As stated in many of our GTX 680 reviews, the NVIDIA Kepler launch has been a rather successful one. The card series simply is a strong performer with some really good new features. Performance wise it will beat the competitions Radeon HD 7970 in most cases with an exception here and there. Sometimes a huge win, in other tests the performance remains close to a notch better.
Overall the card is a real performer, there's not a game out there that it can't deal with. Anno 2070 at the best quality settings and 4xAA pushes 93 frames per second on average at 1920x1200, and still 60 fps at 2560X1600. In Crysis 2 we end at an average of 65 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 60 FPS at 19x12 and that makes it the fastest single GPU based graphics card on the market.
The Dynamic Clock Adjustment technology is 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. With a MSI card baseclock of 1058 MHz and the "Boost" clock at 1176 MHz there's a little more room to play with. Interesting is that the card can break away from that boost clock as well. This Dynamic Clock Adjustment technology is also a big factor as to why the GK104 is behaving a littler better in some games then the other. Regardless, the new technology works well.
The 28 nm Kepler transition also brought a better power envelope towards the card. The card board power is rated at 195 Watt. Our measurements have shown that (while gaming) we use roughly 160~170 Watt, so we certainly have nothing to complain. Also with the GTX 680 installed the card was consuming very little power. In fact based on historic data we collect the idle power consumption was the lowest ever for a PC with a dedicated card installed.
MSI's own customized version of the card in the form of the OC edition with TwinFrozr III cooler makes the GTX 680 even a little better at several fronts, however it's not a drastic redesign whatsoever. For that you'll need to wait for the cards like MSI's popular Lightning edition.
Where thermals on the NV reference products are within baseline, they are on the high aside -- peak heat levels can close in towards 80 Degrees C. Thanks to the TwinFrozr III cooler IDLE sits below 30 Degrees C and under full load we got a measured top temperature of 61C on the GPU. That's in a gaming simulated stress test, very commendable alright.
The noise levels -- again on the reference products we stated that they are okay. In desktop and idle mode you will not hear the card, it really is silent. Under hefty gaming load however you will be able to slightly hear the product. The cooler has three fairly low RPM fans, and as such we rated the card at 41 DBa noise pressure, and that is similar to the reference design cooler actually. But 41 Dba is definitely good enough, make no mistake there.
The MSI GeForce GTX 680 offer a lot in terms of the feature set. The card is quite decent in terms of noise levels and the GPU temps remain absolutely great.
The overall design is thanks to the cooler, the PCB with however is 100% reference. The card comes factory overclocked (albeit a little) and then the TwinFrozr III cooler certainly promises what it should deliver, good temps and noise levels.
Manual overclocking wise we had hope to get a little higher, but we got another 100 MHz out of the GPU core easily. combined with the dynamic clock frequency the GPU is now peaking towards 1291 MHz and that brings in a good chunk of extra performance alright.
Lovely to see is of course that the GTX 680 now supports gaming with three monitors with one card, here we do think that 2 GB of graphics memory would be on the shy side though. However 4 GB models of the GTX 680 are in the pipeline as well, TBA soon. The new TXAA mode is something to be further explored in the future, and if the NVENC gets as widely supported in other software as we have tested with MediaShow Espresso, it can haul the proverbial toosh.
Currently the MSI GeForce GTX 680 2GB TwinFrozr III OC edition is around the 500 EUR marker, and if we take out pricing of the equation then the product definitely a nice contender in today's graphics card arena. In terms of tweaking and overclocking, all cards recently tested show roughly the same numbers when tweaked, so that should not be the decisive factor. However if you need a little extra in terms of cooling and good looks, the MSI GeForce GTX 680 TwinFrozr III OC edition certainly delivers the goods at a small price premium. Recommended.
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