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GALAXY Geforce GTX 780 Ti HOF V2 – H2O and LN2 review

GALAXY Geforce GTX 780 Ti HOF V2

Geforce GTX 980 may be out on the market, beating the reference clocked GTX 780 Ti while consuming less power, but Galaxy had launched a spectacular card which deserves a complete review. Galaxy and KFA2 reunited under Galax, but this card was launched when the official name was still Galaxy so I will name the card as it’s written on the box.

The Galaxy Geforce GTX 780 Ti HOF V2 is actually the fastest commercially available VGA card based on the GTX 780 Ti GPU, comes with a specially waterblock from our friends from EK Waterblocks and it’s specially tweaked for LN2 overclocking. In today’s review we will test the performance of this videocard and compare it to the new GTX 980 and it will be an interesting battle as this GTX 780 Ti is highly overclocked right out-of-the-box. After that we will test the overclocking headroom on watercooling (H2O) but also on liquid nitrogen (LN2), the main goal of this videocard.

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Although the GTX 780 Ti Hall Of Fame V2 was pretty late on the market, the VGA card is indeed a masterpiece for the power users and extreme overclockers. To run the a GPU so complex as the GK110 at 1202MHz straight out from the factory door, the Galaxy monster needs cherry-picked GPU as well as a very strong VRM coupled with a well tought PCB. As you will see, this card has them all, but can it beat the highly efficient Geforce GTX 980? Also, what is the headroom available? Read on and find out!

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Packaging & description

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The graphic card comes in a very large box – just like the video card itself – with an elegant black and white color combination. In terms of accessories, in the package we can find: CD with drivers and Xtreme Tuner Plus utility, user manual, two PCI Express adapters 2 x MOLEX -> PCI-Express 8-pin, one PCI Express adapter 2 x MOLEX -> PCI-Express 6-pin and a separate heatsink for cooling the VRM when using LN2. Regarding connectivity, we have one DVI-I port, one DVI-D port, a HDMI port and one DisplayPort.

As I said earlier, the card comes with some serious out-of-the-box frequencies, so we have the GPU running at 1202MHz (Boost) while the GDDR5 memories are running at 1750MHz (just like the NVIDIA reference design). Note that you must mount the EK waterblock by yourself and you must have the rest of the watercooling components (pump, fittings, radiator, etc) to be able to run the card.

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As you can expect, the PCB has 12 layers and is completely redesigned by Galaxy to meet overclocking demands. You can see that it’s taller than a regular PCB, space needed to house the massive GPU VRM and also the memory and PLL VRMs, which are placed in an unusual place, above the GK110 GPU. This are just a few of the secrets that make the GTX 780 Ti HOF V2 such a good overclocking card.

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Under the hood

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The waterblock is custom made by EK Waterblocks and is of the same excellent quality we are used to already. The base is made of solid copper but is covered with nickel to prevent oxidation. The top cover is mostly made from Acetal but in the VRM area the cover is made from nickel plated copper.

The VRM powering the GPU has 16 phases, each composed of polymer, ceramic and tantalum capacitors, a ferrite coil and a powerful 60 amp IR3550 integrated Driver MOS from International Rectifier driven by a CHL8318 controller produced by CHIL.

The VRM for GDDR5 memory has 2 phases  while the PLL VRM has one phase PU VRM, each phase being composed by 2 MOSFET transistors, polymer, ceramic and tantalum capacitors and a ferrite coil (on the back of the card). The coils are vertically aligned for space optimization, while the VGA card requires two PCI-Express 8-pin and one 6-pin power connectors for operation.

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Testbed

  
CPUIntel Core i7 4790K
MotherboardGIGABYTE GA-Z97X-OC Force
RAMGEIL Evo Corsa 8GB DDR3-2133 CL10
CoolingNoctua NH-D14 + 2 x Coolink SwiF 120P
HDDIntel SSD 730 240GB
PSUSeasonic P1200
CaseHSPC Top Deck Station
Room temp25 oC
OSWindows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1
AMD DriverCatalyst 14.4 WHQL
Nvidia DriverForceware 344.07 BETA
CPU clock4500 MHz
DDR clockDDR3 2133
Timings9-11-9-28 1T

In order to get the best performance from such a beast, we used a PCI-E 3.o platform, based on a Devil’s Canyon CPU. The Intel Core i7 4790K CPU was clocked at 4500MHz, being cool and cozy with 1.2v and a Noctua NH-D14 on top. We used a GIGABYTE Z97X-SOC Force motherboard and a dual-channel GEIL Evo Corsa 8GB DDR3-2133 CL10 memory kit set at DDR3 2133 9-11-9-28. The PSU is the nice and shiny Seasonic P1200 while the “case” was a HSPC Top Deck Station bench table.

The OS, Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1. was installed on a Intel SSD 730 240GB. Of course, we used the latest AMD driver at the time of the test (Catalyst 14.4 WHQL), and the latest NVIDIA driver available at the time of the testing (Forceware 344.07 BETA). We are using only original SO, benchmark and games, regularly updated.

We tested all graphic cards with our usual test resolutions (1920×1200 si 2560×1600), with two quality settings for each (8xAA and 2xAA), replacing them with 4xAA and NoAA when the game only offered this option. All details were set to maximum, as long as this meant that we were using identical settings for AMD and NVIDIA cards.

Testbed

3DMark Vantage

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In 3D Mark Vantage, the higher clocked Galaxy GTX 780 Ti HOF V2 beats even the highest clocked GTX 980 which is a nice achievement. Let’s see how it does in the other benchmarks!

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3DMark 2011

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3DMark 2011 shows a different story for our GTX 780 Ti HOF V2. While it outperforms the reference clocked 780 Ti by a hefty margin it still lags behind the newly released GTX 980’s in Performance preset. When going to Xtreme preset it recovers some lost performance, losing only to the Gigabyte GTX 980, which is also the highest clocked Maxwell.

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3DMark

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The same story can be seen also in the new 3DMark but here the 780 Ti HOF V2 loses both in Performance and Xtreme presets. Note that the reference clocked 780 Ti is much much slower…

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Far Cry 2

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Far Cry 2 shows pretty similar results for all the high performing cards, but we can see that the Galaxy card fights for the first place with the Gigabyte GTX 980.

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Crysis 2

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In Crysis 2 we can see the same final outcome with the Gigabyte GTX 980 winning 2 out of 4 battles, one draw and one win for the Galaxy HOF card. It’s nice to see that a supercharged GTX 780 Ti GPU can fight head-to-head with the fastest clocked GTX 980 we tested to date (Gigabyte G1).

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Hitman Absolution

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In Hitman Absolution the Galaxy GTX 780 Ti HOF V2 wins both 2x AA scenarios, we have one draw and one win for the Gigabyte GTX 980.

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Alien vs Predator

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The same fight for the first place is also present in AvP, with Gigabyte GTX 980 winning 3 out of the 4 game test scenarios.

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Bioshock Infinite

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The same order of performance we see in Bioshock Infinite, with the platoon led by Gigabyte GTX 980 and Galaxy GTX 780 Ti HOF V2.

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Batman Arkham Origins

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In Batman Arkham Origins we see again the Galaxy card getting very good frames with 2x AA but loses to the Gigabyte GTX 980 with 8x AA.

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Sleeping Dogs

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Sleeping Dogs is the first game that shows the supercharged 780 Ti HOF card as the overall winner with 2 wins and 2 draws.

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FarCry 3

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FarCry 3 shows the Gigabyte GTX 980 as a winner, with the HOF V2 on a close second. Remarkably how slow the reference GTX 780 Ti seems compared to the other cards.

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Battlefield 4

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In Battlefield 4 the GTX 980 lead the pack with the two GTX 780 Ti trailing behind them. Seems that BF4 likes a lot the new Maxwell architecture.

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Metro Last Light

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Metro is friendly to our Galaxy Geforce GTX 780 Ti HOF V2, giving it a win and a draw in front of the Gigabyte GTX 980.

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Power consumption

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In order to measure the power consumption, we used a dedicated tool, leaving the system in idle for 10 minutes. Then we ran Crysis 2 in 1920×1200 4xAA. The numbers you see above represent the power consumption of the whole system, not just the VGA, and we are talking about the highest value recorded during our test.

That means that the average power consumption is considerably lower, but we are looking for the peak value, the worst case scenario, the maximum possible stress for our PSU. Obviously the total power consumption of the system can be even higher if you stress even more components (storage, RAM, etc), but we are looking for a maximum value relevant to daily use scenarios, aka gaming.

As one could expect, the Galaxy supercharged GTX 780 Ti HOF V2 card consume more than the reference clocked 780 Ti. The difference is 21W in IDLE and 25W in LOAD, getting even bigger if we compare it with the new GTX 980 cards. The Gigabyte GTX 980 offers overall more performance while consuming 84W less than the Galaxy card.

Temperature

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The temperature levels we reach are not representative for the temperature levels you could get in a normal system, in an enclosure. If you have a poorly ventilated enclosure you could get much higher temps, while if you have a very well ventilated enclosure you could get better temp numbers. The purpose of this chapter is to compare one graphic card to another, not to get absolute numbers.

We used EVGA Precision to measure the temperature levels of the GPU and the fan speed, both in idle and in full load, in the same situation we used in the power consumption test. As you would expect, the GTX 780 Ti HOF V2 has very good temperatures thanks to its massive EK waterblock getting 47 degrees C fully loaded. Eh, beat that aircooling :)!

Overclocking using H2O

Using the stock waterblock we tried to get the maximum clocks the card could do. Setting 1.5v for the GPU and +100mv for the memory we could get a nice 1432MHz for the GPU and a staggering 2125MHz for the memory. For a GPU so complex as the GK110 this frequency is very good – especially for using plain water – but I was expecting a little more.

The GPU’s ASIC quality is not so great at only 62% so let’s see the scaling on LN2, maybe it will amaze us. From my experience with recent cards I can tell you that higher clocking on air means higher clocking on LN2. Judging from that, this card is not exactly 1900MHz+ material as I hoped for, but let’s not lose hope before beginning.

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EK-SF3D Critical Point – Packaging & description

For LN2 we chose also a GPU pot made by our friend from EK Waterblocks developed in cooperation with legendary finnish overclocker Petri “SF3D” Korhonen. It’s very nice to see a proper retail GPU pot with all the mounting included, makes you feels that extreme overclocking is finnaly heading somewhere.

The pot itself is very sleek and elegant but it’s very heavy due to its completely nickel coated copper base. The extension is made from black anodised aluminum to keep the total weight and cost down. You have everything you need in the package, and also the pot featured a thermal probe hole for easy monitoring. Bear in mind that the thermal probe and insulation are not included in the package, you must buy them yourself.

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EK-SF3D Critical Point – Mounting & LN2 preparation

I insulated the Critical Point VGA pot with adhesive 3mm neoprene tape and installed a K type thermal probe to proper monitor the temperature. To protect the card against condensation and moisture I used vaseline on the front and back of the VGA card. Also, because the VRM will overheat without any active cooling in the area I installed the heatsink that was bundled with the card and added a 140mm fan for increased airflow.

The thermal paste used was the one bundled with the pot, the Gelid GC-Extreme which is also the best TIM for subzero benching. The whole card was covered with towels resulting in over 2 hours of trouble free benching, after that I stopped because the LN2 ran out. Beside insulation the GALAXY Geforce GTX 780 Ti HOF V2 needs only that the user flips the 3 dip switch module on the back to the OFF position, deactivating the thermal shutdown and power limit.

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Overclocking using EK-SF3D Critical Point (LN2)

The card is very easy to bench under LN2, you don’t have to worry about anything other than the coldboot bug which is around -80 C. I flashed the XOC BIOS just to be sure I don’t get any coldslow or stupid low clock limit and used the HOF_NVVDD to set the required GPU and memory voltage. For setting the frequency in overclocking I used the latest version of MSI Afterburner.

At a set voltage of 1.55v (1.527v in LOAD) for the GPU I got 1772MHz for 3DMark 11 at a temperature of just -100 C (the memory was kept at 2050MHz not to limit the maximum frequency of the GPU). In the limited time and with little amounts of LN2 this is the maximum I could get, but with over -130 C and more than 1.6v this little gem will fly over 1800MHz for sure. No, the GPU is not “golden” but it gets excellent overclocking results anyway. With lower voltage and lower frequency I runned also 3DMark Fire Strike and Catzilla 720p for your reference.

EK-SF3D Critical Point is one of the best pots I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. It’s fast when you need it and slow when it has to hold the load. But even a pot so massive as the Critical Point cannot hold steady the GK110 at 1.55v with perfect contact. It’s extremely power hungry as you can expect from a 7.1 billion transistor chip…

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Final thoughts

At a retail price of $1099, the GALAXY Geforce GTX 780 Ti HOF V2 it’s the most expensive GTX 780 Ti you can find on the market but it’s also the fastest. This card is a Limited Edition release so it will not be on the market much longer, so if you like it you can head over to Kingbo and get one.

The performance out-of-the-box is excellent, loosing by very little to the fastest GTX 980 we tested up to this day (Gigabyte G1). The problem, beside the price, is the much higher power draw and the need of a complete watercooling system for this card to work. Overall this card is an excellent demonstration of technology from Galaxy and, if this is what they could do with the GTX 780 Ti then I wonder what they could achieve with the much simpler and more overlockable GTX 980? We will wait and see…

Also, we want to thank EK Waterblock for sending us the EK-SF3D Critical Point to test with this VGA card and for making a product so good but in a compact size. We are eager to test this pot with other GPU’s in the future. We are waiting for your opinions in the comments section below or in the forums. See ya!

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3 comments la: GALAXY Geforce GTX 780 Ti HOF V2 – H2O and LN2 review

    1. This is the last of the ‘Mohicans’… great review!

      Reply
    2. superuser1982 wrote on:

      Glod review as always! I wonder If i put a custom Air cooler(arctic cooler) the card will run 24h safe temp!

      Reply
    3. KLEAN_upguyZA wrote on:

      Yes you can run a air cooler… I have one it’s just silly thou… I got a generic air cooler from Galax with a waterblock…gpu works fine on either air I hit about 80 and water is sub 40 underload

      Reply

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