Created by an elite team of Digital Storm technicians, DS Unlocked is an exclusive blog featuring useful and honest expert advice for enthusiasts and hardcore gamers. We'll be posting videos, articles, how-to guides, and reviews on the latest and greatest technology!

NVIDIA GTX 780 vs Older Graphics Cards: Benchmark Comparison

At the heart of every gaming computer lies the graphics card. Throughout the years, Nvidia has sought to increase the power of its graphic cards while at the same time making sure they run more efficient. With the power of graphic cards increasing each year, it is important to see how each change in the GPU affects performance. We have gathered Nvidia’s top of the line cards for the past 5 years and put them to the test.

Test Bench

  • MSI MPower Max Motherboard
  • Intel 4770k CPU
  • 8GB Corsair Vengeance 1600Mhz
  • 250GB Western Digital Velociraptor
  • Corsair GS 800 Power Supply
  • Nvidia 326.80 Beta Drivers

3DMark 11 Extreme

What makes 3DMark 11 a standard for benchmarking is its extensive features and unbiased results. It is considered to be the best option out there when trying to find out the power of one’s computer. Each video card was subjected to four GPU graphics tests, a CPU Physics test and a combined GPU/CPU Physics test. When tested using the Extreme Benchmark option in 3DMark 11, the difference between the generations of GPUs was really shown. However, due to the GTX 280’s compatibility issues with DirectX 11, we were unable to compare it to the other models.

Comparing the overall score, the GTX 480 to the GTX 580 showed a 22% increase in performance. The GTX 580 to GTX 680 had a difference of 52% in performance. Lastly, the GTX 680 to GTX 780 showed a 29% increase in performance. By comparing the GTX 480 to the GTX 780 there was about a 140% change in performance making it nearly 2.4x faster.

Heaven 4

The Heaven benchmark is widely used to test the capability of a GPU. It puts maximum stress on the GPU allowing you to check stability issues and real time performance of the card. It also generates real-time in game video that gives the user an accurate reading of the cards capability. The settings that we used to test the cards were as follows: 1920x1080p Full Screen, 4x Multisample Anti-Aliasing, and Normal Tessellation.

Albeit the GTX 280 is incapable of tessellation, it achieved a score of 526 with 20.9 fps. The GTX 480 showed a score of 847 with 33.6 fps, or a 61% increase in performance. The GTX 580 received a score of 1020 with 40.5 fps, a 20% increase in performance. The GTX 680 achieve a score of 1340 with 53.2 fps, an increase of 31%. Lastly, the GTX 780 posted an overall score of 1884 with 74.8 fps, a 41% increase. When comparing the GTX 280 to the GTX 780, there is an insane 258% or 3.5x increase in performance.

Furmark Temperature

One of the many things that someone looks for when building a high-end PC is how much heat it will end up putting out. As some say, there is no need for a heater in the winter when you have a high-end computer running in the room. After conducting a GPU temperature test using Furmark for thirty minutes on each of the cards, we can confirm what many others have stated. It is also important to note that each of these video cards was tested using a reference design cooler.

Out of the five different GPUs, the Fermi based GTX 480 was the hottest out of the bunch with an insane 94ºC readout.  Fermi has always been infamous for being one of the hottest GPUs ever released. The GTX 580 clocked in the coldest out of the bunch at 77ºC. The Tesla based GTX 280 stuck around 86ºC when under load and both the GTX 680 and GTX 780 stayed at 81ºC in our test.

Bioshock Infinite

Bioshock Infinite is considered to be one of the best PC games out there due to its magnificent story telling and visual qualities. Although running benchmark software such as Heaven and 3DMark can give great results, its also important to test the hardware under games that the user will be actually playing. We tested each of the GPUs using the built-in benchmark tool that gives an accurate read out of what each card would perform like under the 1920x1080 resolution with ultra graphics.

The GTX 280 was tested under Ultra graphics but with DirectX 10 as DirectX 11 is not possible on the GPU. It achieved 30.5 fps, which is what many people consider playable. However, it is important to note that at certain moments the frame rate dipped below and the gameplay became choppy. It is certainly possible to play with the GTX 280 smoothly, however, one would need to lower the resolution or tone down the graphics. The GTX 480 completed the test with 42.3 fps while the GTX 580 finished with 49.8 fps.  The gaps between the GTX 580 to GTX 680 and GTX 680 to GTX 780 were ever greater with an average of 20fps increase each way. The GTX 680 completed the test with 74.2 fps and the GTX 780 completed the test with 94.5 fps. When comparing DirectX 11 GPUs, the GTX 780 was 123% or 2.2x faster!

Graphics Cards

GTX 280

When the 10th generation of Nvidia’s graphics processing units was released in 2008, the GTX 280 served as top of the line card for the Geforce 200 series. Designed to be twice as fast as the 8800 GTX, the GTX 280 was the largest GPU built at the time featuring 1.4 billion transistors on a 65nm manufacturing process. Nvidia hoped that the GTX 280 would help broaden the GPU, taking it from being solely used for gaming to computing applications. They introduced their idea of Beyond Gaming that lead the GPU to be used in complex computational settings for both professionals and consumers.

GTX 480

Based on the vision Nvidia had for their G80 architecture, the introduction of the GF100 Fermi architecture brought their idea for a unified graphics and compute processor to life. By taking what they learned from previous iterations, Fermi was purpose-built to tackle the next-generation games and applications that would benefit from a unified processor. With Fermi also came the power of tessellation and DirectX 11 that allowed visuals to be more realistic. Packing more than double the transistors of the GTX 280, the GTX 480 featured 3 billion transistors built on a 40nm process. One of the downfalls of the GTX 480, however, was its heat output.

GTX 580

Featuring the new GF110 GPU, The GTX 580 uses the same Fermi architecture as its predecessor but features higher clock speeds and a vapor-cooling chamber to better cool the GPU. The goal of the GF110 GPU was to reduce the power consumption of the card and increase the performance at the same time. The stream processors have also been upped to 512 compared to the 480 in the GTX 480 but the number of transistors has remained the same. Considering the changes that Nvidia has made in the GPU, the GTX 580 should run more efficiently than the GTX 480 while being more powerful.

GTX 680

The GTX 680 marked the next big transition for Nvidia with the introduction of the Kepler architecture. Kepler built upon Nvidia’s philosophy of creating a more powerful GPU while being more efficient. Codenamed GK104, the GPU in the GTX 680 had the best performance of any other GPU and was more power efficient than anything they had created before. Built upon the 28nm manufacturing process, the GK104 features 3.5 billion transistors and triple the amount of stream processors than in the GTX 580. All this increase in power was still possible with a 50w reduction in the TDP as compared to the GTX 580.

GTX 780

Now we come to the current generation. As a follow up to the GTX 680, the GK110 based GTX 780 is built upon the same Kepler architecture and 28nm manufacturing process as its predecessor but features an insane 7.1 billion transistors.  The stream processors have also been increased to 2304. Essentially, Nvidia bids the GTX 780 as being 50% more powerful in most regards to the GTX 680 in areas such as the RAM, Memory bandwidth and SMXes. When comparing it to the GTX 280 of 2008, the GTX 780 shows how far we have come in terms of technology and advancement.



All in all, Nvidia has accomplished their task of creating more powerful GPUs that run more efficient. With the power of the graphics cards increasing roughly 30-40% each year, it shows just how fast technology is advancing. Considering the 258% or 3.5x change in performance from the GTX 280 to the GTX 780, we can all agree that there is no slowing down the power of the GPU. With the introduction of CUDA cores and unified processors we can finally allow the power the GPUs to truly shine.

What’s your thoughts on our comparison? Is there anything that should have been added to the benchmarks? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!


Did You Enjoy this Article? Share it!

blog comments powered by Disqus

Monthly Newsletter

New DS Unlocked Articles

NVIDIA Titan X Pascal - First Look Overview

NVIDIA Titan X Pascal - First Look OverviewDigital Storm takes a look at the NVIDIA Titan X with Pascal!......

NVIDIA GTX 1080 Founders Edition Unboxing and Overview

NVIDIA GTX 1080 Founders Edition Unboxing and OverviewThe NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 features the latest Pascal architecture and is built on the 16nm FinFET process which brings massive improvements in terms of efficiency.......

GTX 1070 vs GTX 1080 Gaming Benchmarks 1080p

GTX 1070 vs GTX 1080 Gaming Benchmarks 1080pNVIDIA's GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 both feature the company's latest Pascal GPU architecture. Just how well do these graphics cards perform in games at 1080p? Check out this video!......

GTX 1080 vs GTX 1070 Gaming Benchmarks 1440p

GTX 1080 vs GTX 1070 Gaming Benchmarks 1440pNVIDIA's GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 both feature the company's latest Pascal GPU architecture. Just how well do these graphics cards perform in games at 1440p? ......

Rise of the Tomb Raider Benchmarks

Rise of the Tomb Raider BenchmarksWondering how your graphics card will perform when playing Rise of the Tomb Raider?......

New Customization Options - HydroLux PRO and LITE

New Customization Options - HydroLux PRO and LITECustomizing your water-cooling setup has never been easier.......

Facebook Fans