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NVIDIA adds an interesting new price point, but does it release Titan demand, or simply create confusion?

2013 is going to be a big year in the graphics processing unit (GPU) arena, with the arrival of Intel Corp.'s (INTCHaswell, which brings the company's strongest on-die graphical showing yet -- Iris Pro.  For graphics card maker NVDIA Corp. (NVDA), the pressure is on to continue to convince the spectrum of gamers from casual to enthusiast that they need to keep buying discrete GPUs.  

NVIDIA appears to be responding by shifting its focus to higher-priced, more powerful GPUs.  And thus far the strategy appears to be working.  Will this continue with the company's latest card?  Let's dig in.

I. Meet the New Middle of the High End


For all intents and purposes, the GeForce GTX 780 is a lower priced, lower performance (due to having slightly less CUDA cores, etc.) version of NVIDIA's Titan that launched back in February.  Even the sleek silver cooler vaguely resembles Titan's metallic cooler.

In another light, the GTX 780 represents a pricier, more powerful GTX 680.  Both have Kepler series GPU chips built on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Comp., Ltd. (TPE:233028 nm process, but the GTX 780 uses a cut-down GK110, where as the GTX 680 uses a fully functional, but less advanced GK104.  Priced at $650 USD, the card is roughly $200 USD more expensive than the GTX 680, which currently hovers around $450 USD.

GTX 780
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780

The GTX 780 keeps the same number of ROPs, but cuts the video RAM in half from the Titan -- down to 3 GB.  But the card has 2 SMX units (192 CUDA cores; 16 texture units) disabled per chip.  The decrease in processing units has allowed NVIDIA to bump the clock speed, so the cores on the card are actually clocked faster than the Titan.

II. Between the GTX 690 and the GTX 680

Here's a recap of the specs:
GPU high end
 
Pricing              <---------High---------------------> Mid-High  <-------Middle-------->
(Click to enlarge)

As mentioned, the GTX 780 comes between the Titan/GTX 690/Radeon HD 7990 and the GTX 680/Radeon HD 7970GE.

III. Benchmarks Tell Tale of Confusion, Competition

In testing by AnandTech, the GTX 780 generally delivered about 90 percent of the performance of Titan; impressive considering that it's only 65 percent of the price.  On the flip side of the coin, versus Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s (AMD) Radeon HD 7970GHz Edition, the GTX 780 is roughly 44 percent more expensive, while only giving a 22 percent performance bump.

In other words, the graphics market is still very competitive with AMD keeping competitive at the  $1000 USD (GTX 690 vs. Radeon HD 7990) and $450 USD (GTX 680 vs. Radeon HD 7970GE).

It remains to be seen whether the GTX 780 delivers on NVIDIA's hope -- releasing pent-up demand for the more-popular-than-expected Titan/GTX 690 at a lower price point -- is fulfilled, or if the pricey new flagship GTX x80 model simply confuses so called "prosumers".

Adding to the confusion is the one thing not mentioned until now -- a pair of GTX 680 or Radeon HD 7970GE costs $900 USD and consistently beats both the GTX 690 and Radeon HD 7990 in performance.  So while the market is very competitive, consumers looking to buy on the mid-to-high end must navigate a confusing myriad of options.

Sources: NVIDIA [press release], AnandTech [benchmarks]



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This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By inighthawki on 5/24/2013 1:10:09 AM , Rating: 2
I disagree. The technology that goes into these cards is significantly more complicated than anything that existed back during the time when you bought your first card. The amount of R&D required and the yield rates of chips that are approaching single digit nm processes is insane. They have to be able to make up for these costs. I'm sure nvidia also wants a profit, but I bet the cards back then also had profit margins. Every generation gets harder and harder to produce the same performance improvements.

On top of all of that, there are plenty of video cards well within the budget of the younger generation. $200 will buy you a pretty good midrange card that can run any modern game. Maybe not on "ultra setting @ 2560x1600," but you can't be picky at that age. I remember saving up for a long time for a 9800 pro, which at the time cost me $400. Not far off from today's prices. AMD sells the 7970GE for only $450, and it holds its own very well to even the 780.


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