The EVGA GeForce GTX 680 is a grand and luxurious product in the fierce graphics card arena. EVGA used the Kepler GK104 GPU and started redesigning the card from scratch. That results in a completely different PCB and cooling system. The end result speaks for itself, the performance is great and the factory overclock pushes the card into the extreme high end segment. Props for that.
That factory overclock is significant, the reference products are all clocked at 1006 MHz and this card comes with a factory clock set at 1111 MHz. Typically you'd figure that factory overclock result in added heat and noise but the reality remains that the cooler makes the EVGA 680 Classified a relatively inaudible graphics card (under gaming conditions), temperatures actually stay under 70 Degrees C which is absolutely fine. Power consumption as well impressed us, with the GPU at 100% load our X58 Core i7 based AMD test PC was consuming roughly 300~350W. When we input the variables and reverse calculate the TDP, we end up at a score of give or take 173W for this graphics card, and that's worth mentioning.
When you start to overclock and tweak then you start to realize where the extra money went. It just is a smooth experience, you'll quickly find your cards maximum and based on the boost speed that will be in the 1200~1300 MHz range.
Once you spend the extra money use an EVBOT you can increase voltages (albeit fixed). There's where the card can reach higher clock frequencies, at one point at 1.35V we reached 1500 MHz on the GPU, but seconds later it started throttling back in the 1200~1300 MHz range. It's due to two reasons, the current board power limitation is configurable at 131%. So theoretical if the card has a maximum set board power of 200W then at 131% it could reach 262 Watt, when it passes that point the GPU will throttle back to reach and match the maximum 131% again.
A second factor is that we 'think' the GPU starts to throttle back as well once it passes 60 Degrees C. With the voltage tweaks we where at roughly 70 Degrees C. How do pro-overclockers deal with it you might wonder ? Well, custom BIOSes and unlocked software provided by the manufacturers of course, that and extreme cooling makes a product like this fly.
So realistically the EVBot will get you a little more out of the product, but not a whole lot. Reaching 1400 MHz is doable with a little throttling here and there though. The combination of the card and EVBOT makes it an interesting product series. Admittedly I had a lot of fun fooling around with tweaking. Again the only thing original on the card is the GPU, EVGA redesigned the rest from scratch. The PCB, the voltage circuitry, the usage of coated solid state chokes, 12-phase board design and so on .. it's all custom man.
Gaming wise obviously you will not have anything to complain either, all modern games play perfect up-to at least 1920x1200 and higher. The 2GB memory is fine for such a monitor resolution, go higher or use multiple monitors and then that where memory starts to matter. So we can certainly appreciate the fact that this product is a 4GB version, being enthusiast grade hardware.
Noise levels - once booted into Windows (with the NV driver loaded) the noise levels drop to completely silent. While gaming you can slightly hear it. A non issue whatsoever.
The overall cooling performance is good. You'll stay below 70 Degrees C. Note that if you think that 60 Degrees C during gaming is preferred then you may fool around with fan RPM a little yourself, you'll get a good impression of how much cooling capacity the card really has. But sure, then noise levels will rise as well.
As mentioned quite a bit in this review, the card comes factory overclocked for you. The GPU core has been set a good notch higher, overall resulting into a slight boost in performance compared to the reference products. With any GTX 680 review I mention it, the Dynamic Clock Adjustment (boost) technology remains a little weird to observe, it however is a clever trick for the card to clock a little higher when the power envelope justifies it. The EVGA GeForce GTX 680 Classified edition baseclock is 1111 MHz (1006 MHz = NV reference) and the "Boost" clock at 1176 (1058 MHz reference) gives the card way more headroom to play with.
The end result is a card that performs well, there's not a game out there that it can't deal with. Anno 2070 at the best quality settings and 4xAA pushes near 100 frames per second on average at 1920x1200, and still 60 fps at 2560X1600. In Crysis 2 we end at an average of 66 FPS in 1920x1200 with Ultra quality settings and that high resolution texture package and 4x AA. Battlefield 3 is another example, with all eye candy opened up in game and again at 4xAA the card still pushes 59 FPS at 19x12 and that makes it the amongst the fastest single GPU based graphics card on the market.
The 28nm Kepler transition also brought a better power envelope towards the card. The board power is rated at 195 Watt. Our measurements have shown that (while gaming) we use roughly 173 Watt, and that's for a factory overclocked model. The idle power consumption of the card we calculate to be roughly 10~11 Watt. Based on historic data we collect the idle power consumption was the lowest ever for a PC with a dedicated card installed and the monitor activated.
Right, it's time to wrap it up. The EVGA GeForce GTX 680 Classified edition is exquisite really. However it's price is going to be to be exquisite as well at and likely even over the 600 EUR marker. That is just a lot of money to play games on your PC alright. Thing is, this card is not just about playing games, it's all about that other sport, tweaking and fooling arround with it to break and set records. With NVIDIA setting all kinds of restrictions in tweaking matters lately it does make the Classified a product that is harder to recommend. The reality remains though that the EVGA GeForce GTX 680 Classified edition is amongst the fastest retail GeForce GTX 680 cards we tested to date.
The EVBOT is a fun addition that will allow you to fool around with the product at higher levels. For just the graphics cards and air-cooling we could understand that for the 2-3 extra FPS you'd skip it at the price premium. Alongside a compatible EVGA motherboard however it could make all the difference. But we'll leave the decision happily for you to decide.
The EVGA GeForce GTX 680 Classified is a terrific product which comes recommended by Guru3D.com
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