This is the second customized GeForce GTX 680 board from Palit we have in our hands, and it certainly does not disappoint. The card performs 99% reference though, due to the default clock frequencies. Honestly it is a bit of a missed opportunity to see the default clocks as the 2GB version comes factory overclocked for you. So that leaves the JetStream cooler, which does an awesome job and of course that massive whopping 4 GB framebuffer.
The 4GB -- Realistically there was not one game that we tested that could benefit from the two extra GB's of graphics memory. Even at 2560x1600 (which is a massive 4 Mpixels resolution) there was just no measurable difference.
Now the setup could benefit from triple monitor setups at 5760x1080 (which is a 6 Mpixels resolution), but even there I doubt if 4 GB is really something you'd need to spend money on. It might make a difference at 16xAA and the most stringent games, or if you game in 3D Stereo and triple monitor gaming -- I mean sure -- at any point graphics memory can and will run out. There's one exception to the rule, and that's Skyrim all beefed, tweaked and modded upwards. But the universal question remains, is it worth it investing in that extra memor? This card is 90 EUR more expensive. Well that answer depends on pricing versus your demands and requriements really, the extra memory certainly won't hurt that's for sure, but sure -- the benefits remains small.
The JetStream cooling works out well, Palit used the three fan slash three slot design to make the card silent. As such in it's default state under game stress it can still reach 70 Degrees C -- but it remains 100% silent. We measured a 39 DBa noise level in the test room at 75 CM distance from the card. That is near silent.
Once you play around with fan RPM a little manually, then you'll get a good impression of how much cooling capacity the card really has. At 65% RPM you can hear the card at a normal graphics card noise level; but at that stage your GPU stress temps will sit below 50 Degrees C, and that's just impressive. This will give you a little more headroom once you start to tweak with the card.
But sure, some people really dislike three slot coolers -- where other just don't care as they have the space inside the PC chassis anyways.
The Palit GeForce GTX 680 JetStream 4GB offers a lot in terms of the feature set. The card is fine-tuned on noise levels making it really silent, the GPU temps remain absolutely within the expected baseline. And then there's the overall design, the customized card with the factory overclock and then the JetStream cooler certainly promises what it should deliver, good temps and noise levels. The three slot design however will remain a matter of taste as well as the design of the cooler itself.
Manual GPU overclocking wise we had hope to get a little higher, but then again our results where not disappointing, it drives to the product into even higher performance regions. The limiting factor would be the power limiter at a maximum of 130%
We however where able to overclock to 1126 MHz on the baseclock resulting in a maximum ~1235 MHz for the boost clock.
A HUGE and dense memory partition typically is an issue when tweaked, the memory controllers have much more work to do, and the IC's and volume of ICs complicate factors. However, we certainly where impressed as that whopping 4GB memory partition still was able to run at 6800 MHz completely stable. The relatively small GPU overclock and the big memory overclock proof that the GTX 680 definitely is memory bandwidth limited on the 256-bit bus, as the differences in performance are quite grand.
The Palit GeForce GTX 680 4GB JetStream edition leaves us awed but not shocked, whether or not you'll use the extra 2GB of memory is debatable, give it the right circumstances and sure it can help out. But 2GB really covers 98% of the games in the highest resolutions.
We do feel that leaving the clock frequencies at the reference defaults is a bit of a miss though, I honestly do not know why Palit chose to to do that. Still even at baseline NV reference performance these cards kick a can of whoopass. The cooling is great, the noise level are extremely low.
Would I personally spend another 90 EUR and pick up the 4GB version over the 2GB JetStream version ? .. I doubt it, the 2GB version with the dandy factory tweaks seems to be the more appealing product. But then again, I don't game on three monitors and in 3D. So yeah, it's good to have that choice.
Currently the 2GB models sell at 490 EUR and the 4GB models at 580 EUR.
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