Consider the bog-standard reference-card design. Enthusiasts often sneer at the thought, but the GTX 680 reference design is efficient, quiet, and fast. You often have to spend extra for higher clocks and more fans—and more moving parts and heat often equate to a higher probability of failure.
The EVGA GTX 680 we’re reviewing here is a standard reference card, but EVGA equips it with one of the best overclocking software tools we’ve tested.
You can use Precision to tweak the base clock, Boost clock, voltage, fan settings, and more. The GTX 680 GPU itself offers good overclocking headroom, so a few quick tweaks using Precision should get you 5–10 percent pretty easily.
Flexible overclocking software and a solid warranty make choosing EVGA a little easier.
But really, if you’re running a single display that’s 1920x1200 or lower, you’ll rarely need that additional headroom. We ran our usual benchmark suite at 2560x1600 with 4x multisampling antialiasing. At that rarified resolution, most games were still hitting in excess of 60fps. Even titles like Metro 2033, which hammers all GPUs, exceeded 40fps at 1920x1200 with all the DX11 features enabled (but AA off.)
When we look at the results, it’s worth noting that both GTX 680 cards win in most benchmarks against the overclocked XFX Radeon HD 7970 Double-D Black Edition. The Radeon does eke out wins, most notably in Shogun 2, but the 1fps disparity in Metro 2033 is really just statistical noise. The GTX 680 wins decisively in a number of other game tests.
More important is power. EVGA’s card wins on full-throttle efficiency, but given the variability in GPUs, the difference between EVGA’s power consumption and that of the Asus card is again statistically insignificant. Both cards are more power efficient—and quieter—than the overclocked Radeon at both idle and full throttle. As with Asus, EVGA offers a three-year warranty to registered users.
EVGA’s Precision tool takes full advantage of the GTX 680 GPU’s capabilities.
In the end, we have to give the nod—just barely—to EVGA, for its impressive Precision tweaking tool. While the Asus card also ships with overclocking software, EVGA’s Precision offers a clean interface that’s easier to use. The downside: Finding any GTX 680 is nearly impossible currently, but as Nvidia ramps up manufacturing and initial demand is fulfilled, you’ll see more cards appear on store shelves.
EVGA GeForce GTX 680
Quiet, fast, and efficient; excellent tweaking utility.
Just try finding one.
EVGA GTX 680
Asus GTX 680
EVGA GTX 580 SC
XFX Radeon HD 7970 Black Edition
3DMark 11 Perf
3DMark Vantage Perf
Unigine Heaven 2.5 (fps)
Shogun 2 (fps)
Far Cry 2 / Long (fps)
Dirt 3 (fps)
HAWX 2 DX11 (fps)
STALKER: CoP DX11 (fps)
Just Cause 2 (fps)
Batman: Arkham City (fps)
Metro 2033 (fps)
Core / Memory Clocks (actual)
1,006 / 1,502
1,006 / 1,502
797 / 1,013
1,000 / 1,425
System Power @ idle (W)
System Power @ full throttle (W)
Best scores are bolded. Our test bed is a 3.33GHz Core i7 3960X Extreme Edition in an Asus P9X79 Deluxe motherboard with 16GB of Corsair DDR3/1600 and an AX1200 Corsair PSU. The OS is 64-bit Windows Ultimate. All games are run at 2560x1600 with 4x AA except for the 3DMark tests.