Nvidia continued to introduce the GeForce 700 series this week with the GTX 760 – the first true mainstream product of the generation. Prices are well below those of the GTX Titan, 780, and even the 770, which at $ 400 are still more than the average player is willing to spend. In other words, the GTX 760 has the potential to be the most relevant option for someone in need of a new graphics card.

Earlier 700 series cards were a hit. The GTX 770 has about as much muscle as the GTX 680 and costs about $ 100 less. Assuming Nvidia doesn't throw us a curve, we expect the GTX 760 to deliver performance comparable to the HD 7950, at a price closer to the HD 7870 – a situation that invariably benefits everyone who does a middle class is buying GPU.

Like the GTX 770, 680, 670 and 660 Ti, the GTX 760 is also based on Nvidia's GK104 architecture. Nevertheless, the core configuration of the newcomer has been significantly reduced compared to last month's GTX 770. Before you close the tab, here's some good news: Nvidia left the card's 256-bit memory bus intact, and the GTX 760 can afford quite a bit of memory bandwidth.

Gainward gave us our first look at the GTX 760 with the company's special Phantom Edition graphics card, which has a heavily modified board design that improves cooling and overclocks it out of the box. We are generally satisfied with the results of partners' efforts to customize their products, although this definitely adds some complexity to determining a card's value proposition.

The GTX 760 Phantom in detail …

As with the GTX 770, Gainward prepped its phantom card in time for the GTX 760's release, extolling a redesigned circuit board, factory overclocking, and a massive three-slot cooler – the last of which is the most notable improvement. Just like the GTX 770, the GTX 760 also has the new third-generation Phantom cooler with interchangeable fans.

The new phantom provides better thermals with a lower noise level and a more stable construction. It's unlike any three-slot cooler we've seen so far. It has four 8 mm heat pipes that extract heat from the base and distribute it evenly on the heat sink. Gainward claims that its phantom cooler allows the GTX 760 to run 16 degrees cooler than the reference board.

The most unusual part of the cooler design is the fans – especially their location. The fans are usually attached to the top of the heat sink. Instead, Gainward has embedded two quiet, brushless 80 mm PWM fans in the heat sink. The fans are also removable and have a tool-free design. Similar to hot-swappable hard drive bays, the fans are pulled out as soon as a single thumbscrew is removed – no cables, no hassle.

The heat sink is 210 mm long (the board itself is only 170 mm long), 65 mm wide and only 15 mm high. It has a black fan shroud that forces the 80mm fans to suck in air through the fins above them while pushing it over the card below them. In contrast to the high-end GTX 770, the GTX 760 Phantom does not have a heat spreader over the memory chips, but leaves it naked.

Nvidia developed the GTX 670 with three graphics processing clusters, six streaming multiprocessors, 1152 CUDA cores, 92 TAUs and 32 ROPs. In the previous generation, this would place the GTX 760 between the GTX 660 and 660 Ti. Nevertheless, we expect the card to be significantly faster than the GTX 660 Ti, as it is not only clocked faster, but also has a wider memory bus (256-bit versus 192-bit). While the 660 Ti was limited to a maximum memory bandwidth of 144.2 GB / s, the GTX 760 has a much larger bandwidth of 192.3 GB / s.

As standard, the GTX 760 core is clocked at 980 MHz and a boost frequency of 1033 MHz, while the 2 GB GDDR5 memory is operated at 6 GHz. Compared to 915 MHz, the GTX 660 Ti works with a boost of 980 MHz, but its memory also works at 6 GHz.

Gainward of course did some factory overclocks to increase the base core frequency to 1072 MHz with a boost speed of 1137 MHz. That's a 9% increase in core speed while the memory was overclocked by 3% to 6.2 GHz.

The rest of the Gainward card remains standard, including a pair of SLI connectors, two 6-pin PCIe power connectors, and an I / O panel configuration consisting of HDMI, DisplayPort, and two DVI connectors.