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Radeon series GPU holds a slight edge in multi-monitor gaming

The latest round of the graphics war is over. Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (AMD) came storming out first [1][2][3], but in the end it was NVIDIA Corp (NVDA) who seized the peformance crown with its GeForce GTX 680 Kepler GPU.  And that's where the story might have ended, had AMD not said "not so fast."

AMD countered with a specially binned Radeon HD 7970 "Gigahertz Edition" (GE).  The new card is essentially the exact same as the original Radeon HD 7970, which shipped at the end of January.  But it does bump the core clock from 925 MHz up to 1000 MHz (hence the GHZ part) and the memory clock from 5.5 GHz to 6 GHz.

But the majority of the gains come from a new set of drivers that in some ways mirror NVIDIA's Kepler drivers, by providing a "Boost" mode.  Unlike the Kepler drivers, AMD locks the cards into a solid maximum clock -- 1050 GHz -- which is sort of nice, given that you know what you're getting.  This contrasts with NVIDIA which guarantees a minimum boost clock, but whose maximum boost clock is somewhat random depending on chip quality -- essentially luck of the draw.

Gigahertz edition

That's all fine and good, but the compelling question is whether the Gigahertz Edition was worth alerting the press and claiming to steal NVIDIA's thunder.  Well it turns out it does provide a significant boost over the base model, enough to put it in contention once more for the graphics crown.

The card trades blows with the Geforce GTX 680 in AnandTech's testing, with neither card managing a convincing victory.  The only a couple of areas where one card clearly wins.  One is the multi-monitor tests, where AMD's card is the clear winner. But in power, noise, and heat, NVIDIA's card clearly wins.

The most important issue thus becomes price.  Both the GTX 680 and new HD 7970 GE are $500 USD.  Thus the graphics races is essentially a dead heat.

Moving down the ladder AMD offers the base HD 7970 for $430 USD.  For $30 USD less NVIDIA offers the $400 USD GTX 670 -- which predictably has a bit less performance than HD 7970.  Then there's AMD's HD 7950 at $360, which is in turn a bit lower performance than the GTX 670.  

In other words, smart pricing from both companies means that the best card for you in this round of the graphics war depends on which price point you're looking at.  At the points occupied by AMD, AMD wins, at the points occupied by NVIDIA, NVIDIA wins.  But at the top there's now no longer a clear winner.  

Sources: AMD, Anandtech

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and now
By shin0bi272 on 6/22/2012 12:17:42 PM , Rating: 2
Nvidia will now announce the GTX 685 built on the GK110 and offering 512bit memory bus and 25% faster performance in games.

RE: and now
By crimson117 on 6/22/2012 12:51:27 PM , Rating: 2
Nvidia will now announce the GTX 680+ built on the GK110 and offering 512bit memory bus and 25% faster performance in games.

Fixed the product name for you...

RE: and now
By BruceLeet on 6/22/2012 3:49:43 PM , Rating: 2
I think BigK is being saved for the 700 series. Why push BigK as a 685? GK110 as GTX 780 sounds more appropriate, GTX 680 is only GK104.

RE: and now
By Totally on 6/22/2012 4:24:13 PM , Rating: 2
Wasn't GK110 a Tesla only part? Why do people still hold onto this notion?

RE: and now
By tviceman on 6/22/2012 5:18:18 PM , Rating: 2
It is being released FIRST as a tesla only part. It will be released as a Geforce product sometime after that. Nvidia has never made a GPU that was Tesla only.

RE: and now
By shin0bi272 on 6/26/2012 1:40:14 AM , Rating: 2
Im just going by the roadmap that they released last year and the rumored names being thrown around.

We can also see that with the 670's performance being 5% less than the 680 that the 256bit mem bandwidth is hindering the 680. Even being hamstrung by that small fact the 680 is still faster than what AMD is offering which is why they called it the 680 from what I heard. Otherwise they would have called it the 650 and released the midrange card first (like it was rumored amd was going to do due to issues with the highK I think it was called 28nm process at TSMC for a while). Thus making the gk110 the flagship 680 card... but when amd's card wasnt as powerful as expected they changed up the plan and called the 650 the 680 and plan on releasing the gk110 4Q this year.

The chip actually taped out from what I heard back in jan... which means 6-8 months to launch so that would put it right at the end of Q3 for seeing it in stores. Whether they label it the 780 or the 685 is menial.. its just a sticker. I want the performance not the name.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer

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