Graphics card makers have a history of putting entirely too much memory on low-end cards. Extra video RAM can come in handy when rendering complex scenes at extremely high detail levels and resolutions, but far too often, it's paired with budget GPUs that have insufficient horsepower to generate smooth frame rates at those settings. Thankfully, Gainward's latest offering puts extra memory on a card that might be able to use it: Nvidis's newest GeForce. The Phantom GeForce GTX 680 is now available with 4GB of RAM, double the memory of the reference design.
In addition to beefing up its memory capacity, Gainward has given the Phantom a rather imposing custom cooler. This purportedly second-generation design occupies three slots and hides its dual fans behind a massive radiator that stretches across the full length of the card. Heatpipes abound, and Gainward claims the cooler makes the Phantom "almost the most silent air-cooled board in the market." Points for honesty, I suppose.
Despite its beefy heatsink, the Phantom runs at stock speeds. Gainward does have a 2GB version with slightly higher clocks, though. Odds are you won't be able to find either on North American shores; Gainward's website doesn't list the United States, Canada, or Mexico in the "where to buy" section of its website. That's a shame, because the GTX 680 looks perhaps a little light on memory next to the recently discounted Radeon HD 7900 series, which comes equipped with 3GB of RAM by default.