Overclocked and 4GB Strong

Galaxy sent us an overclocked GTX 670 that also sports 4GB of memory. Can it compete with the GTX 680 while being easier on the wallet?

Even though the Kepler GK104 GPU is now matured in the market, there is still a ton of life left in this not-so-small chip and Galaxy sent us a new graphics card to demonstrate just that.  The Galaxy GeForce GTX 670 GC 4GB card that we are reviewing today takes the GTX 670 GPU (originally released and reviewed on May 10th) and juices it up on two different fronts: clock rates and memory capacity.

The Galaxy GTX 670 GC 4GB graphics card is based on GK104 as mentioned below and meets most of the same specifications as the reference GTX 670.  That includes 1344 CUDA cores or stream processors, 112 texture units and 32 ROP units along with a 256-bit GDDR5 memory bus. 

The GC title indicates that the Galaxy GTX 670 GC 4GB is overclocked as well – this card runs at 1006 MHz base clock, 1085 MHz Boost clock and 1500 MHz memory clock.  Compared to the defaults of 915 MHz, 980 MHz and 1500 MHz (respectively) this Galaxy model gets a 10% increase in clock speed though we'll see how much that translates into gaming performance as we go through our review.

Of course, also in the title of the review, the Galaxy GTX 670 GC includes 4GB of frame buffer, twice as much as the reference cards.  The goal is obviously to attract gamers with high resolution screens (2560×1600 or 2560×1440) as well as users interested in triple panel NVIDIA Surround gaming.  We test both of those resolutions in our game collection on the following pages to see just how that works out. 

In the first image above you can see that the Galaxy card is not using the reference cooler and instead using a custom solution much like Galaxy has done in the past.  The dual-fan solution is both effective and quiet – it came in under the reference design in our sound testing. 

The cooler has another nice feature – the GTX 600 series label here in the back pulse a steady blue glow off and on while powered on.  It wasn't annoying at all in our open test bed and instead turned out to be a pretty cool addition.

Another change for the GC 4GB model from Galaxy is the move from a dual 6-pin power connection to a single 6-pin and a single 8-pin.  With the higher clock speeds and additional memory on-board, this puts the power consumption levels much closer to the GTX 680 so this change provides a more stable experience. 

The GTX 670 of course supports 2-Way and 3-Way SLI configurations should you want even more gaming power.

The new PCB design is not only longer (compared to the reference cards we received back in May) but integrates some new additions like the openings bordering the MOSFETs.  This allows for air to flow out the back of the card as well and help keep the power management devices cool.

The output configuration includes a pair of DVI connections, a full-size HDMI port and full-size DisplayPort connection.  I continue to believe this is the best mix as in our multi-display testing we have had much less conflict than AMD's implementation that only includes a single DVI connection. 

Our reviews are based around the following system:

  • Intel Core i7-3960X CPU
  • ASUS P9X79 Pro motherboard
  • Corsair DDR3-1600 4 x 4GB Vengeance memory
  • 600GB Western Digital VelociRaptor HDD
  • 1200 watt Corsair Professional Series power supply
  • Windows 7 SP1 x64

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The ASUS P9X79 Pro

The Intel Core i7-3960X gives us the fastest consumer-level CPU on the market to help eliminate the possibility of any processor-based bottlenecks in our testing (whenever possible).  There are still going to be some games that could use more speed (Skyrim comes to mind) but for our purposes this is as good as you get without getting into any kind of overclocked settings.  The ASUS P9X79 Pro motherboard has enough space for three dual-slot graphics cards when the time comes for testing 3-Way SLI and CrossFire and 8 DIMM slots should we want to go up from our current setup of 16GB of Corsair Vengeance memory.  

I chose to stick with the 600GB VelociRaptor hard drive rather than an SSD as our total installation size with Windows 7 SP1 x64 and 6+ games was already hitting the 115GB range.  Finally the 1200 watt power supply from Corsair offers up more than enough juice for three power hungry graphics cards while running quietly enough to not throw off our noise testing drastically.

Speaking of noise, for this article we are re-introducing our sound level testing thanks to the Extech 407738 Sound Level Meter capable of monitor decibel ratings as low as 20db.  This allows me to accurately tell you the noise levels generated by the graphics cards that make in-house at PC Perspective.

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Along with the new hardware configuration comes a host of new games.  For this review we will be using the following benchmarks and games for performance evaluation:

  • Battlefield 3
  • Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • DiRT 3
  • Batman: Arkham City
  • Metro 2033
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution
  • 3DMark11
  • Unigine Heaven v2.5

This collection of games is both current and takes into account several different genres as well – first person role playing, third person action, racing, first person shooting, etc.  3DMark11 and Unigine Heaven give us a way to see how the cards stack up in a more synthetic environment while the real-world gameplay testing provided by the six games completes the performance picture.

This review is going to focus two resolutions: 2560×1600 and 5760×1080.  In my view only resolution this high will see benefit from the 4GB buffer and thus only gamers with similar setups should worry about paying the extra money for this model. 

The comparisons you should be paying particular attention to:

  • 2560×1600 – How much faster is the Galaxy GTX 670 GC 4GB compared to the reference GTX 670 and can it keep up with the GTX 680 at all?
  • 5760×1080 – Does the overclocked clock speeds and additional memory give the GTX 670 GC 4GB from Galaxy the ability to match the perf of the GTX 680 at a lower cost?  How does it stack up against the GTX 590 and HD 6990?

Now, with that out of the way, let's get on with the results and see how the Galaxy GTX 670 GC 4GB card performs!

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