New card ties with the Radeon HD 7970GE, is relatively power hungry

NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA) kicked of its GeForce 700 series with the GTX 780. This was an interesting card priced at midway between the cost of a NVIDIA's Titan/GTX 690 and the GTX 680, but offering 90 percent of the Titan's performance.

I. Meet the Second Member of the GeForce 700 Series Family

NVIDIA's follow-up -- the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 -- is a bit different.  Like the GTX 780 it is a second-generation Kepler series GPU chips built on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Comp., Ltd. (TPE:233028 nm process.  But unlike the GTX 780 it does not feature the newer GK110 core design (also used in Titan).  Instead it uses the older GK104.

The GTX 770 is more or less a "GigaHertz Edition" (in the lingo of NVIDIA's chief rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD)) version of the GTX 680.  It features a near identical spec to the 680, but a slightly hirer core clock at the expense of a higher TDP:

GTX 770 table

It’s $20-50 USD less expensive than AMD's Radeon HD 7970 GigaHertz Edition (GE), but $20 USD more than the original Radeon HD 7970.  However, AMD's cards come with the Level Up with Never Settle Reloaded gaming bundle that gives you Bioshock Infinity, Crysis 3, Tomb Raider (the so-called "Level Up" bonus game), and Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon.

II. Should I Buy or Should I Wait?

So how does the card perform?  AnandTech's extensive testing indicates that with current drivers it's about 8 percent faster than the GTX 680 and 20 percent faster than its numerical predecessor, the GTX 670.  It ties the Radeon HD 7970GE with a slightly lower power envelope (230 watts vs. 250 watts).  But the AMD card may be more "future proof" given its extra gigabyte of GDDR5.

It's clear AMD's hard work on the drive front with its GigaHertz Edition refreshes (which have dramatically improved since their initial launch) is paying off in that it's a toss up which company's card is the better by at around $400 USD.  If you want the fastest card and don't care about games, NVIDIA seems to have a slight edge.  But if you want the games in AMD's bundle, you could argue that AMD wins out.
GTX 770
This is clearly a different scenario than the GeForce GTX 780, which while expensive is a clear winner on the merits of having no competitor at its price point, plus offering good bang for its buck.

Some buyers may simply opt to wait out this round, given the seemingly uninspired showing from the GeForce 700 Series.  In reality these meager gains are to be expected, as they're typical of the interval release between architecture updates.

Looking ahead AMD will drop its successor to Tahiti late this year, while NVIDIA will air its response -- Maxwell -- sometime in early 2014.  Those launch dates could slide though, given that their common supplier TSMC is reportedly having process difficulties at the 20 nm node that the next generation chips will be built on.

Sources: NVIDIA [press release], AnandTech

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