Graphics Cards Guide
- ‹ Prev
- Next ›
Physique and Features
*** Updated on May 3, 2012 ***
Benchmark results are added with a conclusion, elevating the preview article to a full review.
The Phantom Returns
NVIDIA is ushering to a new chapter for its GeForce label with the introduction of its 600 series of GPUs, heralded by the flagship member of the line, the GTX 680 GPU. So far, we can say that much has been said about the GTX 680, since its announcement and regional launch sometime last month. For those who want to dive deeper into the technical details, we also have a comprehensive article about the GTX 680.
The GeForce 600 series will be officially launching in the Philippines soon, hence, graphics card makers have started to send us their own GTX 680 renditions recently. Among the beasts that were sent to us is the Gainward GTX 680 Phantom II.
The most prominent component of the GeForce GTX 680 Phantom II is its unique cooling solution. Equipped with thin aluminium fins that are held by metal rods and heatpipes, the cooler seems inspired by the design of automobile radiators. We previously saw this specific kind of cooler with the high-end GTX 580 Phantom3 which we reviewed last year. But unlike the GTX 580 Phantom3, it is noticeable that the GTX 680 Phantom II’s cooler comes only with two fans instead of three, just as what its moniker suggests.
Looking at the GTX 680 Phantom II’s side profile, the graphics card is obviously thicker than NVIDIA’s reference card. What makes the GTX 680 Phantom II stouter is Gainward’s distinct cooling solution for the card. On the connectivity front, the card carries a DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI-I, and a DVI-D connector. Although this set of physical interfaces is a standard among GTX 680 graphics cards, Gainward has dubbed it as QuattroPorts.
Compliant with the current standard, the GeForce GTX 680 Phantom II leverages on PCIe 3.0 interface. The presence of two SLI connectors on top insinuates that the graphics card is ready for a 3-way arrangement.
Similar to other GTX 680 graphics cards, this Gainward receives power via its six-pin and eight-pin power connectors. While the graphics card has a minimum requirement of a 550W PSU, interested parties must ensure that the PSU to be used comes with cables that are compatible with the card’s power connectors. In any case, Gainward has bundled the card with the necessary power cable, in addition to HDMI-to-DVI and DVI-to-VGA dongles.
Besides the finned heatsink with two fans, the GeForce GTX 680 Phantom II also comes with a metal plate which doubles as an extra heatsink that helps in dissipating unwanted heat throughout the entire graphics card. The metal plate is securely screwed into the PCB. The plate also serves a solid guide that helps in preventing the PCB from bending over time.
Removing the graphics card’s cooler brings to light the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 GPU. Representing NVIDIA’s current flagship GPU of the GeForce lineup, the GTX 680 is based on the Kepler architecture and is manufactured by means of 28nm fabrication process. On paper, the GPU contains a staggering 3540 million transistors. In the case of this Gainward rendition, the GPU offers a base clock speed of 1084MHz which can go up to 1150MHz. Surrounding the GPU is a set of eight Hynix GDDR5 memory chips with a total of 2048MB. The card’s memory speed is rated at 3150MHz.
Without the customized cooling solution, Gainward’s graphics card basically uses a brownish PCB. Similar to a motherboard, the graphics card itself is interspersed with solid capacitors and ferrite chokes, which suggest enhanced durability and reliability.
Judging the Gainward GTX 680 Phantom II by its appearance alone, it seems it is a solid contender. The unique cooler design makes the graphics card stand out when compared with a rival that uses NVIDIA’s reference design. Relying on the review that we did for the Phantom version of the GTX 580, we are anticipating that the GTX 680 Phantom II will not disappoint us in terms of graphics performance once our series of tests begins.
- ‹ Prev
- Next ›