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Three super-fast GTX 780s: EVGA's Classified, Gigabyte's GHz Edition and MSI's Lightning

Who has the fastest and most overclockable GTX 780?

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Introduction

Since the May launch of Nvidia's GeForce GTX 780 graphics card, many partner cards have appeared and recently we received three pretty interesting ones. EVGA sent us the GeForce GTX 780 Classified, their flagship GTX 780 card. Gigabyte provided their GHz Edition, and we tested the overclocking card from MSI, the N780 Lightning. Here you can find our original GeForce GTX 780 review.

EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Classified

EVGA always launches a number of cards every time Nvidia introduces a new GPU and the Classified is always the most high-end model. Because EVGA only uses the very best GPUs for that card, not as many are available compared to the standard versions. 

The Classified cards typically have very high clock frequencies, and the EVGA GTX 780 is no exception. The reference GeForce GTX 780 has a GPU clocked at 863 MHz with a 902 MHz Boost clock, and the EVGA Classified is clocked at 1020 MHz with a 993 Mhz Boost clock. The memory clock frequency remains unchanged, likely due to pressure from Nvidia.

EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Classified 3GB

The card features EVGA's new ACX cooler with two 9cm fans. Compared to the cooler on EVGA's other GTX 780 (EVGA GeForce GTX 780 SuperClocked) the one on the Classified is higher and sticks out a couple centimetres above the bracket. EVGA claims the ACX coolers have a 40 percent larger surface area than the previous version. We like the design as well.

EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Classified 3GB

The card is equipped with two 8-pin PEG connectors so overclockers can get lots of power to the card. Next to them is the connector for the optional EVGA EVBot, a hardware tool for adjusting voltages and clock frequencies on the fly. Unfortunately EVGA no longer sells the EVBot (reportedly after pressure from Nvidia) but you can still find them used.

EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Classified 3GB
The card with the discontinued EVBot

The EVGA GeForce GTX 780 Classified uses GDDR5 chips from Samsung that proved to be capable of some impressive overclocking. We've seen several forum posts about people with a Classified card with Elpida chips for video memory, which doesn't overclock nearly as far. EVGA competitors claims that the Samsung chips are so rare that it's impossible for EVGA to use only Samsung ones.

When we asked EVGA about this, they informed us the latter wasn't true at all. Apparently seven batches of Classified cards were produced up until now. Batch 1 (which our test sample came from) and batch 3 - 7 are equipped with Samsung memory. Batch 2 features Elpida chips for the simple reason that Samsung memory wasn't available when it was being produced. EVGA claims that all cards that were sent out to shops in recent weeks and months have the Samsung memory. Only cards that have been laying around in a warehouse somewhere for a long time could potentially still have Elpida memory.

We can't really verify these claims since we can't check the stock of all of EVGA's partners and the packaging doesn't mention which type of memory is inside. The only thing we can say for sure is that two different versions do indeed exist, and that we tested the Samsung version. If you plan on buying a Classified card we recommend you contact your shop and come to an agreement that you can exchange the card in case you end up with an Elpida version. 

The average price of this card is £450 / €682, with £430 / €560 as lowest price. The recently introduced GTX 780 Ti should motivate EVGA to lower it a bit.


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