We are breaking away from our usual benchmarking of new graphics cards today and are rethinking one of the most powerful GPUs you could have bought four years ago. The GeForce GTX 780 was introduced in May 2013 and was the second card based on Nvidia's Kepler architecture that debuted with the 2012 GTX 680.
The GTX 680 was later updated as the GTX 770 with higher clocked GDDR5 memory, but just before we got the GTX 780, a brand new piece of silicon that increased the number of cores by a whopping 50% and increased the chip size to 561 mm2, which wasn't even the case was complete configuration. All 2880 CUDA cores were only activated when the GTX 780 Ti landed six months later.
At that time, these large Kepler cards were powerfully impressive. For example, the GTX 780 was ~ 24% faster than the GTX 680 and 16% faster than the Radeon HD 7970 GHz edition at launch.
The GTX 780 stayed king of the hill for six months until the GTX 780 Ti shipped, although it was the AMD Radeon R9 290 series that proved to be the real problem as their arrival forced Nvidia to cut prices sharply and the GTX 780 from its launch, MSRP lifted from $ 650 to $ 500, where it was still a somewhat weak suggestion compared to the cheaper, faster R9 290.
According to the tests we ran in 2013, the R9 290 in Battlefield 3, Crysis 3, Far Cry 3, Warfighter with Medal of Honor, Metro Last Light and BioShock Infinite was slightly faster. In Battlefield 4, Dirt 3, Max Payne 3, Sleeping Dogs and Hitman Absolution, the R9 290 was a good deal faster. In fact, Tomb Raider was the only game in which the GTX 780 was ahead.
Since then, the GTX 780 has been on its back, while the R9 290 was just as fast or often a little faster. Many players complain that Kepler-based graphics cards like the GTX 780 have continued to fall off. While the R9 290 and its reincarnation are still able to assert themselves today, the GTX 780 is said to have collapsed into a bunch and to outperform today's entry-level GPUs.
To find out if that's correct, I tested 22 PC games at 1080p and 1440p to see how the once powerful GeForce GTX 780 could be compared to more modern GPUs. Instead of the R9 290 is the R9 390 and although I am sure that many of you would have liked to have seen the R9 290 in this fight, there is frankly little difference between the 290 and 390.
All benchmarks were performed with our 4.9 GHz Core i7-7700K test system and the latest available AMD and Nvidia drivers.
Test system specifications and memory
Let the benchmarks begin
At 1080p, the GTX 780 is not much slower than the 970 in Far Cry Primal and thus 24% faster than the GTX 1050 Ti. That means it was 17% slower than the R9 390, which was good for an average of 63 fps.
Margins increased slightly at 1440p, here the GTX 780 was 20% slower than the R9 390 and still a few frames behind the RX 470. However, the GTX 780 is now almost 30% faster than the GTX 1050 Ti.
When testing with Tom Clancy's The Division, the GTX 780 is exactly between the GTX 1050 Ti and the GTX 970. This means that at 1080p it was 20% slower than the R9 390.
When switching to 1440p, the margin remains largely the same. The GTX 780 was 24% faster than the 1050 Ti, but 14% slower than the GTX 970, significantly outperforming the pace of the R9 390 and mid-range contenders.