MSI GeForce GTX 760 OC full review
The GTX 760 is considerably cheaper than the GTX 770, but the latter graphics card obviously compensates with greater power. Is it better to spend less, or to get the higher frame rates of the 770? We'll put these two head to head, and try and settle the question of exactly which one offers the better deal, and at which point price should trump performance. But first, let's have a look through the specifications.
GTX 760 vs GTX 770: Same chip different results
Despite the price difference, comparing the GTX 760 and 770 isn't as outlandish as it may seem. Indeed, they share the same chip - the GK104. Often referred to as Kepler (nVidia's latest trend being to name its technology after physicists and astronomers), the GK104 is one of nVidia's more ubiquitous chips, having been retooled in a variety of GPUs, from the GTX 680 (in the older 600 series) to the GTX 750 and 760, and the GTX 770.
The GK104 isn't itself ground-breaking technology, having been partly based on the older GF114 (Fermi), but it is still capable of considerable firepower. Created using the 28nm manufacturing process, it's a highly efficient and compact design, and packs in over 3.5 billion transistors.
The biggest difference between the 760 and 770 is in the number of SMXes (or Streaming Multiprocessors) used. On the 770, all eight SMXes are activated, resulting in 1,536 stream processors, and 128 texture units. On the 760, on the other hand, only six of the eight are turned on, which is why you only get 75% of the stream processors and texture units (1,152 and 96, respectively).
Although it was nVidia that seemed to lead the way with its scalar architecture - AMD has since tried to fall more in line, with its move to GCN (Graphics Core Next) - the GK104 is now looking a little green around the gills when it comes to compute performance.
Whereas the new Radeon R9 280X, for instance, sees a relatively small drop when it works with FP64 ( 64bit double-precision) calculations - falling to a quarter of the FP32 performance - the 760 and 770 both slump to a mere sixteenth of the FP32's speed. Where there's any move towards compute-style applications, then, both the 760 and 770 will struggle significantly. In fairness, this is unlikely to trouble the majority of gamers, but it is worth remembering that the GK104 isn't the latest thing. See Group test: what's the best graphics card?
GTX 760 vs GTX 770: Astonishing core clocks
While it might initially seem disappointing that GPUs based around the ageing GK104 offer little that's new and bleeding-edge, the beauty of this compact little piece of silicon is that it allows for very generous clock rates. This is particularly so in the case of the 770, where even the standard unclocked factory settings give you a core clock of 1046MHz (with a boost of 1085MHz).
Even the 7950 offers a core clock of just 1,000MHz (1GHz), while other GPUs fall way below this - the new Radeon R9 280X, for instance, starts at just 850MHz. And this is just taking into account the basic factory-settings version of the 770. Hunt around, and you can find boards (from KFA2 and EVGA, for instance) that push the core clocks up to 1,202MHz. Indeed, even the cheap MSI version of this chip offered a maximum speed of 1,150MHz.
The GTX 760 is very much more restrained, but still has an impressive base figure of 980MHz, with a Boost that can push it up to 1,033MHz. Look for the best overclocked designs, and you can see this figure go as high as 1,150MHz. The 760 falls a little short of the 770, perhaps, but it's very impressive for a card to be surpassing the likes of the R9 280X - a GPU that often carries a price premium close to three figures.
The high core rates mean that both the 770 and 760 should have impressive skills when it comes to handling textures. The 770 obviously leads the way, and its boost clock of 1085MHz combined with the 128 texture units helps it to a rather stunning textures fill rate of 138.9GT/sec. Look for the best overclocked versions, and a rate of 153.9GT/sec is possible.
Even the R9 280X only offers 128GT/sec in reply, while GPUs like the Radeon HD 7970 and and GTX 660 Ti supply just 70.4GT/sec and 109.8GT/sec respectively. The 760 doesn't reach the heights of the 770, but its score of 99.2GT/sec only just falls short of three figures. Given the lower price, it's a pretty strong figure that hints at the 760's ability to punch above its weight. See all PC Components and Upgrades reviews.
GTX 760 vs GTX 770: Memory clocks
Memory clock speeds are also quite emphatic in the case of the GK104. The standard GTX 770 pushes that memory clock up to 1.75GHz, or 7GHz when you take into account the ability of DDR RAM to effectively quadruple the memory clock. That 7GHz remains about as high as these clocks can get using existing memory chips, with even the likes of the R9 280X topping out at around 6GHz. Incidentally, 6GHz is exactly where the 760 finds itself, which means it can compete happily here with a clutch of cards that cost considerably more, even if it loses notable ground to the 770.
Not that these high clock rates are the only factors, and both chips lose ground to the competition with 256bit memory interfaces. The R9 280X and Radeon HD7950, for example, have interfaces that go up to 384bit. That means that both the GK104 GPUs have slightly disappointing memory bandwidth figures.
The GTX 770 puts up a figure of 224GB per second, which places it some distance ahead of the 760's 192GB/sec. Neither, though, can keep up with the 240GB/sec of the Radeon HD 7950, much less the sizzling 288.4GB/sec of the R9 280X. What this means is that the 760 will be rather limited in how much space it has to juggle textures and other important pieces of graphical data.
GTX 760 vs GTX 770: 2GB or not?
Initially, both the GTX 770 and 760 were launched only in 2GB versions. Both have since had 4GB versions brought out as well. So should we be looking at 2GB or 4GB versions of these cards? The price differences are significant. In the case of the 770, there's roughly a £40 to £50 difference between the 2GB and the 4GB version. In the case of the 760, you're looking once again at around £40. That's not a small difference, so what do you get for your extra money?
Provided games remain relatively modest, more memory will make little difference. However, the more textures you lay down, the slower the graphics will get if there's less memory to use. Assuming you're using a single-screen setup, you're unlikely to notice better performance with 4GB cards. Use dual-screen displays, though, and go beyond 2560x1440, and frame rates will start to be hit.
This is more likely to be an issue for 770 users. The 760 is cheap enough that its buyers are probably looking for a capable little card to give them decent performance for a couple of years. By the time 2GB becomes a significant bottleneck, the 760 will be a long way past its best in any case.
The 770, on the other hand, is a GPU capable of creating strong frame rates. Its users will probably want to push their games to higher resolutions and detail levels, and may well be investing a little more with the future in mind. Should the frame rates suddenly start to drop precipitously due to the 2GB becoming inadequate, the £50 saving for the 2GB version will suddenly be seen as a poor move.
If you're looking for a card that can last happily over several years, and particularly if you'll be wanting to push into the high-intensity of multiple-screen gaming, you'll find it worthwhile paying extra for the 4GB version. For most purposes, though, the 2GB version will be quite sufficient.
GTX 760 vs GTX 770: Big-screen gaming and power
Both GPUs offer the same number of Raster Operations - 32. In both cases, a single card can drive three (and possibly four) displays at a time, although if triple-screen gaming is what you'll be wanting to do, your starting point really should be the 770 rather than the 760. PhysX is given full support by both, although this feature has yet to become ground-breaking, due mainly to a lack of concentrated support from games programmers. You certainly won't be buying either card for the PhysX, but it is a nice extra.
The simplistic GK104 design is highly efficient, and both the 760 and 770 have surprisingly modest power requirements. The GTX 760, for instance, comes with a TDP of just 170 watts - a good 30 watts below the figures of the Radeon HD 7950. The GTX 770 is a little more powerful, with a total of 230 watts. However, this is still quite modest, given that both the Radeon R9 280X and HD 7970 hit the 250 watt mark. There was very little difference between the 760 and 770 in terms of noise, with both being fairly discreet.
GTX 760 vs GTX 770: Benchmark tests
The specifications can say what you want, but the crucial factor is what graphics cards do when faced with real-world games. We've looked at the GTX 760 and GTX 770 at default settings, and across four different titles and three resolutions. We've also included details of a Radeon 7970 (at round about £250), just as a point of reference. (See all our graphics card reviews.)
GTX 760 vs GTX 770: Crysis 3
|Crysis 3||Crysis 3||Crysis 3|
The 770 begins with a gentle romp at the lowest resolution of 1680x1,050, digging out a quick 11.9fps lead. The 7970 is a little distance further back from the 760, losing 2.8fps to its apparently inferior rival, the 760. The 760 rallies marginally against the 770 over the bigger resolutions, but even at 2,560x1,600, it loses 9.7fps. The 7970 actually climbs marginally ahead of the 760 at this point, albeit by a mere 0.2fps.
GTX 760 vs GTX 770: Bioshock Infinite Rage
This is an impressive victory for the 770, and it almost registers a three-figure frame rate at 1,600x900. More crucially, this gives it a 20.7fps lead over the 760. The 7970 also beats the 760, moving ahead by 4.5fps. The lead closes significantly over bigger resolutions, but in percentage terms, the 770's 9.3fps lead at 2,560x1,600 is emphatic. By this point, the 760 has just about overhauled the 7970, albeit by just 0.2fps.
GTX 760 vs GTX 770: Battlefield 3
|Battlefield 3||Battlefield 3||Battlefield 3|
Another clear victory for the 770, picking up a 15.7fps lead at the lowest resolution, although this is perhaps the least commanding of the performances. By the highest resolution, the lead has fallen to just 5.9fps, although this is more a reflection of the low frame rates than anything else. The 7970 is marginally behind the 760 at every step, although never by more than a frame.
GTX 760 vs GTX 770: Assassin's Creed 3
|Assassin's Creed 3||Assassin's Creed 3||Assassin's Creed 3|
This is also a comfortable victory for the 770, and in percentage terms, the fall from a 16.4fps lead (at the highest resolution) to 9.1fps at 2,560x1,600, is actually more of an increase. The 7970 is marginally faster than the 760, picking up 1.2/1.3fps leads along the way.
GTX 760 vs GTX 770: Verdict
The GTX 770 is around £50 more than the 760, so you would expect it to be faster. But how fast does it need to be to justify that price difference. Well, in our opinion, you should only be opting for the 760 instead if you either have an absolute price limit of around the £200 mark, or if it's vital that the card is extremely power efficient. The 760 fares very well in terms of wattage, although it's not noticeably quieter than the 770.
Otherwise, the 770 is most definitely worth the extra £50. The difference in performance isn't small. The 770 was frequently between 20 and 25% faster, and some times the gap was bigger still. You're not getting the very latest features, but that's not what the 770 is about. If you want raw performance, the 770 is a strong contender.
There is also the question of extra memory. At around £250-£260, the 770 is a well priced product that will give you two or three years of strong service. By that time, there'll be something better that's suitably priced as an upgrade. Once you bolt on 4GB, though, and push the price beyond the £300 mark, you're starting to make it a pricey proposition. If you're looking to play with multiple screens, or if you'll want the card to still be a strong performer in 2016/2017, you'll need to add the extra memory. For most users, though, the 2GB GTX 770 is great value for money.
GTX 760 vs GTX 770: Available Graphics Cards
- £195 - KFA GeForce GTX 760 2048MB - 2GB, Core Clock 980MHz (1,033MHz Boost), Memory Clock DDR Effective 6,008MHz, 2yr Warranty
- £200 - Gigabyte GeForce GTX 760 WindForce OC - 2GB, Core Clock 1,085MHz (1,150MHz Boost), Memory Clock DDR Effective 6,008MHz, 3yr Warranty
- £210 - Asus GeForce GTX 760 DirectCUII - 2GB, Core Clock 1,006MHz (1,072MHz Boost), Memory Clock DDR Effective 6,008MHz, 3yr Warranty
- £210 - EVGA GeForce GTX 760 SC - 2GB, Core Clock 1,072MHz (1,137MHz Boost), Memory Clock DDR Effective 6,008MHz, 3yr Warranty
- £230 - Inno3D GeForce GTX 760 iChill - 2GB, Core Clock 1,060MHz (1,124MHz Boost), Memory Clock DDR Effective 6.2GHz, 2yr Warranty
- £250 - Gainward GeForce GTX 760 Phantom 4096MB - 4GB, Core Clock 1,072MHz (1,137MHz Boost), Memory Clock DDR Effective 6.2GHz, 2yr Warranty
- £260 - MSI GeForce GTX 760 OC Gaming Edition 4096MB - 4GB, Core Clock 1,085MHz (1,150MHz Boost), Memory Clock DDR Effective 6,008MHz, 3yr Warranty
Verdict - The GTX 760 is very much about its low price, so you want to be going for a model near the bottom - there's no need to be chasing the very highest clock speeds. Having said that, even at the lower end, you can find some strong specifications. The Gigabyte version is particularly impressive, offering a 1,150MHz Boost clock for just around the £200 mark. The Asus and EVGA are also very good, and still strong value at £210. We wouldn't recommend that you push this card right up to 4GB. If you do, though, the Inno3D is priced to move, with finely-honed specs, and very nice cooling facilities.
- £252 - MSI GTX 770 Twin Frozr - 2GB, Core Clock 1,098MHz (1,150MHz Boost), Memory Clock DDR Effective 7GHz, 2yr Warranty
- £270 - Asus GeForce GTX 770 DirectCU OC - 2GB, Core Clock 1,058MHz (1,110MHz Boost), Memory Clock DDR Effective 7GHz, 3yr Warranty
- £276 - Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 WindForce 3x OC - 2GB, Core Clock 1,137MHz (1,189MHz Boost), Memory Clock DDR Effective 7GHz, 3yr Warranty
- £300 - KFA2 GeForce GTX 770 LTD OC - 2GB, Core Clock 1,150MHz (1,202MHz Boost), Memory Clock DDR Effective 7GHz, 2yr Warranty
- £320 - Gainward GeForce GTX 770 Phantom - 4GB, Core Clock 1,046MHz (1,085MHz Boost), Memory Clock DDR Effective 7GHz, 2yr Warranty
- £330 - Inno3D GeForce GTX 770 iChill Herculez 4096MB - 4GB, Core Clock 1,150MHz (1,196MHz Boost), Memory Clock DDR Effective 7.2GHz, 3yr Warranty
- £360 - EVGA GeForce GTX 770 Classified ACX 4096MB - 4GB, Core Clock 1,150MHz (1,202MHz Boost), Memory Clock DDR Effective 7GHz, 3yr Warranty
Verdict - If you're looking for sheer value, the 2GB versions are the places to go. The Gigabyte and KFA2 have some spectacular figures, particularly with regards to the Boost clock speed. However, there's really no need to try and eke out every last bit of speed, regardless of price. The MSI is exceptional value for money. The 1,150MHz Boost clock is very impressive, and you'll barely notice the difference between this and the KFA2. If you're buying a GTX 770 for longevity, you'd be better off spending the extra on double the RAM, instead. The Inno3D is a very good model here, with a solid £330 price tag, but a 1,196MHz Boost clock. The EVGA probably isn't worth the extra £30, even though it is a beautifully tailored product.
MSI GeForce GTX 760 OC: Specs
- nVidia GeForce GTX 760
- 2GB GDDR5
- 1006MHz core clock (1072MHz Boost)
- 1502MHz memory clock (6008MHz DDR effective)
- 400MHz RAMDAC
- 256-bit memory interface
- 1152 stream processors
- 96 texture units
- 32 ROP units
- PCI-E interface
- DirectX 11
- 2x DVI, 1x HDMI
- 1x DisplayPort
- 1 x 6-pin, 1 x 8-pin PSU connector needed
- 3-year warranty