're a bit sarcastic there. I guess if you don't build your own sure but... The real crappy part is avoiding the developers who refuse to open their crappy ports beyond 60Hz. There are some that leave the console locks in place on the PC. Those just never get purchased...
  • Mondozai - Monday, August 12, 2013 - link

    Mention your migraines one more time, I'm sure we all missed it. Reply
  • firewall597 - Thursday, June 13, 2013 - link

    Your one reason makes me lololol Reply
  • Gastec - Sunday, July 7, 2013 - link

    I for one choosed Nvidia over AMD because of the Radeon frame times problem. I would agree that not so many people buy a 4000$ computer in a shop, unless it's an Apple I guess :-P Though many so called computer enthusiasts do end up paying over time quite a hefty sum on hardware components and software. It's not because they are snobs wanting the best, but because the best costs so much money :) Reply
  • jonjonjonj - Tuesday, June 4, 2013 - link

    its their 2nd best single gpu card not the 3rd. a multi gpu 690 is not comparable and amd also has a 7990 so that would make the 7970 the 2nd best card by your logic. i personally see it as a complete failure that their 2nd best card is equal to amds best card that came out 18 months ago. think about that the 7970 came out a year and a half ago. its nothing to brag about. before you call me a amd fan. i'm not i look for the best price/performance and will go with whatever company currently has it.

    go look at the bench for a 7970 amds top card compared to a 570 nvidia's 2nd best card when it was released. not even close. i realize the 7000 series was new architecture and they had a die shrink but you can see real gains.
  • sweenish - Thursday, June 6, 2013 - link

    3rd. Titan, 780, then 770. Reply
  • Gigaplex - Sunday, June 16, 2013 - link

    I'm assuming you're only considering cards from the Geforce line and not Quadro/Tesla... Reply
  • iEATu - Thursday, May 30, 2013 - link

    Plus a better memory VRM. Reply

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