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MSI GeForce GTX 680 TwinFrozr 2GB Overclocked Video Card Review

MSI expand the TwinFrozr series with the new high-end GTX 680. We see how the much loved cooler goes with the new GeForce GPU.

@TweakTown
Published Wed, Apr 11 2012 9:35 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:01 PM CST
Rating: 96%Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Package

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VIEW GALLERY - 29 IMAGES

The other week we saw the new GTX 680 launch and we found ourselves extremely impressed with what NVIDIA was able to offer with its new single core based video card. Once we'd look at the reference card at reference speeds we took the time to overclock the new model.

Not long after launch we saw our first custom GTX 680 come from Palit in the form of the GTX 680 Jetstream 2GB. We also then got a chance to check out the GTX 680 Jetstream 2GB in SLI.

As the weeks have gone on we're going to start to see new variants of the GTX 680 and today we're looking at one from MSI which is part of the much loved TwinFrozr series. Because it's part of the TwinFrozr series and we've already looked at a pre-overclocked GTX 680, we figured today we'd take the time to manually overclock the MSI GTX 680 TwinFrozr and see what kind of performance we can get out of it via MSI Afterburner.

Of course there's a few things we need to do before we get to the performance side of things and the first is check out the bundle that MSI has going on. Once we've done that we'll take a closer look at the card itself along with its default specifications and what we managed to overclock it to. From there we'll get into the performance side of things.

Package

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While MSI has a pretty big box here with a wealth of information, you can see, once we move inside, there's not a lot present.

We've got the normal paperwork and driver CD as well as a DVI to VGA connector and two dual Molex to 6-pin PCIe power connectors.

The Card and Specifications

The Card

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Moving onto the card itself you can see there's not a whole lot different when compared to other video cards that have made use of the TwinFrozr III cooler in the past. We can see the dual fan design and the heatpipes coming out the bottom that are connected to the large heatsink that sits over the GPU.

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Taking a quick look around the card you can see we've got the same dual 6-pin PCIe power connector setup. I thought with the cooler, pulling the power connector in and out would be annoying or difficult, but it wasn't thanks to quite a large gap between the connectors. Closer to the front you can see the typical dual SLI connector setup which gives us the ability to run up to four of these cards together.

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Looking at the I/O side of things you can see we've got two Dual Link DVI connectors - one is DVI-D and the other is DVI-I. We've also got a HDMI port and a full size DisplayPort connector to round off the connectivity side of things.

Specifications

While we're going to manually overclock the card today via MSI Afterburner, this model is an OC version and you can see below comes in with a default core speed of 1059MHz which is slightly up on the default 1006MHz core clock. As for the 2GB of GDDR5, MSI have chosen to do nothing with that and that remains at the default 6008MHz QDR.

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As for the clock speeds we ended up with, as you can see we got the core to 1175MHz which translates to 1240MHz via Boost while the 2GB of GDDR5 was bumped up to 6808MHz QDR. This is a nice overclock and should yield with it some nice performance when compared to the reference clocked model.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASUS and Corsair.

Looking above you can see our trusty X79 testbed we've been using for a while now. There's not much more that needs to be said about it as everything is really covered in the above image.

As for the video cards we'll be using today in our comparison we've got everything that you'd pretty much expect to see including the older GTX 580 and reference GTX 680. Along with that, though, we've also got the reference GTX 680 overclocked by us which came in at 1199 / 6808MHz QDR. The same memory clock, but slightly lower on the core front.

Of course we've also got some AMD representation with the HD 7950 and HD 7970. Along with that we've also got the HD 7970 overclocked to over 1100MHz on the core and the dual GPU HD 6990 which continues to be one of the fastest cards on the market thanks to the dual GPU nature of it.

Let's get started!

The FPS Numbers Explained

When we benchmark our video cards and look at the graphs, we aim to get to a certain level of FPS which we consider playable. While many may argue that the human eye can't see over 24 FPS or 30 FPS, any true gamer will tell you that as we climb higher in Frames Per Seconds (FPS), the overall gameplay feels smoother. There are three numbers we're looking out for when it comes to our benchmarks.

30 FPS - It's the minimum number we aim for when it comes to games. If you're not dropping below 30 FPS during games, you're going to have a nice and smooth gaming experience. The ideal situation is that even in a heavy fire fight, the minimum stays above 30 FPS making sure that you can continue to aim easily or turn the corner with no dramas.

60 FPS - It's the average we look for when we don't have a minimum coming at us. If we're getting an average of 60 FPS, we should have a minimum of 30 FPS or better and as mentioned above, it means we've got some smooth game play happening.

120 FPS - The new number that we've been hunting down over recent months. If you're the owner of a 120 Hz monitor, to get the most out of it you want to get around the 120 FPS mark. Moving from 60 FPS / 60 Hz to 120 FPS / 120 Hz brings with it a certain fluidity that can't really be explained, but instead has to be experienced. Of course, if you're buying a 120 Hz monitor to take advantage of 3D, an average of 120 FPS in our benchmark means that in 3D you will have an average of 60 FPS, which again means you should expect some smooth gameplay.

Benchmarks - 3DMark 11

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.1

Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/

Buy It Here

3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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Starting off with 3DMark 11 we can see the strong performance out of the overclocked MSI GTX 680 as it jumped to the head of the pack braking 11,000 points in the Performance preset under 3DMark 11.

This is pretty amazing considering we're dealing with only a single GPU video card here.

Benchmarks - Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Unigine Heaven Benchmark

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.5

Developer Homepage: http://www.unigine.com

Product Homepage: http://unigine.com/press-releases/091022-heaven_benchmark//

New benchmark grants the power to unleash the DirectX 11 potential in the gift wrapping of impressively towering graphics capabilities. It reveals the enchanting magic of floating islands with a tiny village hidden in the cloudy skies. With the interactive mode emerging experience of exploring the intricate world is ensured within reach. Through its advanced renderer, Unigine is one of the first to set precedence in showcasing the art assets with tessellation, bringing compelling visual finesse, utilizing the technology to the full extend and exhibiting the possibilities of enriching 3D gaming.

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Tessellation is an area we've seen NVIDIA be very strong in and you can see the overclock here helps offer us some great performance again taking the card to the front of the pack and putting it ahead of the dual GPU HD 6990 again.

Benchmarks - Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X.2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo

Timedemo or Level Used: Built-in Test

Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/UK/default.aspx

Product Homepage: http://www.hawxgame.com/

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2 is an arcade-style flight action game developed by Ubisoft Romania and published by Ubisoft. The game is the sequel to Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X., released in 2009.

The game begins with Colonel David Crenshaw participating in a routine patrol mission in the Middle East. After halting an insurgent attack, a volley of missiles is fired at the Air Force base that Crenshaw was stationed at, with one of the missiles disabling Crenshaw's aircraft, resulting Crenshaw being in enemy captivity. A joint strike force composed of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, and a Ghost Recon squad executes an operation to rescue Crenshaw. In Scotland, Royal Navy Pilot Colin Munro encounters an unidentified passenger aircraft that explodes from an on-board bomb when undergoing training exercise. In Russia, an air force squadron led by Colonel Denisov and Captain Dmitri Sokov engages separatist aircraft but is ordered to retreat from the region after numerous Russian military installations have been attacked.

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Across the board we can see some nice gains in performance under H.A.W.X. 2 and again we see the card sit ahead of everything else without a problem.

Benchmarks - Mafia II

Mafia II

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.2kczech.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.mafia2game.com/

Buy It Here

Mafia II is a third-person action-adventure video game, the sequel to Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven. It is developed by 2K Czech, previously known as Illusion Softworks, and is published by 2K Games. The game is set from 1943 to 1951 in Empire Bay (the name is a reference to New York's state nickname "The Empire State"), a fictional city based on San Francisco and New York City, with influences from Chicago and Detroit. The game features a completely open-ended game map of 10 square miles. No restrictions are included from the start of the game. There are around 50 vehicles in the game, as well as licensed music from the era.

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Moving into Mafia II we can again see some nice performance out of the overclocked MSI GTX 680 and it manages to come out ahead of all the other cards here except at 2560 x 1600 where it's dead even with the HD 6990.

Benchmarks - Lost Planet 2

Lost Planet 2

Version and / or Patch Used: Benchmark Demo

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark - Test A Scene 1

Developer Homepage: http://www.capcom.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.lostplanet2game.com/

Lost Planet 2 is a third-person shooter video game developed and published by Capcom. The game is the sequel to Lost Planet: Extreme Condition which is also made by Capcom, taking place ten years after the events of the first game, on the same fictional planet. The story takes place back on E.D.N. III 10 years after the events of the first game. The snow has melted to reveal jungles and more tropical areas that have taken the place of more frozen regions. The plot begins with Mercenaries fighting against Jungle Pirates. After destroying a mine, the Mercenaries continue on to evacuate the area, in which a Category-G Akrid appears and attacks them. After being rescued, they find out their evacuation point (Where the Category-G appeared) was a set-up and no pick up team awaited them. The last words imply possible DLC additions to the game, "There's nothing to be gained by wiping out snow pirates... unless you had some kind of grudge."

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Moving into something a bit more intensive like Lost Planet 2 we can again see that we've got a nice bump in performance across the board.

Benchmarks - Aliens vs. Predator

Aliens vs. Predator

Version and / or Patch Used: Standalone Benchmark

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.rebellion.co.uk/

Product Homepage: http://www.sega.com/games/aliens-vs-predator/

Aliens vs. Predator is a science fiction first-person shooter video game, developed by Rebellion Developments, the team behind the 1999 original PC game, and published by Sega for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. The game is based on the Alien vs. Predator franchise, a combination of the characters and creatures of the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise. There are three campaigns in the game, one for each race/faction (the Predators, the Aliens and the Colonial Marines), that, while separate in terms of individual plot and gameplay, form one overarching storyline.

Following the storyline of the campaign modes comes the multiplayer aspect of the game. In this Multiplayer section of the game, players face off in various different gametypes in various different ways.

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We continue to see that nice performance boost on offer under the super intensive Aliens vs. Predator. We again see that the GTX 680 lags behind the HD 6990 and doesn't have the same dominance against the new HD 7900 series here. We've consistently see it sit back a little when it comes to AvP.

Benchmarks - Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.2

Timedemo or Level Used: Dark Tower

Developer Homepage: http://www.eidos.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.justcause.com/

Just Cause 2 employs the Avalanche Engine 2.0, an updated version of the engine used in Just Cause. The game is set on the other side of the world from the original Just Cause, on the fictional island of Panau in Southeast Asia. Panau has varied terrain, from desert to alpine to rainforest. Rico Rodriguez returns as the protagonist, aiming to overthrow the evil dictator Pandak "Baby" Panay and confront his former mentor, Tom Sheldon.

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Just Cause 2 performance jumps up nicely compared to the reference clocked card at all resolutions and you can see it has no problems holding off the HD 6990 at 1920 x 1200 and 1680 x 1050. Moving to 2560 x 1600, though, we see that the HD 6990 is able to pull out the win in this instance.

Benchmarks - Metro 2033

Metro 2033

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.4a-games.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.thqnordic.com/

Metro 2033 is an action-oriented video game with a combination of survival horror and first-person shooter elements. The game is based on the novel Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in Ukraine and released in March 2010 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360.[3] In March 2006, 4A Games announced a partnership with Glukhovsky to collaborate on the game.[4] The game was announced at the 2009 Games Convention in Leipzig;[5] a first trailer came along with the announcement.[6] A sequel was announced, currently titled Metro: Last Light.

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Metro offers some good performance across the board, but the most important performance comes at 2560 x 1600 where we see the overclock is able to push our average FPS from under 60 on the reference clocked card to over 60 thanks to the overclock.

Benchmarks - Dirt 3

Dirt 3

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.codemasters.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.dirt3game.com/

DiRT 3 boasts more cars, more locations, more routes and more events than any other game in the series, including over 50 rally cars representing the very best from five decades of the sport. With more than double the track content of 2009's hit, DiRT 3 will see players start at the top as a professional driver, with a top-flight career in competitive off-road racing complimented by the opportunity to express themselves in Gymkhana-style showpiece driving events.

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Moving onto Dirt 3 we can again see some strong performance gains across the board and some strong numbers that give us very playable FPS at all resolutions including 2560 x 1600.

Benchmarks - Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.01

Timedemo or Level Used: Ranch Long

Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.farcry2.com/

Buy It Here

The Dunia Engine was built specifically for Far Cry 2 by the award-winning Ubisoft Montreal development team. It delivers the most realistic destructible environments, amazing special effects such as dynamic fire propagation and storm effects, real-time night-and-day cycle, dynamic music system, non-scripted enemy A.I. and so much more.

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No surprise under Far Cry 2 we see some strong performance and just some strong numbers overall.

Benchmarks - High Quality AA and AF

High Quality AA and AF

While we test all our games with maximum in-game settings, turning on Anti-Aliasing (AA) and Antistrophic Filtering (AF) helps take the intensity of our testing to another level.

Here we see video cards go from playable FPS to an unplayable FPS and the real power houses continue to help break that 60 FPS mark we always aim for to provide a smooth gaming experience.

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Some good numbers are again seen when we turn on AA and AF.

The most important one comes under Aliens vs. Predator where we see the extra MHz is able to push us over that 60 FPS threshold we want to see. You can see that under this benchmark, the GTX 680 doesn't dominate like it does in a number of other ones.

Temperature Test

The temperature of the core is pulled from MSI Afterburner with the max reading used after a completed run off 3DMark Vantage and the Performance preset.

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Looking at the temperature side of things we can see the TwinFrozr III cooler does extremely well. It comes in 4c lower than the triple slot Palit Jetstream and 8c cooler than the reference card when it's clocked at reference speeds.

Sound Test

Pulling out the TES 1350A Sound Level Meter we find ourselves quickly yelling into the top of it to see how loud we can be.

After five minutes of that we get a bit more serious and place the device two CM away from the fan on the card to find the maximum noise level of the card when idle (2D mode) and in load (3D mode).

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In typical fashion we also see that the cool numbers aren't coming at the cost of excessive noise with the TwinFrozr based GTX 680 sitting towards the middle of the pack.

Power Consumption Test

Using our PROVA Power Analyzer WM-01 or "Power Thingy" as it has become quickly known as to our readers, we are now able to find out what kind of power is being used by our test system and the associated graphics cards installed. Keep in mind; it tests the complete system (minus LCD monitor, which is plugged directly into AC wall socket).

There are a few important notes to remember though; while our maximum power is taken in 3DMark06 at the same exact point, we have seen in particular tests the power being drawn as much as 10% more. We test at the exact same stage every time; therefore tests should be very consistent and accurate.

The other thing to remember is that our test system is bare minimum - only a SSD hard drive is used with a single CD ROM and minimal cooling fans.

So while the system might draw 400 watts in our test system, placing it into your own PC with a number of other items, the draw is going to be higher.

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Finally we finish off with the power draw side of things and here we don't really experience anything out of the ordinary with the card coming in a little under 500 watts when overclocked.

Final Thoughts

It was going to be hard for the MSI GeForce GTX 680 TwinFrozr 2GB to disappoint us. We're in love with the new GTX 680 GPU from NVIDIA which offers us some amazing performance and the TwinFrozr series from MSI never disappoints us. Combine those two together and you end up with an awesome video card.

The cooler is clearly the stand out for the card, though, and you can see why. Coming in cooler than the reference card when we've overclocked this one so high is what makes the cooler so great. To then throw in those strong noise levels into the mix and you're just in a win-win situation.

The only area that lacks for the MSI GTX 680 TwinFrozr 2GB is the bundle with not a whole lot going on. This is something we've been talking about for a while, though. More and more companies are choosing to shrink the bundle down when it comes to these higher end video cards. If you also look at it at the same time, there's not much more that MSI could've thrown into the mix thanks to the fact that the card utilizes a full size DisplayPort connector instead of the mini version we see on AMD cards.

Most people are going to find themselves not caring about the bundle so much, though, and are just interested in the card itself and what it's capable of. The good news is that the GTX 680 TwinFrozr from MSI is just simply awesome and capable of a lot. The TwinFrozr III cooler has been around for a while and the dual slot design is working extremely well.

Throw in these shrunken cores, and the coolers are working better than ever offering us lower core temperatures, less noise and more performance. If you're a fan of the TwinFrozr series the chances are you'll jump on this video card straight away. If you haven't had the chance to use a TwinFrozr MSI card before and you're ready to buy a new high-end video card, this is one you should be looking at.

MSI's TwinFrozr series of video cards never disappoints and this is just another situation that proves that right.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

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