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
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  • karasaj - Thursday, May 30, 2013 - link

    Nice! I heard that the 770 was going to perform much better than this, but I'm glad to see an improvement as well as lower prices. This might prompt a price cut by AMD, which could benefit everybody. Reply
  • axien86 - Thursday, May 30, 2013 - link

    When the GTX 770 is so far behind even ancient cards in GPU compute and Folding... You know it is time to recall the overheating GTX 770 back to Nvidia and design something with real improvements. Reply
  • freespace303 - Wednesday, June 05, 2013 - link

    80c load is quite common and safe for GPUs that have stock coolers. If those temps concern you, wait until these are released with aftermarket coolers installed. Reply
  • tipoo - Thursday, May 30, 2013 - link

    This really could have been called "680 gets bios update, price drop". Reply
  • BeauCharles - Thursday, May 30, 2013 - link

    Its not their top single GPU card, its their third place. The fact its tying with AMD's first place pretty much speaks for itself. Reply
  • tipoo - Thursday, May 30, 2013 - link

    Does "first place" matter, or do price points? If the 7970 was AMDs twentieth best card it still wouldn't change that it's competing with the 770s price point. Reply
  • EJS1980 - Thursday, May 30, 2013 - link

    Even though a lot of AMD dudes will surely get butthurt with you, your point is right on. Heavy is the head... Reply
  • tipoo - Thursday, May 30, 2013 - link

    I'm not an "AMD dude", but I fail to see why that's right on. Price points matter, where the products rank within an individual companies line don't. If the 770 was Nvidias 100th best graphics card, at the same price/performance what would that change? Nothing. Reply
  • EJS1980 - Thursday, May 30, 2013 - link

    I guess I should clarify that I was making a generalization, and wasn't referring to anyone in particular. Reply
  • sna1970 - Thursday, May 30, 2013 - link

    what matters is how many FPS you get per dollar.

    who cares about getting flagships when you reach 60fps ? and how many people pay 4000$ for high end gaming machine ?

    I choose nvida over AMD for one reason , PhysX.
    Reply

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