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Final Words

With 3 major launches in under 3 months it seems like I’ve written he same thing time and time again, and that wouldn’t be an incorrect observation. By being the first to deploy 28nm GPUs AMD has been enjoying a multi-month lead on NVIDIA that has allowed them to set their own pace, and there’s little NVIDIA can do but sit back and watch. Consequently we’re seeing AMD roll out a well-orchestrated launch plan unhindered, with AMD launching each new Southern Islands card at exactly the place they’ve intended to from the beginning.

At each launch AMD has undercut NVIDIA at critical points, allowing them to push NVIDIA out of the picture, and the launch of the Radeon HD 7800 series is no different. AMD’s decision to launch the 7870 and 7850 at roughly $25 to $50 over the GTX 570 and GTX 560 Ti respectively means that NVIDIA’s cards still have a niche between AMD’s price points for the time being, but this is effectively a temporary situation as NVIDIA starts drawing down inventory for the eventual Kepler launch.

Starting with the Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition, AMD is effectively in the clear for the time being. At roughly 9% faster than the GTX 570 there’s little reason to get the GTX 570 even with the 7870’s price premium; it’s that much faster, cooler, and quieter. With the launch of Pitcairn and the 7870 in particular, GF110 has effectively been removed from competition after a nearly year and a half run.

As for the Radeon HD 7850, things are not so clearly in AMD’s favor. From a power perspective it's by far the fastest 150W card you can buy, and that alone will earn AMD some major OEM wins along with some fans in the SFF PC space. Otherwise from a price perspective it’s certainly the best $250 card you can buy, but then that’s the catch: it’s a $250 card. With GTX 560 Ti prices starting to drop below $200 after rebate, the 7850 is nearly $50 more expensive than the GTX 560 Ti. At the same time its performance is only ahead of the GTX 560 Ti by about 9% on average, and in the process it loses to the GTX 560 Ti at a couple of games, most importantly Battlefield 3 by about 8%. AMD has a power consumption lead to go along with that performance lead, but without retail cards to test it’s not clear whether that translates into any kind of noise improvements over the GTX 560 Ti. In the long run the 7850 is going to be the better buy – in particular because of its additional RAM in the face of increasingly VRAM-hungry games – but $199 for a GTX 560 Ti is going to be hard to pass up while it lasts.

Of course by being in the driver’s seat overall when it comes to setting video card prices AMD has continued to stick to their conservative pricing, both to their benefit and detriment. The 7800 series isn’t really any cheaper than the 6900 series it replaces; in fact it’s probably a bit more expensive after you factor in the rebates that have been running on the 6900 series since last summer. But these prices stop the bleeding from what has been an aggressive price war between the two companies over the last 3 years, which is going to be of great importance to AMD in the long run.

Nevertheless we’re largely in the same situation now as where we were with the 7700 series: AMD has only moved a small distance along the price/performance curve with the 7800 series, and they’re in no particular hurry to change that. But if nothing else, on the product execution side of things AMD has done a much better job, getting their old cards out of the market well ahead of time in order to keep from having to compete with themselves. As a result your choices right now at $200+ are the 7800 and 7900 series, or last-generation Fermi cards. Otherwise we’re in a holding pattern until AMD brings prices down, which considering Pitcairn is the replacement for the Barts-based 6800, could potentially be quite a reduction in the long run.

Wrapping things up, at this point in time AMD has taken firm control of the $200+ video card market. The only real question is this: for how long? AMD enjoyed a nearly 6 month lead over NVIDIA when rolling out the first generation of 40nm DX11 cards, but will they enjoy a similarly long lead with the first generation of 28nm cards? Only time will tell.

Overclocking: Gaming & Compute Performance
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  • Beenthere - Tuesday, March 06, 2012 - link

    Yes at the moment AMD is most definitely getting top dollar for these Vid cards just as Intel does all of the time on their CPUs - until they have competition.

    In case you didn't notice the new 7xxx series cards surpass Nvidia's current offerings in just about every category so this IS a step forward in performance at the same or lower prices.
    Reply
  • MMoudry - Tuesday, March 06, 2012 - link

    Hello,
    Does anybody know if those two cards would work in crossfire? The Crossfire compatibility chat is not yet up to date and I can't seem to find that information anywhere....

    Sources:
    http://sites.amd.com/us/game/technology/Pages/cros...

    MM
    Reply
  • Hrel - Tuesday, March 06, 2012 - link

    Hd6870 and gtx 560 can be had for 160 and 165 respectively. WHY would anyone want the SIGNIFICANTLY slower 7770? It's not like it's directX 12 or something. Reply
  • Alpert - Tuesday, March 06, 2012 - link

    I can understand why so many get it wrong but I can also clearly see.

    7770 currently retails for $169.99 - $179.99

    6870's currently retail for $189.99 - $209.99 original price was $249.99

    I just checked these numbers from 3 retailer

    7770 is a weaker card then the 6870, sure but performance per dollar is actually a little better with the 7770. Considering the lack of competition from Nvidia why would AMD reduce the price to performance ratio that exists. AMD is selling you more features for a better value card.

    When Kepler arrives AMD price's could go down if Nvidia prices it that way. If Kepler is all the #$%^ it's hyped to be AMD will counter it with a price drop then we all win. Looking at ATI/AMD's history something they have always offered the customer, superior price/performance of the competition.

    AMD will always be better price to performance for less while Nvidia justifies there inflated prices with CUDA, PhysX, TWIMTBP and of course better driver support.

    The value of performance will remain as is. Like a commodity on the stock exchange, why would Nvidia devalue there own stock or at least so quickly?
    Reply
  • Hrel - Wednesday, March 07, 2012 - link

    I checked the prices I listed on newegg just before posting that. Not sure where you got your prices from, but shop newegg in the future... that way you aren't wrong :p. Reply
  • bozolino - Tuesday, March 06, 2012 - link

    There is something REALLY odd about 560 TI numbers on ELDERS SCROLL V.

    Under 7770 REVIEW it shows 7770 right above 550 TI and on the top of all them is a standard GTX 560 with like 46 fps and here, on this review it shows the GTX 560 TI with like 36 fps. The settings look just like the same..

    Please correct that because it is looking like the GTX 560 TI is worse than the 7770, wich it isnt by at least a mile.
    Reply
  • Alpert - Tuesday, March 06, 2012 - link

    With a 7770 the power consumption is below that of the Radeon HD 6870 and GeForce GTX 560 Ti, while still delivering the same gameplay experience of those video cards. About 2%-7% slower then 560 Ti. Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Thursday, March 08, 2012 - link

    This isn't HardOCP Alpert. Reply
  • slypher1024 - Wednesday, March 07, 2012 - link

    My 5850 still server me well @ 1600x900 res.. Not until these prices drop i'll upgrade..

    AMD is obviously maximizing profit with these products, seeing that Nvidia next launch is at least 2 months away...

    SAD
    Reply
  • gammaray - Wednesday, March 07, 2012 - link

    Price wars, really?

    seriously, 250$ for a low end video card and 350$ for a mid range video card, not even the MAIN LINE serie but somewhat weaker versions of their 7900 serie counterpart.

    Video card markets have been ripping off consumers in the past years with their super hefty high prices.

    it should be like that: 150$ for new low end video cards, 250$ for new mid-range and 350$+ for whatever they want to sell to whoever will always buy the most expensive stuff no matter.

    the price of the 6800 should all be below 100$ right now and the 6900 serie prices cut in half .
    Reply

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