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The GeForce GTX 680

Now that we've looked at the GPU in some detail, let me drop the specs on you for the first card based on the GK104, the GeForce GTX 680.

GPU
base
clock
(MHz)
GPU
boost
clock
(MHz)
Shader
ALUs
Textures
filtered/
clock
ROP
pixels/
clock
Memory
transfer
rate
Memory
interface
width
(bits)
Idle/peak
power
draw
GeForce GTX 680 1006 1058 1536 128 32 6 GT/s 256 15W/195W

The GTX 680 has (as far as we know, at least) all of the the GK104's functional units enabled, and it takes that revised memory interface up to 6 GT/s, as advertised. The board's peak power draw is fairly tame, considering its positioning, but not perhaps considering the class of chip under that cooler.

Peak pixel
fill rate
(Gpixels/s)
Peak bilinear
filtering
(Gtexels/s)
Peak bilinear
FP16 filtering
(Gtexels/s)
Peak shader
arithmetic
(TFLOPS)
Peak
rasterization
rate
(Mtris/s)
Memory
bandwidth
(GB/s)
GeForce GTX 560 Ti 29 58 58 1.4 1800 134
GeForce GTX 560 Ti 448 29 41 41 1.3 2928 152
GeForce GTX 580 37 49 49 1.6 3088 192
GeForce GTX 680 32 129 129 3.1 4024 192
Radeon HD 5870 27 68 34 2.7 850 154
Radeon HD 6970 28 85 43 2.7 1780 176
Radeon HD 7870 32 80 40 2.6 2000 154
Radeon HD 7970 30 118 59 3.8 1850 264

Multiply the chip's capabilities by its clock speeds, and you get a sense of how the GTX 680 stacks up to the competition. In most key rates, its theoretical peaks are higher than the Radeon HD 7970's—and our estimates conservatively use the base clock, not the boost clock, as their basis. The only deficits are in peak shader FLOPS, where the 7970 is faster, and in memory bandwidth, thanks to Tahiti's 384-bit memory interface.

With that said, you may or may not be pleased to hear that Nvidia has priced the GeForce GTX 680 at $499.99. On one hand, that undercuts the Radeon HD 7970 by 50 bucks and should be a decent deal given its specs. On the other, that's a lot more than you'd expect to pay for the spiritual successor to the GeForce GTX 560 Ti—and despite its name, the GTX 680 is most definitely that. Simply knowing that fact may create a bit of a pain point for some of us, even if the price is justified based on this card's performance.

Thanks to its relatively low peak power consumption, the GTX 680 can get away with only two six-pin power inputs. Strangely, Nvidia has staggered those inputs, supposedly to make them easier to access. However, notice that the orientation on the lower input is rotated 180° from the upper one. That means the tabs to release the power plugs are both "inside," facing each other, which makes them harder to grasp. I don't know what part of this arrangement is better than the usual side-by-side layout.

The 680's display outputs are a model of simplicity: two dual-link DVI ports, an HDMI output, and a full-sized DisplayPort connector.

At 10", the GTX 680 is just over half an inch shorter than its closest competitor, the Radeon HD 7970.