nVidia GeForce GTX 680 Quad-SLI review [English version]

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  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Benchmarks
  3. 3. 3DMark Vantage
  4. 4. 3DMark11
  5. 5. Aliens vs Predator
  6. 6. Batman: Arkham City
  7. 7. Battlefield 3
  8. 8. Crysis 2
  9. 9. Metro 2033
  10. 10. The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim
  11. 11. Energy consumption
  12. 12. SLI scaling
  13. 13. Video
  14. 14. Conclusion
  15. 15. Besproken producten
  16. 16. Reacties


Welcome international readers! This is the English version of a Dutch review on Hardware.Info. Since we are the first to extensively test a Quad-SLI configuration of nVidia's brand new GeForce GTX 680, we wanted to make these exciting results available to a wider audience. Enjoy!

Yesterday, nVidia introduced the GeForce GTX 680. Our Dutch readers can click here to read our in-depth review. One question we did not yet answer - what kind of performance can you expect when you combine two of these new cards? Or three? Or maybe even four?

That was not an easy question to answer. Getting our hands on two of these cards, much less four of them, on the day of the launch, was about as easy as making penguins fly. However, in the end we were able to track down enough of these cards to show you some results. Together with our own reference model, we were ready for some Quad-SLI GTX 680 action!

ASUS and Zotac

In our race against the clock it was ASUS that came through first. The first nVidia partner to deliver a GeForce GTX 680 to our offices, they gave us the ASUS GTX680-2GD5. It's common that, when a new high-end video card is launched, the samples from the different manufacturers are actually reference models adorned with a manufacturer's own print and logo. That is also the case here. The ASUS card therefore looks somewhat hipper, with a nice design that flows into the ASUS logo.

Zotac was also able to quickly deliver one of their first GeForce GTX 680s to our test lab. The Zotac GeForce GTX 680 2GB is also a reference model with their own print on it. As an extra bonus, Zotac bundles games from the Assassin's Creed series.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 SLI (4-way)

We want to express our sincere thanks to Alternate in Ridderkerk for providing us with the last and fourth card. As one of the few chosen shops in the Netherlands, they can pride themselves on having a limited number of GeForce GTX 680 cards available today (link). They were kind enough to make their supply even more limited for our benefit, temporarily at least. The card they gave us also comes from ASUS.

The specifications of the ASUS and Zotac cards won't be a surprise to those that read our GTX 680 review: 2 GB GDDR5 RAM, 1006 MHz base clock, 1058 MHz boost clock, 1502 MHz memory clock freqency, 2x DVI, 1x HDMI and 1x DisplayPort 1.2. Our Benelux readers should be aware that ASUS and Zotac are two of nVidia's preferred partners for the Benelux. This means that it is very probable that these will be two of the brands that will first appear in (online) stores.

So, we have four GeForce GTX 680s. We've added an able power supply and a suitable motherboard and CPU. Let's get started with SLI, Triple SLI, and Quad SLI!

Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 SLI (4-way)
Quad SLI, oh yeah!

With thanks to Alternate.nl for providing the fourth card.


The SLI and Triple-SLI benchmarks were run on our standard testing rig. It consists of an Intel Core i7 3960X (Sandy Bridge-E) processor, an ASUS P7X79 Pro motherboard, 16 GB Corsair DDR3-1600 RAM, a Samsung Spinpoint F1 hard drive and a Cooler Master Silent Pro Gold 1200 watt power supply. For Quad-SLI we switched to an ASUS Rampage IV Formula motherboard and an Enermax Platimax 1500W PSU. All benchmarks were done in Windows 7 x64.

All benchmarks were run at 1920x1080 (Full HD) and 5760x1080 (3x Full HD). In both resolutions we tested the games with normal settings and on the highest available settings with 4x AA when possible. It is with three monitors that the double, triple, or quadruple video card setup really shows its power.

When running the setups with two and four cards we didn't run into any problems. With three cards however, we faced many stability and compatibility problems. You'll see in the charts that 4-way SLI scales better than 3-way many times.

On the following pages the existing AMD video cards appear in red, all nVidia cards appear in green, and the GeForce GTX 680 and GeForce GTX 680 SLI configurations appear in blue. We did not include budget video cards to avoid clutter. We also tested AMD's Radeon HD 7970 in Dual-, Triple-, and Quad-Crossfire configurations, so of course we show those results as well.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 SLI (4-way)

3DMark Vantage

In 3DMark Vantage two cards score 46,842 points, only marginally faster than the HD 7970. 3DMark Vantage does not scale well to three or four cards.


In 3DMark 11 Performance the GTX 680 in SLI scores over 1,000 points more than two HD 7970s. The Extreme setting scales perfectly to four cards to a maximum of 10,850 points. Impressive!

Aliens vs Predator

Aliens vs Predator was one of the two games where a single GTX 680 could not equal the performance of an HD 7970. The same holds true for SLI. Interestingly, Crossfire clearly scales better in this game than SLI.

Batman: Arkham City

We saw some very nice scores in Batman: Arkham City. In Full HD with medium settings SLI did not have any added value, but with three monitors the nVidia GTX 680 card had excellent scaling, much better than AMD. However, running this game with four cards was pointless, since it actually worsened the performance.

Battlefield 3

On a single monitor with two GTX 680s you get much better scores in Battlefield 3 than with two HD 7970s. However, with three monitors the two HD 7970s performed better. Crossfire also scales better to more cards at that high resolution.

Crysis 2

In Crysis 2 the nVidia GTX 680 stands head and shoulders above the rest, especially in 5760x1080 resolution. More than 50 fps on the highest settings is pretty impressive in Crysis 2. That trend continues with three and four cards: 88.3 fps on the highest settings is quite remarkable. Once again: impressive!

Metro 2033

Excellent GTX 680 SLI-scaling in Metro 2033, but AMD keeps its lead with two cards as well. With four cards however it is nVidia that scores the highest, except at maximum settings.

The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim

In Skyrim we also see very nice GTX 680 SLI-scaling, and it is at the top of its class in every graphic. A bit peculiar is that on normal settings quad-SLI is slower than normal SLI, in both resolutions.

Energy consumption

In the power usage test we once again witness the excellent work that AMD has done in terms of idle usage. A second card is almost completely powered down when idling on the Windows desktop, using less than 3 watts. The difference we measured in SLI is quite significant. Idle our system used 96.4 watts with two HD 7970s, with two GTX 680s it used 114,5 watts.

The tables are turned in Metro 2033, however. With two HD 7970s we measured 511 watts, but with two GTX 680s the usage did not go above 475.7 watts.

Measurements for triple-SLI will soon we added. Since we had to test quad-SLI on a different motherboard, those results are not comparable.

SLI scaling

In the table below we listed all scores of a single GTX 680 and those of two cards in SLI, with the scaling in the third column.

We can see that SLI improves performance with an average of 62 percent. If we look solely at 5760x1080 resolution, then the scaling is 177 percent. At that resolution with the highest settings scaling reaches 188 percent.

If we compare with AMD Radeon HD 7970 CrossfireX, then we see that the standard SLI-scaling is slightly inferior. With AMD we measured a 69 percent increase in performance on average, and 84 percent in 5760x1080. However, on the highest settings nVidia scored a little better, 88 percent compared to 84 percent.

Benchmark GeForce GTX 680 GeForce GTX 680 SLI Scaling
3DMark Vantage Performance 35519 46842 132%
3DMark11 Performance 9747 15343 157%
3DMark11 Extreme 2803 5217 186%
Heaven 2.5 - 16x AF - 1920x1080 - Normal 83,1 144,7 174%
Heaven 2.5 - 16x AF - 1920x1080 - Extreme 64,6 118,8 184%
Heaven 2.5 - 16x AF - 5760x1080 - Normal 23,6 43,9 186%
Heaven 2.5 - 16x AF - 5760x1080 - Extreme 13,7 40,7 297%
Metro 2033 - Medium - 1920x1080 57 103 181%
Metro 2033 - Very High - 1920x1080 30 53 177%
Metro 2033 - Medium - 5760x1080 22 41 186%
Metro 2033 - Very High - 5760x1080 12 21 175%
Aliens vs Predator - Normal - 1920x1080 99,7 185,2 186%
Aliens vs Predator - High 4x AA - 1920x1080 58,2 107,3 184%
Aliens vs Predator - Normal - 5760x1080 45,4 78,8 174%
Aliens vs Predator - High 4x AA - 5760x1080 26,7 49,4 185%
Dirt 3 - Medium - 1920x1080 233,5 234,8 101%
Dirt 3 - Ultra 4x AA - 1920x1080 119,8 178,6 149%
Dirt 3 - Medium - 5760x1080 119,2 185 155%
Dirt 3 - Ultra 4x AA - 5760x1080 49,8 88,99 179%
Hard Reset - Normal - 1920x1080 148 142,9 97%
Hard Reset - Ultra 4x AA - 1920x1080 96,3 113,4 118%
Hard Reset - Normal - 5760x1080 107,4 100,1 93%
Hard Reset - Ultra 4x AA - 5760x1080 47,9 75,4 157%
The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim - Normal - 1920x1080 227,97 250 110%
The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim - High 4x AA - 1920x1080 120,08 205,9 171%
The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim - Normal - 5760x1080 95,65 169,4 177%
The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim - High 4x AA - 5760x1080 50,47 92,8 184%
Batman Arkham City - Medium - 1920x1080 123 119 97%
Batman Arkham City - Very High 4x AA - 1920x1080 79 100 127%
Batman Arkham City - Medium - 5760x1080 51 73 143%
Batman Arkham City - Very High 4x AA - 5760x1080 29 49 169%
Total War Shogun 2 DX11 - Medium - 1920x1080 135,9 210 155%
Total War Shogun 2 DX11 - Ultra 4x AA - 1920x1080 59 113,2 192%
Total War Shogun 2 DX11 - Medium - 5760x1080 44 81,4 185%
Total War Shogun 2 DX11 - Ultra 4x AA - 5760x1080 22,7 41,5 183%
Battlefield 3 - Medium - DoF 90 - 1920x1080 121,5 153,5 126%
Battlefield 3 - Ultra 4x AA - DoF 90 - 1920x1080 66,7 120 180%
Battlefield 3 - Medium - DoF 90 - 5760x1080 49,9 81,1 163%
Battlefield 3 - Ultra 4x AA - DoF 90 - 5760x1080 25,4 41,2 162%
Crysis 2 DX11 - Very high - Hi-res Edge AA - 1920x1080 77,4 98,9 128%
Crysis 2 DX11 - Ultra - Hi-res Edge AA - 1920x1080 72,2 98,5 136%
Crysis 2 DX11 - Very high - Hi-res-Edge AA - 5760x1080 27,3 54 198%
Crysis 2 DX11 - Extreme - Hi-res-Edge AA - 5760x1080 27,3 51 187%
Average 162%
Average (5760x1080)   177%
Average (5760x1080 Ultra)   188%


We made a video of our impression of the GeForce GTX 680 in Quad-SLI configuration. It's worth a look!

(Click here to watch the video on YouTube)


In a nut shell, nVidia GeForce GTX 680 SLI scales really, really well. Overall perhaps a little bit less than AMD Radeon HD 7970 Crossfire, but in 5760x1080 it outperforms AMD's card. That's also the resolution where SLI truly comes into its own. If you only use one monitor, having two of these cards is overkill. But when gaming on three screens the second GTX 680 definitely improves performance, staying mostly above 60 fps without having to make (too many) concessions in terms of quality.

Combining three or four GTX 680s gives even better results, as you can see in the benchmarks, but in some cases it actually has the opposite effect. It's the usual story with triple- and quad-SLI and Crossfire configurations - it's primarily a treat for overclockers wanting to achieve the highest 3DMark scores. However, should you win the lottery or find that treasure in the back yard, playing around with four GTX 680s is great fun!

Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 SLI (4-way)

Besproken producten

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Nvidia GeForce GTX 680

Nvidia GeForce GTX 680

  • GK104
  • 1536 cores
  • 1006 MHz
  • 2048 MB
  • 256 bit
  • DirectX 12 fl 11_0
  • PCI-Express 3.0 x16
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Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 SLI

Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 SLI

  • GK104
  • 1536 cores
  • 1006 MHz
  • 2048 MB
  • 256 bit
  • DirectX 12 fl 11_0
  • PCI-Express 3.0 x16
Niet verkrijgbaar
Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 SLI (3-way)

Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 SLI (3-way)

  • GK104
  • 1536 cores
  • 1006 MHz
  • 2048 MB
  • 256 bit
  • DirectX 12 fl 11_0
  • PCI-Express 3.0 x16
Niet verkrijgbaar
Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 SLI (4-way)

Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 SLI (4-way)

  • GK104
  • 1536 cores
  • 1006 MHz
  • 2048 MB
  • 256 bit
  • DirectX 12 fl 11_0
  • PCI-Express 3.0 x16
Niet verkrijgbaar