I wrote a while back that it looked as though 2013 would be a dry spell for the graphics market. With no new architectures or die-shrinks on the horizon, the market looked set to be bogged down in GPU stalemate, with Nvidia and AMD’s 6-series and 7-series cards duking it out in much the same way as they had for the previous year.
Click to enlarge - The GTX 760 2GB launches today
Thankfully that’s not been the case and alongside headline releases like the GTX Titan 6GB, GTX 780 2GB and the HD 7990 6GB we’ve also seen prices tumbling. Nvidia’s GTX 660 2GB now sits as the undisputed best value card on the market at a tempting £150 while the GTX 770 2GB offers high-end performance for a not-unreasonable £320. AMD’s prices have declined more naturally in opposition but remain competitive despite the 7-series entering its 18th month on sale. With around another six months until AMD’s bombastically titled new Volcanic Islands architecture arrives there’s still plenty to play for though, which bring us to today’s launch; the GeForce GTX 760 2GB.
Click to enlarge - the GTX 760 2GB retains the same stock PCB and cooler as the GTX 670
Available immediately and with prices starting at £200, the GTX 760 2GB directly replaces the GTX 660 Ti 2GB in Nvidia’s stack, slotting in behind the £240 GTX 670 and above the £150 GTX 660 2GB, both of which will remain on sale for the next few months at least. This gives Nvidia a pretty tight product range, with £40-£50 steps between the three cards and then a bigger jump up to the GTX 770 2GB and GTX 780 3GB.
Click to enlarge - The GTX 760's GPU layout (on the right) is all new, with a full 32 ROPs and 256-bit memory interface, but reduced stream processor count.
Unlike the GTX 770 2GB, which is basically an overclocked GTX 680 2GB, the GTX 760 2GB sees a new core configuration for the now familiar GK104 Kepler GPU. The 1,344 stream processors of the GTX 670 and GTX 660 Ti have declined by 192 to 1,152, split between six SMs and either 3 or 4 GPCs dependant on GPU (performance remains the same). Thanks to Nvidia’s GPU Boost 2.0, the GPU’s core frequency isn’t static, running at a worst-case scenario base clock of 980MHz, a guaranteed boost clock of 1,033MHz and a best-case boost clock of 1,110MHz. Of course, the ability of a card to attain this best-case clock is reliant on its cooling, with the card dialling back the boost should the GPU temperature reach 80°C in order to keep things cool and stable.
Click to enlarge - The stock card uses a small vapour chamber heatsink and a radial fan, mounted to a dinky 175mm PCB
With an extra SM disabled in comparison to the card it replaces, Nvidia has improved the GTX 760 elsewhere to compensate, restoring the disabled memory controller of the GTX 660 Ti 2GB to grant GTX 760 2GB a full 256-bit memory interface. The 2GB of GDDR5 still runs at 6GHz, but the resulting 192GB/sec of memory bandwidth is a whopping 33 per cent improvement and keeps pace with that of the GTX 670 2GB. This should result in larger gains in memory bandwidth heavy games such as Crysis 3. The GTX 660 Ti 2GB's disabled set of ROPs has also been reactivated, granting the GTX 760 2GB a full compliment of 32 ROPs, matching that of the GTX 670.
While it’s GPU is a new variant, the GTX 760 2GB shares the same stock dual-slot cooler and PCB that’s typified the GTX 670, GTX 660 Ti and GTX 660 previously. A super-short 175mm PCB is extended to a total of 240mm thanks to the radial fan and accompanying shroud, while a pair of top-mounted 6-pin PCI-E power connectors supply the juice and a pair of SLI connectors allow for upto 4-card multi-GPU. The extra memory controller and higher base clock has necessitated a 170W TDP though; matching that of the GTX 670 2GB despite the disabled SM.
Click to enlarge - We'll be taking a look at EVGA and MSI's GTX 760s shortly, but we've already had one of them up to a mighty 1,300MHz core frequency
Thanks to its similarity to existing GPUs, there’ll be no wait for board-partner variants of the GTX 760, with a wide array of factory overclocked and custom-cooled cards on sale today. We’ll be taking a look at MSI and EVGA’s efforts very soon, but today we’re focusing on the stock card, being sold by a number of partners, such as PNY and MSI, at that headline £200 price.