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Card outperform an $80 more expensive AMD GPU in power, gaming, and noise

Today NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA) announced the third performance addition to its new Kepler family of 28 nm GPUs (the 600 Series).  Many were writing NVIDIA off when Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) beat it to the market, dropping Graphics Core Next (GCN) on the market in January and then fleshing its lineup out in following months.  

I. Well-Positioned, Strong Performer

While AMD likely did gain from the head start, NVIDIA is ready to respond.  Not only did the GeForce GTX 680 decimate AMD in single-card performance, but now the GeForce GTX 670 has arrived to go toe-to-toe with the Radeon HD 7950 -- AMD's similar price offering -- and pull into a rough tie with the Radeon HD 7970, a card which commands $80 USD more today.  When you throw in NVIDIA's GPU computing (CUDA) lead, it's in an excellent buy.
GeForce 670
[Image Source: NVIDIA]

To be clear, an AMD price cut is all but certain.  Diamond's card already dropped to $450 USD (still $50 USD more than the GTX 670) on, and PowerCooler trimmed $20 off the MSRP.  More cuts will likely follow in days to come.

But NVIDIA has certainly thrown down the gauntlet with its latest launch and will all but surely see strong sales.

GeForce 670
The GeForce 670, decloathed. [Image Source: AnandTech]

If there's a weakness to be said for the Kepler lineup it's that the company is still missing a low-to-mid range option, say a $300-$340 USD GeForce GTX 660.  There's the ultra-high GeForce GTX 690 -- a dual-GPU card that launched at the end of April, there's the $500 flagship GTX 680, the high-end single die solution, and there's the new GTX 670.  But the 28 nm Kepler GK104 does not reach lower than $400 USD -- yet.

NVIDIA does have some other, lower end, GeForce 600 series cards that are shipping to OEMs, built on the general Kepler format -- GK107, GK114, GK116, and GK119.  But these aren't mass market cards and they're built on a 40 nm process and thus are bound to not enjoy as great power and temperature performance as their 28 nm kin.

II. Specs

That's the basic situation now let's look at the specs.

General1 2
(Click to enlarge)
General table
(1 "Real world" Power, Noise, and Temperature levels taken courtesy of AnandTech)
(2 Both GPUs are produced
 on processes by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Comp., Ltd. (TPE:2330).)

(Click to enlarge)Cores

(Click to enlarge)Cores

Well, the specs paint a pretty clear picture.  The NVIDIA card is an exercise in efffciency -- it grows the transistor count much less than AMD and is quieter.  It also holds a substantial lead in power during stressful scenarios like HD gaming. But even comparing to AMD, NVIDIA still arguably earns a win in these metrics.  The AMD cards are a tiny bit warmer, but they're decibels louder (and remember, decibels are a logarithmic scale).

III. Conclusions

What's there to say about the GeForce GTX 670?  It's a bit tardy, but now that it's here, it brings the heat and is priced to kill.  It would be nice to see AMD get very aggressive in pricing to keep a step ahead of NVIDIA, but there are no guarantees.

If you want to dig more into individual game performance (AnandTech labels it as 80-120% of the Radeon HD 7970 in performance in assorted games), overclocking, or SLI, read the following reviews:

In-Depth (gaming + compute + overclocking) Basic (gaming + overclocking) Again, the GTX 670 is one mean machine and the perfect item for a gamer with a slightly higher budget, for whom the GTX 680 was a tad to rich for their blood.

NVIDIA earns a hearty congratulations for playing comeback kid and wowing with Kepler.  As we said with AMD's head-start, though, much depends on supply.  It is crucial that NVIDIA deliver sufficient shipments.  Fortunately, NVIDIA typically seems a bit ahead of the supply curve vs. AMD.  So expect it to be in good shape, with mid-range to ultra-high end monopolized by GK104 for now.

Sources: NVIDIA, AnandTech

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RE: Maybe it's just me, but...
By TakinYourPoints on 5/11/2012 4:26:25 PM , Rating: 2
It's the publishers/developers that find it cheaper to pass crappy console ports as PC games, hence the lessened need for more performance.

The lowered ceiling from console games and their ports is one thing. The other thing to consider is that the most successful PC developers target the widest range of hardware that they can.

Valve and Blizzard put much more emphasis on the art in their games than they do the underlying technology in the game engine. The result is great looking games that can run well on inexpensive computers, older computers, and even low powered laptops (Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3 run surprisingly well even on a Macbook Air or other ultrabook).

It makes sense, why limit your audience to a niche with the fastest hardware? Just look what happened with Crysis. It isn't like 1999 where people would buy new video cards in droves in order to play Quake 3. Developers can't do that anymore and expect blockbuster sales.

Valve and Blizzard also have access to detailed metrics of the hardware that their customers use, leading to informed choices with their game engines and target specs.

Console ports are one factor, but the median hardware specs of customers is another one.

RE: Maybe it's just me, but...
By bug77 on 5/11/2012 8:08:06 PM , Rating: 3
I'm not going to argue with that.

It's just that proper PC games used to have settings. You could make them look beautiful or tone them down so they ran on less powerful hardware. A crappy console port will not have settings and will target the lowest denominator, like you said. That's why having an uber-card seems rather pointless today. Of course, if it's crap done right, it will both look unimpressive and run like a slideshow, but that's another discussion.

RE: Maybe it's just me, but...
By TakinYourPoints on 5/11/2012 8:11:55 PM , Rating: 2
That's why having an uber-card seems rather pointless today.

Except that it isn't pointless. If you're in the small percentage of people with displays over 1920x1200 or doing triple monitor gaming, high end cards are necessary for stable framerates over 60fps. I game at 2560x1440 so I need more horsepower than what a $250 card can give, even for some console ports (Batman: Arkham City comes to mind).

I freely admit that I'm in a niche, but I also can't say that higher end cards are pointless either. They just aren't for most people out there, which is fine.

RE: Maybe it's just me, but...
By bug77 on 5/12/2012 4:10:52 AM , Rating: 2
I didn't say it was pointless, I said it seems pointless.

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