When the GK104 based GeForce GTX 680 was first released, many pundits pointed out that the reference design had much room for improvement, especially in the power circuitry department which comes into play when overclocking. The GIGABYTE GTX 680 OC WindForce 3X that we have today attempts to address some of the shortfalls with a beefed up VRM and their custom triple fan cooler.
GIGABYTE needs no introduction – they are one of the largest motherboard and component makers in the industry and pride themselves in engineering excellence. The WindForce brand is their line of non-reference graphics cards from both AMD/ATi and Nvidia, decked out with a custom cooler and trademark blue PCB design to improve overclocking mileage and durability. Today we have their GTX 680 version in our labs, which is factory overclocked at 1071 MHz (base)/1124 MHz (boost), 50MHz more than regular cards.
One obvious improvement is the doing away of the vertically stacked 6+6pin PCIe connector design from the reference card, with GIGABYTE instead opting for a more generous 8+6 pin layout, which means the card can theoretically take 300W of peak power instead of an underwhelming 225W, allowing for more ambitious overclocks.
GIGABYTE didn't change the I/O Panel on their GTX 680 WindForce, sticking with full-sized HDMI/DP ports and dual DVI (one of them single link only, which we think is redundant and spoils the prospect of single slot water-cooling). The obvious improvement from the previous generation GTX 580 flagship is that we can now run triple-display 3D Vision Surround from a single card (previously only possible on SLi setups), although it might be hampered on graphically intensive games by the 2GB of framebuffer.